Review Explosion, Short Cuts Edition Vol. 10: A Quintet Of Classic, Darkly Beautiful Tom Waits Albums From the ’80s and ’90s All Receive the 180g 1LP Reissues They (and We) Deserve

Waits’ Wonderful Years: Above, Tom Waits steps directly into one of the most fertile creative periods in his long and storied career. Photo by Anton Corbijn.

In retrospect, Tom Waits’ trajectory from singer/song writer to down-beaten jazz-fueled street person scowling at the piano in the 1970s made perfect sense. But when he came out of the gate in the early 1980s, his transformation was almost as dramatic as David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust reinvention. It was as if Waits had ingested a special Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde cocktail of William Burroughs-ian beat generation underground cool ice, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s Berlin-flavored dark-spiced bitters bathed in a smokey cinemascopic-kaleidoscope surrealist sideshow whiskey brew this side of Jean Cocteau, David Lynch, Tod Browning, and Fritz Lang.

Before we go further down the white rabbit hole of these passionate, purposeful post-psychedelic musical psychodramas — 1983’s Swordfishtrombones, 1985’s Rain Dogs, 1987’s Franks Wild Years, 1992’s Bone Machine, and 1993’s The Black Rider — let’s first look at the dynamic DNA beneath the canvas of these five new 180g 1LP releases from Island/UMe.

From the official press release (and as recounted here in our News post back on July 19, where you can also find the complete track listings for each LP), we learn that “all albums were mastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering under the guidance of Waits’ longtime audio engineer, Karl Derfler. Swordfishtrombones was sourced from the original EQ’ed ½” production master tapes while Rain Dogs, Franks Wild Years, Bone Machine, and The Black Rider were sourced from the original ½” flat master tapes. Bellman meticulously transferred the tapes and then remastered the audio in high resolution 192 kHz/24-bit. The lacquers for all titles were cut by Alex Abrash at AA Mastering. The new vinyl editions include specially made labels featuring photos of Waits from each era in addition to artwork and packaging that has been painstakingly recreated to replicate the original LPs, which have been out of print since their initial release. Surprisingly, The Black Rider and Bone Machine were never released on vinyl outside of Europe and make their vinyl debut in most of the world.”

Since that paragraph was, frankly, a little unclear, I directly confirmed with Universal’s publicity team that these lacquers were in fact cut from those 24/192 digital files. But fear not, digital-phobes, as these very high fidelity — and periodically lo-fi — recordings sound pretty sweet in their own right. All five of the Waits pressings I received for this combo review have generally been quiet and well-centered, with some minor exceptions I’ll discuss in a bit. The cover art appears to be of high quality on each album, and the new label designs are also a treat — and arguably much nicer than those now-dated Island Records label designs of the 1980s. Also, from what I can gather, these albums have all been pressed in the Czech Republic, likely at GZ.

And for those who are wondering why any of these reissues have not been spread across 2LPs, according to Universal, apparently Waits himself wanted the albums to be reproduced as closely to the their original presentation as possible. They went so far as to discover that, since the originals were made via DMM, these new editions were created in a similar process. According to those official press materials, “the remastering process and reissue series has been personally overseen by Tom Waits and longtime songwriting and production partner, Kathleen Brennan.” Respect.

Before we get into the album-by-album nuances, I thought you’d appreciate a snapshot of why you might be interested in buying any or all of these new 180g 1LP reissues, each of which carry an SRP of $29.99. At the time of this posting, in looking at Discogs, the six available original NM 1983 U.S. original pressings of Swordfishtrombones range in price from $60 to more than $300. Similarly, Rain Dogs originals — 13 of them in NM condition — range from $99 to more than $500! NM copies of Franks Wild Years stretch from about $60 to $184, whereas — brace yourself — Bone Machine ranges from $150 to nearly $2,000! Finally, the 14 original vinyl pressings of The Black Rider that are available range from just over $200 to more than $700. Knowing all this, the thought of dropping around $150 for five brand new, 180g high-quality reissues of these classic recordings feels like an utter bargain.

