The production of 2 disc “deluxe editions” can enhance the appreciation of classic/great albums (Blind Faith, Who’s Next) or leave one feeling ripped off (Disraeli Gears).
Except for one track all this material has been previously available with the BBC tracks only fairly recently. The new track is an alternate version of Blue Condition with Clapton vocals overdub. This doesn’t go anywhere near justifying the price of admission. Both versions of Lawdy Mama are included . They were released on Live Cream Vol 1 and TWTD box set respectively.
CD1 has the stereo mixes, the alternate Blue Condition, Lawdy Mama Version 2 (the one that was overdubbed to become Strange Brew) and padded out with the 5 demos (3 of which never got on the album) that were previously released on TWTD. Why didn’t they include the other more appropriate demos such as Blue Condition and Take it Back?
CD2 has the mono mixes (previously available on the now out-of-print DCC Gold Disc release) including the alternate Blue Condition, Lawdy Mama Version 1 (Oh Lawdy Mama - Junior Wells arrangement) and padded out with 9 BBC tracks. These were all on the 2003 BBC Sessions and this selection bizarrely includes 2 Wheels tracks (Born Under a Bad Sign and Politician) and Stepping Out. Well it helps fill up a 2nd CD.
Ok, so do the mono mixes justify the
price of admission? No – Gears was a stereo mix from when Felix came on board.
The mono’s were simple stereo to mono mix downs except for Tales of
Brave Ulysses which clearly was mixed quite differently for the single B-side.
Up until this time it was quite standard to do the mono mix first with
the stereo as an afterthought for the album.
The John Mayall‘s Bluebreakers featuring Eric Clapton being a good
example with the stereo version not being released in the UK until 1969.
Another example is Otis Redding whose first stereo release was Sitting on
the Dock of the Bay.
Ok, so does the remastered sound justify
the price of admission? No, well yes –
sort of. The only tapes available
are the 2 track mix down master and the 1 track mix down master (or most likely
an early generation copy of those). The
multi-track recording masters were lost in the archive fire.
These discs have been remastered from this source using digital filtering
and equalisation. A good job has been done producing a more solid bottom end
(at the cost of some occasional boominess on the bottom bass guitar notes) and more presence/attack from
the guitar but some sibilance on the vocals. However the digital
filtering has produced its usual artifacts which are very obvious on the heavily
processed BBC material. It is far
less obvious on the Gears recordings but has a noticeable impact on the cymbal
sound (less metallic and more hissing shimmer).
The demos are an improved mix as they are not as heavily equalized as on
On balance we are shelling out for an improved sound for Disraeli Gears, an alternate take and an interesting mono mix of one track. There are some new in-studio photos in the booklet and a barely adequate essay. It is really stretching the Deluxe Edition concept far too thinly.
Checking on Amazon.com I noticed that the remastered Wheels of Fire is no
longer listed, except as an import. Does
this mean that a Wheels of Fire: Deluxe Edition is coming up?
Again – available material will mean that it is also going to hit my
rip-off nerve. And another 2 set
collection is in the offing but including a ‘bonus’ stereo I’m So Glad
from Fresh Cream – really much-too-little for much-too-much money.
Copyright ©2005 Graeme Pattingale