Why Would Anyone Want to Take All the Fun Out of CCR’s Music? Part Two

More of the Music of Creedence Clearwater Revival

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Creedence Clearwater Revival

The last time I played one of Chad’s CCR pressings, which I confess was close to a decade ago, it had all the bad qualities of the Bonnie Raitt disc on DCC that I’ve grown to dislike so much.

But what the new AP version really gets wrong is the guitar sound.

Creedence’s music lives or dies by its guitar sound, and the AP pressing is as wrong as they come.

Latest Findings as of 2022

This commentary used to end this way:

The fat, smeary, overly-smooth guitars you hear on the record, lacking any semblance of the grungy energy that are the true hallmarks of this band’s recordings, probably means that some audiophile mastering engineer got hold of the tapes and tried to “fix” what he didn’t like about the sound.

You know, the sound that is all over the radio to this very day. Something was apparently wrong with it. So now that it’s been fixed, everything that’s good about CCR’s recordings is missing, and everything that has replaced those sonic elements has made the sound worse.

Nice job! Keep up the good work. Chad is proud of ya, no doubt about it.

It has now become clear that the various mastering engineers Chad hires are not the ones trying to fix what they don’t like about the sound. Chad is El Jefe, the one telling them what to fix and rejecting their work until these remastered albums sound the way he wants them to sound.

There is no use complaining about the awful work Doug Sax, Steve Hoffman, Kevin Gray, George Marino or anyone else did when hired to master for Analogue Productions. Their task was to please Chad. He is the customer, he is the one paying their fees, and he is the one getting the sound he wants.

If Chad wanted better sounding records — records that are more lively, more tonally accurate, less bloated down low and less smoothed-over up top — veteran engineers such as the gentlemen named above would surely have been able to master these titles more correctly than the evidence would lead you to believe.

But Chad, like many other audiophiles, is a My-Fi guy, not a Hi-Fi guy, and he likes the sound he likes, regardless of what is on the master tapes or what other pressings, mastered by a number of different engineers, often over the course of many decades, might have sounded like. He wants the sound he wants, and their job is to give it to him.

Bernie Grundman, the man in charge of remastering Aja, is finding out that his way is not going to work for Chad. If it takes seven test pressings before Aja has the sound Chad likes, then he will just have to keep working it until Chad hears “his Aja” sounding the way it should.

When it finally comes out, I have no doubt that it will be very different from any pressing of Aja you or I have ever heard. It won’t sound much like the early pressings that Bernie Grundman mastered for ABC in 1977, which are of course the ones we sell. Unless I miss my guess, it will be very different from the master tape.

It will sound the way Chad likes music to sound. He paid a small fortune for the privilege of making Steely Dan sound the way he wants them to sound. Now that the die is cast, those of us with good stereos and basic critical listening skills can go pound sand. The mid-fi guys are being pandered to — in the audiophile world, that’s where the Heavy Vinyl money is — and expecting anything else from this atrocious label means you haven’t been listening very carefully to the records they’ve been releasing for more than 30 years.

Will I Like the New Steely Dan Remasters?

If you think this pressing of Tea for the Tillerman sounds good, it’s a near certainty you will want to be the first on your block to collect all the newly remastered Steely Dan Heavy Vinyls.

The same goes for this pressing of Stand Up. If this is the sound you are looking for, you can be sure Chad will give it to you, good and hard (apologies to H.L. Mencken).

Do these records sound fine to you? You’re happy with them, are you?

Then you have much to look forward to with the release of the complete Steely Dan LP collection!

These Analogue Productions releases will no doubt share many of the sonic characteristics of the above-mentioned titles.

How could they not? They are guaranteed to sound the way Chad wants them to sound. Chad is the customer, and the customer is always right.

If you’re Bernie Grundman, it might take you six or seven runs at it until you find that indescribable and elusive “Chad” sound, but you will have to keep at it until you do, assuming you want to get paid.

Our review for the first of the series that we’ve had the chance to play is in, and here it is.

Could it have been worse? Absolutely. Is it really very good? No, it’s not.

Considering his dismal track record, it’s probably as good sounding a record as Chad is able to make.

To paraphrase Cormac McCarthy:

It’s a mess of a record, ain’t it, Tom?

If it ain’t, it’ll do till a mess gets here.”


Further Reading

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