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Great album and bonus music - but some remastering/transfer issues
on 8 June 2012
Dare is unquestionably one of the pivotal albums of the early 80s, and I even have the original deluxe cassette version somewhere as it was the first album I bought! I also have the 2002 Anniversary issue on CD so any comparisons will be made with that later on. Most of the music here is great and pure 5-star territory, but the review is for the item you buy....
Another reissue, with only one unreleased track (the alternative/early mix of DYWM), is this really worth it? In one way, definitely yes, the box and inserts are very nicely done, and you get all the vinyl only/MP3 extras from Fascination/Mirror Man era (well, almost, Hard Times vocal doesn't get included, though the arguably better dub/instr mix does). On paper this looks great, and the box comes stickered with "2012 Remaster..." so we can assume it's going to have been done with the due care deserved, as this is surely the last re-release of this album we'll see!
I could not find the name of the remastering engineer anywhere, but as some fonts used are very small maybe someone else will. I also recall some recent listings stating the album itself is taken from the 2002 Remaster, but the sticker on the box implies a revamp for 2012, as did the inserts on the pre-release promo copies. For those who dread very loud remasters/transfers this is unlikely to be the reissue you were hoping for though:
1) Everything is very loud - however disc 2 and the album proper seem to survive ok (I listened through decent headphones)
2) The left-hand drop-out on the first line second verse Open Your Heart "And So You..." is still there, but seems to have been looked at. It's a lot less noticable than on my 2002 CD, so nice to see someone may have tried to clean it up a bit!
3) All tracks have been set to similar (albeit very loud) volume levels on both discs, so you don't have to keep adjusting when it comes to bonus material. The compilers have done a good job here.
4) Through headphones the intro beats, and breaks, in Sound Of The Crowd 12" sound awful! There are also some parts of the Instrumental of the same track that don't sound clean. Initially I thought it was a manufacturing fault on my copy, but as all the surrounding tracks, and the album version, are fine it appears this may be down to the source material used. At times the extra noises make it sound like these two tracks are taken from some mis-tracking 12" vinyl, or a degraded master. The beats on the RHS are accompanied by some rather nasty echoes, and to a lesser degree on the LHS, which for me spoilt the intro and other breaks totally. This seems inexcusable as they delayed this release so many times, and the sound on "Original Remixes" compilation, whilst not remastered, is far cleaner (though there is a bit of extra noise in the intro, but it's much quieter). The 12" version also appeared on an early 80s/12" compilation, so something odd appears to have happened on this release. However, once these tracks get going the sound is ok, as the beats are deep in the mix. It'll be interesting to see if any other reviewers have the same problem on their copies.
The track order on CD2 is a little unusual as it doesn't follow the vinyl EP, but tracks have been shuffled so you don't get two versions of the same song side by side, and it does include the great You Remind Me Of Gold instr/dub!
I found the liner notes a little disappointing, and the lyrics almost unreadable due to font size/colours, which seems a shame.
Sorry guys, I love this album, and nearly everything the various HL incarnations have done, but this reissue is not quite what it should've been. Still worth the entry price though.