DCC Archive For Steve - Stereo Remixes?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by lukpac, Oct 7, 2001.

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  1. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Ok, Steve, I know you've been on record a number of times speaking out about the Pet Sounds stereo mix, saying it's simply not the original. Well, I've currently got Chuck's Rock "n Roll Rarities in now - how is that any different? (for those who don't know, R&RR features a number of stereo remixes, done by Steve). Or has your stance changed over time?

    I'm still waiting to hear all the Stones' Chess and RCA material in stereo!
     
  2. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Video Gort Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Luke:

    [Re: "Pet Sounds]
    Well, I don't know what Steve will say, but I feel that since the synching between the various stems necessary to create the stereo version probably would have to be done in the digital domain, I would think that would disqualify it right there.

    Now, Mark Linnett has said that the mix was tranferred to analog (in 1996, I believe), but again, I think that this refers to a dump of the previously-assembled digitally-created multi-track master to the analog format. I don't believe it was mastered to analog directly from the analog stem sources.

    And I'd hate to try synching that stuff up by hand for a true analog multi-track master!! :)

    -Joel Cairo

    [ October 07, 2001: Message edited by: Joel Cairo ]

    [ October 07, 2001: Message edited by: Joel Cairo ]
     
  3. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    True (about going to digital), but it seems that Steve has problems with the remix in general - the fact that it's "not the original".

    I'm *generally* "anti-remix", but I am torn at times. Most often, of course, it's for a "never been in stereo" track. Although, sometimes I *would* like to hear "normal" stereo mixes of Rubber Soul. The problem is getting them to sound like the originals, only with a different stereo balance. It certainly won't happen with the people there now.

    BTW, Steve, what do you do for echo when you remix? Ie, with the Berry tracks? I don't have the mono versions of those songs to compare, but all the stereo (probably mono too) stuff from Chess then has a *great* echo. The Stones tracks, Folk Singer, etc...

    BTW, Bob Irwin has still insisted that all of PSR&T was remixed, including the title track. Hmm...
     
  4. Grant

    Grant Now let that bass fall in! Oh yeah!

    Location:
    United States
    Luke, i'm breaking in here, off topic, and kind of rambling because I just got off a night of hard work, but aren't a lot of those Chess singles from the mid-60s mostly original stereo mixes simply folded to mono for single release? I have many examples of them. Seems like Chess was forward thinking when it camt to stereo. Hmmmm...

    [ October 08, 2001: Message edited by: Grant T. ]
     
  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    I really dislike my stereo remixes on the Chuck Berry discs I did. I was way too "gentle" with them. They needed a lot more compression and general nasty stuff to make them sound like their mono counterparts. At the time, I fell in to the trap that usually gets all "remixers" of old classic stuff: The urge to play God. In other words, to make things sound "better" than the original mixes, and to share with all of you music lovers the way the actual multi-track tapes sound. This (in hindsight) is a mistake, because the multi's are just work parts, and sound way too clean to be of any valid interest or use in any thing other than a historical context. If the real mixes vanish just because they are mono, or sound a bit rough, well, this would be a shame...

    I didn't realize this until 1986 when my friend and reissue expert Diana Reid Haig explained to me that the "original mix is THE mix, regardless of how bad it sounds, and that anything else is just playing God". She was right. I've never heard a remix that has the energy, life and as good a "vibe" as the original, mono or stereo.

    Of course, I still do it on occasion: Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Nat "King" Cole, etc. But never on a "Pet Sounds" type album; not after the original artist and engineer slaved over the (one and only) mix. Futzing with something like that is really tampering with history.

    The echo on the Chuck Berry remixes either came from the original tapes, a nice vintage stereo plate at MCA/Whitney, or the big chamber over at the Capitol Tower.

    QUESTIONS, COMMENTS???
     