And now, it’s time to do some (with apologies to the first album title here) Waitsianalbumreviewing for this special all-Tom Waits edition of Short Cuts. For the purposes of this review, I listened to all five of these albums chronologically. Here’s how they stack up.



This is the only one of these Waits albums I’ve had on vinyl. The new edition stacks up nicely with only a hint of that — for lack of a better word — different presence, compared to my 1983 pressing. Now, it’s not a harshness I am hearing — or feeling, really — but there is a slightly palpable sense of coolness vs. the relative warmth on my original. This is not bad, necessarily. But it is a different thing, as they say.

The new Swordfishtrombones vinyl is mastered more quietly than my original U.S. pressing (on the purple Island Records label). Songs like “Frank’s Wild Years” (Side 2, Track 2) sound quite nice, with the sweet Jimmy-Smith-like Hammond Organ jazz comping in the background delivering a lovely jazzy soundstage. The vibraphone on the title track (Side 2, Track 3) displays a quite wonderful presence, and the separation of the individual instruments feels a bit more distinct than my original. “Down Down Down” rocks madly (Side 2, Track 4), while “16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought-Six” (Side 1, Track 5) literally hammers home — on a brake drum, according to the album credits — the reality that a new Tom Waits had arrived, and fully formed.


The only glitch is that I did hear a fleeting bit of surface noise — non-fill — but thankfully, it was very short-lived, and thus not a deal-breaker for me. In short, Swordfishtrombones is a great starting point for this new Tom Waits reissue series.

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RAIN DOGS (1985)

Curiously, Rain Dogs is mastered more quietly still than Swordfishtrombones — and I only noticed this when switching between the albums and I had to turn it up a bit to match that level. That said, even when you play it quietly, Rain Dogs is indeed a masterpiece, with Marc Ribot’s angular guitar soloing on “Clap Hands” (Side 1, Track 2) really calling attention to the fact that you’ve entered into Waits’ latest mad universe.

I also like how “Jockey Full of Bourbon” (Side 1, Track 4) sounds when played very loudly. The brilliance of bringing in Keith Richards to play guitar on songs like “Union Square” (Side 2, Track 5) is probably part of the reason this album commands more coin on the collector’s market — seeing how Rolling Stones fans will pay extra for Richards riffs! Meanwhile, “Blind Love” (Side 2, Track 6) recalls the loose country vibe the Stones captured on the 1978 Some Girls track “Far Away Eyes,” so Keith fit right in with Waits’ musical landscape on this recording.

Again, there were a couple teensy moments of non-fill-like surface noises happening here, but nothing repetitive or super-annoying. Like the prior album, Rain Dogs comes housed in a nice recreation of the original lyric sheet-covered inner sleeve.


I do wish UMe had included the custom inner sleeve and packed the vinyl disc in its own plastic lined sleeve separately. But, hey, every additional item added to a production can bump up the cost to the consumer, so I get it.

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I actually don’t have as much to say about Franks Wild Years, as it is pretty much my favorite album of the original trilogy and probably my favorite of Waits’ albums overall. This LP contains some of his greatest compositions and musical constructions, such as the two versions of “Innocent When You Dream” (“Barroom” version, Side 1, Track 5, and “78” version, Side 2, Track 8), “Temptation” (Side 1, Track 4), “Cold Cold Ground” (Side 2, Track 6), and “Straight to The Top (Vegas)” (Side 2, Track 3).

This music here in many ways takes the sonic ideas outlined on the prior two albums and packages them up in an operatic form, as both Act I and Act II are split on each side of this disc. Overall, the sound on this new Franks Wild Years reissue was excellent. Album opener “Hang On St. Christopher” (Side 1, Track 1) delivers a big sonic punch with throbbing low bass, skronky horns, and a wonky guitar solo supporting a floating rhythmic clang that sounds like someone smacking a metal sheet with a hammer in a concrete room — the latter of which I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it actually is! Finally, “Please Wake Me” (Side 1, Track 8) — with its warped oompah circus organ feel — always sends a shudder down the spine.


