Dismiss Notice
We are making some updates and reconfigurations to our server. Apologies for any downtime or slow forum loading now or within the next week or so. Thanks!

Are the Bowie RCA CD's worth getting?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by LadyGrinningSoul, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Location:
    Toulouse, France
    You would also need the WG for EUR Lodger if you like this album. ;)
     
    jsayers and fredblue like this.
  2. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Location:
    Detroit, Michigan
    You're right! I got it backwards...going to delete that post, thanks.

    Avoid the Jpn For USA Station To Station.
     
    Plan9 likes this.
  3. mdm08033

    mdm08033 Forum Resident

    I wouldn't avoid it. I would buy it if it was priced as a common used $6 CD and enjoy it. I'm enjoying my Japan for US as a placeholder until something better comes along.
     
    jsayers and fredblue like this.
  4. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Location:
    Detroit, Michigan
    It's a coaster. It's not my favorite Bowie album by a long shot, so that's why I haven't replaced it, but it is one of the worst-sounding cds I own by anybody. I would sell it here but I hesitate, because it feels wrong to stick it to someone else who might think it is great because it is an RCA.
     
    karmaman likes this.
  5. no.nine

    no.nine (not his real name)

    Location:
    NYC
    The JPN-for-U.S. issue of Station to Station is objectively flawed.

    In most cases, the differences between the WG & JPN pressings of the RCA titles come down to taste, and in some cases, which minor flaws one is willing to overlook or not. But this one goes beyond not personally caring for its sound - something clearly went wrong with the transfer (although I've been perplexed to see a few sticking up for it anyway). It sounds thin, hollow and squashed. How anyone can enjoy it is beyond me. It's NOT even worth $6.

    The WG-for-Europe though..... different story entirely. :love:
     
    Sebastich, BlueSpeedway and Plan9 like this.
  6. Alexlotl

    Alexlotl Forum Resident

    Location:
    York, UK
    So the food isn't as good, but the portions are bigger? :winkgrin:

    The 90s Ryko/EMIs can be picked up very cheaply if you want the bonus tracks, so I wouldn't say they're a reason to avoid the RCAs. Price would be a valid reason to avoid the RCAs, though.

    I'm in the process of collecting the RCAs, to replace a mixture of Ryko/EMI discs and 1999 EMI/Virgin discs. Based on karmaman's PDF, I'm going for all EUR other than Diamond Dogs, where the EUR is weird and muddy (as for the JP for USA CSR Aladdin Sane, the last one I saw in Europe ended for £120, so I'm quite happy enough with my EUR Denon, which sounds fantastic). I picked up Ziggy fairly cheaply, and was sufficiently impressed to start off on the journey of acquiring the rest.

    Here's my impressions based on what I have so far, in the order I acquired them:

    The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars(WG for EUR) - huge improvement on the '99 remaster, but that is perhaps not hard. Needs cranking to bring it to life, one notch higher than you may think at first. The dynamics on tracks like Soul Love and Rock and Roll Suicide add a lot to this album. Really love the bass sound on this, it has heaps of mid-tones which I don't remember from any other recording (I'm an occasional bassist and big Trevor Bolder fan). Vocals aren't perhaps as clean as they could be, but it's a good match for the slightly rawer music here. Only real negative for me is the brief drop out in Suffragette City which does my nut (I'm a headphone listener).

    Young Americans (WG for EUR) - this just sounds incredible - well balanced, clean, and with enough bass to make it hard not to groove along. Not historically my favorite Bowie album, but one that's grown on me a lot since I got the RCA. This one can be got surprisingly cheaply, ~£15. Surprised to find someone recommending the JP for US earlier in the thread - it crops the drum intro on the first track, and I wasn't aware it offered any improvements over the WG to make up for this.

    Lodger (WG for EUR) - for me, this is probably the least noticable difference compared to my reference CD (an early 90's EMI, which in theory has the same mastering as the Ryko). It's also the one I paid the most for - Lodger had a shorter print run, so it genuinely doesn't turn up often. There goes the theory that these things only sound good because I've paid a lot for them! Repeat listening reveals a bit more beef in the lower registers - African Night Flight in particular sounds better here, and [strikethrough]Sister Midnight[/strikethrough] Red Money is also a marked improvement.

