I’ve always been about music and playing a 45 when I was a kid until the grooves wore out of the vinyl was not a-typical. I could pull out a stack of 45s right now that I could play you (if I had a turntable) and then play the digital version and the first question you’d ask is: Why’d they have to go and mess it up?
Before I get to that, I’ll share my favorite Charles Mason joke: What did Charles Manson say after listening to The Beatles on CDs? (The answer is at the end of the post.)
One of my biggest remastering offenders is Bonnie Tyler. She did a song in the late 1970s called “It’s A Heartache.” (This link on Pandora is actually the right version! Wanna get it on iTunes? TDB) It was a song that came alive with emotion when you played the 45. Yes, the scratches and pops added to it, but in the remake, they just totally blew it. The song used to start off with a rich strum picking of a 6 or 12-string guitar. It was totally raw. Now they have added synthesizers and it sounds like it should be Karaoke. Her voice sounds different. It’s not what it was in the 1970s. If you’re looking for it on iTunes, don’t buy it. It won’t be what you’re looking for if you’re looking for the real emotions the song once had.
Special Delivery by the 1910 Fruit Gum Company is another version that’s been altered through the process of remastering. There’s one part at the end of the song where one of the guys screams in the song. Now it sounds like, in Beavis and Butt Head terms, “Some old fart screaming.” It’s not the same song.
Another one I wanted to hear as I remember today as I’ve been going through different tunes of the past and trying to get work done is Smile A Little Smile For Me by The Flying Machine. It was 2:56 in emotion and color when it was first performed. Dad had the 45. I might have it now. But alas, like I said, no turntable, and the iTunes version is — wimpy. The opening sad trumpet sounds like a synthesizer.
What the hell happened guys? Your songs are classics because they were good when they came out. Sure, I know it gets boring playing the same song over and over for 30-plus years, but at least you could still make the old version available. Is it a contract thing? What?
Answer: Maybe they weren’t trying to talk to me after all……