Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
5 stars for the music, 1 star for the mix
on 26 April 2012
Ok, to begin with, I am a huge fan of Sam & Dave. The music here is as good as it gets and deserves the 5 star rating; that's the good news.
The bad news is that those generally good people at Edsel have chosen to use the 1960's stereo mixes for most of this, (and it's sister - Soul Men & I Thank You plus). What are you thinking Edsel's?
The one thing that made the 1960's southern soul releases from FAME, Atlantic & Stax so wonderful was the super punchy MONO mixes.
Now I'm no Ludite but the reason the stereo mixes lack the punch of the MONO ones is because the technology of the day didn't allow the stereo panning that you get nowadays.
That means that the vocals on these stereo releases are often off-centre or coming through the left AND right channels.
The left & right mixing isn't so bad when well balanced, as with some Don Covay and Sly Stone 60's mixes but these just don't cut it I'm afraid.
The golden rule with reissues is that you always choose the best mix and up until about 1968, that was always the MONO one.
There are other reasons for this that apply more so to these recordings though. In the 60's, the bass on the stereo mix would often make the needle jump, as opposed to the single track mono mix. This is part of the reason that the bass in 60's stereo mixes is so weak, it had to be toned down out of necessity.
Also, as the bass was usually recorded on the same track as the drums, not only did you lose power from the bass but the backbeat as well; which in these recordings is crazy because punch was the whole point. THIS IS MUSIC TO DANCE TO.
Additionally, with only 4 tracks to play with, many sounds and vocals were added during the MONO mixing stage, which you lose in the stereo master because they only exist on the MONO master. Glad to say that Edsel did use common sense for some of the tracks here.
I do agree with our friend at Reckless that this is the best stereo mix available thus far but the separation makes listning with headphones a real chore. I too have the old double Rhino set and yes, the MONO Edsel tracks do sound better, so why couldn't they have opted for MONO throughout.
Sad to say, I had to return my Edsel versions and am now scouring itunes and record stores to mop up those missing MONO songs that I still have on my old LPs.
So now to the begging and this goes out to all of the great reissue companies, (Sundazed, Ace, Edsel et al) please, please PLEASE, always use the MONO mix on these old classics or at least issue both together as Collectors Choice sometimes do. Give us the choice because I know that some listners prefer the stereo, (even if they lose vital overdubs).
I really don't want to harm great companies like Edsel, (I have been following them for years) but listning to this, I think that the time has come to vote with our wallets. Let's express our love of the music to make sure that it stays on catalogue but in the best way and with the most choice.
So, Dr. Edsel, please issue a complete collection of the MONO Sam & Dave. I would even buy an expensive limited edition, just to enjoy this wonderful music once again as it was intended to be heard. That said, 5 stars to Rhino for their Otis Redding album collection; great price and great MONO mixes all round.