Electric Recording Company Taking Pre-Orders Now for True Mono Love Forever Changes REVISED! PLEASE READ!!!!!

original and new ERC produced covers. (Photo:ERC)
accepting pre-orders for its limited to 300 copies edition "True Mono" reissue of Love's iconic album Forever Changes. HOWEVER DUE TO A MISCOMMUNICATION, I WAS UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT IT IS A DISCRETE MONO MIX. IT ISNOT!. IT IS A FOLD DOWN FROM THE STEREO MASTER. MY PROFOUND APOLOGIES. I HOPE ERC WILL REFUND YOUR ORDERS IF YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED

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On the ERC site you can see much of what goes into an ERC reissue including images of the cover art printing process and attention to detail down to the inner sleeve reproduction. NO WONDER THE TAPE SAYS "STEREO"

COMMENTS
McFaden's picture

I ordered it right away. I am excited that they are venturing into new genres, can't wait to see where they go next.

One thing caught my eye in the image of the tape box. Handwriting at the top states "1st Generation Stereo Master." Am I reading that wrong? is there information I am not able to read that signifies Mono? I have no doubts that it is true mono cut from mono master tapes, I am not questioning their word at all. Perhaps they are planning a stereo release as well such as they have done with recent releases? Either way, this is what dreams are made of.

Michael Fremer's picture
They are planning both mono and stereo releases. I picked the wrong photo. I'll go back and look for the mono....MY BAD
McFaden's picture

No worries, Michael. I'm not sure it was your fault, the press release on their site also has the stereo boxes. But maybe they sent you extra pictures.

So this begs the question. Which is the one to get. I mean I already ordered this so I'm locked in, can't afford more than one. I've only ever heard the stereo mix so getting the mono seems cool. Do you have any experience with the mono mix? Any thoughts?

Michael Fremer's picture
I was going to write "I've not heard the mono so I can't tell you" and then I realized I do have the mono! But haven't played in a long time....and haven't time to stop everything and play now!

McFaden's picture

Again, no worries at all Michael. I appreciate you taking the time to engage with me here. I will just wait for my copy, which i am sure will be amazing. And I look forward to a review comparing these with the originals, the Rhino reissues and the MoFi 45. Again, thanks for your time.

davip's picture

McFaden spotted the inconsistency between what was announced and what was pictured straight away where the Author did not. His only error was to buy-in "...right away" instead of trusting his own eyes. This is pretty poor reporting when people are investing $400 on the Author's word.

$400 for a non-vintage record, and a fold-down at that?! This is lazy gouging that epitomises most everything that's wrong with audiophilia today -- and it deserves to fail...

McFaden's picture

When we got more info I was a bit conflicted about what was going on here, but then I did a bit more digging.

If you read online it is pretty unclear wether there was a dedicated original mono mix in the first place. Apparently on the 50th anniversary CD there is a mono that is produced as a fold down and all indications suggest the original mono release was a fold down as well.

So here is where my head is at with this. ERC has a massive reputation to uphold. Clearly they also walk a bit of a tightrope with the prices they charge, they absolutely can not release something that's shit, or even remotely close to it. These are smart dudes. I find it hard to believe that with their first venture into the rock genre they would put forth a release that was less than perfect, that would draw criticism (other than uneducated "how dare you use a fold down") to the project. I can only imagine that they cut both mono and stereo and listened and decided "yes, this is the best sonic representation of this album, this is what we should step out with." Otherwise, why release it FIRST? Why release it all? Based on the previous work they have done I must assume that this is going to sound wonderful. It's mind boggling to think they would conduct themselves in a deceptive manner and release garbage, they can't afford that.

So, it is a minor gamble, this is not how one would expect a "true mono" recording to be produced. But based on their track record I find it a matter of trust, and I personally trust they have done the album justice, and then some. Maybe other's don't, to each their own. But I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt.

