Sonic Grade: F
The Classic of LSC 2222 is all but unlistenable on a highly resolving system. The opacity, transient smear and loss of harmonic information and ambience found on Classic’s pressing is enough to drive us right up the wall. Who can sit through a record that sounds like that? Way back in 1994, long before we had anything like the system we do now, we were disparaging the “Classic Records Sound” in our catalogs.
With each passing year — 24 and counting — we like it less.
The Classic may be on Harry’s list — sad but true — but that certainly has no bearing on the fact that it’s not a very good record.
Classic Records – The First Three Classical Releases Debunked
Hall of Shame Pressings, Every One
I’m reminded of the nonsense I read in TAS and elsewhere in the mid-’90s regarding the reputed superiority of the Classic Records Living Stereo reissues. After playing their first three titles: 1806, 1817 and 2222 (if memory serves), I could find no resemblance between the reviews I read and the actual sound of the records I played. The sound was, in a word, awful. To this day I consider them to be the Single Worst Reissue Series in the History of the World.
When Harry Pearson (of all people! — this is the guy who started the Living Stereo craze by putting those forgotten old records on the TAS list in the first place) gave a rave review to LSC 1806, I had to stand up (in print anyway) and say that the emperor clearly had removed all his clothes, if he ever had any to begin with. (And now he has a CD List? Ugh.) This got me kicked out of TAS by the way, as Harry does not take criticism well. I make a lot of enemies in this business with my commentary and reviews, but I see no way to avoid the fallout for calling a spade a spade.
Is anybody insane enough to stand up for LSC 1806 today? Considering that there is a die-hard contingent of people who still think Mobile Fidelity is the greatest label of all time, there may well be “audiophiles” with crude audio equipment or underdeveloped powers of observation and discrimination, or both (probably both, as the two go hand in hand), that still find the sound of that steely stringed Classic pressing somehow pleasing to the ear. Hey, anything is possible.
As I’ve said again and again, the better a stereo gets, the more obvious the differences between good original pressings and most current reissues become. Modest front ends and mediocre playback systems can disguise these differences and mislead the amateur audiophile.
And the “professional” too. We’ve all had the experience of going back to play a record from years ago that you remember as being amazing, only to find it amazingly bad. (The Japanese Led Zeppelin series comes immediately to mind. How could my system have been so dull that those bright pressings actually fooled me into thinking they sounded good ten years ago? I’ve done a few Mea Culpas over the years, and that’s one of the bigger ones.)
Remember when Chesky records were the rage? Does anybody in his right mind play that shit anymore? (A short anecdote: A good customer called me up one night years ago. He had just finished playing the Chesky Spain, and had pulled out his Shaded Dog original to compare. The sound was so much better he took his Chesky and, with great satisfaction, ceremoniously dropped it in the trash can. He said, “Of course I could have sold it or traded it away, but nobody should have to listen to sound like that.”)