The vinyl for Franks Wild Years came housed in a plastic-lined black paper inner sleeve, which neatly showcases the neat new picture label. My pressing of this LP was quiet, and well-centered, so nuff said. If you need a good place to start in exploring this particular period of Waits’ music, Franks Wild Years would be my first recommendation. Finally, I would love to see a stage production of this work of his someday.

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This album addresses the question for any artist who achieves a pinnacle of success with a certain release — or, in the case of Tom Waits, a series of releases — namely, what do you do next to top that last act? Well, if you are Tom Waits, you re-emerge with the aggressive, raw-sounding, and at times heart-wrenching Bone Machine.

Of the five albums reviewed here, Bone Machine is probably the one I’m the least familiar with, as I didn’t fully connect with it back in the day. The feel is bare bones (no pun intended), stripped back, less lush, and more intensely percussive overall. Heck, there is even a tune titled “All Stripped Down” (Side 1, Track 4). <> Bone Machine is, at its heart, a sort of proto-21st century blues with a nod to Captain Beefheart by way of the darker side of Howlin’ Wolf — and going into it with that expectation may help in your appreciation for it.

Lyrically, “Earth Died Screaming” (Side 1, Track 1) resonates more strongly than ever in these scary climate-changing times we live in. “Jesus Gonna Be Here” (Side 1, Track 7) feels like a lost southern gospel tune recorded on the back porch of a home in the neighborhood of one of David Lynch’s movies. Bone Machine contains at least one bonafide Waits classic in “I Don’t Want to Grow Up” (Side 2, Track 6), a song that gained some notoriety not only from its fabulous music video directed by Jim Jarmusch, but also when it was later covered by the Ramones and Broken Social Scene.

Frankly, it’s been so long since I’d listened to Bone Machine that revisiting it for this review on vinyl was like hearing it for the first time, in many ways. I am digging it much more now than I did when it came out in 1992. Hearing it on vinyl for the first time may be helping me connect with the music more, as the new mastering feels more welcoming. (Perhaps I’m just more ready for its message, I’ll admit.)


Pressing-wise, my copy of Bone Machine was generally fine, although I did hear a couple of very minor and non-repeating moments of surface noise happen at random points. Given that it is such a musically raw album, the split-second of noise didn’t detract from my listening experience. Other than that, this pressing of Bone Machine seemed very quiet and transparent.

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My love for the last album in this combo review, The Black Rider — which was co-written with Robert Wilson and William Burroughs — is no doubt enhanced by the fact that I happen to live in San Francisco and was fortunate to see its jaw-dropping 2004 stage production here.

A heavy classic story about a deal made with the devil, like many of Waits’ best albums, The Black Rider immerses you in a musical universe that feels at times like you are listening to an original cast recording of a 1920s off-the-Reeperbahn theatrical production run through 21st century eyes and ears. This album clangs and clinks, and clutters and flutters like nobody’s business. My vinyl copy of The Black Rider sounds real good, too.

The official press release supporting all five of these reissues offers some more colorful insights about The Black Rider: “Based on the 19th century German/Bohemian folk tale of a young clerk who makes a deal with the devil (“Der Freischütz,” famously an 1821 opera by Carl Maria Von Weber), The Black Rider is Waits at his most surreal, playful, musically gnarled. Think: 1929 Berlin cabaret meets “Frankenstein” if F.W. Murnau movie sets could sing. This two-and-a-half-hour musical fable (Wilson calls it an opera) premiered March 31, 1990, at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, Germany, and is still part of standard repertory in Europe. Waits did not sing or appear in the production, which featured a cast of eleven (Marianne Faithful played “Pegleg” — the devil — in a 2004 Wilson world-touring revival), and has been extensively staged in the U.S., Canada, Australia.” (Sidenote: Sadly, Marianne Faithful was sick the night I went to see The Black Rider, but her understudy was fantastic!)

