Billy Joel Cold Spring Harbor speed error mythbusting thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by bigmikerocks, Apr 4, 2020.

  1. bigmikerocks

    bigmikerocks Forum Resident Thread Starter

    No, it’s sounding in G in the video which is the correct key for that song. It may be just a couple of cents sharp but you can still play along with it in G and it’s super close. The ones that run fast are like 7-8% sharp which is right around a semitone
     
  2. bigmikerocks

    bigmikerocks Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Here’s a video of me playing my harmonica along with the video clip to show that it’s playing in G, the key of the song. It’s off a minuscule amount.
    The copies that ‘run fast’ are sharp by about 7-8%. @kwadguy @boggs
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
  3. BEAThoven

    BEAThoven Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    How many folks here prefer the tracks running faster and being pitched higher? I'm in that camp.

    Given, I'm not the biggest Billy Joel fan, but man I can't listen to "You Can Make Me Free" at the normal speed.
     
  4. bigmikerocks

    bigmikerocks Forum Resident Thread Starter

    From what source are you hearing ‘you can make me free’ at correct speed? If it’s the 1984 Columbia release, that’s not the correct speed
     
  5. BEAThoven

    BEAThoven Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Playing the original LP at 31.3 rpm doesn't get me close to its correct speed?
     
  6. bigmikerocks

    bigmikerocks Forum Resident Thread Starter

    According to which pressing. As I’ve established here, not all pressings were mastered 7-8% fast. My Original copies play at correct speed so if you play them slow they’re gonna sound slow. Listen to the version on Spotify. It’s from the 1984 remix and it plays very slow. (The remix has major speed issues)

    if you’re a musician, she’s got a way should start in G, and you can make me free should start in C (but the song is in F)
     
  7. BEAThoven

    BEAThoven Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    My copy sounds close to this:



    I actually prefer it like this because it puts Joel somewhere between McCartney and Freddie Mercury! :)
     
  8. bigmikerocks

    bigmikerocks Forum Resident Thread Starter

    That one is not a fast mastering. It’s fast but juuuuust barely. So if you slow that one down 7-8% it’s gonna be way slow
     
  9. Michael Sutter

    Michael Sutter Forum Resident

    Location:
    Holbrook, NY
    Correct. The LP is faster and the CD is slower, generally, than concert pitch on a lot of songs. There are some exceptions on the CD: Tomorrow is Today, Nocturne, and Got to Begin Again play at or very close to the proper pitch. Every song plays in the wrong key on the LP. My personal copy of the first pressing plays as fast as any vinyl rip I've heard.

    I don't remember the exact adjustments that had to be made for every track to match its originally recorded key, but they were not consistent from track-to-track for either the LP or the CD. The 8-track release bears the same problems, which tells me that this was not an issue of the stamper being cut at the wrong speed but the tape itself being dubbed at the wrong speed(s). Don't know why different speeds, and good luck getting answers from that dirtbag Artie Ripp.

    So here's the story we know:
    • Billy Joel had a really high voice when he was younger, and this is obvious on the corrected album and live recordings of that period.
    • This high, immature voice sounded even more ridiculous when the Cold Spring Harbor tapes were dubbed at too fast a speed, causing Billy's voice to sound unnaturally high.
    • Billy records his next albums with actual professionals who know what they're doing. He gets famous. Artie Ripp still has the tapes and the rights to Cold Spring Harbor, so he goes back to the multitracks to remix the album and record some new parts.
    • Ripp's new mix is intentionally slowed down from original recording pitch to bring Billy's high voice closer to what his matured voice sounded like in the early 80s, near the height of his popularity. Not every song needs to be slowed down - his voice sounds fine on some songs (Got to Begin Again), goes too low on some (Tomorrow is Today, bridge section), needs very little correction on others (Turn Around), or in the case of Nocturne was an instrumental.
    • This just contributes to the confusion over Cold Spring Harbor's proper speed. There's no way that the original chipmunk speed was intentional and I can't stand how Ripp's new mix sits "in between" keys (e.g. She's Got a Way and Why Judy Why are lowered to sit between F# and G, Everybody Loves You Now is just a bit sharper than the actual key of B, etc).
    When I originally "remastered" Jamie Tate's needledrop, I was still under the impression that the pitch issues happened during cutting rather than dubbing, so I went through the trouble of removing then re-applying RIAA EQ. If I were to re-do this now, I wouldn't bother. I'd also probably use a higher quality pitch adjuster and maybe not go quite so heavy on the click removal.

