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The Van Morrison cd thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by curbach, Mar 23, 2008.

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  1. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet Thread Starter

    Location:
    The ATX
    There are bits and pieces of analysis regarding Van's catalog on cd scattered throughout this forum, but there is nothing comprehensive that I have seen. For this thread I'd like to try to consolidate our collective knowledge (and cd collections) to see what we can determine about how Van's catalog has been mastered for cd over the years and around the world. I'm not too interested in the remasters. From what I've heard with my own ears (and from what I've read on this forum) there is no question the original pressings are better at least up until the mid 80s albums.

    What I think I know: Astral Weeks, Moondance, and His Band And The Street Choir have only been issued on Warner Bros. worldwide and have never been remastered. The remainder of the 70's catalog up to Into The Music was originally issued on Warner Bros. in the U.S., Canada and Japan, and on Polydor in Europe. Then those albums were remastered on Polydor worldwide in the early 90's.

    The albums from Into The Music through Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart were originally released on Warner Bros. in the U.S. and Canada and have never been remastered in North America. They were originally released on Polydor in Europe, then remastered on Polydor in the early 90's. (Note: They may also have been issued on Mercury at some point, possibly pre-dating the Polydors, with or without a different mastering :confused:) Japan I have no idea. Hopefully, one of the Japanese pressing experts on the forum can help me out here.

    To my knowledge there were no Japanese or W. German pressings of any of Warner Bros. titles for the U.S. market except for the Moondance Target. In fact all original U.S. WB discs I have ever seen were the common WEA/SRC discs, but may be someone around here has a more exotic pressing. Also to my knowledge at this point, the U.S. and Canadian WB titles share the same mastering (thanks to Mal), but are different from the original European Polydors (thanks to Beatlebum). Japan I dunno.

    From Live At The Opera House forward Van has been on Mercury/Polygram/Polydor worldwide until the last decade or so when he seems to license each new album to a different label (and frankly I do not care about any of those recent albums, but I suppose we'll get to them eventually. . .). Some of these Mercury discs may have multiple masterings for the U.S. as I have seen W. German Atomics, U.S. Atomics and U.S. non-Atomics of these titles. Hopefully, we'll sort it out in this thread.

    So much for my overlong introduction. Anyone who knows any of the above to be incorrect, please fill me in.

    My plan is to start with EAC peak levels, catalog numbers, and matrix numbers. If we find something interesting we can add additional data as necessary. I understand EAC numbers and waveforms are not the be all and end all, but they can serve as a guide. I also understand that some people hear differences between pressing plants and some don't. I certainly want to hear opinions from anyone who has actually compared multiple versions of a title regardless of what EAC may show and regardless of your equipment (although it is nice if your profile is filled out ;) ). And away we go. . .
     
  2. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet Thread Starter

    Location:
    The ATX
    We will begin with the "big 3", probably Van's most popular titles, and cds that should be the same worldwide, but we shall see :) Anyone with a cd that does not match these numbers, please come forward. And if you have a disc from Canada, Europe or Japan that does match, please tell us that too, so we'll know all rocks have been turned over.

    Astral Weeks U.S. Warner Bros. 1768-2
    (matrix 4 1768-2 SRC-07 M2S6):
    75
    66.3
    81.1
    72.1
    90.1
    66.2
    62
    52.9

    Moondance U.S. Warner Bros. 3103-2
    (matrix 1 3103-2 SRC##12 *M2 S21):
    76.8
    70.4
    60
    81.2
    83.5
    80
    87.5
    87.4
    75
    70.1
    Note: I have seen rumors on this forum of a secret remaster of Moondance. If anyone can confirm this, please do. Also, Mal has indicated the W.German Target pressing may be slightly different than the standard U.S. issue. If anyone can shed any light on that, again please do.

    His Band And The Street Choir U.S. Warner Bros. 1884-2
    (matrix 1 1884-2 SRC-01 M12S7):
    85.3
    60.9
    72.7
    69
    67.4
    69.3
    62.9
    53
    72.6
    60.5
    58.7
    55.3
     
  3. ivan_wemple

    ivan_wemple Forum Resident

    Craig,

    I have a non-target Warner Bros. West German (for US) pressing of Moondance. I haven't compared it to the target to assess commonality in mastering.
     
