The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Bacharach: Reissued, Remastered and Remixed

with 15 comments

Hot on the heels of The Second Disc’s look at the solo recordings of Burt Bacharach, news just broke that one of the maestro’s most famous non-solo albums is receiving the limited-edition deluxe reissue treatment from the Kritzerland label. United Artists’ cast recording of the 1968 Broadway musical Promises, Promises has long been a favorite recording of Bacharach & David aficionados for introducing their songs “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” “Promises, Promises” and “Knowing When to Leave” to the world, and for capturing the indelible, Tony Award-winning lead performance of a pre-Law & Order Jerry Orbach in one of his many triumphant stage roles.

Promises has been reissued on CD twice before. Rykodisc brought the album into the digital age with its 1999 release (RCD 10750) remastered by NDR’s Dr. Toby Mountain, and when Ryko’s license with MGM Music (successor to United Artists Records) expired, Varese Sarabande picked up Promises for a 2005 edition (Varese 302 066 647 2) remastered by Erick Labson. In researching Promises for the new reissue, Kritzerland’s Bruce Kimmel discovered that Rykodisc had remixed the album from the 8-track session master tapes for the 1999 CD, and Varese had also used this remix. So as Disc 1 of this 2-CD set, Kritzerland is presenting the Grammy-winning original album mix of Promises, Promises (produced by UA’s Henry Jerome with Bacharach’s close collaborator Phil Ramone) in a new remaster from the two-track album masters, for the first time ever on CD.

The real surprise, however, is Disc 2. As was (and largely still is) the custom for the making of Broadway cast recordings, Promises was recorded in a one-day session with little time for retakes and fixes. The performers on the cast album, recording on their day off from the actual show, committed some faulty pitches to wax. Now, taking advantage of modern technology common to present-day recordings, Kritzerland has corrected the pitch problems. Doing so involved going back to those 8-track masters for a thorough remix, and as a result, Kimmel has also recovered minor bits never before released, and has been able to highlight some of Jonathan Tunick’s orchestrations which were previously buried. One bonus track (to be “hidden”) will also be included: female lead Jill O’Hara’s recording of the title song. Finally, Krtizerland has restored all tracks to their original show order. The end result should make for a completely different album experience.  Ordering information and more can be found after the jump.

The fruit of Kimmel’s labors can be sampled here, where the album (a strictly limited edition of 1000 copies, sure to go fast) can be ordered. The pitch-correction will immediately be evident to listeners familiar with the original album. The set’s cost is the same $19.98 plus shipping as any of Kritzerland’s single-disc soundtrack and cast album reissues.  With the 2010 Tony Award-winning revival of Promises, Promises packing houses on Broadway, the time has never been better to re-experience the sound of 1968 as provided by Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Jonathan Tunick.

And I’d like to take this opportunity to ask readers of The Second Disc: should other reissues, whether of cast albums, soundtracks or rock recordings, take this revisionist tack?  (Your humble author welcomes Kimmel’s work, largely because he’s preserving the original LP on Disc 1, and therefore giving us an “alternate take” as Disc 2.)  Your responses are, as always, more than welcome!

Written by Joe Marchese

June 14, 2010 at 13:34

15 Responses

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  1. Joe, you ask a question that is simultaneously thought-provoking and nearly impossible to answer. For many, the idea of remixing any LPs after the fact is sacrilege, since they usually involve a revisionist perspective (i.e.: the original mixes get tucked away into a vault, never to be heard again, a fate that could have easily befallen Ozzy’s early solo stuff were those Legacy Editions not coming out later this year, or those solo Michael Jackson tracks released by Motown in the ’80s).

    That usually causes plenty of people to shy away from even considering remixes, and in truth gave me pause before I could come up with an answer. Ultimately, I’m going to go with wanting to see Sting’s first LP, 1985’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles, get a remix. Hugh Padgham remixed “Fortress Around Your Heart” for Sting’s 1994 best-of, and I felt it was way more alive than the original mix. I wonder what the rest of that album would sound like otherwise.

    Mike Duquette

    June 14, 2010 at 16:07

    • Well said, Mike. My initial response to Bruce’s second disc for PROMISES was mixed…after all, lead performers Jerry Orbach, Edward Winter and A. Larry Haines are all deceased, for one thing, and can’t comment on their vocals being “corrected.” On the other hand, I thought back to the Beatles’ LET IT BE…NAKED, which is similar in spirit to this PROMISES in that it remixed a classic album from the ground up (and also involved deceased participants). Likewise, NAKED didn’t replace the original LET IT BE. So I’m happy that Bruce (a real aficionado and good friend to the soundtrack & cast album world) is making the original mix available for comparison to his revised album, and look forward to taking a new look at an old favorite.

