BC's 2003 Remasters/Reissues

2003 was a fantastic year for reissues of classic material, from an Audiophile point of view almost without exception these were the best incarnations of classic recordings on digital to date.
As always actual sound quality is a contentious area the and as such these are only personal opinions, please feel free to add your own comments or ask if you’d like me to expand upon any points.
I have included music on here which is newly released but in spirit belongs to a bygone age.
It is very far from an exhaustive list but hopefully will give some Audiogon members a taste of what was released this year.
I will also later be posting my new music releases and whilst this old material crushes it in overall quality it is worthwhile keeping perspective on historical releases.
So when I rave about Neil Young’s On The Beach it’s worth remembering the other two re-masters American Stars and Bars and Hawks And Doves really aren’t particularly great records at all.
It’s also hard to ignore on the 15 Dylan reissue feast that a 20 year period is only covered by 4 discs.
Anyway I buy a lot of music and I’ve probably forgotten some……………..


The Beatles- Let It Bleed…Naked-whilst not reflecting the very best of their writing and splitting the fans on on the version they prefer this really what technology can bring to old recordings. Sounds fantastic, the vocals are as clear as a bell.
It’s The Beatles, buy it.

Led Zeppelin-How The West……-triple live CD from 1972 performances. At last some official live recordings that show Zep at their best. Sound quality is very good indeed for a live recording. Caution advised for the excessive solos on a few tracks but the full spectrum is aired from folk to gut Blues rock.

Miles Davis-At The Blackhawk Complete-From April 1961,the complete 4 sets on 4 CD’s-a short lived Miles line up performing some Jazz standards and classics of his own.
The sound quality captures the mood of the small club. Not my preferred era of Miles but Jazz cats will love it as it’s near the end of his “traditional” performances.

For me it has to be the double DVD from Led Zeppelin. Edited to perfection and encompassing their entire live careers this is almost a flawless document for those like me who missed their live act. Sound quality is immense and watch out for the Bonham drum rolls towards the end of Kashmir that prove he was without equal.


Bob Dylan-I’ve covered the 15 CD SACD/Hybrid earlier on the year in more detail on Audiogon-a search should throw it up. The best digital available of Dylan and at least a handful of records every serious music fan should have. The more knowledgeable will buy the lot. The greatest remasters ever.

Neil Young –On The Beach-Available at last on digital this HDCD version sounds excellent. Misunderstood at the time and heavily criticised this dark masterpiece is again a record that should be in every serious music fans collection.Eseential.

Yes-Rhino released every Yes album from their debut up until 1979’s Going For The One each disc had bonus tracks which in general are non-essential (some single edits, alternative takes etc.) however the packaging and liner notes are excellent.
As a fan I bought the lot except Time And A Word-Yes at their best are both unique and more melodic than a lot of so called Progressive Rock. Sound quality is not any great step up from the previous Atlantic reissues but occasionally sound like slightly different mixes. If you want to take a dip in the Yes catalogue start at Close To The Edge.

Television-Marquee Moon-Combining an unlikely match of minimalism and twin guitar heroics this 1977 classic at last sounds great on CD. Rhino yet again are the label and the 5 bonus tracks are decent and include the bands debut single Little Johnny Jewel.
A nicely packaged disc it comes in a gatefold sleeve with lyrics and extensive liner notes.
Is it Punk or New Wave? To me it’s great guitar music another essential release if you are interested in rock history.

Fairport Convention-Unhalfbricking-I believe the first 4 Fairport discs were released but more knowledgeable fans can put me right. This Island re-master again is a big improvement on the previous CD release. Richard Thompson on guitar, Sandy Denny singing and Dylan songs what more do you need to know? Two nice bonus tracks of Dear Landlord and The Ballad Of Easy Rider.

The Police-Synchronicity-SACD/hybrid release with a bonus track Murder By Numbers.
Inevitably somewhere along the line you go back and don’t enjoy some music as much,20 years ago I loved this but this year it didn’t do it for similarly whilst the CD sonics are improved somehow it still sounds brittle to me. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Part of The Police series, this was the only one I picked up.

Kevin Ayres-Whatevershebringswesing- Ex-Soft Machine member’s cult album from 1972. An eclectic mix of Floyd style Psychedelic pop, folk and eccentric English rock.
Featuring the ubiquitous bonus tracks interesting but far from essential. This the most acclaimed of the Ayres series released this year on Harvest/EMI.

