Customer Review

47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AFan Insane, 16 April 2013
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This review is from: Aladdin Sane 40th Anniversary edition (Audio CD)
If it has "David Bowie" on the cover, I tend to buy. Hence I've now got the 40th Anniversary version of this disc to go along with that last anniversary disc, the EMI release, the Japanese Mini LP, The Rykodisc release and original RCA. Oh, and the vinyl from yesteryear. Why? Obsessive compulsion I guess. All these "remasterings" can get a bit much, can things really get better?

I'm pretty sure there will be plenty of people following on from this review who will be hailing this as the definitive version, or saying it's "close to the vinyl" - you'd think 40 years after the first release of this recording we'd be demanding it to sound better, not the same. But I digress.

First the sound - is it better than ever before? I don't think so. I think it's on a par. It sounds nice, there is a ton of detail, everything is as it should be. But if someone is perfectly happy with the last version, I really don't see this one changing much. I found the previous reissue of Ziggy Stardust in a 2013 remaster a little brittle (which pits me against those who proclaimed it as some kind of sonic revolution). This doesn't suffer from that, so that's a plus. For example the cymbal hits in Panic in Detroit can be a problem on this record, yet they're nicely contained here.

Frankly this album has been reissued so many times surely the only way it could sound significantly better is if some new technology is created, or high-resolution versions become available. Improvements are always going to be marginal at this point. Yet people like myself keep hoping and dreaming, and buying!

In short then, yes this sounds excellent, it is perhaps equal to the very best this album has ever sounded - at least in my collection. However, anyone expecting a night and day step up from previous releases are going to be disappointed, imo. Except we live in a world where new is always hailed as better.

Where this CD does win is in the packaging, which almost wins a ten out of ten. Almost. They have brought back the original gatefold, with the original artwork, which is nice. But they also went a step further and included the lyrics on the inner bag. Not enough? Well, they included the invitation to join Bowie's fan club that shipped in original copies of the vinyl. These are much appreciated, and really show they're going that extra mile. I already had them as part of the Japanese mini lp, but it's good to have them here too.

Still, I can't go too overboard on the packaging - who ever thought it was a good idea to put a big blue bar down the front of the cover art proclaiming "40th Anniversary 2013 remaster" needs their heads testing. Iconic cover made..... Having gone the extra mile on reproducing the cover and inserts, this is a poor choice, imo. Have they never heard of stickers? Oh well.

The music is clearly 5 out of 5. The sound on this remaster is excellent. And the packaging is almost perfect. The lack of bonus tracks is going to be problematic to some, especially as previous releases had them - but on the plus side at least we have the original album here as it should be heard, as one complete experience. Should you upgrade from a previous version? Hm. The 1999 remasters are good, as was the last anniversary release. If you have those then I wouldn't rush. Previous to that, yes, pick this up.
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Showing 1-10 of 62 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Apr 2013 14:06:58 BDT
LPpsb says:
Excellent, helpful review. Like you I was underwhelmed by the 40th anniversary "Ziggy", finding it far too tinny for my taste.

Quite why you want the invitation to join Bowie's fan club from 1973 is perplexing though!

Posted on 16 Apr 2013 18:22:56 BDT
Thanks from me too. Very useful review.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Apr 2013 18:49:59 BDT
bobby morrow says:
Yes, everything answered and explained in this excellent review.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Apr 2013 18:54:57 BDT
Vaughan says:
I think it's a nod to the Japanese Mini LP market, which reproduces everything faithfully from the first release. I like it, it's a nice touch.

My comments were mainly there to let people know they need not jump on this right away, expecting a night and day improvement. Expectations can be raised, and disappointment can only follow. Either that or buyers try to convince themselves what they bought is "better", whatever that means today when we can already start counting off the days until the 45th Anniversary release.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Apr 2013 18:58:23 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 Apr 2013 19:07:00 BDT
LPpsb says:
I have all the "30th" anniversary releases - Space Oddity (was this a 40th?), Ziggy, Aladdin, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans and Station to Station. They were excellent, with good booklets and extra material etc. I wonder why no such issues were done for Low and Heroes? Hunky Dory could have had a 40th too.

With regard to Aladdin, Bowie's voice, particularly on Watch That Man, has always been too low down in the mix as Ronson's guitar rings out. As you say, bar re-recording the whole thing, not too much can be done with the sound. Aladdin was always a "glam" mix.

Hopefully on the new mastering, every schoolboy's favourite line on Time comes out loud and clear!

Like you, I have 4 Ziggies and soon to be 4 Aladdins. Ridiculously, I can't wait for Aladdin to arrive, as if it is a new album. Silly me.

Posted on 17 Apr 2013 00:38:59 BDT
Edmund Gross says:
Nicely reviewed Vaughan. The one and only reason I would buy this seminal and truly brilliant album yet again, (after more than enough remastered/re-issued verisons to chose from already) would be, as in the original 1973 master, the very brief piano 'taradiddle' bridging "Let's Spend The Night Together' and "The Jean Genie" was replaced!

It was removed by Rykodisc back in 1990 on their remaster and has never been heard again since....on any re-issue? Has it been put back in on this one - please say it has - just to give us back what we originally heard from 1973 until 1990! (Small point/small detail but hey - when originality is what this is all about, let this remaster differentiate!!). I miss it and it not being there!!

Posted on 17 Apr 2013 03:42:28 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Apr 2013 03:43:57 BDT
Marc G. says:
The 1999 remasters were good?? They were absolutely no-noised to death. The old RCA CDs simply blow them away and even the Rykos, while not nearly as good as the RCAs, are superior to the 1999 remaster disaster.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Apr 2013 06:31:03 BDT
Edmund Gross says:
Agreed! The 1999 24bit remastered series was dire - the EMI copies of the Rykodosc original reissue series from 1990 was also poor and, for my money, the RCA CD's were terrible! My Young Americans RCA was full of hiss and background interference - how RCA versions are now cited as being the best (when 20 years ago the common consensus was that they were hugely inferior) beats me.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Apr 2013 07:49:54 BDT
LPpsb says:
Marc you must be the first person ever to compliment the RCA editions! For once I agree with Gross, they were hugely inferior, hence their deletion. Diamond Dogs in the RCA series was a travesty. Even playing the vinyl on my portable turntable in 1974 sounded better.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Apr 2013 07:50:43 BDT
C. Rigby says:
The 1999 remasters are NOT the way to go, they are no noised, compressed and badly EQ'd. The recent Station To Station and Ziggy are far better options and I day say the new Aladdin Sane done by the same team is too. While not perfect, the RCA's remain the best digital versions issued for the other RCA era titles.
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