Thursday, October 02, 2014

Strictly Mono

I've always wanted to hear STRICTLY PERSONAL by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band in its elusive mono mix, and now - after winning a copy of the first UK pressing - I've finally had the pleasure.

It was not what I expected, and not fully what I'd heard described; I'd read that it was a more powerful mix, the "truer" mix, if you will. But it sounds to my ears, unusually, like Bob Krasnow's stereo mix came first and that the mono version is a compression of that. It's usually the other way around with albums of this vintage, but stereo was becoming standardized by 1968 with some important albums (like Jefferson Airplane's CROWN OF CREATION) not even receiving a mono release.

The album's controversial phasing is still in evidence, it just doesn't travel anywhere, except maybe up and down along the Human Totem Pole. Some elements buried in the hectic stereo mix - cymbals, bass, background vocals - are squeezed closer to the fore, and so can be heard more clearly, while other instrumentation collides in its compression into a shambolic miasma of sound.

I need to spend more time with it. After one listen, I'm not sure that I don't prefer the stereo mix.

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