Pink Floyd-Dark Side Of The Moon-SACD/Hybrid release. Everybody raves about the multi-channel mix; I’ve never heard it.TheRedbook layer left me confused frankly and as such a big disappointment.

AC/DC-The whole back catalogue was re-mastered-I settled for Highway To Hell and Back In Black. I Haven’t compared this to their previous releases in terms of sound quality but these records still benefit from simple but effective productions. Play loud.

Japan-Tin Drum-Several Japan and David Sylvian (the vocalist) releases from Virgin, lavishly packaged and most with bonus discs this is certainly the most mature of their records. Patchy but featuring the classic Ghosts, the re-mastering works well.

Echo & The Bunnymen-Another band who’s complete back catalogue was re-mastered with, wait for it bonus tracks which again were largely non-essential. A band I followed at the time I’ve picked up my two favourites Heaven Up Here and Ocean Rain.
Of the two Ocean Rain is the better known, The Killing Moon featured in Donnie Darko and the album spawned several hits in the UK. For me again time has been a little unkind, the production is typically 80’s, a tad over the top. In retrospect I much prefer 1981’s Heaven Up Here’s artier atmospheric take on their music has aged better for me.
A band that flirted with greatness but failed to consistently deliver it.


Miles Davis-The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions-Lavishly packaged 5 CD set. Multiple takes and some flab push this into the area for completists only but the best of the fragments are extraordinary-John McLaughlin has some nice pieces. The actual completed album is now held up alongside Bitches Brew as a post-Jazz classic. A mutant stew of Rock, Funk and Jazz. Mixed down from DSD the sound quality is exceptional throughout.
""Pink Floyd-Dark Side Of The Moon-SACD/Hybrid release."" ""Everybody raves about the multi-channel mix;""
I have an import LP of this from the 1970's that is quadraphonic. I wonder if they started with that master??
My new releases list for 2003 should be up soon.
Sugarbrie, the DSOTM SACD surround mix is new. In fact, I recall reading an article somewhere where Alan Parsons (who did the quad mix) was commenting on it.

Another remaster worthy of note: Santana/McLaughlin "Love Devotion Surrender" from 1973 reissued by Columbia/Legacy. Self-indulgent dueling guitar covers of Coltrane--I love it!
I'm on a roll. Just got a computer. I've been itching to get my two cents worth in for a while so duck, here I come. I've been backfilling my favorites from the 60's and seventies with re-masters. Rory Gallagher; "Live in Europe", "Live at the BBC" much improved sound, still great music. I'm a music guy by the way, that always comes first. I'll never recommend something that I don't believe is good music. My taste by the way is impeccable. Santana "Abraxas" is good, "Who's Next" deluxe great, War "anthology" has good sound but the songs don't all work for me plus they left out "beetles in the bog." Same with Sly and the Family Stone. The good songs are great but... Jethro Tull re-masters are great, I'm a Tull fan. So far I've picked up "Benefit" (my favorite), and "Passion Play." Box sets; "The Jimi Hendrix Experience", 4-cd's, great music and I think good sound. Hendrix guitar music is wild and sometimes over the top. The sound is dominated by Jimi's guitar and can be harsh at times. Not something you want to listen to when you want to mellow out. Get "Smash Hits" if you want a single cd of his music. Buffalo Springfield 4 cd box, great music and good sound. If your not a big fan get the re-mastered versions of the studio albums if/when they're out. Stevie Ray Vaughan 3 cd-1 dvd box set. Hey, box sets are for fans, and for fans this is great music and good sound. Same with the new Talking Heads box. Dated, but I like anyway. All the songs you need are there. (I guess some of these came out before 2003, but that's when I bought them). Guess Who "Anthology." I do like compilations of artists that didn't really have IMHO any great individual albums but scattered good tunes. I really like this one, filled with the familiar top 40 hits and some obscure gems. The sound is better than anything previous but you can tell they are older recordings. Again, music first, definitely listenable. Grateful Dead, "Workingman's Dead." Good tunes and like most if not all material from this era, much improved sound, but will never compete with well re-corded modern recordings sonically. And that doesn't matter to me.