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on 20 May 2014
If you are considering purchasing this boxed set, then obviously you are familiar with the album, the group's 5th, and most popular, featuring the lengthy progressive rock epic "Karn Evil 9", plus four shorter selections.

A general summary of the boxed set's contents: CD 1: the original 1973 mix. CD2: outtakes, alternate mixes & non-L.P. B-sides. CD3:A new 2014 stereo mix by engineer Jacko Jakcsyk. DVD-audio: The original 1973 stereo mix, the 2014 stereo mix and a 2014 surround sound mix engineered by Jakcsyk. DVD-Video: The Manticore special. Disc 6: a vinyl L.P. containing the original 1973 mix. If you're not equipped to play the high-resolution(better than CD sound quality) DVD-Audio, don't worry, because the DVD-Audio disc also contains lossy DTS & Dolby Digital versions that will play on any DVD player.

The packaging: The set is housed in a package identical in construction to the 2013 35th anniversary edition of "Fleetwood Mac-Rumours". You get a sturdy 12" x 12" slipcase containing the vinyl L.P. in a gatefold sleeve. The L.P. fits into the left side of the sleeve, the 5 optical discs are in cardboard mini-sleeves and the right inside of the gatefold has pockets to hold 4 of the 5 optical discs. Apparently, it was a last minute decision to include the video documentary, so that DVD-video & its sleeve are included, free-floating inside the left side of the sleeve. Perhaps this oversight can be addressed if there is a second production run of this set. As with the Fleetwood Mac set, there is a 12" x 12" 19-page booklet of liner notes and photos, and additionally, this set includes a 6-panel insert of photos and lyrics(it's identical to the one included with the original 1973 L.P.). Fans will bemoan that the L.P. sleeve does not reproduce the fabrication of the original L.P. sleeve, where the front of the sleeve had two pieces that folded out from the centre.

The sound quality, music and mixes. Disc One is a remastering of the original 1973 mixes. the remastering(by Andy Pearce) was used on a previous Sony CD of the album. The remastering sounds fine, so there was no reason to change it.

Disc Two contains all of the same alternate mixes, B-sides and backing tracks that were included on Disc two of the Universal/Sanctuary 3-disc set of the album(issued in 2008), plus two previously unreleased tracks; an instrumental mix of the (originally) non-L.P. single "Brain Salad Surgery", and a significantly different early backing track arrangement for "Karn Evil 9, 3rd Impression"

Disc Three is a new 2014 stereo mix of the album. It is faithful to the original production, and uses the correct vocal and instrumental takes.

Disc Four: DVD-Audio. High resolution presentations of the 1973 & 2014 stereo mixes, plus a 5.1 surround mix by Jacko Jakcsyk. As fans are no doubt aware, there had already been a previous surround sound mix of the album(by engineer John Kellogg) that had been released on a 2001 Rhino Records DVD-Audio disc, and on an SACD that was included with the 2008 Universal/Sanctuary 3-disc set that was issued in the UK in 2008. In the Uk, the Castle label issued a CD containing a stereo fold-down from this surround mix in 2001. Fans immediately noticed that the vocals of "Jerusalem" & "Still....You Turn Me On" were alternate takes, and there were differences in the instrumental "Toccata". But, otherwise, Kellogg's mix was crisp, clear, and faithful to the textures and vocal to instruments and instrument to instrument balances of the original production. As for the alternate vocals on the two songs, this may have been a case where a group had gone back to the multitracks (after the original mixes had been finalized) to try to improve upon the original performances....only to decide that the performances on the original mixes were best, after all. (some examples of that include Deep Purple's "Machine Head" & The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds"). In those instances, later remixes inherently must include the revised performances, because that's what on the multi tracks today. I had often wondered if that was the reason why the 2001 surround sound mix of this ELP album contained some alternate vocals and instrumental parts.....but perhaps not. Jacko Jakcsyk's 2014 stereo mix of "Brain Salad Surgery" has all of the correct vocal takes......but AGAIN, the new surround mix has the alternate vocals of "Jerusalem" & "Still.....You Turn Me On". WHY????

Because John Kellogg had been, in his 5.1 remix (otherwise) highly faithful to the original stereo album's overall sound, perhaps Jacko Jakcsyk felt that he could(and should) take drastic liberties with the album's overall vocal to instrumental balances, and, as a result Mr.Jakcsyk's mix is disappointing, with intentionally buried parts now brought out front, and the drums now being flat & undynamic (sometimes sounding like cardboard boxes) sometimes being mixed down too low.

