[…continued from previous post]
Since there were distinct stereo panning effects in the records, it was an easy matter to determine that, yes – on side two of the “Fade To Grey” Dance Mix album, the entire side reflected having its channels reversed during production. I double checked among the two distinct CDs I also had of this title, and every one except the red banded cover was the correct stereo spread. So I worked from the corrected audio file of the second side.
From that point onward, I only had to set markers and cut/paste individual tracks into new documents and save them to have each song ready to write to CD-R. Then the next point was to design the cover art. With a straight “reissue” of a discrete title with nothing added, it is as straightforward as this sort of thing ever gets. All I had to do was to replicate the packaging and information. Which is not to say that it wasn’t work. The cover art was a little beat up [not unlike the record] with a VG, at best, cover. So I scanned the cover art and realized that the small text [much of it 6-8 points in size] was pretty badly banged up. This would require heavy reconstruction.
So I simply re-created the cover in Adobe Illustrator. Simple enough to do, but tedious, as the very persnickety typesetting [all set flush to the type’s cap line] was not easy to achieve even on a computer 34 years later. Thank goodness for paragraph styles! In cases like this, re-making the layout rather than working with scans is so worth the extra time spent. There was no need of a booklet since the original album had only a plain inner sleeve. Everything was on the front/back cover. I added liner notes on the inner gatefold to the cover insert and wow, we were done pretty quickly. I sat on this one for several months as I had other irons in the remastering fire that took precedence.
And now it’s done… yet while reviewing it for this posting this week, I found myself hemming and hawing over the sonics. It’s not that ClickRepair damaged the audio. Far from it! It removed the plethora of pops like the pro that it is. And the edited in intro to “In The Year 2525” sounds flawless. No, what nags a me now is the simple quality of the vinyl used. Are you familiar with well-played albums that have sustained stylus damage> This one sounds like it happened. The record plays without skipping, but has patches where it goes all dull and fuzzy. On “We Move” the song’s last third sounds like someone did some diabolical things with the EQ of it. No, this should not be what it ultimately is. There’s a clean, but difficult way forward that will deliver a remaster of this title that sounds entire realms better.
What I have to do is re-produce the album mix using my highest quality sources.
In effect, I will be doing what Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree does when he remixes an album like “In The Court Of The Crimson King.” He goes back to the individual master tracks and re-mixes and balances the result to take the new masters to their utmost in generational quality. All while doing his level best to replicate the mix, EQ and balance of the original mix. Tedious? You bet! But I’m not the Post-Punk Monk for nothing! To date I’ve re-produced two 7″ mixes from CD sources using my two-track environment. JAPAN’s “The Art of Parties” 7″ mix and the UK 7″ mix of “Autobahn.” In both cases, I had trashed copies of the 7″ records to emulate, and the end result was several hours invested to match the edits that were made to the master tape originally to result in these 7″ mixes. Of course, the end result sounded fantastic.
This will be similar. I have the following tracks on CD:
- Fade To Grey [Dance Mix]
- Mind Of A Toy [Dance Mix]
- Visage [Dance Mix]
- We Move [Remix]
- In The Year 2525 [Remix]
- Pleasure Boys [7″ Ver.]
These are simply mixed/cross faded into the adjacent tracks. At most a few panned beat loops will need to be performed to replicate the LP flow. Then there are tracks I need to take from my clean vinyl copies.
- Tar [7″ Ver.]
- Damned Don’t Cry [Dance Mix]
There is the “Tar” original UK 7″ version on the “Wild Life” compilation, but that single track was brickwalled, so I will rather use my copy to work from. Things will get more complicated on these three tracks.
- Der Amboss [4:34 edit]
- The Anvil [5:04 Remix/Edit]
- Night Train [6:24 Dance Mix]
I have “Der Amboss” on CD, but the mix on this album is a vastly different edit. After listening forensically last night and labeling every few bars distinctively in my two track editor, I suspect that I will also have to use the instrumental version of “Der Amboss,” which I have on CD on this album [see R] to re-create what this album had at the end of side one. Similarly, the edit of “The Anvil [Dance Mix]” as appears here will be re-edited from the 6:14 12″ mix, which I lack on CD. It’s been so long since I have played the 12″ of “Night Train” from vinyl, that I’m suspecting that this mix was edited from both the 6:07 Dance Mix and the 5:02 Dub Mix, which I have on 12″ single.