      A Blue Turtles remix would indeed be fascinating…I’d love to see some of Elvis Costello’s more overproduced 1980s work get the same treatment, too. I’d bet we could come up with more good choices. I became a fan of multichannel music largely because I loved hearing new parts revealed on old recordings; whether multichannel or stereo, a new mix can shed light on previously-lost aspects of a recording. My bottom line? While I’d encourage the active participation of the artist — as with the Rolling Stones’ overdubs on the EXILE outtakes — such remixes are at worst, fun alternates, and at best, illuminating new works of art…as long as the original remains.

      Joe Marchese

      June 14, 2010 at 16:39

  2. The suggestion that Rykodisc remixed these masters is a total fabrication; I would love to know the source of this accusation.

    As the architect and lead in-house producer of the Ryko/MGM releases, I can assure you that Rykodisc only worked from two-track masters supplied by MGM, except in the case of Last Tango In Paris, where the extra tracks were delivered by Gato Barbieri.

    Love the site, but don’t believe everything you read in a press release.

    Jroug

    June 28, 2010 at 14:41

    • Thanks for your comments.

      The information or accusation comes from Kritzerland’s Bruce Kimmel (who penned the liner notes for Ryko’s AFTER THE FOX reissue) and is reissuing PROMISES this time around via his company.

      Bruce’s comments are available at: http://www.kritzerland.com/promises.htm
      and if he’s spreading an inaccuracy (he states “Ryko remixed the album from the original eight-track edited session masters and that newly mixed album was also used for the Varese release.”), I’d think he’d like to know. I certainly would.

      Just wanted to take an opportunity, too, to thank you for your fine work on those Ryko/MGM soundtracks; they’re among the finest soundtrack reissues in my collection and it was a thrill to see so many wonderful titles receive the deluxe treatment. I still think they’re a gold standard in soundtrack CDs.

      Joe

      Joe Marchese

      June 28, 2010 at 15:37

  3. To Jroug – I don’t know what “architect” means – I only know what was in front of my eyes and in my hands. Ryko (nor Varese) did not use the two-track album masters for the Promises release. How do I know? a) it’s instantly evident by listening to it, but, more importantly, b) I pulled ALL the tapes for Promises and guess what the first ones I found were? A new digital forty-eight track Mitsubishi tape with the eight-track edited session masters transfered to said tape, a “cassette” of the original mix for a guide, and the bounce-over of their new mix, which was then transfered to another Mitsubishi digital tape for use for the CD. It can’t be refuted, I’m afraid. The name listed on the track sheets of the remix is Bradley Flanagan and if you were the “architect” then I’m sure he was the builder.

    Furthermore, in hunting through the boxes of tapes, I found the two-track album masters – a little confusing here – there were a pair of white boxes that contained side one and two of the album masters – one tape was missing from that set of boxes, and perhaps that was the problem way back when. However, those were clones of the original two-track tapes (easy to tell by the dates) – the originals were in metal “boxes” and in pristine condition, and in a second set of metal “boxes” was the UK cast album.

    So, I’m afraid that in this particular instance you are quite incorrect about what Ryko released.

    Bruce Kimmel

    July 2, 2010 at 21:49

    • Bruce,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to respond and straighten that out. It’s great to see you here.

      I hope you have a chance to check out today’s review of your Promises release:

      https://theseconddisc.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/review-promises-promises-original-mgm-broadway-cast-recording/

      Joe Marchese

      July 6, 2010 at 15:07

    • Bruce-

      You are not reading what I wrote – which was that RYKODISC did not remix the tracks

      You can quite clearly see that I haven’t defended the Rykodisc release as 100% accurate, although we thought it was at the time.

      If the CDs were made from a remixed source, some other party (in this case, certainly MGM) remixed the tapes and supplied them as the original masters, they did so without Ryko’s knowledge or consent.

      Since Bradley Flanagan (if he did indeed remix these tapes) was an MGM employee and not a Ryko employee, it can’t be refuted.

      At the time that I closed the deal with MGM and produced the first batch of releases (and continuing throughout our brief relationship with them) MGM was in a state of high paranoia about their assets. The MGM music team and their archivists were in an even higher state of paranoia about holding onto their jobs.

      MGM would not let us or anyone from outside the company into their archives. We had to request flat two-track masters and we took what they supplied as the correct source, unless we could discern otherwise. We often had to go back to them multiple times for sources as the ones they supplied were sometimes inadequate (old EQ’d cassette masters and the like). We did the best we could with what we could squeeze out of them.

      By the time “Promises” was released, a team working under me was doing the hands-on work and I’d have to get in touch with them to see if they ever a-b’d the master we got from MGM with the original vinyl. They certainly should have, and if so that’s an oversight by omission, but not a deliberate attempt to pass off remixed tapes as originals.

      Rykodisc remixing the album?