    Aladdin Sane (JP Denon for EUR) - wow! For me (comparing to the 1999 EMI) this was the single biggest improvement of all the RCAs. The Spiders really shine on this version, particularly Bolder and Ronno. This version manages to somehow have both more bass, energy and detail than the EMI. Instrumental wig-out sections like the outro of Panic In Detroit, which I found a bit nondescript before, are now real highlights. On the detail front, Time is a standout, with things like Bowie's breathless panting in the pause and the flute during the end section much more apparent in the mix (in a good way).

    Station to Station (WG for EUR) - sounds great. The title track is pretty resilient and has sounded good in every CD I've heard, but it's the rest of the CD where the RCA shines. Hard to say exactly why - I think it's the rhythm section again, particualrly the bass, that does it for me. TVC15 really swings here, while I've found it overstays its welcome on other recordings.

    Low (WG for EUR) - the first thing that jumps out at you is Visconti's famous "f***ing with the nature of time" snare sound, which I've read plenty about and seen discussed in documentaries, but had never seemed that dramatic on my 1999 EMI. On the RCA it's a lot clearer, and is verifiably absolutely nuts. The second thing that jumps out is a bad one - someone decided to smooth some of the intros, most obviously on Sound & Vision. Breaking Glass is thankfully left untouched. That quibble aside, Side 1 sounds fantastic - the mix is just peachy. The real stand out differences are on Side 2 though, which really comes alive here, I think mostly due to better dynamics - this is real surging stuff. Weeping Wall is a standout. I've never been anti-side 2 of Low, but I would say I strongly preferred side 1 - they feel more like equals on this recording.

    I also have ChangesTwoBowie (JP for EUR), but I'm still digesting that one. I will say that the single edit of Fashion had me dancing in an unseemly manner while doing the dishes last night.

    Oh, and packaging is poor - covers are frequently cropped, have RCA logos stuck to them, contain adverts for other CDs, dubious colour reproduction - usual early days of CD stuff. The discs themselves (at least the grey-faced sun-ray pattern used for EUR) are pretty handsome, though.
     
  7. Solace

    Solace Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brussels, Belgium
    RCA JPN for US Young Americans better than the 2007 remaster?
     
  8. mdm08033

    mdm08033 Forum Resident

    Good question. I cringe every time I play the clipped Young Americans. I'm tempted to buy the 2007 re-master for the lossy 5.1 remix on the DVD.
     
  9. JP Christian

    JP Christian Forum Resident

    :-popcorn:
     
  10. Solace

    Solace Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brussels, Belgium
    It's got a stereo mix on the DVD too. I think it's great.
     
    jsayers likes this.
  11. Gems-A-Bems

    Gems-A-Bems Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Duke City
    I maintain that the appeal of the RCAs, in general, is that they tend to sound like the old LPs. I also maintain that merely sounding like the LPs doesn't necessarily equate to the best sound possible.
     
  12. Alexlotl

    Alexlotl Forum Resident

    Location:
    York, UK
    A fair argument. My personal take with most historically important music (someone will get upset by that, but this stuff's over 40 years old now) is that the original mass-market sound (in this case, the vinyl) is the most relevant sound - it best captures the intent of the artists, producers and engineers at the time, and it's the sound that set the world on fire. Lightning in a bottle.

    Yes, I'm aware that the studio master would be compromised in its transition to vinyl, but so were the engineers at the time, and they would have EQed accordingly. That said, I'm personally too impatient and space-poor for vinyl, and as it gets worn over time regardless, I'll take a vinyl-esque CD any day of the week. Not perfect sound forever (nothing's ever perfect), but consistent.

    Further to the above, I don't consider the approach of having the original artists/production crew remastering their old stuff with modern equipment to be a canonical one. The process involves making qualitative decisions, and they're fundamentally different people to who they were at the time; they're going to make different decisions. The results might be good (and might not, Mr Lucas), but they are in no way definitive just because the same names appear.

    A bit of a tangent there. Carry on!
     
