Great sounding album, maybe the best Alice? Today at Stephen Marsh Mastering in the Hollywood Hills we nailed this one. It was a tense session because the tapes were pretty typically messy due to age but messy is my middle name... At any rate, Stephen, second engineer Fernando Lee and I were patiently mastering the Alice Cooper for Audio Fidelity. We did our usual split feed, DSD take and CD take, both at the same time. The tapes were the original mix compilation reels that were done at the Record Plant back in the day. Each reel had the dates of the original mixes and what mix "take" was pulled to this album comp. There was also a big note on each reel saying: DO NOT USE FOR ANY PRODUCTION WORK, USE EQ DUB CUTTING MASTER. And for good reason. The master songs had many edits in each song , many level changes and, wacky as it seems, some of the songs required different level setups and Dolby A adjusting due to differing balance levels, no big deal. Some of the songs were mixed in 1972, some in 1973 and each side of the album masters had a different set of tones to go with it. Yikes. No way a phonograph record in the old days could be cut from these complicated master reels, so a "mastered" copy with EQ and compression was generated and all lacquers, parts, etc. were cut from that, bypassing this original set so sides could be cut without stopping. However, us brave dudes decided to plug ahead and use these two original reels since we were not cutting phonograph records and could start and stop after each song. First, Stephen Marsh went in and fixed each and every edit (the glue on the splice tape had bled over the years and it was a sticky mess at each of the many edit points). No baking of the tape was required as the tape stock was from the good year of 1972. Tape still played fine, no shedding whatsoever. Good news. Once the splices were scrubbed and fixed, Stephen's Dolby expertise went into effect and he aligned the ATR analog playback deck with his custom Dolby A box until it was perfect (at least for the first few songs). On side two for whatever reason the levels were off by 2 db on most songs, throwing the Dolby alignment off so we just realigned, same as they did back in the day and for the Greatest Hits CD. Then, we transferred, one at a time, using our special brand of mastering knowledge and dumb luck. None of the songs sounded tone-wise like any other songs on there, each had a different and nicely subtle but unique sound. obvious on our top notch modern gear, probably not so obvious on monitors back in the day.. Now on the old LP they made all of them sound similar by filtering and compressing but that was not our goal. I personally don't care what the old LP sounded like unless it had amazing sound (and this one didn't compared to the actual master mixes, the vinyl was too compressed and compromised, a long album on two vinyl sides). I want YOU to hear what the band and producer got to hear back at the Record Plant in 1973 so I left the tonal changes intact for the most part from song to song but at the same time I made sure each one sounded the best it could in the context of "what they were obviously going for" back then, same as I've done on almost every project I've worked on since 1982. The intent of the original artist/producer/engineer is always the main goal. At any rate, it took a long time today, high-priced designer pizza was delivered and we took a break but mainly we worked on this, one song at a time, having to fix levels, Dolby levels, EQ (usually the tape box notes were pretty right on) and other "tricks" for each and every song while having to "MRL" the machine back to neutral/normal after each one so we could carry on and on. The album holds up nicely. I had a retro-type girlfriend in the 1980's who LOVED this album (she thought she was so cool to like something from an earlier era, I thought "eh, big deal") but I was reminded of her throughout the day. A weird feeling but I'm sure she will dig this new version. As always, it's very important to me that the ORIGINAL VINTAGE mixes were used. A bunch of extra crossfades, solo guitar strums and other goofy stuff was still on the reels after the leader and I'm glad they wisely decided to not use any of them in the final release. Hope you all like this one.