      It never happened, and can’t be refuted, I’m afraid.

      Maybe that’s just semantics to you; but it’s an important distinction to me.

      I congratulate you on rectifying a long-overdue wrong. I only wish you’d watch who you step on while doing it.

      Jroug

      July 6, 2010 at 15:58

  4. Jroug, I was not criticizing Ryko or you – I was merely stating the facts as I knew them. I have, in fact, reissued a few of the Ryko CDs and will continue to do so.

    But thank you for clarifying that the remix was done by MGM itself and not Ryko. It was Bradley who did it, as his name is on both the forty-eight track digital remix tape and the two-track mixdown tape.

    And thanks to Joe for the wonderful review. Bottom line – it was a thrill to be able to do this set.

    Bruce Kimmel

    July 6, 2010 at 16:40

  5. Again, congrats on getting this done right.

    Not to pick nits, but “the facts as you knew them” weren’t facts, just conjecture. Stating it as fact is where this got wobbly.

    The Rykodisc release was remixed – not an arguable point. But saying that Rykodisc did the remixing, as you did on your site, is not a fact. Let’s leave it at that.

    Keep up the great work!

    Jroug

    July 6, 2010 at 19:40

  6. Well, as long as we’re picking nits 🙂

    I think what I said was that the Ryko and Varese releases were remixed and not the original LP mix. I don’t think I ever actually said that Ryko itself did the remix, and if I did, apologies all around.

    Bruce Kimmel

    July 6, 2010 at 20:57

  7. Not only did you say that, you still are saying that!

    Just cut & pasted from your website on the ordering page:

    “Ryko remixed the album from the original eight-track edited session masters and that newly mixed album was also used for the Varese release. ”

    Oops.

    Jroug

    July 6, 2010 at 21:22

  8. First of all, stop. Enough. I already said “apologies all around.” AT THE TIME of the announcement, I had no reason to think otherwise – why would I? The album was on Ryko, hence I made an assumption that anyone would have made. You have since informed me otherwise and I have accepted what you have said, but the FACT remains that what Ryko issued was not the original LP mix and that, you see, is the point. You seem to be taking this very personally, which I find odd since Ryko is no more. The release page was done prior to this conversation, as was the booklet of the CD. Regardless of who did what, Ryko did not release the original LP mix. The End. If my web guy has time, perhaps I’ll have him change it. If you have anything else to add that is NEW, feel free – otherwise, this horse is dead, not that anyone but you and I are actually reading this. You may also feel free to contact me privately – I’m easy to find. Somehow I don’t think you’ll be doing that, but who knows?

    Bruce Kimmel

    July 6, 2010 at 23:15

  9. Sorry you feel this way about having a dialogue, but really, that’s all this is.

    Yes, you made an assumption. An incorrect assumption. Everyone has at some point – look at the Ryko version of Promises – Exhibit A!

    I haven’t denied the issue with the Ryko CD. I own the mistake and it is highly regrettable. If there was a practical way to fix it 10 years later, I would.

    Your apology is appreciated, but as you rightly point out, it’s probably only you and I that are reading this thread. Many, many more are buying your CD from your website and reading about your reissue here, there and god knows where else. This internet thing spreads misinformation like wildfire!

    Unless those folks read this, they are under the false impression that Ryko deliberately pulled the wool over their eyes; not that a mistake was made. That bothers me, as it would bother you if someone was saying that about you or your company. We went out of our way to be an honorable organization in a business full of scumbags, so to imply otherwise rubs me the wrong way.

    Why wouldn’t you correct this on your site? You cite time issues, but let’s not kid each other, this would take a minute or two at most to fix. You really have time to go into detail about tape reels to make a point (that no one disputed in the first place), but you can’t take a minute to correct your mistake?

    You’re not being attacked, just called on the misinformation. You are responsible for putting this out there, after all.

    Ryko absolutely still exists, albeit in a different form with a different mission.

    http://www.rykodisc.com

    Finally, regarding taking this offline; you made your statement about Ryko in public, so what’s the problem with continuing the dialogue in a public venue? I’m happy to have a private or public conversation with you if there’s a reason to do so.

    Why you’d think otherwise is a mystery to me.

    Jroug

    July 7, 2010 at 00:51

  10. Yes, other lay people are reading this. And all this fuss because the word “M-G-M” should be substituted for “Ryco.” Gentlemen. There was unintended error on both sides. Okay. Let it rest. Point taken. Correction acknowledged. Us collectors are grateful to you both for making these recordings available again!

    Stewart Gooderman

    July 7, 2010 at 21:22

  11. Bruce:

    Hey, I’m just glad you guys were able to correct poor Jerry Orbach’s flat pitches. 🙂

    cheshirecat

    July 9, 2010 at 05:19


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