All that being said, I've never heard a mono version of the album. The stereo sounds great but it does have the features of an early stereo rock record, namely guitars on the right and bass & drums on the left. I personally prefer 60s rock in mono, I just do. And I think this album would probably sound amazing in a top notch mono presentation. I have to assume that is exactly what ERC will deliver.

They can't afford not to.

Dave1170's picture

Well said, McFaden! I agree with everything you said here. I do, however, think it’s a little deceptive that ERC didn’t mention that it’s a fold down in their product description. That fact alone would’ve most likely changed some peoples minds. I own several ERC records, and they’re all exceptional! I have no doubt that this will be as well. Just wish they would’ve been more forthcoming about the details!

Montpier's picture

the "stereo" on the tape box.

Really can't fault Michael on this, as it's reasonable to assume that since there was initially a mono release of the title and ERC was calling it "true mono" they had gone back to an "original mono mix". That the mono mix was apparently just a "fold down" of the stereo is a nuance that ERC should have been more forthcoming about in their original announcement.

[Disclosure: "Forever Changes" has been one of my desert island albums for 40+ years, and have more versions of this across vinyl, disc and digital than "Kind of Blue". Hearing Lee and Echols perform live at NYC Town Hall circa 2004 with Baby Lemonade was pretty special, even without orchestra. Would have loved to have attended one of the UK gigs with orchestra but the DVD will have to suffice.]

Now the bigger question of the value of a boutique pressing with that "fold down" mix. Obviously up to the individual listener as the "value", and personally I also tend to prefer music presented as the artist originally intended, rather than stereo splitting instruments in one channel vs vocals in the other, or hastily prepared after the fact stereo intended to approximate the mono mix which the artist/producer/engineer spent most of their energy.

But it seems pretty clear that Lee and Botnick focused on the Forever Changes stereo mix, based on apparent absence of mono mix not originating from a "fold down"* and the presence of the alternate stereo mixes issued in the 2008 "collector's edition".

For me, while the isolation of the bass/drum mostly left channel and acoustic guitar typically panned right may sound a bit odd, it does serve the purpose of the separating the "rock" rhythm section from the more "folky" elements and creating space for the vocal. And the placement of other instruments is generally not quite as extreme, with the passages of dueling electric guitars in each channel or spread of orchestral strings and brass part of it's charm.

So, I'll stick with the original stereo mix and still really looking forward to ERC release of that. There's always a preamp mono button should I want to approximate my own "fold down".

Seems unlikely at this point that Echols, Botnick, Jac Holzman or anyone else would undertake a "Giles Martin" remix of the multi-tracks if they were still complete and playable.

Cheers all!

* Yeah, I know the 50th anniversary had unique mono mix but it was still a "fold down" albeit possibly from an alternative stereo mix, and from what I surmise not master used for the original mono pressings or this ERC "true mono".

McFaden's picture

I did not buy in right away based solely on Michael's word. In fact I didn't even see this post before I purchased it. I got the email from ERC, read their press release online, considered it for a while and then purchased. It was purely based on my love of the album, my previous experience with ERC and my desire to own it.

I place absolutely zero blame on "the Author" for anything. In fact I find Michael to be one of the most trustworthy voices out there on this subject.

Anyway, we all make our own choices based on the information we have and how we process it. We shall wait and see if ERC delivers. I'd put my money on YES.

(in fact, I did)

markmck12's picture

Davip - I re-read your comment a few times to weigh up and gauge whether you were being cooly sardonic, or alternatively an outburst of confected moaning. I hope it was not the latter. If 'the Author' said 'Jump off a cliff' I would imagine you would assess the variables before such an....investment.

davip's picture

Neither -- I highlighted what I regard as poor reporting from an Authority (didn't this also happen with the Stereo Beatles?). People spend large sums on the say-so of such writers and the expectation is that the announcements of those with privileged knowledge / advance copy should not be easily trumped by a guy on the internet who just happened to look a little more closely.

