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 Original Versions vs. Re-recorded Versions in General 
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Rank: Skree

Joined: Sun May 01, 2016 3:57 pm
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Post Original Versions vs. Re-recorded Versions in General
So I finally bought the 3 MM albums and of course they are great, and not gonna lie, I am in love with the Transformers track at the end of Other Album, and aside from Transformers having even more nostalgia for me than Metroid, part of that might be that it isn't competing with a prior version, other than the original soundtrack of course.

Why I bring this up is that I immediately thought of Electric Light Orchestra. One of my favorite ELO songs is the very first track off their first self titled album, 10538 Overture. It is raw and sloppy and goddamned fantastic, and it took the re-recorded version to emphasize to me just how much that contributes to the heart of the song. For so many years, I would listen and wish so hard that it was cleaner with better entrances, better counting with not so much pushing and pulling, especially on some of the string and horn section entrances that were just amazingly early or late.

So, in 2012, Jeff Lynne re-recorded his greatest hits and a couple others for Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra, which I wouldn't have even bothered with until I read about him re-recording all of the core band parts solo, with his wife doing the female vocals and Marc Mann heading the strings. This fact really wasn't advertised much and I think it was just minimally marketed as a "Best Of" compilation, but nope, totally new recordings.

One of the weirdest things you can do is A/B this album with the original tracks. We're pretty used to bands releasing live versions of their hits as years go on and they typically evolve into something else over time, and much more common of course are the remasters of the original recordings for the easy cash grab, but you usually don't get completely re-recorded versions that stick to the same form decades later that aren't covers by somebody else. So, from a technical standpoint, it may be superior on a quantitative scale, but it may fall short on the qualitative scale for the listener.....which of course is completely objective, despite it being the artist's current vision for the works.

And I guess the ELO example in a way is in reverse order as far as the musicians go..... ELO went from a whole band to minimal group while most of the original MM tracks went from solo/minimal to full band. Regardless, I am glad to have all of the versions available. Thoughts on the phenomenon?

Mon May 02, 2016 12:30 pm
Rank: Elder Statesman
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Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2003 1:07 am
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Location: Weaverville, NC
Post Re: Original Versions vs. Re-recorded Versions in General
This is something that gets brought up from time to time, but it's usually framed as, "this isn't new, I already have all this music, you guys suck," so thank you for not taking that approach!

Here's a short version of the not-an-apology-answer I typically give when this comes up:

Like everything else with this project, the albums just sort of happened and seemed like a good idea at the time, then they became much more popular than we expected/hoped/imagined. The live-band recordings were a natural result of the way we are forced to rehearse since we are scattered geographically. Kevin and I rehearsed and would record ourselves playing. We'd send those tracks to Grant, he'd add his guitar, then he'd send those on to Danimal and Kirby to use to play along for practice. We realized that the practice recordings sounded pretty good, and with a little polish could be something we could release as a document of what we, as a full band, sound like. Varia Suite was, if I may resort to understatement, well received. So, we did more, chronicling the stuff we were playing live. They aren't "live" recordings, but the do represent how we sound, and they are different from the tracks made by one guy giggling alone in his bedroom over his cassette multitrack. We didn't intentionally do that, it's just how it is.

So, to address the point of your post, which I am interpreting as "I like the originals better, but is that because they're inherently better, or is it because that's what I'm used to?" Good question! The album versions aren't necessarily the "definitive artist's vision." In fact, you could make a pretty good argument either way. They're each their own thing, and stand on their own for different reasons.

I actually wondered a similar thing recently with some recordings by Cibo Matto. They've got a few albums and a couple of EPs, and there are different versions of songs that appear multiple times across them. I'll take a specific example, the song Spoon.

This version is from their Super Relax EP released in 1997:

This was the first I heard, as I got it when it was released.

This version is from their album Stereo Type A released in 1999:

I think the later version is vastly superior, but is that because it's inherently better, or is it what I'm used to since I've heard it so many times, since Stereo Type A might be my favorite album of all time? I literally A/B'd those two songs yesterday since I was listening to Super Relax after not for YEARS, and I was surprised at how different it was. The first one is more "raw" and is weirder, which is normally something I go for, and it's the one I heard first, so I *should* like the older one. But I don't, I super love the album version.

I certainly spent a lot of time saying, "dang, I don't know." Also, I will evangelize for Cibo Matto any chance I get.


Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:36 pm
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