Join us again in another month [I hope] to see if I’ve cracked this case or have descended into madness. I will try to replicate “Der Amboss” first and if that doesn’t happen, I guess I have to table this notion… or buy another, better copy of the album.
…To Be Continued…
That artwork looks superb!
I have always loved the colours and design of that album sleeve,not to mention the stunning photo of course.
Gavin – When I scanned the cover, I had to paint out the top right corner since I was re-typesetting the title copy. It wasn’t too difficult, though. We’ll see how re-creating the unique edits of the actual music goes. I did this for an hour last night before bed and I was so wound up considering the variables that I had trouble dropping off to sleep.
Fascinating insight into your restoration processes, both audio and visual. The original version of this excellent compilation has always been one to beat, in terms of sleeve and sound (although 2010’s “The Face” is a contender – the Michael Gray remix of “FTG” is brilliant). I’ve never come across this special edition, and while vinyl copies remains rare and pricey, the cassette may be purchased for a pittance. What are your thoughts on digital transfer of tape sources?
Also, are you aware that the 7″ edit of “The Art Of Parties” is available on this compilation?
Sound quality is quite good, as well – likely taken from the master, not vinyl.
Shelf – Tape carries several compromises that are unique to the format, but the potential can be there. The quality of commercial tapes was always lower than records. This was down to cheap, normal bias tape as well as the non-real time speed at which cassettes were duplicated. Recording your own tape at 1:1 on a home deck yields far better results.
A record has better dynamic range. The number one achilles heel to commercial tapes is the fact that commercially duplicated tapes soon develop binder squeal when the adhesive used to bind the iron particles to the tape itself dries out with aging. Binder squeal screeches over the music on playback. Such tapes cannot be digitized without first baking them to re-set the adhesive; a dicey process I’ve yet to try. Five years ago I bought a tape of NME tape #4 [“Mighty Reel”] that was still sealed in its cellophane wrapper and that bad boy was mint and flawless in defiance of its 30 year age. Its story is on the blog if you search.
Another, lesser problem involved foam pressure pads instead of the metallic spring kind, but this is easily remedied by placing the tape in a new shell that has them.
Finally, some cheaper commercial tapes don’t even have a slip sheet much less one coated with graphite. Just reels placed in the shell! That can be also fixed by replacing the tape in a new, higher quality shell that has one.
I did not know about the JAPAN track on that compilation but as I see, this Belgian delight from 2000 does not come cheaply.
Fascinating indeed; I also agree that the artwork looks great. What font(s) were used?
I can confirm the squeal / foam pad issue you note PPM. My Canadian Love Glove cassette and Fashion Fabrique are prime examples of both issues. Of course none of my remaining 60-ish cassettes suffer except for these 2 spec ed versions.
Kudos for the last batch of posts BTW. Not enough time to reply with anything of merit but great reading nonetheless. Your lunch time posts work well with the time zone so I can look forward to my lunch break.
Well, you could have just said “Cassettes suck!” and there would be no debate. However, I knew I could depend on you for a detailed and well-reasoned response :-) I’m now recalling how engaging Dolby Noise Reduction on my old Walkman would reduce background tape hiss, but also dramatically muffle the sound. The switch to vinyl came after a commercial cassette broke (pressure pad popped out), although another one unraveled in the car player. And yet another in the home stereo. Cassettes really do suck.
Shelf – “Cassettes were the MP3 of the 80s. for the Walkman® Generation” There. You can quote me on that! I was never a part of the Walkman® Generation. While I always recorded every album onto a cassette for listening, those tapes only got played at home. I tried a Walkman® knockoff for a week or two. A) I didn’t like being cut off from my surroundings, and B) the cost of batteries would have gotten prohibitive! I would not have been able to afford more vinyl!
By the way, just read your post about that old NME tape – great read. I love discovery stories like that – finding a white whale, as it were. Thanks Monk!
Shelf – I think that sort of fortune was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Seeing the names “Currie / Ure / McGeoch” together in the credits makes my heart yearn for what else could have been created by those three. Not that Visage is anything to sneeze at, but it’s Strange’s vehicle, and the music fits a certain template. Given a blank slate, I wonder what they could have done. I’d even wonder what Currie and McGeoch could have done on their own, but someone needs to sing and write lyrics I suppose.
zoo – Hmmm. Currie/McGeoch album would have been a Post-Punk scorcher, methinks! That first Currie album with Derek Forbes guesting on just one track was superb. Imagine what he could have done with the Mighty McGeoch on board! I say forget lyrics/vocals. It would have been marvelous. Alas, all we can do is imagine at this late date.