The Black Rider is an amazing journey that includes at least one out-and-out Tom Waits classic — the album’s near finale “Lucky Day” (Side 2, Track 8) — but also, the title track (Side 1, Track 2) will sink its earworm into your soul in short order. There are many, many joys to discover here. Highly recommended.


The bottom line is, any one of these fine five Waits 180g 1LP reissues from Island/UMe are well-worth your listening time and your LP-spending money. You really can’t go wrong here, so if you can afford the freight for all five of these reissued Waits LPs, then I say, go for it!

Music Direct Buy It Now

(Mark Smotroff is an avid vinyl collector who has also worked in marketing communications for decades. He has reviewed music for, among others, and you can see more of his impressive C.V. at LinkedIn.)


SLM's picture

..and bought the 80s trilogy (SFT, RD, FWY) despite all the negative reviews I read on the net. Your impressions coincide 100% with mine. These are extraordinary vilyl editions, livelier than the 192/24 files and somewhat different than the originals but equally compelling. I wish you wrote this review earlier, so I would not have to waste my time on pointless misinformation. Thanks anyway!!

michaelengelbrecht's picture

Negative reviews? That can probably only refer to pressing and sound, certainly not to the music. At least, looking at his 80's stuff, SFT and RD are stone cold classics, still rough and powerful enough to put any nostalgic element aside.

In fact, I find my pressing of SFT less than intoxicating. Too much crackles for my taste, but then again, it’s a Tom Waits album, so I can experience them as part of the deep impact of the whole thing (would be a no-go on the fantastic "Luminessence" series of ECM).

In regards to the sound, the remaster of SFT has a very transparent, even crystalline feel, and this "touch of cool" (you mention) makes it no less immersive.

Staying in time travel mode, I have a short story to tell in regards to the reissues of Pharoah Sanders‘ „Pharoah“ (great insights in the sound and story in your text, Mark!), and Keith Jarrett‘s „Bremen / Lausanne“ (the latest in the „Luminessence“ series).

In my radio program in Germany, i wanted to present Mr. Sanders‘ nearly forgotten album from 1977, and, with his outstanding farewell with Floating Points in mind, „Pharoah“ was on top of my agenda.

I listened to it (an excerpt of about ten minutes), and, well, it failed. What a hype, i thought, and put Jarrett‘s fantastic 3-lp-box in the centre of my „blue“ jazz hour. Well done with Jarrett: pure magic anti-matter still 50 years later.

But, what an error with „Pharoah“. All in all, being quite familiar with his albums of the Impulse era, starting with the fabulous „Tauhid“ (and his work, too, with the Coltrane family), I made a far too quick judgement.

Weeks later, and realizing Mr. Sanders never really disappointed me, I gave the studio album a second listen, and it totally drew me inside, especially side 1. A deep experience. „Pharoah“ may be a good example for what you can call a „grower“ - and a lesson in looking for the right ambience for listening. Keith Jarrett‘s „Bremen / Lausanne“ in comparison was an „instant classic“ in its time (album of the year in Down Beat) - and nevertheless it can still grow on you.

Doors32's picture

Disinformation?! Nobody questioned the music, only these new pressings. I will ignore the aspect of the quality of pressing of black or color editions - European ones are not perfect and it is a lottery as to what you get. I'm sorry but the new releases suck and are completely lifeless.
I had Bone Machine and The Black Rider, the only ones I don't have on vinyl. The originals are beyond my financial reach. I was wondering what happened? Did someone suck the life out of this music or what?
The original CD is a volcano of musicality and energy, full of space, low bass, and lots of details. This vinyl release is a misunderstanding.
Due to the fact that they are pressed quietly, you need to turn up the volume, which increases the surface noise, which can be felt.
Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs, Franks Wild Years I have the original, first, German editions, which are fantastic. You can find them a bit more expensive, in very good condition, than these new reissues. And I'm sorry, but these new ones are not fascinating in any way. They are a wasted opportunity.
Yes, it's true - each of these albums is worth your time and your hard-earned money, but not these reissues. Don't take the easy way, be patient - look for the originals!

markmck12's picture

I am interested in buying a copy of FWY and saw your comment praising the German edition. I could not see a German version on Discogs. Do you have a catalog number you can share?

markmck12's picture

Now to find one in the UK!

