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Mari Wilson : Does her Showpeople album sound like crap?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by kwadguy, May 28, 2014.

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  1. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member Thread Starter

    Cambridge, MA
    I recently picked up the Mari Wilson compilation The Platinum Collection.

    It's a generous collection that includes her entire first (and best) album, Showpeople--although in random order scattered among the 20 tracks (who comes up with these bright ideas?)

    Anyway, the tracks from Showpeople are really unpleasant, with extremely squashed dynamics.

    My question is: Is this on the master tape (after all, they were going for a retro sound, and might have just put the compressor on stun) or are these bad transfers?

    Somewhere, I have the vinyl LP, but not readily accessible. I don't recall it being this unpleasant. But again, the last time I listened to it was many years ago...
  2. tin ears

    tin ears Forum Resident

    Scotland UK
    No, it's the CD that's the problem as you've rightly noticed. It's without a doubt one of the most brutally compressed, unlistenable discs in my entire collection.

    I also have the original vinyl and it sounds ok considering it's lengthy sides. How anyone could hear the same songs on this CD and think 'yeah, that sounds great!' is a mystery. Some of them sound like they're being played back on a cheap boombox sitting in the corner of an echo chamber, volume ramped to 11 with added wonky EQ. It's even more inexplicable when you consider this CD was mastered by a certain vinyl mastering legend, Denis Blackham aka Bilbo.

    If you want to hear Showpeople as you remember it you'll probably need to unearth that old vinyl. Other than the unfortunate sound quality the CD also uses different mixes for a number of tracks. One Day Is A Lifetime/Dr Love/Wonderful/This Is It/This Time Tomorrow/Ecstacy and Cry Me A River are all alternate versions or mixes to varying degrees. These same alternate mixes are also used on this 1992 compilation (minus the horrendous compression) http://www.discogs.com/Mari-Wilson-Just-What-I-Always-Wanted/release/938951.

    I don't have the finances to purchase all her older hard to find comps to see if any of them contain the original Showpeople versions or not so I've settled for a needledrop of the album in the meantime. Hopefully the supposed upcoming Mari title that Vinny Vero is working on may rectify some of these issues, not holding my breath though.
  3. Trevor_Bartram

    Trevor_Bartram Forum Resident

    Boylston, MA, USA
    Showpeople was a great album and Mari Wilson a real talent. I resequenced The Platinum Collection into chronological and album order, it sounds much better that way. I did not notice the compression but its been a long time since I played the LP.
    Not all Denis Blackham's masters are great, I am sure he did what he is told by the record company.
    I could not find the earlier compilation on CD at Amazon US or UK, it must be rare.
  4. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member Thread Starter

    Cambridge, MA
    It's kind of surprising that Mari faded into such a minor footnote...When Showpeople came out, she got a decent amount of press in the US--although not much in the way of sales. However, she was a lot more successful in Europe...

    A good sounding reissue of Showpeople, with the correct mixes and in the right order, plus 12" remixes and other ephemera of the period, would be great.
  5. lv70smusic

    lv70smusic Senior Member

    San Francisco, CA
    I bought the Japanese cd comp when it first came out and was disappointed in it because of the condition of some of the tapes (a fair amount of drop outs, as I recall).

    The "Just What I Always Wanted" and "Beat The Beat" comps subsequently issued in England were much better. The recordings certainly aren't audiophile quality to begin with, but they don't sound bad. Sadly it seems like both comps are out of print and not readily available used unless one is willing to spend a lot for them.

    If you're a fan of Mari, she did release some later albums that I quite liked -- particularly "Dolled Up."
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