I remember reading a piece not so very long ago from the justly-gone Lavorgna on the unambiguous superiority of DSD over PCM (that then went on to make a > $10,000 DAC recommendation on the basis of what he heard) that many doubtless set great store by. It was not very long after that it became known that the Analogue Productions SACD of 'Tea for the Tillerman' that was the main object of his subjective comparisons had a PCM step in it, and the redoubtable writer simply had his head turned by a ton of ultrasonic noise superimposed on PCM.

You call it what you want -- veracity of statements and announcements is the minimum that we should expect from those who get their media gratis and who are paid enough for their words to run to quarter-mill systems. I write for a living too -- if I screw-up, I expect flak.

Personally, I have no skin in the game, as I would never spend $100s on a modern reissue given the disingenuous actions of the vast majority of those who release them -- as again amply demonstrated here in this almost half-a-grand for a fold-down.

vogelzang's picture

I love this record; one of my all time faves. I don't have the scratch for both mono and stereo.....Michael which would you recommend if I only get one?

Michael Fremer's picture
Haven't played the mono in a long time.... I can't say....
Lothar's picture

The last time I played my original US Elektra Forever Changes mono copy it just pissed me off so I got rid of it. It had too many tell-tale "fold-down" signs, especially on the first track Alone Again Or...the cymbals had that phase-y, swishy sound you find on bad fold-downs (there are good fold-downs, of course) and it just didn't have the punch you expect with a real mono record. Bear in mind -- my copy was in very nice shape, it was played on a VPI Classic with the JMV 10.5 arm with a correctly aligned Lyra Kleos mono at 1.72 grms VTF so I think I was pretty close to hearing it in as good a form as my system is capable of and...it didn't do anything for me. I sometimes had the impression the tonality in the horns might have been more pleasing on the mono press, but the rest just sort of didn't sound right at all to me. My go-to's are my remaining stereo copies which include the MOFI 45rpm two-fer (my favorite), the Chris Bellman Rhino from some years back (2nd favorite) and a circa 1969 ~ 1971 UK Elektra (I identified it at one point but forget what I found out about it) press coming in third.

I'm not saying I wouldn't be interested in how this new reissue would sound...Just saying the original mono, to me anyway, wasn't anything I could get excited about.

SpinMark3313's picture

Bought an audiophile copy a few years ago and tried, I really did, to get into this record.
Just couldn't. So I sold it.
Therefore, in a gesture of great magnanimity I hereby bequeath my $400 ERC copy to someone else to buy.

FrankMcA's picture

What is the difference between the two and is ERC being disingenuous in there description?

Michael Fremer's picture
Means that the mastering chain includes a mono cutter head. Most other mastering systems are built for stereo and even when cutting a mono record, use the stereo cutter head. While some claim there's no difference since the stereo cutter head will only respond laterally anyway, when Mr. Hutchison at ERC demoed live, a stereo and mono cutter head cutting a mono tape, there was a difference, though it was not "earth shattering". Still, ideally you'd want to cut mono with mono. He's dedicated to that level of perfection....
PeterPani's picture

Why does ERC produce a folded down Mono?

McFaden's picture

If I am not mistaken their release of Sunday At The Village Vanguard in mono is also a fold down. It was originally recorded on two track stereo and the original mono release is a fold down as well. Seems to be the same case with Forever Changes. If ERC is doing the same as the original releases are they really doing any wrong? Perhaps they could be more clear about it but it hardly seems like they are committing any sins.

suzeq02871's picture

Michael, I pre-ordered. I have the Ortofon 2M Mono SE cartridge. Any issues or concerns playing this recording? Is there a chance I could do any "damage" to the stylus, or is it just a matter of sound difference with this record not being a true mono.

McFaden's picture

it is a mono record, the only thing in question is how they got there. So you are ready to rock with that cartridge.

suzeq02871's picture

Thank you McFaden.

