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Sadly, this official remaster will barely ruffle a loose strand of hair.
The original was a real stretch of the limits of a stylus riding in a vinyl groove, with bass drum and guitar rattling the walls well below 20Hz, crisp but exceptionally clean highs, vast dynamic range, and an astonishingly precise sense of where instruments and voices were positioned in the stereo field. I'd never heard that quality of sound on an LP before, except for a very few premium classical recordings. And, for dessert, there was the goosebump-raising cosmic thunder at the end of "Little Neutrino." Amazing stuff.
It's no wonder, then, that I --like so many others-- was less than thrilled by the audio quality of the Capitol Special Products CD combining this album with the second one, Hope. To their credit, Capitol did retain the low-end frequency response. However, they cranked up the treble to painful levels and squashed the dynamic range with excess compression. (Not to mention the sacrilege of merging the squeak that ends the first album with the one that begins the second.) Could things possibly get worse?
Yes. Unfortunately, the band themselves proved it. It's as if they intended for this release to be the Anticapitol version. Not only is the excessive treble of the Capitol CD gone, but also the crisp, clean highs of the LP. It's hard to tell exactly where the instruments, voices, and effects are positioned. (This is indicative of a full remix rather than just remastering. That's not always a good thing.) The wonderful ambience of the LP is gone. And the bass...oh, mercy...it's peaked heavily in the mid-bass, with distinct rolloff below, more suited for a boombox than a good home stereo. Without that lovely infrasonic trickery, the cosmic thunder won't raise goosebumps any more; it can barely manage a prickly rash now, even with headphones.
Should you shun this album because of the sonic letdown? No. If you already appreciate the music of Klaatu, it does deserve a hearing. You'll gain some worthwhile insights into the songs.
In principle, I'm happy for musicians who end up with ultimate control over their creative output. Klaatu, however, both through the production misadventure represented by this CD and through some poor choice of material on later albums, provide a case study of why even the best and brightest musicians still sometimes need a tough producer, and someone to give them candid A&R advice too.