4 July 2007

Remastered re-issues: Re-invention or rip-off?

I admit it: I am a music collector, which means I am in the target group whenever great albums get remastered and re-issued. I am part of the group of people who may just buy the album once more to get the new and improved version.

Now, some would say that it's just a rip-off by the record companies and that it's a smart and sneaky way to blow new life into old and burried material. Well, I can understand this point of view if you're not really that interested in the little (sometimes big) improvements in how the old release sounds when it's been through the remastering process. Or if it means a higher price for the new version. However, most often the new version just replaces the old and usually at the same price (at least after a little while). So I don't see too many drawbacks for the normal consumer. For the collector it may be a different issue if you then can't resist re-newing the entire catalogue of for example Rolling Stones (honestly, who would want to...?). That can be a costly affair. And I guess that, ultimately, this is what pays for the remastering (I'm sure Mr. Record Label has done the math).

Anyway, I'm a sucker for these new releases and I have a hard time not wanting the new offering, knowing that the one I've got may now be inferior sound-wise. Even though the sonic improvements may be hard to hear. So more than once, I've been through a process, like snakes, of shedding my skin and face-lifting the collection of favourite artists. I just love it when new life is breathed into old material. I mean, most 80's albums sound much better and more dynamic in their remastered form. Who does not want that?

I know there are those who prefer the sound of the original release, which is often a bit more dusty and analog (at least for many 70's albums). Not me. As long as more clarity, dynamic and focus is brought to the soundscape, I'm all for it.

So bring on the remasters. If the album still holds it own, I'll probably end up buying it once more.

Le Mec


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