Michael Fremer's picture
It was cut using a mono cutter head. It is a "true mono" cut, using a folded down from stereo master....
rootsnbranches's picture

From these comments by ERC it would appear that it's not about accuracy (whatever that is in the situations) but an interpretation:-
We discussed what he felt were the characteristics that he wanted to bring out from the recording to which he said, “My feeling is that the original tape has positive attributes that are lost in the heavily equalised versions, including the original pressing. That is not to say that those cuts are not good – many are – but I wanted to hear something new in our end-product. My reference was the original pressing which I love but thought it would be good to go a different way, that is, to hear the tape naked without equalisation, and cut down a little on the levels.”

Dave1170's picture

Where did you see these comments from ERC?

rootsnbranches's picture
Anton D's picture

Really, my bottom line will be the statement that they are doing these pressings like this: "No equalisation or compression was used during the mastering process."

That tickled me pink right there!

timorous's picture

It might prove useful to ask Jac Holzman, who was the head honcho for Elektra Records since its inception. He will know for sure whether there was in fact a true mono mix done. I'm not sure if Bruce Botnik was the engineer on F.C., but if he was, he would be even more certain. Just ask them. Elektra Records was a real family affair in the 1960's, not just another record company. Jac Holzman's biography is a fun read. It's called "Follow the Music" check it out.

Montpier's picture

Saw a comment by Botnick somewhere (50th anniversary F.C. box notes perhaps?) that he had no recollection of specifically mixing a mono version and was pretty sure the original mono release was likely a "fold down". That anniversary box also included a full version alternative stereo mix later uncovered labeled as "final" (but obviously was not) that first appeared on the two disc "collectors edition" which Botnick also did not recall.

Keep in mind he was a very busy guy in those days and its not as if Love was an especially major priority for Elektra, in part because of their reluctance to tour. Also the sessions were very difficult with Lee having replaced the entire band with session musicians at one point -- there was a reason it was the last album with most of the "original" members. So probably not among the more enjoyable highlights of Botnick's career. And as another poster has noted, it was not until years later that F.C. was recognized as a masterpiece, a bit like their east coast counterparts Velvet Underground & Nico 1st.

Tom L's picture

...Love had attracted this much attention when they were in their prime, who knows how much great music would have resulted?
We could hardly give their records away back then, when I was in the music retail biz.

zimmer74's picture

Forever Changes is only my fourth favorite Love album. As a young lad in high school I bought them all when released, and I'd rather listen to the first album, Da Capo, and especially Four Sail. They were a great rock band, but Forever Changes is fussy, arty, not that great.

Michael Fremer's picture
I love them all too. Bought the first one the day it came out. Four Sail is good too. A very different band....
Dave1170's picture

Hi Michael, I assume you’ll be reviewing this mono version? I look forward to your comments on it! I did order it, and I’m not canceling my order, even though ERC offered to refund my money if I want to cancel. I also prefer mono over ‘60s “stereo” where half of the instruments are on one channel, and everything else on the other side. I will admit that I’m not so familiar with what a dedicated mono mix sounds like compared to a mono fold down. Do you believe that it will make a big difference in the overall sound of this record, given ERC’s commitment to perfection?

SeagoatLeo's picture

I have the Blue box and most of the Capitol LPs. The Parlaphones are the best LPs I've heard (have not heard the latest editions). I sold the MoFis as they were inferior sounding and added nothing to my collection. Kept the Capitols as they are different and have some added songs. I do not recommend the MoFis. Buy the best CDs instead of the MoFi. I have a near Hi end system in cost and sound.

Chemguy's picture

What a let down. And for their first rock release. Sorry, but this is just sad.

PeterPani's picture

I am not familar with the stereo version. If it is ping pong stereo the vinyl cut will improve with mono, because it is more stable in pure mono. But, if there is out-of-phase stereo content in the two channels they might get canceling of frequencies (what is not possible with pure mono) by folding down.

Anton D's picture

I would imagine the master was 'pre-screened' for sonics.

Analog Scott's picture

apparently sold out on the first day of pre-orders

dhyman's picture

I'm now convinced! They just make what you tell them! At your every whim! :) - David Hyman..

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