Doors32's picture

Yes, this is the edition.

DaK's picture

After listening to all of the reissues this review is nothing but ridiculous….

chriscarcinogen's picture

I bought Bone Machine. There is NO WAY that the sound of this repress is an 8.

This review makes me question the integrity of both Mr. Smotroff and Stereophile. This is more of a shill than an objective review

The editor should audit this review for retraction.

I listened through a Koetsu Rosewood > Rega RP10 > Nagra BPS > Benchmark LA4 & ABH2 > Devore Nines.

Doors32's picture

I rightly, agree with the previous speaker. If, after this unfair review of these reissues, I bought the entire package and couldn't return it, I would be furious. Due to the poor quality of the pressing, I managed to return them. I wonder if the editor even listened to them and compared them with other editions to rate them so highly?! The review is misleading people! Just check Discogs, forums or people's reviews on Amazon. Most of them, after listening to them, say that it is garbage. Those who can, make returns. The review is not objective, it is an advertisement for a bad pressing and is unfair.
As I mentioned earlier, from these new remasters I had Bone Machine and The Black Rider, I know what I'm talking about (I have over 2000 discs). All of Tom's pressings that I managed to get are European (mainly first German pressings), but even the early repressings sound good and I can confidently recommend them. Certainly not these new remasters. The rating should be a maximum of 3, not 8.
In the case of Bone Machine and The Black Rider, stick to CD or if you can afford it, buy the originals and find the originals or early releases for the rest. I have Franks Wild Years which is the only one that is a bit worn (noisy) but even in good condition it is still a good listen.
Listening set: Dynavector karat 17DX, SME 309, Zet 1, Theriaa, Bat VK 50SE + VK55SE, Sound & Line Medius Excellence.

Glotz's picture

Your rant and righteous indignation are silly and insulting. We don't need a 'Shopping Gestapo'.

I find his remarks spot on- and I own BOTH the old and the new. The new are noisy, off-center and warped on a few, but that's now and like he stated above- They are $150 for the set of 6, not $150 for each- used. How else is someone going to procure it? Deal with equally noisy used pressings?

You also might want to learn modern online writing with shorter paragraphs and some basic grammar. OH, sorry! That's the truth and not an insult.

Glotz's picture

The pressing quality is random!

Your copy might be worse than mine, etc. Neither of you have listened to 3 or 4 copies. Generalizations are just that. Your mileage clearly varied from the norm.

While I agree this was a poor pressing outing, one should not directly state or imply that Mark and AP are trying to rip off customers.

If you do feel otherwise, take your shit elsewhere.

FransZappa's picture

My La Scala's, Linn Akurate LP12, Audio Note and Furutech cables, my 300B SET and especially MY EARS strongly disagree with mr. Smotroff. Unlike the reviewer I do have all the original pressings (save for The Black Rider) including a Japanese Rain Dogs and they ALL sound WAY better than these remasters. Even my CD's from these titles sound better. Yes they do highlight some higher register detail but this percussion driven Waits Music lacks both punch and bottom end in these new pressings which are further butchered by GZ Music responsible for the EU releases. I allso listened to the hires files from these remasters and find them lacking in the same punch and bottom department. So: music is 10/10 for all of them and no more than an average of 6/10 for the remastered sound.

Lemon Curry's picture

Stop Making Sense, Pretzel Logic UHQR, and now these Tom Waits LPs.

Three misses, except here.

Getting close to packing up.