  4. ivan_wemple

    ivan_wemple Forum Resident

    Moondance Warner Bros. US: 3103-2, Europe: 246 040
    Made In West Germany by Polygram
    (matrix 7599 03103-2 2893 344 02):

    76.8
    70.4
    60
    81.2
    83.5
    80
    87.5
    87.4
    75
    70.1

    I'll rip the target next...
     
  5. ivan_wemple

    ivan_wemple Forum Resident

    Here is the target (looks to be the same as the US and WG non-target pressings):

    Moondance Warner Bros. US: 3103-2, Europe: 246 040
    Made In West || Germany by Polygram
    NOTE: the matrix number is identical to the target...
    (matrix 7599 03103-2 2893 344 02):

    76.8
    70.4
    60
    81.2
    83.5
    80
    87.5
    87.4
    75
    70.1

    IMHO, this was *never* one of the better sounding targets, and this little exercise seems to confirm that one need look no further than the US pressing to obtain the mastering of the "coveted" Moondance target.
     
  6. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    Ivan, do your WG Moondance CDs have the channels reversed compared with the US pressing?
     
  7. ivan_wemple

    ivan_wemple Forum Resident

    Good question.

    Can't check at the moment... let me try in the AM, once the kids are up.
     
  8. RussellG

    RussellG Forum Resident

    Great idea for a thread. As part of a remaster replacement program of Van's 70's albums I decided to become a completist for the 30 years from Astral Weeks to Back On Top. I just have two gaps remaining - A Period Of Transition and Common One. I'm very interested in the early mastering of these albums and will be following this thread closely. Most of my CDs are US first pressings, but I have a few European first pressings too.

    I can confirm that two old US pressings I have of Astral Weeks and Moondance, with slightly different matrix numbers match these peak levels, as does a German pressing of His Band And The Street Choir (Warner Bros. 7599-27188-2) that was purchased brand new just a few weeks ago.
     
  9. kollektionist

    kollektionist Forum Resident

    Location:
    EU
    I have Astral Weeks - Germany WB 759927176-2 matrix 759927176-2 WME
    Moondance - Germany WB 7599-27326-2 matrix 759927326-2.2 WME
    Band & Street Choir - Germany WB 7599-27188-2 matrix 759927188-2 RSA
    All numbers match the US versions listed above.
     
  10. ivan_wemple

    ivan_wemple Forum Resident

    Hi Mal,

    No, they do not.
     
  11. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet Thread Starter

    Location:
    The ATX
    RussellG, run don't walk to your nearest retailer and get the commonly available WB version of Common One. It is a stunner. Beatlebum and I compared the disc he recently bought new to the disc I bought around 1991 and they are the same, so the mastering has never been changed. A Period Of Transition I am less thrilled with, but it is certainly not bad. Of course, it is currently OOP in any form and probably not too easy to find.
     
  12. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet Thread Starter

    Location:
    The ATX
    Ok, we're off to a good start. So far all U.S. and German discs for the first 3 are the same. Now that Mal has brought it up, I guess we should confirm channel orientations, too. Ivan has already covered Moondance, so if someone can give a careful listen to Astral Weeks and Street Choir and post some easily identifiable left/right sounds for us to compare, that would be great. I'll try to do it this evening if no one has done it by then.

    And we still need to hear from owners of Canadian and Japanese pressings of these discs. Darcy, where are you? :wave:
     
  13. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet Thread Starter

    Location:
    The ATX
    BTW, anyone who would like to discuss the musical merits of Van's albums (rather than sonics and cd pressing minutia), please visit the Van album-by-album thread being moderated by Mr. Tomboreen and DJ Wilbur. Lot's of interesting discussion. It's currently on part 3:

    http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=141838

    I suppose this is the SHtv version of non-overlapping magisteria :winkgrin:
     
  14. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    The funny thing is, I used to have a CD-rom drive that flipped channels on some discs and not others - it was a major pain in the ****! I got rid of it years ago but some of my earliest rips are still a$$-backwards and it would seem that my rip of my Moondance target in included in the bunch.

    I guess it's going to be easiest if we just assume channel orientation is the same for everything unless someone says otherwise - having checked I may as well go against that concept by confirming that my Japanese WPCR pressings of the first three WB albums match the other WB pressings in terms of channel orientation.....

