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'Is Remastering Killing The Compilation?'
on 7 September 2013
This set has a fantastic selection of popular 80's tracks and with 4 CD's for your money it is also good value for the asking price. The snag, however, as is all too common an occurrence these days is that the remastering job has in a lot of cases either 'remastered the 80's out of the track' to the extent that the track sounds like a re-record or has maxed out the volume and wiped out any dynamic range. The sound here has a generally echoey tone to it and while tracks like 'Don't You Want Me' by The Human League or 'Smalltown Boy ' by Bronski Beat seem unaffected by it other tracks simply sound as if the artist is booming away vocally in a cave. The cavernous - set the vocal apart - sound of this compilation is best/worst served by 'Don't You Forget (About Me)' by Simple Minds. Jim Kerr sounds as if he is right next to you singing while the female backing vocals are much more prominent in the mix than they were on the original single. While the remixer would say (correctly) in his defense that he has only 'brought out of the original mix elements previously buried' the point is that most people who remember these classic songs from the time want them to sound how they remembered them!
Another dire sounding track is the opener, 'The Reflex' by Duran Duran. It always was a 'busy' song but now it sounds as if the sound fades in and out in a desperate attempt to make the thing work. It reminds me of the 70's technique of 'phasing' which was used to deliberately distort the vocal. I suppose what it boils down to is how much about the original 7" versions of these songs you remember? I was after all a D.J. at the time and so have heard these songs hundreds of times over. For me though, compilations today are becoming 'no go areas' because of poor remastering and I would only advise you to buy this if you do not own many of the originals, was not a fanatical music lover back in the day and are simply looking for something to remind you of your youth.
Is remastering killing the compilation? On this evidence I would say yes.