Friday, October 19, 2007

FILLER FOR AUDIOPHILES -- Van Halen's remasters are a sound lover's dream. 2000 reissues, Warner Brothers.

I take my music seriously. What can I say. If you couple that with the fact that I'm an audiophile with the completest mentality, that pretty much means that I've fallen prey to the music industry's moneymaking machine.

By looking at my collection, I'm sure I've probably spent tens of thousands of dollars over the
years on putting it together. Between all the rock, jazz, country, bluegrass, classical, opera, boxed sets, reissues, multiple issues and special editions, it's an expensive habit. ...oh yeah, I forgot about my Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler comedy collection. That's not to mention my interest in collecting rare vinyl that's starting to give me new ideas that could potentially spider into a whole new facet of collecting music.

God help me.

I've always fully admitted, with great pride, that my big vice in life is music. What can I
say; IT IS my life. Most of my memories revolve around music. I can tell you where I heard a specific song 20 years ago, what I was doing, and who I was with at the time. My brain is just wired that way.

The issues of remastered old CDs have come up in conversations I've had with friends over the years, again and again. In my experience, remastered CDs (which started to surface around 1992) bring out much more punch and clarity to the recording. Some people I know claim they can't hear any difference; I tell them their deaf. However, to be fair, there are remastered CDs out there that simply don't cut the mustard. For whatever reason.

The best remastered CDs I've heard so far come from Warner Bros. records. Specifically the Dire Straits catalog from 1978-1991 and the Van Halen catalog from 1978-1983 really stands out. The clarity and detail seem to jump off the disc.

The Van Halen ones in particular are absolutely amazing. I'm hearing things I never heard before with the older CD issues, and obviously with the vinyl or cassette versions (I was more of a vinyl guy before CDs came out, the cassettes were garbage IMO). I started by picking up my personal favorite by them Fair Warning (shown here, pleasant mugging scenes and all), and then after hearing that I went back to get the five others: Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First (shown at top of post), Diver Down, and 1984 (actually released in 1983).

All the VH remasters so far are only from the David Lee Roth era, and obviously that's where they should be starting. Maybe we'll get the Sammy ones reissued at a later time, but I think most fans are happy with their first 6 projects. ...oh and that other one with Gary Cherone---I'm sure we'll be on the edge of our seats waiting for THAT.

These are the CDs meant for waking up the neighbors---if you turn up the sound, it'll knock your door off its hinges.

...but first put on a set of good headphones and hear the top-notch sound quality!

For starters, Eddie Van Halen's guitar wizardry is absolutely SCREAMING off the disc and blasting
me into the 4th dimension. Secondly, the analog recording limitations are revealed; I'm hearing recording defects, lots of guitar hiss, and an occasional click in the tape (where it was probably spliced), which is more charming than anything else---not a bad thing at all. I think it makes the recording more interesting.

Next; if you rip the remasters to an iPod (using a rip rate of 192 kbps, which should completely ditto the full sound spectrum) and put them on shuffle, it gives the impression of a live VH performance and showcases how diversified the band actually is, which I never really picked up on before. The bluesy licks from Women and Children First seem to be sticking out most, since that was the one VH album that I seemed to blow off in the past. Listening to a little John Lee Hooker helped to open that one up a bit. I like the drunken bluesy departure the band takes on WaCF.

If you haven't gone down the remastered avenue yet, and like Van Halen, they're a good place to start.


PissedOffNorthAmericanCustomer said...

Hey Buddy can I have the CD's you extracted from my moving boxes back in the 1990's? I have traced the source IP of this blog entry to a Comcast account with an address of an apartment in Bellevue.. I will be over soon..

Sweva said...

I'm waiting, where the hell are ya? Chicken!