Disc Five is the "Manticore Special" a documentary showing the group on and off stage. This video programme had already been released on the original Castle/Sanctuary edition of the group's boxed set "From The Beginning", only to be omitted when Sony reissued the boxed set. The source is still the only one that the group's management has: a videotape copy of a very poor, blurry multi-generation copy film print. The audio is muffled mono film stripe sound. The only difference in this release, is that this time the Dvd is in the NTSC format(the DVD with the Castle/Sanctuary "In The Beginning" box was PAL format.). The new DVD adds a 2 minute photo gallery, accompanied by the instrumental mix of the song "Brain Salad Surgery"

The sixth disc is a vinyl L.P. of the original 1973 mix of the "Brain Salad Surgery" album. It is a high quality, likely German pressing. The surfaces are quiet and on-centre. Audiophiles will be pleased that the overall sound is less bright than many original 1970's pressings were.(in the 1970's, as a teenager, I had the Atlantic Records U.S.A. pressing, which was very bright sounding.)

If you are an Emerson,Lake & Palmer completist, you'll have to own this, but, for most people, I would recommend tracking down the (now-deleted) 2008 Universal/Sanctuary 2-CD + SACD edition. You'll get all but two of the rarities from the 2014 box, and an undoubtedly superior 5.1 surround mix.

Would the 2014 surround mix have turned out better if Steven Wilson hadn't decided not to work with ELP again? Perhaps, but he spared himself from having to explain the alternate take vocals that seem to be inherent in remixing this album for surround. Maybe Sony should ask John Kellogg to do their future ELP surround mixes.
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on 2 June 2014
The first thing to point out is that the budget edition (very reasonably priced as it is) does NOT include the 5.1 mix. For that, you have to shell out for the super deluxe edition. What you do get is a very good remaster of the original album on Disc 1. It is bright, clear and well defined. It's the best I have heard the original album sounding. Disc 2 features the alternative versions used on a previous edition, and frankly these are so minimally different as to be pretty redundant. The saving grace of Disc 2 and for me worth the price of admission, is the inclusion for the first time of an entirely different instrumental version of the non album `Brain Salad Surgery'. This is not merely the released version stripped of vocals, but a completely different take where the guitar actually takes the vocal melody, and the synth sounds are significantly different. Then there is a completely different early instrumental take of Karn Evil 9 3rd Impression, which again is very different from the final version. There is a bit of a drum car crash at one point which makes it easy to see why this take was abandoned, but it is a fascinating alternative performance.

Disc 3 is the DVD-A whose main feature is Jakko's 2014 remix, which although fascinating and containing several surprises, will never replace the original mix as the definitive version. The glossy sheen of reverb heard on the original mix is gone, and a much drier sound ensues. The drums are rather upfront at the expense of the keys in places, particularly in `Toccata', and in `Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression' Jakko has made the decision to blend two takes of the organ solo we all know and love, and the effect is somewhat disorientating and messy. The 2014 remix is therefore of academic interest only.

So, although it suffers from a genuine lack of brand new rarities, it's great that they found the two new takes of `BSS' and `KE9: 3rd Impression' exclusive to this set, and the true fan will enjoy these and the new mix (to some extent anyway), as well the excellent digipack presentation, complete with new band interviews and some nice photos.