  6. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Actually, from what I've heard, that wasn't the case at all. I asked Andy McKaie at MCA why certain sessions have not shown up in stereo, and he said Ron Malo told him (before he died) that Lenoard Chess really didn't care much about stereo. If a stereo mix was done, we were kind of lucky.

    Back to Steve's comments... Regarding the Chuck Berry stuff itself, I'm not too familiar with the mono mixes of those songs, but when I first put the disc in I thought "hmm, this really doesn't sound like other stereo mixes from the era." The lack of echo on the vocals struck me right away, as did the EQ - hard to describe, but it seems as if there's more midrange than what's on the mixes from the period.

    I do know they used the stereo mix of You Never Can Tell on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, and it seems as if I've heard No Particular Place To Go in stereo more often than not.

    As for remixes getting close to the originals - I'm still very impressed with the Byrds remixes. Excellent job there.
     
  7. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    Ah, that's a touchy area. I've heard stereo mixes of Lps that weren't released in Stereo originally (I think Aretha's "I Never Loved A Man" was in mono @ Atlantic, the new reissue has stereo on the 4Men w/beards vinyl) and I think it really has to do with the format you're releasing it on, if you HAVE the permission to use both mixes, and if the sound is tried and true as is on the opposite mix. I've heard some late 60's records like the Beatles White Album, it should be mainly represented in Stereo, but the Mono has it's neat differences too!

    Chuck Berry, we have this Army supply store and I know this older guy who fixes Ol' Seaburg L-100 type jukeboxes. He 1/2 donated a Seaburg to this store, and it's still 3 plays for a buck. Collectors records and the old Eric Records reissue 45's fortify the unit. Since the jukebox is a midrange-tube-ampd-ballsy performer (and mono) I played Maybelline and a Spinners stereo 45. I was shocked at the great sound that jukebox had playing that POS Eric 45. You could totally relate to kids in the 50's getting up to dance in the malt shop, because the sound was THAT good, no lie. Counter help thought I was nuts sitting there watching it spin... Nice toy!

    Yes, I agree with Diana. However, if the opportunity presents itself, the opposite mix to the most popular mix, (Be in Mono or Stereo) is a real treat.

    I love the Capitol remix of Pet Sounds to Stereo, but in order for one to really appreciate the magic and deddend, natural sound, it must be the MONO. It's like "getting a joke" the 1st time it's told to you. When you listen to the Mono mix properly, you totally "get" what they were working so hard for.

    But throw away the Stereo? Naah. There's room in this one horse town for both, patnah! Hopefully others can make it happen!
     
  8. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Eh, to the best of my knowledge, that one's always been stereo. Rhino used the mono for their CD, but... The MoFi CD is stereo, in particular.
     
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    To respond to a couple of private emails about some topics discussed on this thread:

    I love stereo. Don't misunderstand me. Stereo is great. If a song or album was only released in mono, and stereo versions can be created, it's fine with me, as long as the "spirit" of the original mix is kept.

    What I don't like, is making a new stereo mix where the original stereo mix works just fine. For what reason do this? Ego, usually. I went down that road. All engineers do. Can't be helped... In all cases (expect one, I guess, Simon & Garfunkel's PSRT), I can spot a remix like a dead skunk: Beloved levels are different, compression is less, or more. Echo is digital or too much, or not enough, EQ is radically changed. In most cases, the mixes sound "modern". Geez I hate that. Usually the hard left/right/center has been changed. Boy, the first stereo remix of "Mr Tambourine Man" that was done was practically mono. Why bother? I remember laughing out loud when I heard that. Of course it was explained to me that that is what the band wanted... Of course the original mono mix has feeling. The stereo remix just sounded digital, with fake digital echo. Sigh...


    One other comment. In the case of a favorite group, I'll take the mix that sounds the best to me, mono or stereo. Example: "Can't Buy Me Love", or "I Want To Hold Your Hand". Both stereo mixes are very weak. The mono's however, really kick ass. Amazing difference. Same with "Paperback Writer". It's just that the mono's are better mixes: The crucial rhythm tracks on these songs are much louder on the mono mixes. The stereo mix of "Can't Buy Me Love" has the rhythm track down about 4 db from the mono mix. In other words, it stinks...

