Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed Original Mix question

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Gorilla, Sep 23, 2007.

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  1. Gorilla

    Gorilla Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Green Bay, WI USA
    Hello all - I have been trying to improve upon a needle-drop of this album that I made last year.

    I just got another later-issue Bell Sound pressing, which I was told had never been played. Though the vinyl did look pretty clean, it was rather noisy. Using a combination of Groove Mechanic and Cool Edit, I got rid of most of the vinyl noise pretty successfully.

    Even with what is (allegedly) a new LP, the mix of this album is (IMO) really dull! I can't believe this LP was conceived as a stereo demo record 1.) because of this murkiness and 2.) because of the lack of stereo separation/panning for the majority of it. I had to get out of my seat to check and see if I had the "mono" switch engaged on my receiver.

    My question (you know I'd get around to it eventually) is how much of a difference would I hear with a UK-pressed LP of this title? I have the opportunity to purchase a NM copy of a non-original pressing UK release. I've heard people say good things about the UK DOFP; should this be a night-and-day improvement over the US versions I have? Does the fact that this is a UK re-pressing lower its quality? Or is the original mix of this record just a dog of a release on LP altogether? Thanks for your help! - Matt
     
  2. stereo71

    stereo71 Forum Resident

    Location:
    texas
    I wouldn't say the original mix is a dog...but the various cuttings/pressings do vary quite a bit. It has been said the Bell Sound cuttings are muddy, and I have to agree in a comparative sense. I have one here somewhere done by Sterling Sound that I believe sounds clearer; if I can dig it out I'll give it a quick play against a Bell copy and report back. FWIW, I've never heard a NM UK copy--but they're supposed to be the best. And if you want the original mix, you're "stuck" with vinyl.

    --Roger
     
  3. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    I have a UK pressing. Actually, Holland, Deram. Original mix.

    Does it sound better than the US one? Like it's mentioned, it depends.

    I have about 6 copies of this record in different ways and the ONE that BLOWS the rest of them away is a US copy on DERAM with "G.K." in the runoff on both sides and mechanical stampers otherwise. I paid fifty-cents for it.

    This is one of those records that you can find hundreds of in dollar bins, even for free and all you have to do is weed out the less-than-M copies. Everyone and their budgie bought this LP and even did it twice. Besides, the budgie pooped on it?

    Just kidding. Literally one of my favorite records of all time. As a kid, this was better than a Disney movie and still is.
     
  4. Pug

    Pug Elitist Snob

    Location:
    Near Music Direct
    I have the same LP (I paid the same amount too). Like Sckott says, that copy smokes. :agree:
     
  5. sharedon

    sharedon Forum Zonophone

    Gilbert Kong!
     
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  6. Gorilla

    Gorilla Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Green Bay, WI USA
    Thanks for your responses! Maybe I'll just wait for a "GK" pressing. If a UK release isn't appreciably better than this, it sounds like I can get one more cheaply than the UK.

    I just thought that maybe all the US releases were mastered with a bad tape. I don't know if I've gotten my hands on an original 1968 US release yet; I think all the ones I had were the reissues. Would that matter? Were Gilbert's masterings all 1968 original issues?
     
  7. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    The record was cut dozens of times over the course of 3-4 years AND by several plants. I don't think it's the tapes used, but I'm sure DECCA sent copies everywhere. I have copies from GK, 2 from Bell Sound, the NY Columbia plant, the Holland copy makes the DERAM label look red, and then there's a daring copy from Speaker's Corner (remixed of course).

    They all sound different. There's Polygram Lps, still DERAM, that are the remix. They're very easy to spot.

    IIRC, the band didn't like the original mix and had it changed in the early-to-mid 70's. Since then, those tapes have not been used again for anything.
     
  8. Gorilla

    Gorilla Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Green Bay, WI USA
    Thanks Sckott - How would you spot them? I remember reading in a previous thread that anything on US vinyl was the original mix. Perhaps not?
     
  9. Chippoh

    Chippoh Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago
    Perfect.:agree:
     
  10. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I've bought enough copies of this record that I've lost count.

    The bottom line here is: there is no US pressing I've ever heard that compares to a good UK or German pressing. I've had at least 20 US pressings including the later G.K. cut, unmarked ones with scribed dates, Bell Sound, and others. Kong could only do so much with what is clearly a lower generation tape. This is true for all of the Moody Blues 'classic seven' LPs. I don't mean to harsh anyones mellow here, but I've just never heard a standard US pressing for any of them that can stand up to a period UK or German pressing. That doesn't mean the US ones are 'bad' mind you, but Days Of Future in particular does sound muddy or dull on most of the US copies I've had.

