Thursday, April 15, 2010
Thursday, I Have Friday On My Mind
I'm hoping there are still a few of you who care about the compact disc. Back in the CD's heyday, the word "remaster" was almost erotic. It wasn't just "Compact Disc Guy" with his duct taped frames and bulletproof lenses, and his TV Guide and highlighter and his armful of Kinks LPs and Sharpie, (just in case he bumped into Mick Avory), that cared about sound and content. For a little while, everyone seemed to be waiting and drooling for their favorite artists catalogue to be upgraded with more songs and superior sound. Labels like Rhino, Sony Legacy and UMG have made this process a religion. But lately, a few smaller people have been putting their oars in the water. This is a good thing.
Wounded Bird and American Beat have been keeping the reissue alive with their no frills product. Licensing the material from all the major labels, these two companies have put out some solid releases, satisfying the collector with records that have either gone out of print, or in some rare cases, had never had a prior CD release. Neither Wounded Bird (check'em out HERE) nor American Beat (check'em out HERE) claim to have done anything with the sound. There is no boast of remastering, just a simple release, to keep some old faves, popular and obscure, on the market. Huzzah!
Then, there is Friday Music.
Friday Music has a pretty impressive roster and a website to match. What caught my eyes was their reissue campaigns for Hall & Oates, Todd Rundgren, and most recently Cheap Trick. As a fan of all three, I have purchased and repurchased the back catalogues, finally satisfied with 20 bit remasters from Japan that are now between 5-8 years old. Still, I would purchase again, (because I'm a nut) especially if the label posted "remastered from the original tapes" right there on the booklet. In the case of Hall & Oates, Friday is calling the H&O remasters "definitive." I dived right in, just like "Compact Disc Guy."
I purchased Hall & Oates' "Along The Red Ledge" and "Private Eyes," Todd Rundgren's "Second Wind," and just this past week, a nice Cheap Trick two-fer-one, "One On One" and "Next Position Please."
None of these "remastered" releases sound any better than the five and eight year old versions. The Rundgren was identical to the original. No amount of A-B-ing was going to change my mind...and it was an embarrassing amount of A-B-ing. As a matter of fact, the Cheap Trick sounded worse. It's muddy and quite frankly, sounds like the very first pressing on Sony from the year Gimmel.
Needless to say, I felt cheated. I decided to write to Friday Music. When I couldn't find any satisfying contact info on their website, I posted something on their Facebook "fan" page. To be honest, I can't remember my exact words, and I can't check. You'll see why. I do recall not being too much of an asshole. (No really.) It went something like this:
"Anybody keeping the reissue alive is a friend of mine. But, I do have a question. Are the CDs truly remastered? Just purchased the Cheap Trick and it actually sounds worse than the five year old Japanese remaster. Any info would be appreciated."
The comment was deleted. No response. I was just wiped off the discussion board.
I tried again, still keeping the snark to a minimum.
"Hi. Just wondering why my question was removed. Not trying to cause trouble, but can I please get a confirmation on the remastering?"
I made a third attempt as, this time, the asshole. But I also employed some preventive maintenance, and after a couple of hours, removed the comment myself, saving myself from another ruthless deletion. I started thinking...sound quality is subjective, and I really have no way of proving that these releases are bogus, though the lack of response and brat-like moves on Facebook seemed to speak volumes. (And the type and pics in the booklets are blurry.)
Me thinks, Friday Music may be full of shit.
Anyone out there know anything about these guys?
I'd like my $58 back.