Elvis Costello on Rhino--time to reevaluate?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by edb15, Oct 10, 2007.

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  1. edb15

    edb15 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    new york
    Due to the near universal acclaim for the Elvis on Rhino cds, I purchased my 4 favorites this summer--the first 3 and Blood and Chocolate.

    Now that I have listened to the first two, I must say the sound quality is not what I had hoped. Specifically, the treble is really hyped and messes everything up. Songs with active cymbals are totally dominated by them. Elvis' voice is as if shifted in timbre and scratchier. Snares are all snap with no body. The sweetness of the midrange--the guitars in particular, is much diminished. Bass doesn't seem as satisfying. Things go from ok to bad when the songs crest--the sound gets gritty and sibilant sounds cut like knives.

    Yes there is more detail, and you can surmise the converters were smoother, but boy, that eq ruins the balance and fails the tune test (how easy is it to sing along or to remember the tune after). Admittedly, the first album is a tough one as it is pretty rough sounding, but the solution is not to jack the treble! Those two albums never sounded like they do here and were never meant to--mid 70s English pub rock is meant to be warm sounding.

    I am comparing here directly to the Ryko cds. I've been listening to this music for fifteen years, vinyl when serious, Ryko cd for convenience. I have Columbia for MAIT, Columbia (Costello label) and Radar for TYM.

    I am also displeased with Blood and Chocolate, which I didn't have on cd. Despite the albums' length, the cd lacks bass, warmth, depth, openness in comparison.

    Is it time to reevaluate the Rhino issues?
  2. RoyalScam

    RoyalScam Luckless Pedestrian

    I disagree on almost all counts. I had the Rykos, and purchased the Very Best Of on Rhino when it was released and was very disappointed, so I stuck with my Rykos for years.

    Then I heard some of the album releases on Rhino and realized the masterings were markedly different from the best of. I much prefer every Rhino I own and have tossed most of my Rykos, except for the ones that have additional bonus tracks not carried over to the Rhinos.

    BUT...the only Rhino I do not like the sound of is Punch The Clock. I much prefer the Ryko of that one, and kept it.

    Don't have vinyl or Columbias to compare.
  3. I find the Rhino's a little bright too, but still less filtered (usually not at all) and from
    much better tapes than the Rykos. A couple titles were FLAT transfers by
    Andrew Sandoval's own account. So, on these titles i tilt the treble back a tiny bit.

    I thought 'Blood and Chocolate' was much improved with the switch from Ryko to Rhino.
    No nr, better detail in the low frequencies. BUT obviously a cut was made in the mid-bass around 300hz.

    Oh, some of the tracks on the Ryko editions of 'Armed Forces' and 'King Of America'
    were very distorted, but sound fine on the later Rhinos.
  4. edb15

    edb15 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    new york
    Which ones were flat transfers?
  5. Paul K

    Paul K Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    I stand by the original Demon/Imps as being the best sounding EC CD's....
    Echo likes this.
  6. JA Fant

    JA Fant Well-Known Member

    I like the original pressings, labels ,as well.
  7. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member

    Davis, CA, USA
    I have recently picked up a couple of the regular old U.S. Columbia CDs of Elvis' stuff - ARMED FORCES, THIS YEAR'S MODEL and IMPERIAL BEDROOM so far - and they sound just like my old Columbia LPs of this stuff, warts and all. Not sure if they are "flat transfers" but they sound that way to me, or at least minimally futzed with. I'm quite happy with them and will be picking up more.

    I had some of the Rykos before and never cared for the way they sounded.

    I bought some of the Rhino 2 CD versions and, apparently against the general consensus here, wasn't happy with the sound on those either. My wife is a big EC fan but no audiophile, and she noticed the "crunchiness" immediately and much prefers the original Columbias too.

    Perhaps a little more detail is present on the Rhinos compared with the originals but they are crunchy in the upper midrange for my taste. They sound nothing like the original LPs to me, which I actually thought sounded pretty good.

    Suppose I'll keep the Rhinos for all the bonus tracks and far superior liners, but not for listening to the originally issued recordings.
  8. GregK

    GregK Forum Resident

    Baltimore, MD
    what does "crunchy" mean?
  9. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member

    Davis, CA, USA
    I don't know what crunchy means to you but to me it means an unappealing, unmusical boost in the upper midrange. I find this is something that pops up in a lot of Mr. Inglot's work. No disrespect meant, he has a lot of fans and I have many discs he remastered that I think are great (the Rhino 2 CD Love compilation is wonderful), but I find some of his stuff not at all to my taste including these Elvis discs.

    Oh and I leave open the possibility that Mr. Inglot's CDs could actually be CLOSER to the sound of the original masters - e.g. maybe the originals were futzed with, to tame an upper midranginess - but either way the originals sound more musical to my ears.

    I fully expect to get lambasted for this opinion, having read some of the things people have said about the original Columbia discs. I was quite surprised myself after reading all that stuff, but there you go, gotta go with my ears.
    Cracklebarrel likes this.
  10. antonkk

    antonkk Senior Member

    I agree with the original poster 100% - I find Rhinos's to be harsh, hollow and ultracrispy in the mid's. Typical Inglot. But then I'm not a fan of the man's style by any means. :thumbsdn:
  11. JayB

    JayB Senior Member

    The bonus tracks on most of the Rhino's are *essential* IMO, so I'm sticking with those.

    Personally I don't find these too bad..
  12. The Keymaster

    The Keymaster Forum Resident

    So Cal, USA
    After listening to the Rykos for a decade, it took me quite a while to get used to the sound on the Rhinos (especially "Get Happy!!"). But I've gleaned from folks on this forum that this is because they are from better generation master tapes.