    Oh well, this is old news to those faithful DCC Forum readers...
     
  10. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Video Gort Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Well, it's just apples and oranges... and as long as each package is labeled appropriately as to what it contains, the public is free to choose themselves...

    But really, when you get down to it, remixing in any form (particularly so many years after the originals were done) is only going to give you a replica of the original product anyway. And the spatial (aural) soundstages of stereo and mono are **so** different that you're almost doomed from the start. Then when you factor in the vast differences in people's listening rooms, stereo set-ups and individual hearing abilities-- well, there's just too much to compensate for. That's why they made mono records. So they'll sound the same to everyone. One channel, one layer of meticulously balanced sound. Simple and direct.

    Although there is a fascination to me for a stereo mix of a number that was previously ionly mono, you might as well be trying to make a 3-D version of the Mona Lisa. It's lovely, and shows me many things that I didn't see before (including, possibly, some things that the artist didn't want me to see), but it's not the original. And it's not going to affect me the same way.

    So Steve, I don't think I'd worry too much about playing God... for all the good that you've done for so **many** artists, if anyone has earned that right, it's you. And if you're disatisfied with the results of your efforts after looking back at them-- well, you're in good company... John Lennon once said he loved the Beatles' records, but there wasn't one of them that he wouldn't like to re-do, given the chance.

    So just chalk it up to the (moral) learning curve, and let it go at that. :)

    -Joel Cairo

    PS - Speaking of the Beatles, I noticed earlier references to "Sgt. Pepper"... I was told at the time of the CD's release that Paul (although he signed off on them) was so dissatisfied with the '87 remixes of "Help!" and "Rubber Soul" that he forbade any remixing of what were considered "his" numbers for "Sgt. Pepper"... that's why a) there's no SPARS code on the disc, and b) his songs are the only ones on the CD that display the hiss from the old EMI master tape. I've no reason to doubt the veracity of this... if you listen on headphones, the transitions between the re-mixed songs and his ("She's Leaving Home", "When I'm 64") are obvious, as are the differences in dynamics. Now he may have changed his mind on this later for subsequent discs, but I think this policy is largely in effect through the release of the "White Album".

    How they ever got the group to sign off on 5.1 remixes for the "Yellow Submarine" movie, I'll never know... :)
     
  11. J Epstein

    J Epstein Member

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Echoing what has been said already - if you haven't heard Chuck Berry' soriginal Chess 45s you are missing a treat.

    The MCA Chess Box sets did a great job of reproducing these masters, it is true, but there's something about that blue label . . . .

    -j
     
  12. RetroSmith

    RetroSmith Forum Hall Of Fame<br>(Formerly Mikey5967)