Glotz's picture

michaelengelbrecht's picture

Hold on, guys! No need to start with bashing when disagreeing on the pressing pf these reissues. I myswlf was not enthusiastic about mine:

„In fact, I find my pressing of SFT less than intoxicating. Too much crackles for my taste, but then again, it’s a Tom Waits album, so I can experience them as part of the deep impact of the whole thing (would be a no-go on the fantastic "Luminessence" series of ECM).“

So, if my vinyl is the one that‘s widely spread I can understand that some people want to return it. I think that Mr. Smotroff (who indeed mentioned returning surface noise) loved the overall experience of the music (like I did).

One can eaaily come to peace with some crackles on A Tom Waits album. This musis is going underground, literally, with a decent amount of hiss, damaged sounds, damaged intstruments. damaged lives, damaged everything. So, what‘s this all about?

I’m a huge friend of excellent vinyls, but music always comes first. What you suggest here, is nothing less that the writer of this text is simply lying. People who know his texts for years, can confirm that someone who has the privilege to write about things he loves, and so often nails it (music- and soundwise) has no interest in deceiving his readers.

I hadn‘t listened to Tom Waits‘ album for quite some time, and thanks to this review, I ordered his wonderful „Schwertfischposaunen“, read some background texts about these old works in Uncut amd Mojo, and had a wonderful hour with the record, my high end system, and a glass of Languedoc! Cheers.

DaK's picture

analogplanet and not musicplanet. If it’s just about the music I can very well listen to it on Spotify or whatever…he even writes about how Tom Waits wanted to be habe reissues as cltobgbe original as possible. Having all originals and the reissues: big fail soundwise. And yes the sounds on this albums come from different and unusual sources, but what has that to do with soundquality?

Lying is a strong word but one might wonder if this review is supposed to be a counterpoint to the very consistently negative review (Amazon, discogs, SHF, Tracking Angle,..,). Where the motivation to write such counterpoint stems from I can only speculate. From listening to this records definitely not!

SLM's picture

how certain people can't stand the fact that there is always some other person who likes what they dislike. Pathetic.

DaK's picture

Dear SLM, we seem to have a very different kind of humor. Me I find it funny when people prove their own point about narrow minded people by being narrow minded and insulting! Have a good life, may you be happy!

Doors32's picture

First the music, yes. Nobody questions that.
I'm not arguing about the quality of the pressing, although I believe that new vinyl should be free from any defects.
The crackles in the music don't bother me, that's why early pressings are so nice ;)
We also don't discuss who likes these new remasters and who doesn't. Matter of taste.
We are talking about another problem, which is the evaluation of new remasters.
I expect a reliable and honest assessment of a given publishing house from a respected editor and a respected magazine. The editorial summary of the review convinces me to buy the new reissues and confirms my belief that they are great. I cannot agree with this.
I believe that a "great reissue" (as the editor put it) is one that introduces positive changes compared to the original. This reissue is the opposite of that. And yes, I find the editor's review misleading and unreliable. If he summed it up like this: if you don't have the energy to look for early pressings or originals in decent condition (which isn't difficult and isn't much more expensive than these remasters), you can easily settle for these releases (if you want the title on vinyl), but know that that it is far from the originals. If you don't have a point of reference, you may find these releases cool or good (if you can find the quiet ones).
And would that be fair? He would be...
Greetings to all lovers of good sound.

SLM's picture

(cassettes included) and I can say for sure that the remasters are different and IMHO superior in every audiophile way: deeper and more controlled bass (some call this "no bass") vastly more natural mids and equally natural treble. Some people like the warm, loose, smiley sound of the original vinyls and I'm ok with that as long as they let me be. The japanese SHM CD of Rain Dogs is a no-brainer in that sense. The new remasters remind me the sound of a mastertape that many vinylophiles consider as "flat". I guess Bernie and Tom/Cathleen don't know how the original tapes really sounded and need to ask people what EQ like best. By the way we're talking agout an hour of content per disc. Lacquers NEED to be cut low in volume in order to keep dynamics intact. Two 45s would definitely sound better, as Tom spectacularly did with Closing Time, which the usual discog idiots discarded as well.