I have a pristine copy of this vinyl, I bought it new in 1984 and have treated it carefully ever since. I could digitize it and send you the files if that would help with your project. BTW my copy has a printed inner sleeve with some notes about Visage.
MathManDan – That is an intriguing offer and I may take you up on it if this latest thread is inconclusive. My regular copy of this album has liner notes on the inner sleeve. Words about how Visage will continue as a live act. Is that what’s on your inner sleeve? Maybe the dealer I bought mind from substituted a plain inner sleeve.
Yes that sounds like the same inner sleeve. I didn’t think to compare to my copy of the regular pressing. Perhaps that’s not original, I might have slipped it in there if I had an extra one for some reason. Those memory cells have since died!
I have a very thorough Visage collection if there’s anything you’ve been trying to hunt down…
I’m sitting here seething with jealousy-no printed inner sleeve with mine!
No seething needed, I’m pretty sure the printed inner sleeve is from my regular, blue-bordered version of this album. I had put the vinyl in a poly inner sleeve instead of the inner sleeve it came with, and it looks like I slipped the (empty) printed inner sleeve into the red-bordered version instead of the blue one. My mistake!
Of course there is one error on your track credits, Tar also has a writing credit for Barry Adamson. I actually feel sorry for Barry as he had left Visage part way through the recordings but because Midge Ure had this contractual agreement that you got a writing credit if you were in the band but lost it never to be returned if you left, even if you rejoined the band later. So while Barry also wrote and played the bass lines on the track Visage and the fantastic Blocks on Blocks he got no writing credit but also never got a writing credit for The Anvil album even though he again wrote the bass lines and played bass on all the tracks. So he lost out on writing credits while other band members got a writing credit even if they had no involvement in the writing or recording of a track. So for example Steve Strange got a writing credit for instrumentals he had nothing to do with and most bizarrely the b side I’m Still Searching which was written, recorded and produced by Rusty Egan with Steve Strange the writing is credited to the whole band, even Midge Ure who’d just left. It’s why Steve Strange got so annoyed that he didn’t have a writing credit on Fade To Grey, even though he didn’t write any of it, as it plus The Dancer are the only tracks which were written outside of Visage (The Dancer when Ure and Egan were still officially in Rich Kids even though the band has effectively split and Fade To Grey by Currie and Payne when in Tubeway Army which Ure added lyrics to) so are the only two not with writing credits and royalties for all the band members. Since then Steve Strange ensured he got a writing credit on everything else he ever released (except Bolan-esq and Loving The Alien) including 12 Miles High on the Strange Cruise album which was written by Steve New and recorded as a demo by Rich Kids with absolutely no involvement from Steve Strange at all. The same goes for all the tracks on Demons To Diamonds even though so were covers written years before Visage reformed. The only track not included is Become which interestingly has no writing credit at all on the album but it was written by Midge Ure. I know the track was written for Hearts and Knives so wonder if it’s not being included may have been due to Steve wanting a writing credit and Midge refusing.
The positive aspect from Midge Ures sharing of royalties idea meant there was no arguments over who’s songs to release or over who actually wrote a song as everyone got equal shares and the music, rather than egos, became more important. The negative is if you leave you never get a writing credit again, which is why Warren Caan got no writing credits for Brilliant. And as an anorak like me you don’t actually know who wrote which songs.
Richard Anvil – Good catch on the dropping of Adamson on “Tar!” The perils of copy/paste rear their ugly heads. I pay attention to the legalities in the background since it does have an effect on the music as well as the health of the band in question. I agree that Midge’s all-in writing credits are basically the way to go when forming a group. It’s how I would want to proceed if I were in a band situation. Equal splits on royalties do much to foster an environment where all are encouraged to contribute and all benefit from the results. There is the “you leave, you’re gone forever” problem. I also noticed that Warren was absent on “Brilliant” writing credits even though he did not leave. He was sacked! Given that Midge regretted it and probably had to eat major crow to get Warren back, not having him share in the spoils of writing of the new one was poor, in my opinion.
Alternatively, OMD lost 3/4 of the band in ’88-’89 when they did leave, but I notice that writing credits for the new post-90s material are OMD, not OMD/Humphreys. This looks admirable. It may have been a proviso of the rest of the band ceding the name to Andy in the 90s or it may have been Andy doing the right thing. Either way it contributes to the vitality of the band.