    Location:
    East Coast
    For Steve Hoffman. Steve, believe me when I tell you, I respect your opinion, and I love your work. That being said, I read your message where you mentioned that you had never heard a remix that had the "power" and punch of the original mixes.
    Well, I really have to disagree with you for a number of reasons. First off, there are so many stereo mixes out there that were done in about 10 seconds, just for the sales dept to have something else to sell. Those mixes shouldnt really be considered "sacred", should they? Some of the Gary Lewis stereo Lps are a joke....the 2 track balance is so way off its unlistenable. On something like that , a remix makes the track enjoyable the way it WAS supposed to be.
    Secondly, if you want a few examples of remixes that simply BLOW AWAY the original mix, try this: Put on an original LP of The Fantastic Baggys (on Liberty). Then put on the Legendary Masters remix. There is No comparison at all!! The Lp is weak, drowned in hiss, and is compressed to the point of insanity. On the Remix, the sound literally jumps out of the speakers...Hal Blaines drumming like its in your bedroom. In fact, There are several in that series that really do blow away the originals. Ever heard The Crickets Legendary Masters Cd? The sound is so good, you will think you are in the studio. Really, I'm not kidding. when I first played it, Jerry Allison asks the producer a question. I actually turned around to see where he was!!
    Also The Honeys Cd is simply stunning.....after the pukey mono mixes with all the compression, the LM Cd was a revelation.
    I guess what Im saying this.....you are 100% right when you say that some people slaved over the mono mix, Like Brian Wilson. Then again, some, didnt. Some were only motivated to make a quick mix and didnt really care that much. I mean, who would allow "Angel Baby" to be pressed with that painfully out of tune sax solo? That was someone who wasnt much of perfectionist.
    Certainly, many of the stereo mixes from the 60s were an afterthought, and in those cases, remixing DOES allow us to hear what the artist and producer intended.
    I would dearly LOVE to hear you remix some of those Gary Lewis and Del Shannon Lps from the 4 tracks with your tube Ampex 300...I know how great they would sound.
    All the best,
    Mikey
     
  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Mikey, agreed! There are always exceptions.

    [ October 08, 2001: Message edited by: Steve Hoffman ]
     
  14. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Er...no:) Pepper is a straight remaster - nothing was remixed. In fact, in an interview prior to the release of Pepper, Martin specifically stated that he wouldn't even think of remixing Pepper.

    So, no, nothing was remixed except the Help and Rubber Soul discs...

    In response to Mikey, a BIG problem I have with Ron Furmanek's work (he was in charge of most of the discs you mention) is his lack of appreciation for the *sound* of the original mixes, in particular the echo. And it's not that he simply overlooked that aspect - he didn't like the original echo on a lot of things and specifically went out to change that sound. If that's not "playing god", I don't know what is...

    Steve, have you heard the more recent stereo mix of Mr. Tambourine Man? It actually sounds like a '60s mix, hard stereo panning and all. For some reason most or all of the mixes from the Never Before disc (which is where the bad version of MTM came from) have very indistinct stereo imaging - everything is a "wash"...

    But, yeah, while I wouldn't pick them to master stuff, I do think the team of Bob Irwin/Vic Anesini (I think I screwed that one up) is great when it comes to remixes. Like Bob said about the S&G box, he had no intention of changing or "improving" anything with the remixes, but rather simply doing what they did back then.
     
  15. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Video Gort Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Luke:

    With all due respect, there's no way that "Pepper" is a straight re-master. If it were, the noise floor wouldn't show such a wide variation from track totrack. Compare "Mr. Kite" to "She's Leaving Home", and you'll see what I mean.

    -Joel Cairo
     
  16. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    No, Pepper is a straigt remaster, NO doubt about it. Besides the obvious reasons (it just *sounds* like the original mix), the hiss levels don't really change like you say. Good Morning Good Morning has just as much hiss as Lovely Rita (which isn't much, BTW).

    No, that's the original mix, all the way though. Sgt. Pepper sounds just like the vinyl (any EQ differences aside), while Help and Rubber Soul both sound different. Plus, there's the fact that Revolver wasn't remixed either - why would they remix Pepper and not Revolver?

    Pepper was mastered from a *copy* of the stereo master. Simple as that.
     
  17. Joel Cairo

    Joel Cairo Video Gort Staff

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Well, we may have to "agree to disagree" on "Pepper... :)

    As for not re-mixing "Revolver", the given reason was that George Martin was satisfied with the mixes that were made for the original album, which (as I'm sure you already know) was not the case for "Help" and "Rubber Soul"-- those both contained what he considered to be stereo mixes that were too extreme in their separation.

    Personally, I wish he **had** remixed "Revolver" using the studio set-up that they had for the "Anthology" series. But I'd easily settle for just letting Steve have a crack at them!!

    -Joel Cairo
     
  18. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Blech. I'm *very* glad they didn't do that. For all of the hype about Anthology, those mixes sound nothing like the originals. So much for "restoring" the echo chamber...