    Look for a 'Deramic Sound System' DSS white label - pressed in either UK or Germany and you'll get what you're looking for. If you A/B your best US copy to one of these....what you will hear is a more airy, natural, openness to the sound stage along with silkier extensions to the highs and lows. I'd characterize the DSS's as noticeably more 'smooth' and clearer. I have one US pressing here that sounds pretty darn good - the vinyl is even pretty quiet. However, when you crank it up next to a DSS, its shortcomings become apparent. All the US copies I've listened to have a slightly 'harder' sound to them.

    The earliest US London/Deram label copies tend to be noisy vinyl even when NM. Many are also Bell Sound masterings which often exhibit a pinched or upper mid range harshness to them. I haven't found Bell's to be muddy though. The later pressings on the two color white/brown Deram label can be had quiet but they just don't have that 'sound.'

    Referring to the Holland Pressings; I've got one of those as well. (I've had several). These are cut a little quieter than the UK & German pressings so the sound comes across as softer. Once again, when cranked up even this copy is more gentle on the ears than my best US copy.
     
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  11. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    Untrue. It's about when it was cut.

    HOW TO SPOT A REMIXED US LP OF DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED:

    Ready?? Note the poor quality of these eBay photos and how easy it is. Look at the label!

    Early one, most likely a Bell Sound:
    [​IMG]
    ==========================================



    80's reissue done by Polygram. Remix:
    [​IMG]

    ^^Dumb nut wants $15 for it plus postage. Stupid.

    Safety warning: DO NOT GO GREEDY AND PAY A LOT OF MONEY ON EBAY FOR DOFP! Keep looking through the dollar bins, the used record shops, thrifts, church functions, yard sales. Bell Sounds aren't bad. The G.K.'s are found occasionally and please avoid the 80's remixed Lps. They sound bad regardless of mix used.
     
  12. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    Couldn't agree more. Disagree with the rest.
     
  13. stereo71

    stereo71 Forum Resident

    Location:
    texas
    It is interesting how these various cuttings sound...I haven't found the Sterling I think I have, might be remembering it incorrectly, but I'll keep looking. I did find one on the (more common) Deram 2nd type label (the one with the large Deram logo taking up the upper half, no London mentioned) that looks to be cut at Columbia, although I'm guessing here. It is extremely noisy on the first tracks both sides, the rice-crispy kind of noise, but as you get farther into the side this clears up--and the surface appearance is NM throughout, so it goes to show you can't judge by looking. But what is strange about this pressing is on side one, the cutting engineer let Peak Hour run really wide, using all the space he could to try to keep the dynamics and bass intact. Now, Peak Hour is one of the tracks that deserves the "muddy mix" tag, probably due to the Moodies really cranking it up to fill the recording space--at least that's how I imagine it was recorded. It must have been incredibly loud! Fair amount of distortion on the guitar and organ parts...but that's just the way it is, on all the various pressings I've heard. This is the only one I've seen where the lathe operator tried to adjust for the loudness of the track without making it even duller, and he did better than most, trying, I imagine, not to compress any further than necessary to get it down intact.

    On the orchestral tracks/portions, the sound is excellent, in no way muddy or thick--the highs are there without sibilance and the strings sound very real. This must have been a tough job for Derek Varnals et. al. to capture; the Moodies did their recording separately from the orchestra, and then he had to mix and blend them together into the final product. All in all, an admirable job in my opinion, but one of those recordings that shows it warts on better quality reproduction gear. Still, it's one of my favorites.

    Now, back to looking for those other copies...

    --Roger
     
  14. stereo71

    stereo71 Forum Resident

    Location:
    texas
    It can be confusing...the labels pictured above are what I had called the second type, and I have one bought personally in Oct 1969 that looks like the upper pic. Mine has "STEREO" printed directly below the center hole, but most of the other original mix copies I've seen don't...this copy is a Bell Sound mastering, pressed by Modern Recorders (I think, symbol is MR in a circle). Easiest way to tell at a glance is the earlier ones have a white margin around the reddish brown part, that is not colored to the edge of the label.

    --Roger
     
  15. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    The "Circle MR" actually indicated Monarch Record Mfg. in L.A.

    But as to early 1970's Bell Sound cuttings (probably 1973-74 era) by Sam Feldman: I think part of it, too, may be the cutting equipment used at the time. When DOFP was first released, Bell Sound's stereo Scully lathe had a Westrex cutterhead (I'm not sure if it was 3C or earlier), and the main stereo mastering engineer was Sol Kessler (his cuttings had machine-stamped type on the dead wax). After 1970, two Fairchild lathes used to cut mono 45's at Bell Sound were retired, and the three Scullys (the other two of which cut in mono and had been equipped with Grampian feedback cutters) were retrofitted with Neumann SX-68 cutterheads and amplifiers. I've heard some say that early 1970's cuttings of back-catalogue Columbia Masterworks LP's sounded inferior to the same albums as originally pressed in the late 1950's / into the '60's. Columbia, too, after c.1972-73, used Neumann cutters (apparently to replace the mono Westrex 2B's and stereo 3C/3D, and Ortofon DSS731[?] cutters they used until then).