Doors32's picture

I came across another, more objective and factual review (and to be clear, I am not a fan of M. Fremer):

Without insulting or calling others names ;)

markmck12's picture

Which is why I bought a Kendun Recorders/Jeff Sanders copy as recommended by MF.

Doors32's picture

And I think you're satisfied.

Glotz's picture

Many people confuse pleasing sound with accurate sound.

FransZappa's picture

…. and vice versa

Doors32's picture
SLM's picture

..Aja 33rpm is too bassy for his taste; SFT too midrangey alright. Sounds familiar. From the same crappy engineer. We're talking integrity reviews no shit.

Doors32's picture

I don't know what Aja sounds like and I'm not interested in this remaster, I preferred to buy the original.
I have included a link in which Fremer points out similar problems with these two remasters and a similar course of events. Just to form your own opinion.
I also appreciate that you like these new remasters and I didn't call the engineer shitty. I replaced it because in both cases it cut the paint.
All the best.

SLM's picture

..but poor quality control, as is the case with most new LPs these days and second hand originals as well. On the other hand the fact that there is no IGD in these hour-long LPs and no compromise in sound quality is almost a miracle. I also like the "originals" which I own since they first came out, but I'm not the type of guy who runs after his own past; I want new perspectives; there is no such thing as THE definite edition of a given recording and I'm deeply suspicious with anyone who says so. I'm not buying into the myth of AAA or "originals" (which one?) either. Quality control was way better back then but soundwise they were nothing special more often than not. Let us not forget that they were the reason people obsessed with CDs in the first place. Yes, the same first generation CDs that people thought as failures when the "loudness wars" came at play and the same CDs that many consider today as better than all subsequents. O tempora o mores!

SLM's picture

a digital sourced vinyl record many a time sounds better that its CD counterpart, because it is mostly sourced from the hi-res original and not the 44/16 downscale. It can even sound better than the hi-res original file, because the physical means acts like an analog reconstruction filter that straightens out the jagged digital waveform and makes it virtually indistinguisable from a trully analog one. Physical CDs can also sound better than 44/16 or even hi-res files, but the reason why eludes me thus far.

SLM's picture

the "original" AAA vinyl records were cut from n-generation (copy of a copy of a copy etc) lossy tapes and not the first generation master from which most digital remasters are sourced. The "original" editions are anything but original regardless how good may sound to our ears.

FransZappa's picture

... I don't know about you but I tend to listen with my ears and don't care where the music is sourced from - remember the MFSL controversy? I just kept on enjoying my Mobile records regardless of all those geniusses that suddenly heard the digital step in the process - and I don't think that anyone when using the adjective 'original' in front of the word record says that it is sourced from a gen 1 tape ... but when they like those records better - with which in this Waits case I totally concur - I just wonder what offends you so much about that opinion?

SLM's picture

as long as it does not declare itself the only and definite truth and all others that hold a different perspective liars and scams - which is the way it originally presented itself in this thread. Anyway I totally agree that one's ears are the final judge for one's audio enjoyment. Speaking from a strictly personal point of view I have never heard any format of RD or FWY sound better than my tape deck written cassetes back in the day. That being said I'm glad to have so many alternatives today to choose from according to my heart's whim.

Doors32's picture

Dear Glotz on Mon, yes, I'm old and tired of people like you. Read carefully and do not offend others.
This is my last entry, because apparently you can't have a normal discussion, it's a waste of time and health.

I maintain the author's criticism for advertising a bad remaster, because it is certainly not a fair review.

I also have to apologize to you and others for my poor English, I use a translator. Sorry.

As for the used pistons I have, they are quieter than the new ones, all of them are in EX condition. Only Frank, is VG, is in a condition close to new. New remasters cost 30 Euro, I managed to buy used early repressions or originals for 40-70 Euro.
I also do not accept new releases that are noisy, off-center and distorted. This goes against the definition of NEW. I'm fed up with the lack of quality control.

I buy vinyl for the sound quality, not for having a given title on vinyl. If the remaster is bad or worse, I prefer the original, an early repression, or the CD as an alternative.