    Here's the Martin interview:

    ---

    ALLAN KOZINN: Back to the CD remixes. You've done the next three; will "Sgt. Pepper" then be the original mix?

    GEORGE MARTIN: I'm certain it will be, and I'm certain that from then on all the mixes will be the originals, except that I don't want them to go out unadulterated. I think the EQs on the CDs may be wrong, so I'd like to look at them and see that they are not quite as strident, or coarse as they might be.

    ALLAN KOZINN: What are the possibilities of a mono "Pepper" and a mono "White Album" coming out on CD?

    GEORGE MARTIN: Highly unlikely I'd think. Why, do you like the mono albums?

    ALLAN KOZINN: Well, yes, but it's not a matter of preference, necessarily. It's just that there are some interesting differences. John's vocal on "Lucy in the Sky," for instance, has that nice echoey phase-shifted sound that's perfect for the song. "She's Leaving Home" is sped up a bit, and doesn't drag as much in mono as in stereo. And in the intro to the "Sgt. Pepper" Reprise, there's an extra bar of drum beats.

    GEORGE MARTIN: Ah yes. That was probably cut out to make it tighter. (rest of passage cut)

    ---

    I believe it was also Allan that told me that Pepper was cut from a copy tape, and that the master could not be located for the CD.
     
  19. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    AFAIK, Pepper's MONO master was next-gen from the multi, used at the EMI cutting room facilities for the Mono Parlaphone in 1967. It was never used again, supposedly. The stereo copy has always been 2nd gen from the multi's, or further, depending on origin, pressing, format...Don't let it spoil the music for you. ;)
     
  20. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    No, Sckott, for the CD they actually couldn't find the master - ie, *the* master. So, rather than being 1st/2nd generation (2nd on the crossfaded songs), it's 2nd/3rd....
     
  21. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    Ah, yes that would make sense.
     
  22. Grant

    Grant Now let that bass fall in! Oh yeah!

    Location:
    United States
    ...If you're talking about the 50s and early 60s...

    Well then, they got lucky a lot in the mid- 60s! Maybe all the stereo has to do with the Charles Stepney era. I understand a lot of Chess mono mixes from this period were thrown out in the seventies.
     
  23. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yeah, I was mainly talking about the late 50s/early 60s. Andy told me that if a track wasn't recorded specifically for an album, it's a crap shoot as to if stereo mixes were done.

    There's also the issue of "running masters" (I believe that's what Andy called them). Along with the 4-track machine, I guess Chess had another stereo machine running in parallel. Sometimes these tapes are indeed stereo, but sometimes that "live mix" is mono. Which is why some outtakes are mono, while others are stereo.

    *Some* multitracks still exist for songs not originally mixed to stereo, but there's the issue of matching the originals, along with the fact that MCA doesn't feel it's financially worth it to remix much of that stuff. Bill Inglot has remixed a number of Chess tracks (often to remove horns that were overdubbed), and they just don't sound like the originals...
     
  24. Grant

    Grant Now let that bass fall in! Oh yeah!

    Location:
    United States
    Also, Arethe Franklin's "I Never Loved A Man The Way that I loved You" was released in mono first. The stereo followed very soon afterward.

    I believe Rhino's decision to release the mono version was not just because the soiund was superior but also because the mixes on the mono LP were the same as the singles. The stereo mixes of the singles were added as a bonus for those who prefer them.

    As for stereo remixes, I always prefer the originals. I regard the mono mixes as the standard no matter how bad they may sound. Steve is right, it would be a tragedy if they fade away because they are historical documents.

    There are groups of stereo fanatics that would love to revise history.
     
  25. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    The Stones sounded great at Chess, but the engineers seemed to stear twords the dirt that made the sound unmistakeable. That's the real deal. Bo Diddley knocks me out even with modern equipment.
     
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