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March 31, 2009 | Jabberwocky
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I have to admit I’m a Pearl Jam whore. I’m so in love with their live recordings that I typically prefer them to any studio work, though that’s not to say that I dislike their studio work. That said, here goes:
Its too nice. And it doesn’t feel cohesive. The old recordings have, to use a completely overused and subjective measuring stick, a warmer and more natural sound. This new mix sounds like a studio mix. While the original mix sounds like it could have been recorded live and that there’s some kind of interaction between the band members the new mix sounds like it very well could have been put together from sessions where the band members never even saw each other. Just by listening I know they’re in a studio.
That feeling goes away as the power in songs picks up, but overall it sounds so very sterile with too much emphasis on Eddie’s voice I keep cutting new mixes off half way to go back to the originals. What I’m finding that enjoy about the originals is the cohesive sound that they generate. I can’t quite put my finger on it but the new sounds strips the feeling out of the songs.
Why Go in particular suffers. The original’s softer, more brooding, sound really lent itself to the subject matter. And maybe that’s it, the subject matter. The songs are all part of a dark, disturbed story and the new pristine presentation just doesn’t feel right. The new mixes even manage to steal some of the power from Evenflow. Again, its very subjective and I’m still not sure what it is but they just don’t sound as good.
I will admit, though, it’s not ALL bad. Release gains a much more ethereal sound than it used to have. The new-found details in the playing really lend themselves to this song. I think its also that the vocal mix in Release isn’t an assault like some of the others. Black and Alive are others that come together well in the new mix. While gaining a bit more detail and clarity they doesn’t give up their original feel.
State of Love and Trust is another that I enjoyed. This is a song that they’ve put together in a few different incarnations, but this one feels nice. Not quite as up-tempo as the version that first appeared on the Singles soundtrack but still holding together very nicely and, most importantly, feeling like a single piece instead of the many parted pieces that a lot of the other mixes present themselves as.
I’ve never heard Brother before, and I like it. This recording is exactly what I’m talking about as far as the feel of a recording. Everything is coherent but there’s no assault of any given instrument at any given time.
Who knows, maybe I’ll feel differently tomorrow, and maybe I’ll never notice the difference when they’re mixed in the normal rotation of songs on the
iPod iPhone, but side by side I enjoy the feeling of the older mixes much more. Its a more full sound and its more like a band than Eddy and some guys. What the remixes do accomplish, though, is to remind me that Pearl Jam always has been a very articulate band. I just can’t help but listen to the old recordings and just enjoy them while the new one’s just make me think “I can’t wait to hear this live!”
I could be full of shit, too. But I don’t think I am.
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Having just completed my first listen-through, I’d have to agree with most of what you’ve said. Ten was one of the first albums I purchased on my own, with my own money (I was only thirteen when I bought ‘Ten’). The original 1991 album was the launch pad that catapulted my appreciation for music and is the benchmark by which I grade all other albums.
I concur that the new mix lacks the warmth that the ’91 mix did due to the stripping of some of the more ethereal guitar effects and vocal reverb, though without those effects that can help mask mistakes, you can really appreciate how solid the band has always been. Eddie’s on-pitch for every note. Guitar solos are free-form but somehow carefully calculated. It’s almost like a behind-the-scenes look at the album with the ability to listen to the small details you might have missed before.
For me, Breath and State of Love and Trust both put me to sleep. I’ll stick with the Singles soundtrack.
Overall, though, I’d compare the new Ten remaster to when George Lucas re-released the original Star Wars trilogy to theaters: the additional effects added something interesting and were fun to discover for yourself, but don’t diminish your love for the originals that we grew up with and will always be our true love.
The Star Wars analogy is very apt. I couldn’t agree more.
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