Saturday, 20 December 2008

Old and new Dolby

Thomas Dolby, who happens to be our uncle, has some great news on his blog. Not only are we due to get remasterings of both The Golden Age of Wireless and The Flat Earth (still one of my favourite albums of all time), but also a disc of singles and, best of all:

Unconfirmed rumours will have us believe that Dolby’s first brand-new studio album in nearly 18 years will follow shortly thereafter! (Wind and tides permitting.)

Something we've been waiting, and doing not a little pestering about, for nearly 18 years. In another tantalising post, Dolby provides the notes sent to some artists who will be providing overdubbing which includes such snippets as:

It’s ok for the sections to be quite different. If you think in movie terms, it’s like a movie that cuts around, has flashbacks etc. a bit like Shawshank Redemption. In fact, the image of Tim Robbins emerging from the storm drain into a stream and shaking the rain off as he realises he’s finally free, is a good image for the song.

Any chance of an advanced review copy of anything?

But what about the remastering? After all, Miles Davis's Kind of Blue has now been remastered so many times it sometimes seems worth querying whether there is any need to replace it or whether it is a grab for money on Sony's part. Well, this doesn't look like the case here. Dolby appears to have been closely involved and it sounds from this post as though the results will be worth hearing:

From EMI’s offices I went on to Abbey Road to master the singles CD with Peter Mew. When a producer attends a mastering session, the engineer has often pre-prepared EQ and volume levels on the songs, cut the gaps to length etc. Hopefully there’s not a lot of tweaking to do. Yet this was quite a tricky one, because of the enormous difference in sonic style between ‘Urges’ circa 1980 and ‘I Love You Goodbye’ a dozen or so years later, and all the singles in between. There were necessary compromises made when we originally cut the vinyl versions, because vinyl is sensitive to some artefacts (eg sibillance on vocals) and if there’s too much bass, the grooves gut cut too deep for safe manufacturing. Yet I’ve become accustomed to those modified sonics over the years, so it’s a bit of a shock to hear the songs back to the way they were when they first came out of the studio. It took us a good few hours to level everything up, but I think the end result is very good; and there’s a logical progression to it, given that the songs are all chronological.

One other question that arises is that of track order. For example, does this mean that we are going to finally get a CD release of The Golden Age of Wireless which replicates the original LP in not having She Blinded Me with Science as the first track and which restores The Wreck of the Fairchild to its rightful place?

Still, after years of not terribly much, all of a sudden a deluge. It's like busses really, only much better sounding.

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