    Ayshpaysh, SOONERFAN, tmtomh and 7 others like this.
  13. Dino

    Dino Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City - USA
    I would recommend reading karmaman's PDF and picking a title that is most interesting to you musically and that seems like you might like the sound. (I have listened to most of the masterings that karmaman's PDF describes and have found all of his descriptions to be spot on.)

    This assumes that some of these titles and their sound quality are really important to you and you find something within your budget. From your moniker, LadyGrinningSoul, I'm guessing that Aladdin Sane might be a good one to try. I really like both RCA masterings of that title.

    It is good to get other's viewpoints. There is no substitute for hearing for yourself.
     
    tmtomh, Solace and Plan9 like this.
  14. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Location:
    Toulouse, France
    Personnaly I found the 2007 dead and unengaging, almost wrong, whereas the RCA rocks. Or, you know, grooves. :D
    I don't care for the two drum beats that are left out when it sounds this good.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
    pdenny and karmaman like this.
  15. Plan9

    Plan9 Mastering Engineer

    Location:
    Toulouse, France
    I liked the RCAs before I heard most of the LPs. Some of the RCAs sound better than the LPs anyway.
     
    Sebastich, BlueSpeedway and tmtomh like this.
  16. Dino

    Dino Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City - USA
    I don't know if your analyse is right or wrong.

    In my case, I have been listening to wonderful sounding LP versions of these David Bowie titles since I was a teen. I had never found CD versions that I enjoyed listening to until I got a hold of the better RCA masterings. Yet, none of them sound like the LP versions to me.
     
    Solace likes this.
  17. hotsoup

    hotsoup Forum Resident

    Location:
    Walla Walla, WA
    I have both the JPN for US and WG RCAs. What do you think separates the JPN for JPN version of Ziggy?
     
  18. coolsound

    coolsound Forum Resident

    i have only this RCA (german pressing ). i can't compare to vinyl (which i never had ), but, i had the ryko and the 1999 remaster and the RCA is a way above.
     
  19. NightGoatToCairo

    NightGoatToCairo Sheik Madeir

    Location:
    Hampshire, UK
    I can't afford the RCA CD's and I've never heard Bowie on vinyl. I first heard those albums in 1990/92, when EMI released the back catalouge with the RYKO's.
    I picked up the special editions and anniversary releases along the way and now the 5 Years box. I guess ignorance is bliss :sigh:
     
    Kristofa likes this.
  20. Dino

    Dino Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City - USA
    People who are on the fence about reading Karmaman's PDF - I highly recommend doing so.
     
  21. Dino

    Dino Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City - USA
    Being happy with the sound is what it is all about. Sounds like you are there.
     
    Starwanderer likes this.
  22. Agree. I got all excited when I saw this for sale in a local store not so long ago. "An RCA Bowie grab it quick!" I said to myself. Paid $20 for it. Took it home, played it, thought it sounded truly awful, sold it.
     
    Sebastich, Echo and hotsoup like this.
  23. Dino

    Dino Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City - USA
    After I bought my first CD player, a few of the Bowie RCAs were still in the new racks here and there. Being a big fan, I bought all that I saw. (Being in the US, they were all Japan for US.)

    Imagine my confusion:

    Man Who Sold the World
    Aladdin Sane (CSR)
    These were the first two. Sounded fine to me.

    Then Hunky Dory - Side 1 songs sounded fine, Side 2 songs didn't.

    Pinups - Sounded really nice.

    Low - This didn't sound right.

    Then I started seeing David Bowie RCAs behind glass checkout counters with higher prices. I bought one.

    Station to Station - This is awful. I don't think I will buy any more of these.

    And I didn't, until reading SHMF. (Actually, getting a set of the Japanese Mini-LPs and being so disappointed got me researching what went wrong - which brought me to the Forum in the first place.)
     
  24. scobb

    scobb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    They will probably include the 2007 in the next box set and people will praise it and say it didn't need another remaster! :cry:
     
  25. mdm08033

    mdm08033 Forum Resident

    Was that the Germany for Europe issue with the blue rainbow on the spine?
     

Share This Page

molar-endocrine