I chose this over the Super Deluxe which is really only for 5.1 diehards, which I am not.
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on 4 June 2014
This would have been a 10 star review if it wasn't for the unforgivable way the record companies are treating the fans. When I pre-ordered this I not unreasonably expected the DVD to come with the 5.1 mix and it DOESN'T. There is no excuse for this. Add to this the unforgiveable absence of the now crsytal clear lyrics and it's clear just how cynically the record company are behaving here. What makes things worse is that the booklet refers to the 5.1 mix on disc 4,which clearly suggests that they've saved money by using the same booklet in this version and in the super deluxe edition.
Musically this album cannot be faulted, it is justifiably widely regarded as ELP's finest achivement, and the 2014 remaster is just superb with everything sounding better than ever, which almost makes this worth the asking price, but the missing 5.1 mix is unacceptable.
So 10 stars for the music and NO stars for the atrocious way the fans are being treated.
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on 30 June 2014
After I read all the reviews bemoaning the lack of 5.1 on this edition, I thought I would write in. I recently "found" the new 5.1 mix (if you know what I mean!) and I must say that it is one of the worst examples of surround I have heard in a long time. There is no punch, it's low in volume, Lake's vocals are relegated to the background (no matter what you do with your middle channel), and in many spots, you can't even make out certain instrumental passages that you have memorized for years. So I put on my 2000 edition 5.1, and it absolutely blows this away! Save your money, and find the older Rhino 5.1 edition. It's so much better. Shame on whatever-his-name-is for doing this mix so poorly. He obviously learned very little from Steven Wilson (who did NO favors to ELP with his own surround mix of 'Tarkus'!) Unfortunately, I am now NOT looking forward to the forthcoming edition of "Trilogy"!!
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on 26 May 2000
Who would have thought a prog rock track would become the title song to a well-known family-orientated game show? Thanks to Jim Davidson being a mega-ELP fan, the first movement of the albums Karn Evil 9, better known as "Welcome Back My Friends" is the theme song to "The Generation Game". Karn Evil 9 is a complex, often dark, often tricky work, harking back to the days of "Tarkus", the theme being man being ultimately governed by machines. But as well as the brooding metallic passages, there is also a chance for the great Keith Emerson to indulge his passion and immense artistry as a jazz pianist. It all makes for an unforgettable and mesmeric piece.
However, perhaps the most haunting is their rendering of "Jerusalem", that stays faithful with its sacred overtones. No-one has produced a better version of this eternal song.
Their classical bent continues with the racy and dramatic "Toccata" and the trademark commercial track is the lovely acoustic "Still.....You Turn Me On". And there is a novelty track "Benny the Bouncer", a real Cockney ragtime little number with extremely menacing overtones.
Brain Salad Surgery - which incidentally was a track but only available as a freebie floppy disc with a music paper back in the 70s - ranks as one of the greatest ELP collections. Full of contrasts fusing the influences of classical composers with out and out rock rhythms, the music is timeless and still sounds fresh. God bless Jim Davidson for giving it a brand new lease of life and hopefully a wider audience.
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on 7 June 2014
The review by the first reviewer is incorrect. A big disappointment, this album does not contain a DVD-A with a 5.1 mix - only stereo options. Supposedly the Super Deluxe Edition contains a multi-channel audio option, but for whatever reason well beyond my belief, this Deluxe Edition does not. It has 2 CDs, and a DVD-A which has the original stereo mix, and a 2014 stereo mix. Having listened to it a couple of times, I am beginning to think that the original 2000 DVD-A does a better job. Something is missing from the Jakko Jakksyk new stereo mix. Would the 5.1 version sound better? If only I knew!
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on 4 June 2001
Brain Salad Surgery finally sounds as it should! This 2001 release uses a different master tape and has other lyrics (e.g. on parts of Benny the Bouncer"). It sounds astonishing! Gone are the reverb and compression laden sound that has damaged earlier releases. Now the instruments jump out of the speakers, and be really sure you don't have valuable objects on your shelves or walls when Greg's bass and Carl's bass drum start up. The bonus tracks could have been better (e.g. unreleased live material, as on the new Trilogy release), but its still interesting to hear the BSS session material ("Brain Salad Surgery" and "When the Apple Blossoms Bloom...") in its original context. This release is so much better than any of the previous ones that it must be heard! However many times you've got Brain Salad Surgery before, be sure to get this one!
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on 5 June 2014
Hi.
This is my first review ever. I promised myself I will never write a review at all. But I had to. I'm very disappointed with this version. I bought it only for 5.1 mix of the album. DVD contains only high resolution stereo mix by Jakszyk. To get a surround mix you have to buy a limited edition for £58. What a politics? ELP and Tarkus contain 5.1 mix (by Wilson) for the price of £11 each. Don't buy it. Maybe they will find out they made a mistake and issue a version with surround mix. For now, DON'T BUY IT!!!!!!!!!! Waste of money. I'm going to sell mine copy straight away even without listen to it.
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on 6 June 2014
NO 5.1 AUDIO! As with many others, I ordered this package ONLY for the new 5.1 surround mix, which I was shocked to discover upon delivery it did not contain. We were misled, if not outright lied to by the record company on this one. I already own many versions of BSS, so disc one (remastered album) is of little interest. It has been "remastered" many times before it seems. Disc two (alternate album) is a curiosity, and will be of some amusement to long time fans, but this IS NOT the version which made this album a classic. On to disc three...Stereo only. The new surround mix, it turns out, is now only available in the expensive Super Deluxe Box set. Why oh why are we expected to shell out a ridiculous sum of money for a Super Deluxe Box Set full of crap we don't want, just to get the one item we DO want. This would have been unacceptable even if it had been made clear in the first place, but it was not. We were ripped off on this one, people.
I ordered from Amazon UK from Canada because the release date here in Canada is three weeks later. I was anxious to get my hands on this release. Don't I look the fool. If you are from Canada and have preordered this three disc set expecting the 5.1 mix, CANCEL YOUR ORDER NOW! If you still want it, you can have mine. I will likely never play it.

Update June 10...Amazon USA is currently listing this 3 disc set for a July 1 release. Their product description states this...
"Disc: 3
1. The new 5.1 mixes of the original album"... "and the third disc contains a DVD with surround sound audio produced by Jakko Jakszyk"
Really Amazon? Obviously Amazon reps don't bother reading these reviews. Nor do they confirm the information given to them by the record labels.
Bruce

Update June 17... Amazon UK now have "updated" the product description to this ...
"(3-Disc set) Newly remastered + 2nd disc of bonus tracks + DVD-Audio of entire album in SACD stereo & 5.1 surround-sound."
After all of the negative feedback, Amazon still has it wrong. Wow! That's incompetence! DVD - Audio AND SACD? On the same disc! Wow!
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on 25 June 2014
What a rip-off! Like a large number of other people, the only reason I ordered the Deluxe Edition was because it was advertised by Amazon as including the 5.1 mix. I was so disappointed when I put it on and could not find it. It should be noted that the rating showing on Amazon for the Deluxe Edition is misleading as it includes the ratings given to the Super Deluxe Edition, which did actually include the 5.1 version.
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