Edited by board administrator September 4, 2016, 11:03 am
Based on that statement, I do NOT believe fans should "rest assured."
BGO is NOT going back to the multitrack and original demos, cleaning up those tracks, and remixing -- because Sony wouldn't allow it, it would be cost prohibitive, and Sony may not even have retained all this source material.
I've heard too many Sony releases that sounded terrible, and I'm not joking when I say the company is clueless about Reeves. When I did some work with them they were wholly ignorant about Jim's catalog.
What Mr. Gray received was music that he leased from Sony, and that he had NO HAND IN MIXING. What he got would have been digital copies of the "mixdown tapes" where the final released mixes are kept. The session reels are something completely different. He did not have access to them, although I believe Richard Weize of Bear did have many years ago, in some cases at least.
Sony merely sent BGO the mixed down audio files OR may have actually done the manufacturing, which happens in a lot of cases. Sony DADC is a division of this giant multi-national corporation that actually manufactures CDs for other labels. They had plants around the world, including in New Jersey (which closed in 2011), Indiana and Toronto (closed in 2011) and Mexico City (closed in 2015).
BGO is one of a plethora of labels that take old catalog and re-release it in assembly line fashion. They aren't taking hundreds of hours or spending thousands of dollars to IMPROVE the product; they take what they get from Sony, though they probably do some tweaking around the edges. The improvements will be marginal at best.
Yes, they can remaster it. But lacking access to the original components that comprised the 1970s RCA overdubs -- the individual tracks -- they are not going to be able to do much to correct many of the problems that existed on the original albums.
For instance, you'd need access to the original demo tape of "Lonesome Waltz" like we did, in order to get rid of as much of the fogginess that existed before RCA added more instruments. (In our case, we started over and built a new overdub arrangement around a cleaned-up demo tape).
The same is true of the "On Stage" material. I have the box of tape that Jim was sent by the Pennsylvania engineer who recorded his concert that night. There is a note attached in Jim's handwriting, along with a letter to Reeves from the man. So when I released this concert on the H&H/VoiceMasters 2 CD set, "There's Someone Who Loves You," we were able to present it the way people in the audience heard the concert that night -- WITHOUT the add-on studio instruments that RCA inexplicably applied when they put a highly edited version of this concert out on LP years ago. They also could not use the final song, "An Evening Prayer," because it had started to rain and the engineer tried to shield the recorder but accidentally bumped the reels of tape as they were turning in the machine. This resulted in a speed up and slow down of the audio. RCA apparently lacked either the technology or motivation to correct the tape speed variations; however, VoiceMasters DID correct this and thus salvaged the song.
What you will be getting on the BGO release is the RCA doctored-up version of that concert in stereo though it was recorded in mono. Even Leo Jackson, who played on the overdub, thought it was one of the stupidest things RCA ever did.
Sony is currently frightened of being sued by artists' estates if anyone remixes tracks. This is after an attempt was made to create a stereo mix of Donovan's "Mellow Yellow" a few years back. He didn't like it and forbade them from allowing it to be released (although I'm sure they could have had another go at it and solved whatever he didn't like). This has basically stopped Sony from allowing anyone to remix without the original artist/producer or estate being involved.
Keep in mind the projects I produce use out of copyright material, (so the artists/estates have no control over CDs I produce for foreign labels), but the BGO release includes material still in copyright. Big difference.
BGO is issuing a lot of Sony catalogue at the moment as they are making better, more affordable licensing deals than the other majors (particularly Universal who are charging astronomical prices).
They have a distributor that puts their re-releases in a lot of venues so they sell a lot but make very little per unit. It's a different business model.
The last point I would make is that a lot of the overdubs we've done have been praised by pro and amateur critics around the world as being superior to the ones that Mary had Bud Logan work on. Bud's brother, Jack, told me in a taped interview for my book that Bud tired of working on Jim overdubs so would stop by his place, toss some tapes at Jack, and tell him to go to work on them. Ho hum.
Listen to our version of "Blue Side of Lonesome" as an example. We restored a verse, have a prettier string section and background vocals, etc. Our version of "Deep Dark Water" is also beautiful.
But if you want copies of the old albums on a cheap CD, BGO is a way to get it. Just don't expect it to sound as good as it did on the original vinyl.
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