The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Best Re-Mastering packaging

3-19-09 Best Re-Mastering packaging [see: Epic UK Stranglers, which are what I would have done with the project had I been in charge]

An entire genre! For me, the best re-packaged CD’s are the Japanese little paper album cover CD’s (known as “kami sleeves”), with such careful attention to detail that (in some cases) it poses an acceptable substitute to owning an original vinyl pressing (Billy Nicholls album, folks?). And, darn it, re-mastering guys – use single mixes, when possible. I hate getting an otherwise competent compilation on an artist, only to find that they’ve used the common LP version, and not the glorious 45 version (Donovan, Mamas & Papas et al).

With the Japanese re-issues, so many are really that good…some of the packaging re-production is astonishing – Santana “Lotus”, for one. Full triple gatefold, with about a dozen (or more) inserts, and at least two booklets. Or the debut Soft Machine album – the Japanese CD re-issue has the little wheel in the cover (I bet “Led Zeppelin III” does too, but I do not usually write about LZ at all).

So, the perfect re-mastering for me would any album where they identically re-produce the original packaging, using the ‘mix’ that I am familiar with, and supplement it with the relevant B-sides (or live tracks etc.) Preferably with artist involvement. And, please – no digipaks! (I mean, what do you do if the teeth break? Huh?)

I recently sorted my database by whether or not something was “re-mastered” or not. To get all the way to the end of 1990, then the database only had 932 titles in it. So, I haven’t bought many re-mastered CD’s of titles that I felt were mastered OK to begin with. Not many at all.

In 2009, I think I am ‘all done’ if I have a) an original LP issue and b) a recently-mastered Japanese kami (paper) sleeve CD of a title. Yes, I have artists that I collect all the (mostly vinyl) variants – Split Enz, Frank Zappa, Gruppo Sportivo…of these three, only Sportivo does not have “re-mastered” CD’s.

But we come back to the triangle – I bought the LP, then I got the CD, then I bought the re-mastered CD. I hate it when a step gets added: I bought the LP, then I got the CD, then I bought the re-mastered CD, then I got the Japanese paper sleeve CD of it. I really do try to not go through all four steps! If I know there’s a UK re-mastered CD out, I will try and be patient and get a Japanese issue of it to start with! Not always possible…(I wish I had the Japanese Magazine paper sleeve CD’s – but I already have the UK re-masters). Ugh.


Anonymous Jim Donato said...

re: The curse of Digipaks

I'm there with you, pally! How I hate to buy a Digipak release and have it arrive in the mail - always broken! The only thing worse than Digipaks, per se, are Digipaks with !@#$% clear trays with artwork underneath! The clear plastic is far more brittle than the opaque and those suckers never make it across the big pond intact. Worse yet, there's no way to "repair" the release! JBs aren't perfect (not by a long shot) but they're the past CD packaging so far. The lids break like no tomorrow but at least they are easily replaceable.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

I have fantasized about coming up with a way to remove the clear trays with artwork underneath - placing the remaining 'card' in a comic book-style protector...

6:32 AM  
Anonymous Jim Donato said...

It's easy. Use a hair dryer on low setting to soften the (gummy) adhesive they use. It should come off under light heating with no damage to the printed paper. Just like removing stickers placed on bare record covers by philistine dealers! (don't get me started... too late!)

8:35 AM  

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