    There's another sound issue with the Rykos involving phasing--I think--that I'm not smart enough to fully understand. :laugh:
  13. Downsampled

    Downsampled Forum Resident

    I'll be interested to follow this thread. I've read a lot of previous EC threads and have also been buying a few of the Rhino CDs lately, trying to get them before they disppear.

    I haven't listened to them too critically (I bought Model, Armed, and Trust recently) but I have not really been as impressed as I'd hoped. I'm reluctant to say much about that, though, because I should sit down and listen a little more carefully.

    I bought all the Rykos when they came out and liked them a lot. I'm happy to concede that I might have been reacting to the usual superficial things, like loudness and NR. Back when they came out, I didn't think much about those things. Again, I'd have to listen more critically.

    One thing I did notice was that the Ryko King Of America had some disturbing distortion on it. It was alarming enough that I bought the Rhino right when it came out.

    I still have a lot of the original Imp/Fiend/Demon UK CDs (Aim, Model, Armed, Happy, Trust, Punch, King) and one of these days I'll sit down for a major listening session with everything. (I have to wait until my wife is out of the house! :) ) In the meantime I'm still hoping to get the Rhino Happy and Chocolate.
  14. The Keymaster

    The Keymaster Forum Resident

    So Cal, USA
    I agree with this sentiment, although I think I'd say the sound is punchy, not crunchy.
  15. The Keymaster

    The Keymaster Forum Resident

    So Cal, USA
    IIRC, there's also a split second missing in the middle of one of the fadeouts. ("I'll Wear It Proudly," I think.)

    The Ryko "My Aim Is True" also has a split second missing near the beginning of "I'm Not Angry"!

    I'm not sure how those were let out with such glaring mastering errors.
  16. J.A.W.

    J.A.W. Music Addict

    I've never had any of the Elvis Costello CD releases before the Rhino remasters. What are the problems, if any, with the Demon CDs from the 1980s?
  17. DrJ

    DrJ Senior Member

    Davis, CA, USA
    Never heard the Demon CDs, I'll be interested to hear what people say too Hans.

    Just to clarify my comments above, since someone after then mentioned Rykos, it's the original U.S. Columbia CDs I've recently been enjoying, not the Rykos (didn't care for those much). This came very much as a surprise to me as I'd read a lot of negatives about the Columbias, but they just sound very natural and musical to me, not like the upper mids were pushed up to increase punch etc. This is EC and the Attractions for goodness sake - the music ALREADY is punchy in the extreme, no need to go accentuating that IMHO! :winkgrin:
  18. Downsampled

    Downsampled Forum Resident

    "Punchy" is the word alright -- especially for the early stuff. The bass and drums on albums like This Years Model and Trust (e.g. "Strict Time") is practically the main feature. The remasters really amplify it. To some extent, loudness and NR and smiley-EQ are seductive for that stuff. But then your ears get tired out. Now, perhaps the Rhino remasters are flat transfers, but even so, a softened mastering (like maybe on the Columbias and Demons) might sound pretty good after a while.
  19. MichaelSmith

    MichaelSmith Forum Resident

    Atlanta, GA
    The Demon's that I have - only comps and rarities collections - all sound very good. I have not compared to the Rhinos but the Demons were a major improvement over the Columbia CD's.
  20. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Demons rule the CD world. Grab everyone you still can.
    bataclan2002 likes this.
  21. J.A.W.

    J.A.W. Music Addict

    According to the booklets of the Rhino 2CD-sets that were released a few years ago "the sound was produced by Bill Inglot and Andrew Sandoval" and the remastering was done by Dan Hersch, not Bill Inglot.
  22. Simon A

    Simon A Arrr!

    If you want to find out how good the originals sound, allow me to suggest this alternative. Get the Girls, Girls Girls 2 CD 47 track comp. As soon as you'll hear those thundering drums come at you in Watching The Detectives, you'll know exactly what you're in for. What I love about the selection is that it's not just the obvious stuff and the liner notes (by Elvis) are very entertaining. A keeper!

    This is what you should look for:

  23. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Me too. I had the full set, and kick myself for discarding them for the Rykos in the early 90's. I've tracked down and re-purchased a few but they are hard to find in the US.

    I agree with the thread starter too. I was surprised by the acclaim the trebly and sometimes dynamically compressed Rhinos got. I bought Spike and found it FAR inferior to the original WB CD.
  24. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    I have quite a few of whatever are the white bread original American cds. They sound good. I was listening to Imperial Bedroom on headphones last week and couldn't help but notice how perfect Elvis' voice track was - as if he had crawled inside my head to croon "Almost Blue." But there are a few big holes in my EC collection on CD -- Get Happy and Blood and Chocolate come to mind. It sure would be nice if it were as easy as just buying the Rhino releases, but I hear most saying that the original cd transfers are the better ones. Yes?

  25. chilab17

    chilab17 Forum Resident

    Niles, IL
    The first four Columbia CDs are as bad as the Columbia vinyl: compressed, narrowed, and limited. The bottom of the Attractions sound - bass and drums - does not match the original UK vinyl and Demon cds. Compare "Watching the Detectives" and "Temptation" for two examples. (I agree with the recommendation for Girls Girls Girls. The Columbia version was the first time some of the "correct" mastering of some of these songs appeared in the US.)

    The next set - except Taking Liberties - until King of America seem much better and closer to the UK releases. The shortcomings of the King of America cd worldwide is accessed in the Costello Album thread (pt 1). The ideal is to find an RCA-distributed F-Beat version.

    Other than the RCA F-Beats, I prefer the original Demon issues from the 1980s.

    I also agree that the original Warner Brothers Spike is much better than the Rhino version. The Rhino is harsher.
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