folly of middle age

I have, apparently, been undergoing some sort of midlife crisis lately. Rather than involving expensive sports cars and blondes I can’t afford, it’s taken the form of digging up music I listened to in my teens. It began innocently enough, with the relatively respectable portion of the Jethro Tull catalog (up through about ’78), then declined to…seven Moody Blues albums, from Days of Future Passed onward. (I will not reveal what happened next – except to say that it rhymes with “Rick Wakeman” and involves no earthly connection and a torrent of something only ever digitally released in Japan for five minutes…)

Okay. Ahem. Now that all the hipsters have fled screaming, what have we here? Well: as other middle-aged music geeks probably know, when that Moody Blues album mentioned above was remastered, it turned out some of the master tapes were deeply flawed. As a result, the version of the album that clogged up our youthful ears is available only on increasingly aging LPs. This Wikipedia article explains the differences, most of which are fairly subtle. Unfortunately, one of the least subtle ones involves the vocals on the bridge of “Evening (Time to Get Away)“: all backing vocals were lost, leaving John Lodge’s falsetto lead somewhat painfully exposed. (It’s not that he sings poorly, it’s just that the part was never meant to be flapping out there in the breeze unsupported by his bandmates’ reverb-laden counterparts.)

Well, I thought, in a thought causing gastric distress amongst audio engineers everywhere, since I found a torrent of a “Dutch half-speed mastered vinyl” copy of the original mix, mightn’t I take a bit of this, a bit of that, and sort of pretend the much cleaner, remastered version still has those backing vocals? Indeed I might – and have. I snipped out those sections (the bridge occurs twice…although the song transitions to the next section of the album before any traffic on the bridge can return to the other end of the bridge), filtered them to emphasize the vocals, added some reverb as sort of sonic glue, and carefully placed the snippets where they belong. A bit of level adjusting and slight compression to mend the volume difference, and – I don’t think it sounds utterly terrible.

(I also re-indexed the album, whose original indexing makes no sense. Plus, doing so allowed me to skip the rather cheesy orchestral bridges, and Graeme Edge’s atrocious poetry, should I be so inclined.)

Don’t threaten me, or I’ll try to restore the piano part underneath the mellotron in “The Sunset”…by just playing the damned thing.

The Moody Blues “Evening (Time to Get Away)” [vocal regeneration mix] (Days of Future Passed, 1967)

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3 Comments

Filed under noise

3 responses to “folly of middle age

  1. Jethro Tull, Moody Blues — names I haven’t thought about in a long, long time. Stairway to heaven…

  2. Susan

    I love it when you talk proggy to me….

  3. Wow! Excellent job on one of my all time favorite songs, and a nice post too. Brought back lots of memories. I wasn’t into Tull so much, but those first 7 Moodies albums just seemed all of a piece didn’t they? They were certainly quite a different band when they regrouped for Octave. Enjoyed several of their later albums, and many songs, but those first 7 remained just about perfect in my mind. I’ll have to revisit them as well and see if they hold up. “Evening” though remains outstanding. Thanks very much!

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