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Probably the best "Paranoid" CD
on 4 April 2009
Rejoice, people - this is truly the exception from the "rule" that new remasters sound worse than the older CD editions! This is probably the best "Paranoid".
It's definitly better than the 2004 Black Box release (don't believe what J. Siegler says), and I believe it's better than the 1996 Castle CD. There are some other CD editions which I have never listened or I heard them a long time ago, but I don't believe they are better.
And there's edition which I own for some time, 2001 Sanctuary mini vinyl replicas 8-disc box-set.
This new 2009 edition is released 5 days ago on the same label - Sanctuary. I must say that guys there now their job. So - congratulations and respect to Sanctuary!
After detailed analysis it seems to me that they used the same source as in 2001, but remastered it in a different way. Both 2001 and 2009 editions have loudness boosting just very slightly over the edge, almost unnoticeable, which makes them incomparably better than most of today's releases with ridiculously boosted loudness. So there's almost NO trace of small dynamic range, distortion and compression.
When I compared 2001 and 2009 edition:
2001 has less noise and more bass; 2001 sounds muddy, with prominent low range, while 2009 sounds more natural, with prominent mid-range.
They both sound good, and eventually it's up to the listener to decide which sound he/she prefers. I don't know which one sounds closer to the original 1970 vinyl, I could know that only if I put that LP (but in mint condition!) on a high-end turnatable and make comparison - but that will never happen. So, my final conclusion is: I FEEL that this 2009 CD is the closest thing to the original record.
But this new remaster also came out as a double LP 10 days ago - if someone is interested in that. That vinyl edition should sound even better, if you have the right equipment in your home.
All this being said, for me the most important value of this new edition is not remastered sound of the original album (disc 1), but bonus tracks.
Disc 2 is NOT CD, but DVD audio, which contains 1974 QUADROPHONIC MIX. I'm not really interested in that, but I know there are some who are.
The reason I bought this (I didn't know and didn't believe that disc 1 will have such a superior sound!) is disc 3. It contains 8 album tracks, but in a way that no-one has ever heard before! 5 of them are instrumentals and 3 are alternative versions! All unreleased for 38 years and 9 months! Maybe some will not be thrilled with that, but I am! It was fantastic experience yesterday for me to listen those songs, which are full of interesting surprises. Because when you intuitively feel/expect to hear something at some moment, you don't hear that, and so that gives you completely new listening experience of that classic!
Also, there's beautiful 24-page booklet, with tons of linear notes and related pictures, even from the original Paranoid tour programme!
There was several times when this CD was announced, and then stopped at the last moment, but I guess now Iommi definitely lost legal battles. There are already announcements of releasing the other Sabbath classics as expanded deluxe editions. I feel that we won't have to wait much to get "Master of reality" unreleased out-takes...
I'm sorry if all this happened against the will of Iommi & Sabbath, I do respect them and their wishes, but only up to a point - because as much I love Sabbath, even more I love myself. :D And I want Sabbath unreleased stuff... me and thousands of other Sabbath fans. And I feel that we are true fans, even if we'll give money for something that Iommi didn't want to see the light of the day. And these 2001 and 2009 Sanctuary releases, although without blessing from the band, are infinitely better products than 2004 Black Box which had all the blessings.