    So I took both Jamie's awesome needledrop and the Doug Sax-mastered CD and fixed the pitch on both, matching by ear with my digital piano as I went. It also helps to have perfect pitch when you do this, but I wouldn't want to brag or anything.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
  10. Ken K

    Ken K Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sayreville, NJ USA
    I don't know if this has been asked elsewhere, but were Billy's vocals recorded live with the instrumentation, or overdubbed? If overdubbed, I wonder if it's remotely possible that there was a slight speed issue when playing back the track at the wrong speed, making the vocals "off". Reading through the threads, it seems like there is not one "correct" speed for any of the songs.
     
  11. bigmikerocks

    bigmikerocks Forum Resident Thread Starter

    His voice just sounded like that back then. Listen to Atilla or the 2nd Hassles album.
     
  12. Andreas

    Andreas Senior Member

    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    @bigmikerocks Can you please compare your LP to the samples that I posted? The vinyl rip of She's Got A Way is about 2% faster than the corrected rip.
     
  13. boggs

    boggs Multichannel Machiavellian

    I compared my original vinyl lp (not bootleg) to your download of speed corrected sample. I usually play my lp @31.4 rpms. I found per your corected sample that 31.6 rpms is a bit better. Thanks! My understanding was that no original pressing of CSH has ever been correct.
     
  14. boggs

    boggs Multichannel Machiavellian

    Definitely too fast.
     
  15. bigmikerocks

    bigmikerocks Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Compare that to the intro of Angry young man. They both have C as the first chord. This is barely higher than that.
     
  16. MrRom92

    MrRom92 Forum Supermodel

    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Has anyone ever tried asking about this? When’s the last year (decade?) this Artie dude was interviewed for anything?
     
  17. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, US
    I think the correct key of "Everybody Loves You Now" was C.
     
    SteelyNJ likes this.
  18. Me, I’m in the minority here I suppose—I like the reissued version.
     
    Hey Vinyl Man likes this.
  19. Michael Sutter

    Michael Sutter Forum Resident

    Location:
    Holbrook, NY
    You're right, I wasn't clear in my post. I mean that the CD remix sits between B and C, but seems a little closer to B. The LP version sits between C and C#. The real key is C.
     
    Hep Alien and pbuzby like this.
  20. bigmikerocks

    bigmikerocks Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Here’s a video I made with a needledrop of my early pressing of CSH, and the original 45s of “She’s got a way” and “tomorrow is today”. My 1973 pressing plays at this same speed.

    I’ve also had one other early pressing of this album that played at this speed. You can hear exactly how off each song is compared to where they were recorded via my piano.



    @boggs @Andreas
    @kwadguy @Michael Sutter
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
    jeffreybh likes this.
  21. boggs

    boggs Multichannel Machiavellian

    I see where we have different opinions on what speed is and what sharp is when I view this video. Thanks for the post.
     
  22. bigmikerocks

    bigmikerocks Forum Resident Thread Starter

    There are pressings out there that that run like 7-8% sharp. Those are the ones that people talk about when they say the album was mastered fast, make him sound like a chipmunk, etc. My pressing isn’t like that. Some songs are right on pitch, the ones that are fast are barely fast. Not even close to being enough to making his voice sound off.
     
  23. Andreas

    Andreas Senior Member

    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Can you please compare your LP against the samples for She's Got A Way I posted?
     
  24. bigmikerocks

    bigmikerocks Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I tagged you in a video I made of mine 3 posts up
     
  25. Hey Vinyl Man

    Hey Vinyl Man Another bloody Yank down under...

    Me too. Those horns on "Tomorrow is Today" just sound ridiculous. It's already a dramatic enough song without that.
     

Share This Page