    Form now on I'll only mention it if there is a difference :)
     
  15. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet Thread Starter

    Location:
    The ATX
    I don't know that we can assume that much given what we've seen with various Led Zep pressings. But in our case I'm guessing far fewer people have actually heard multiple pressings of Van's albums, so we may only be able to detect channel reversals collectively. As we move forward I'll add a "channel marker" to the EAC peak levels for each pressing for everyone to check against (and it would be nice if someone has access to vinyl to confirm that the cds are in fact oriented correctly).

    Is it correct to assume your Japanese pressings match the peak levels of the German and U.S. pressings since you haven't said otherwise? If so, we only need someone with Canadian pressings to weigh in. . .
     
  16. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    Sorry - yep, all three Japanese issues are the same as their US counterparts:

    Astral Weeks (WPCR-601)
    Moondance (WPCR-602)
    His Band and Street Choir (WPCR-603)

    The strange thing is that the Japanese pressings do sound better! I haven't compared them for a couple of years since I now stream my music and any bit-identical pressings sound the same once ripped and streamed. However, listening to the actual discs today, the Japanese ones just have more clarity in the top end. It's always been the same when played back on any CD player I've ever had in my system. I can't explain it (and there have been a number of threads over the years in which I've tried) but there you have it.

    :)
     
  17. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet Thread Starter

    Location:
    The ATX
    I don't doubt you, Mal, and that is also the kind of info I would like to collect in this thread. But I have never felt like I could reliably differentiate between different pressings of the same mastering myself. I've tried a few times and ended up with inconclusive results and a headache ;) I would dearly love to find a better version of Astral Weeks on cd as it's one of the less impressive of the original WB discs, so may be I'll try a Japanese disc if I stumble across a cheap one.
     
  18. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    I'd be interested to hear what you think if you do find one :agree:
     
  19. tfarney

    tfarney Active Member

    Location:
    Charlotte,NC
    Curbach, I have an extensive Van cd collection, though if I have anything unusual, I assure you it is a complete accident as I wasn't even aware of such things before I found this board. But I'll follow along with my collection close at hand and contribute anything I can.

    Tim
     
  20. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    I just ripped my original Polydor Saint Dominic's Preview and compared it to the US WB......

    Well I'll be darned - there subtle echo audible in the intro of "Jackie Wilson Said" on the Polydor disc while the WB one is bone dry!

    Can someone check the LP to see if it should be bone dry or have a subtle room ambience added?!

    Also, the intro to "Listen To The Lion" has the begining of the first guitar strum chopped off on the Polydor :wtf: - things are not looking good for this CD......
     
  21. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet Thread Starter

    Location:
    The ATX
    Your getting ahead of the game, Mal, but that's ok :)

    Once we get past these first 3, I know the U.S. WBs and the European Polydors do not match in EAC peak levels (which I was planning to post a little later in the week). The question then becomes who has heard both and can describe the sonic differences. . . Big fun ahead :righton:
     
  22. RussellG

    RussellG Forum Resident

    Isn't VM's entire back catalogue from Tupelo Honey through Back On Top currently OOP, except for the five or so new remasters released a couple of months ago? As far as I know I can't buy Common One retail anywhere. Also I thought Common One was included in the late 90's Polydor remastering program. I'm sure I saw a copy in a used store here that had remastering credits on it, so I didn't buy it.

    This thread is definitely going to be very interesting - I had assumed the first US and Europe pressings of all VM CDs would use the same mastering, but already we're finding they do not.
     
  23. Craig

    Craig (unspecified) Staff

    Location:
    North of Seattle
    INTO THE MUSIC
    COMMON ONE
    BEAUTIFUL VISION
    INARTICULATE SPEECH OF THE HEART

    were remasterd in 1998, but only available outside the U.S.

    They are still available in the U.S. on Warner Bros. (unremastered)

    As these become available as remasters with bonus tracks they will not be released in the U.S. and will have to be obtained as imports.

    Maybe someday Van will get the rights back to these in the U.S. :shrug:
     
  24. RussellG

    RussellG Forum Resident

    Ah yes, I see. Those titles are available at CDUni. That explains the remaster I saw locally too - in Australia we always got the European Polydor editions of VM CD's, not the Warner Bros US. Now that we know at least some of them use different mastering, I wonder which ones are better. Hopefully we'll find out as this thread progresses.
     
  25. curbach

    curbach Some guy on the internet Thread Starter

    Location:
    The ATX
    Oops, sorry. I didn't notice you were down under. If shipping isn't too expensive I would still encourage you to get the current WB Common One from Amazon or CD Universe.
     
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