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More Reviews and Commentaries for Witches’ Brew
As I noted in Part One of this commentary, I promised to find my old blurb for the Classic pressing of Witches’ Brew from the catalog I sent out for years in the mid-’90s.
Well, I found it.
The excerpt from the earlier commentary seen below gets to the heart of the problem with my (embarrassing) review.
“With an Old School Audio System you will continue to be fooled by bad records, just as I and all my audio buds were fooled thirty and forty years ago. Audio has improved immensely in that time. If you’re still playing Heavy Vinyl and Audiophile pressings, there’s a world of sound you’re missing. We would love to help you find it.”
I apparently had one of those systems in the ’90s, because my system sure wasn’t doing a very good job of showing me how awful the Classic pressing of Witches’ Brew was.
Also, my guess that the Classic pressing was 10db more dynamic is risible. That number was clearly plucked out of thin air by someone who didn’t know what he was talking about (10db is a lot).
I will take some solace from my comment that “90% of the magic of the original is here,” which means that even in 1994 I could hear that Bernie’s cutting system had problems reproducing the Tubey Magical Living Stereo sound that was all the rage at the time.
And, although we still like Gibson’s reading of the work, these days our favorite performance of Danse Macabre is this one on EMI, one we only discovered about five years ago. It’s one advantage to being in the record business. You get to play lots and lots of records, and playing large numbers of records is practically the only way to find the ones that are even better than the ones you know.
Below you will find our old commentary detailing the shortcomings of the Classic Records pressing, a record I liked just fine in 1994, but whose sound I would find intolerable less than ten years later.
Making mistakes is key to making progress. We appear to have made quite a bit of progress after 1994, and in order to do the shootouts we began to undertake seriously starting in 2004, it was clear we needed to. In those early days it was sometimes a struggle, but we worked hard and made many important improvements to the quality of our playback and record cleaning, because we had to.
Admitting to your mistakes is also important, and we’ve done plenty of that in the past as well.
Our Review from Circa 2005
If this isn’t the perfect example of a Pass/Not-Yet record, I don’t know what would be.
I’ve long held that the remastering of this album is nothing less than a crime against music lovers and audiophiles of every stripe. Boosting the bass and highs and adding transistory harshness is the last thing in the world that Witches’ Brew needed.
At the risk of insulting some of you out there, if you think the Classic Records version of this album sounds good, your system must be some combination of low-rez, dull and bass shy, or you must like really hi-fi-ish sound.
There is no way that that record should ever sound good on a full-range system that’s reasonably revealing and tonally accurate.
I’ve heard this record played by people attempting to demonstrate the brilliant sound of their system, a demonstration which nearly caused blood to run from my ears. All the while they stood there with a big grin on their face, so pleased with the sound.
I don’t understand how anyone can put up with that kind of sound, but obviously people do. People like lots of things I don’t like, and the Classic record is just one more to add to that list.
Classic Records pressings may have been mastered by one of the greats, Bernie Grundman, but he was well past his prime, as we explain here.
Basic Concepts and Realities Explained
Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments