Let’s Cut Through the Fog
I happen to be a quarantined podcaster. Two months ago, we thought our podcast was doomed after just 3 episodes. We had to socially distance, as was the right thing to do, to protect our podcast family- but turns out Zoom has decent recording capabilities.
That was a mouthful- but the upshot is that I have been scouring the internet listening and finding music for our nerdy podcast. One thing I had not realized was how many albums I loved that have been re-mastered and repurposed as deluxe (virtual) box sets. In other words, the artist has re-mastered the content (the sound for our ears) for a different technological and critical age. And deluxe implies there is bonus material.
Personally, I have had to cut through that fog and haze of quarantine fatigue to re-gain my edge, and these high energy, new-music-to-me albums helped. Even the best-intentioned at-home worker can lose track of how to structure their time. Take a break and get re-charged.
Soooo… here they are. My three favorite deluxe or re-mastered albums that I have come across during quarantine!
Smashing Pumpkins – Gish
Intimately familiar with the original album- I know how driven lead singer and writer Billy Corrigan were to make this album in 1991. He and producer Howie Weinberg worked tirelessly to nail the original, and the album is back. In the music re-hashing business, the term “deluxe” refers to additional material being on the newly released master. They released nearly everything that was recorded for Gish. In the studio. Ever.
The hallmark of the new mix is a quintessential sound that burns to its new digital core with an all-around clearer tone and the digital remix serving to actually clean up Corrigan’s low fuzzy stylistic sound. The mix has a few other tweeks, mainly to balance the individual parts.
If you like the sear of those hallmark chords (i.e. “I am One”) then you’ll love Corrigan’s rough treatment even more. The original album is a dear college-album “friend of mine” and the new clarity of the remix blows me away. Give this one a whirl with headphones. Even at your desk if you need it. Or on the way home. Starbucks drive-thru?
Rolling Stone – Beggars Banquet
1968 is the year the Stone’s came alive. Gone were the psychedelic and pandering psychedelic failures of 1967. They got back to their Blue’s roots in a big way.
The re-master is certainly a totally uplifting and purifying of the sound. The instruments are separated in the mix giving it the clarity and intensity that this masterpiece needs. Sympathy For The Devil is a beautiful cacophony of African beats and rough play from the bass.
This album set forth the Stone’s greasy, sleazy, and sexy image that would carry them deep into the 70s. In my opinion, Beggars Banquet was probably a little ahead of its time- not truly appreciated until much later. The remaster does it much justice adding balance and clarity to the deep, acoustic Southern Blues in the consummate rockers Street Fighting Man and Stray Cat Blues.
Prince – Purple Rain
Let’s get this straight. This album was near perfection in its original form Yes, I love some of the albums in this review, but you have to start somewhere. But, this remastered and deluxe edition gives the album a lavish sound that only the Purple One could rain upon thee.
Among several tweaks are some subtle changes with big results. In Take Me With U, in my opinion, the backing vocals have been moved forward in the mix to make the song almost a duet with his female companion, Appalonia. The result is a beautiful type of love song with a wicked hook in it. It’s catchy.
As well, an incredible amount of Purple Rain era material and songs yet unreleased are included. A must-have for any hardcore Prince fan.
Hope you enjoyed the quarantine listening list that I’ve put together. As always I offer distraction in my music nerd podcast: The Music Challenge Podcast. Also, check out our Facebook page. If you’ve read this far, you’ll definitely like it. This season we are discussing our formative four albums. Subscribe.