    Also, from 1970 to '73, virtually all of London and subsidiaries' LP's and 45's were cut at Mediasound in New York where Sol Kessler (and Dominick Romeo) went to after leaving Bell Sound. Anyone have any DOFP pressings with lacquers from Mediasound (again, Kessler's lacquers had machine-stamped print in the dead wax - albeit the type was spaced farther between characters than in his Bell Sound days), and how would such copies sound compared with Bell Sound, Sterling Sound (which London used after 1974), Masterdisk (G. Kong), et al.
     
  16. tages

    tages Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    I had been listening to a US copy for years (and noticed how bad it sounds). I got an original UK pressing and like it much more.
     
  17. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict

    I suppose my opinion here may again stir up some folks but here it goes:

    I am of the opinion that the "noise" that you hear, especially on Side 1 of the LP, is on the tape itself.

    I have had at least two "different" first UK pressings, one "second" UK pressing (which, BTW, has the exact same mother numbers as the later of the two first UK pressings), two different Japanese pressings, several US pressings and one Mo-Fi pressing. I can't remember too well about the Mo-Fi, as I got rid of that one a long ago due to the crappy sound compared to the other pressings I owned.

    Other than the Mo-Fi (which I no longer can confirm), EVERY pressing I have owned (most of which are stone mint) ticks throughout Side 1. In fact, if I had the time, I would try to confirm that the ticks occur exactly at the same places.

    Now, given that I have a STONE MINT UK original (which never saw daylight until I played it for the first time) and a STONE MINT UK "second" (which probably got played twice at the most from the lack of any spindle trail or spindle hole wear and from the perfectly "pressed-looking" inner sleeve) and two STONE MINT Japanese pressings (which are known to be dead quiet) and at least one STONE MINT US pressing that I personally unsealed for the first time, and given that they ALL tick throughout Side 1 (especially during the first couple of tracks) with the ticks softening in the later tracks of Side 1, and given that they are much quieter on Side 2 on EVERY pressing I own, I would think that my conclusion that the ticks are on the tapes themselves is quite supportable.

    Regarding the sound of the various pressings, I think that is more of a personal preference, as I seem to change my mind all the time. Side 2, however, is more telling IMHO. If you prefer a certain pressing for Side 2, that seems to be the reason for the preference usually. The channel separation, instrument placement, sound stage depth, etc. seem to be a bit more different with the different pressings on Side 2.

    Just my humble opinion, of course.
     
  18. edb15

    edb15 Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york
    How is the quality and what is the mix on the Speakers Corner of this title?
     
  19. johnny33

    johnny33 New Member

    Location:
    usa
    I dont know the mix. But the quality is very good.Great thread by the way :)
     
  20. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Wow. I'm not hearing this. Every album will have a few faint ticks 'somewhere' - these being no exception. Is there a particular place they are repeated on your pressings? I can check mine then and report back. The ticks are not in the same place on the few copies that I own.

    Gorilla was concerned about the somewhat dull-ish sound, which as I explained, from my findings, is part and parcel to every US pressing I've ever listened to.
     
  21. Liquid Snake

    Liquid Snake Member

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    It's the remix. I don't have any other version except the DE SACD which is also the remix. The Speakers Corner vinyl is most definitely better than the DE (no big surprise) but I haven't heard any of the MFSLs or old Deram CDs.
     
  22. sungshinla

    sungshinla Vinyl and Forum Addict

    Actually, they are not "ticking" sounds but rather "static" sounds, and they are throughout the first two tracks. They do not repeat like a scratch (in the same part of the revolution of the record) but rather random but definitely noticeable. This noise appears on all of my copies on Side 1.

    What are the odds that all of these copies that I bought over the years from different sources all have this noise on the first couple of tracks of Side 1? Unless someone can show me an original mix pressing of this record that does not have this "static" noise on Side 1, I guess I will continue holding the same conclusion that the noise is on the tapes. :D
     
  23. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    Location:
    City of Angels
    Could be! Have you heard these noises on UK original pressings?
     
  24. OldJohnRobertson

    OldJohnRobertson Martyr for Even Less

    Location:
    Fuquay-Varina, NC
    I have a 1969 US Deram/London pressing (I know it's 69 because the creation date is written in the dead wax) and it's as good as I've heard the original mix sound.
     
  25. David R. Modny

    David R. Modny Senior Member

    The 1980's US Polygram cassette uses the original mix too. :)
     
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