I listened to Bone Machine: 2 black versions, 1 color and The Black Rider - 1 color. All European pressings. None of them were different from the norm - they were the same, had the same problems and played the same.
The color versions were calmer.

And I don't confuse nice sound with accurate sound.
This remaster did not improve upon the original in any way. Yes, it is different: it is a boring, lifeless and informationless creature compared to the original. And I'm not saying you can't like it.

So let's get this over with, it's a waste of my time.
I just wanted to spare others a bad purchase and draw attention to the existing problem.
I hope that the author of the review will respond to these observations and shed some light on why these releases sound the way they do and why his review differs from reality.

I wish you good health,
and may the music be with you!

DaK's picture

for your post! It sums up exactly how I feel about this thread and the remastered vinyl reissues, as well as collecting music in general! All the best to you.

FransZappa's picture

... is all have to add to this discussion.

Glotz's picture

First of all, I never insulted you. Your claim that this was an unfair review is unfair.

You were attacking the author here suggesting they they were lying to its readership and implied that they were somehow shilling others. That is wrong and a bad implication. And you were also doing it in angry rant-style. That is civil discussion.

I didn't insult you nor did you read my words carefully. I said that pressing are a 'crap shoot' and sometimes pressings come out better for others than they do you. You assume in your last post as well, that it is the same for everybody, as you have had a similar experience to others with these pressings were noisy, warped, etc. Some of mine were as well, but different to yours- and there are no hard, fast rules when it comes to sampling thousands of copies of LP's. You didn't hear thousands. This is civil discussion.

I also wasn't claiming you prefer nice sounding to accurate. That was someone else, and I was concurring that many do find 'smile' eq preferrable. I wasn't directed at you. Still civil discussion.

We all buy records the same way you do. I have several of the originals and most of these new ones. I agree there are many if not most new releases that have issues with pressing and noise and yes, it does suck.

To tell people to go and spend substantial money on originals is massive work, entails trusting total strangers, and is STILL a leap of faith. And 30 Euros is still more than the less than $30 I paid for these LP's.

And mind you, does not have a return process that is as sound as a trusted vendor that does this professionally. You returned yours- terrific. You are allowed to that with the vendor you chose. I do not think that would be the same ease of returning merchandise from a personal seller online. This is also civil discussion.

Really your gripes are with the folks that manufactured the record. Analog Planet told you of their experience and that was it. Should they differ from your opinion, they should not review it and say go to Discogs. Right.

michaelengelbrecht's picture

„Anyway I totally agree that one's ears are the final judge for one's audio enjoyment.“ Simply said, and true, SLM. I maintain my respect of Mark Smotroff‘s review of SFT that is definitely, imo, a decent remaster, and the thing with occasionally appearing surface noise doesn’t matter for me. In this case.

As i wrote earlier, not to everybody‘s thumbs-up, the bit of noise, though a fault in regards to accurate pressing, fits with a Tom Waits album, and its weird, slightly damaged sound sources:) A detuned upright piano here makes more sense and sensuality than a terrific Steinway in 3D mode.

So, the few crackles can even enhance the listening experience and its ancient „underground“ vibe. Surely not intentional, but producing a fine impact! Call ist psychoacoustic! All in all, it’s a fair review, and a great jo to listen to it on good and high end equipment.

P.S. And yes, what a delight to have different formats and ways to appeciate old beloved albums. Thus, with all my love for great vinyl remasters, and the power of this medium, around ten years ago I re-discovered King Crimson via Steve Wilson’s 5:1 mixes. Absolutely fascinating. Mike from Life in Surround, and Mark offered insights into this world, in accurate descriptions of their listening experiences.

michaelengelbrecht's picture

„Let The Power Fall“ is the name of Mr. Fripp‘s solo album, full of Frippertronics, an album the in-word „immersive“ could have been invented for.

Glotz's picture

Just saw King Crimson's farewell tour!

Glotz's picture

Love the Steven Wilson KC reissues!

FransZappa's picture
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