Nov 012012

Beware of previously unheard incidental vocal sounds!

I believe my intense sense of moral outrage over the Velvet Underground box set reinsertion of the “heavenly wine and roses” middle eight of “Sweet Jane” and, even worse, the insertion of 4 measures of out-of-context room mic-recorded rhythm guitar preceding kick-ass guitar lick that sets up the coda of “Rock ‘n Roll” is on the record.

[Deep breath.]

Sorry, I’m getting myself worked up just thinking about this again.

Today, I want to complain about related instances of archivists introducing previously unheard incidental vocal sounds in remastered, reissued recordings. I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit. About 12 to 15 years ago I jumped on an import CD of James Blood Ulmer‘s Are You Glad to Be in America album. This was at a time when it seemed right to buy some of my favorite vinyl albums on the still-somewhat newfangled CD format. I’m sorry I bought it.

It was bad enough that they scrapped the excellent painting from the original album cover and that the album was sequenced differently than my version; in rare cases I’m a big enough man to realize that cover art and sequencing can vary from one country to another. Surely the Japanese had good reason for their sequencing. What really bugged me, though, was hearing some additional guttural sounds from Ulmer during a solo section. Those sounds did not appear on the vinyl release. Someone had the good sense to mix them out. Who’s the asshole who thought they added something to this Japanese CD version? Restoration projects can attempt to improve the original luster to a work, but they shouldn’t uncover purposely discarded bits.

Ain’t nothing like the real thing.

The Clash on Broadway box set, which someone got me for Christmas one year, adds some embarrassing “Hey, Chico…!” aside by Joe Strummer that completely kills my enjoyment of the band’s last great song, “Straight to Hell.” Why do I need to be reminded of Freddie Prinz and Jack Albertson while listening to the last great Clash song?

A few years ago I bought the reissue of The StoogesFun House, not the collectors’ edition box set with the entire 142 hours of non-stop recording, but the scaled down version, with the album proper and a dozen or so alternate takes and unreleased songs. I’ve felt bad about playing the digital version off my iPod, setting aside my precious vinyl copy. Recently I felt much worse when I noticed alternate guttural sounds from Iggy on “Down on the Street,” “TV Eye,” and possibly other tracks. It’s not right, man! I am going to pull out my vinyl copy, tell it I’m sorry, and smother it with hugs and kisses.

Have you ever noticed the introduction of previously unheard incidental vocal sounds in remastered, reissued recordings? Do tell.


  6 Responses to “Stupid Things That Bug Me, Part 433: The Introduction of Previously Unheard Incidental Vocal Sounds in Remastered, Reissued Recordings”

  1. misterioso

    I’m sorry this is so upsetting, Mod. You should be more mellow, laid back, and open to hearing new sounds. Like me.

    No, but seriously, I can’t think of any instances where this sort of thing has really bugged me. Two Beatle examples come to mind: in the re-mastered, re-mixed, expanded Yellow Submarine soundtrack that came out in 1999, a previously inaudible (or nearly inaudible, except maybe, you know, in the True German Stereo mix) bit of backing vocals by Lennon appeared. This is just before the final singalong chorus. Ringo sings “As we live a life of ease / Everyone of us is all we need / Sky of blue and sea of green…” etc. On the versions of YS I had always heard, John’s backing vocal came in on “everyone of us.” Now it comes in on “a life of ease.” I am not sure if this is the case on other more recent remasters. This is all around the 1:50 mark of the song.

    Likewise, on “Let It Be…Naked,” which, despite the abject stupidity of the title and some minor quibble, I like better than “Let It Be….Clothed,” on “One After 909,” which is the same live on the rooftop version used on the original lp, second verse, right after John and Paul sing the first line “I begged her not to go and I begged her on my bended knee,” on the “Naked” version you can clearly and loudly hear John say “yes I did” whereas on the original it is almost inaudible.

    Hope you feel better now, and remember, the Walrus was Paul.

  2. I now feel worse, having been reminded of …Naked. I believe that entire release was put together to annoy me. Thanks a lot, brother.

    Listening to the digital versions of some of my beloved Clash songs the other day I may have realized a deletion from the vinyl version. During the coda of “Complete Control” can’t you hear Strummer yelling something about controlling the price of the drugs? The Clash on Broadway mix seems to ride the fader down on that part. I’ll need to pull out my vinyl copy and see if it’s worth getting pissed off some more.

  3. misterioso

    RE Naked, I ranted a lot about it when it came out but the fact is I almost never listen to Let It Be but rather will listen to …Naked or one of the innumerable bootlegs of “Get Back.”

    To tell you the truth, even though “Complete Control” may well be my favorite Clash song, I have no idea what Strummer is yelling about there. Also, I never bought the Clash on Broadway. Didn’t seem to be worth it.

  4. That Clash box set is NOT worth buying, but it was a convenient gift someone bought me as a big Clash fan who until that point refused to buy anything digital by the band. I’m still of the belief that the Clash, like the Rolling Stones and any Motown artist, is better listened to on vinyl.

  5. BigSteve

    I guess I figured your disgust at these guttural vocal sounds would be counter-balanced by your appreciation for hearing the previously inaudible acoustic guitar on Satisfaction.

  6. Only when I heard “Satisfaction” on a burned out boom-box with one dead speaker did I learn that Stu’s piano is also on there.


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