RUSH - Vapor Trails Remixed (Oct 1st)
I've been a Rush fan since the late 80s though I kind of signed off after R30 ended since the "Nick” albums don't really appeal to me. Anyway... I always loved the Vapor Trails album less the mix so it's nice to see that perhaps it has finally been corrected.
If memory serves however, I think I got a dose of the remixing when they released the 3rd Retrospec album which contained Earthshine and One Little Victory. Honestly, I kind of felt they had been defanged. I loved the aggressiveness of the original, but yes, there was so much clipping (and woofy bass) going on that the balance of energy to clarity just wasn't there overall.
What do all think? Do we kill the original “spirit” of Vapor Trails by “fixing” the production errors? Some of my favorite recordings are riddled with clams, but the chemistry is just ON… Vapor Trails may just be on that list.
Your thread titled says "remastered", but the image you posted says "remixed" - which is it?
IMO, the album does not need a remix, but it desperately needs a remastering.
I'm cautiously hopeful about this. I think it's one of the best albums they've put out since Grace Under Pressure and the classic period before that. Unfortunately, the original release actually hurt to listen to so I really hope they've taken some of the edge off.
I think the problem with Vapor Trails is they had limited access to Neil in the studio. Some of the original tracks were too hot and were clipping. So no matter how it is remastered or remixed there will still be the clipping original tracks to deal with. You can clean it up a little but it will never be Moving Pictures quality.
They should have simply taken a little longer in the studio and re-recorded cleaning base tracks that did not clip.
The song writing was good and the playing was good but the recording was bad ... bummer ...
Their latest cd seems to suffer from a similar problem.
I am not a pro sound engineer but I have learned a little from home recording and mixing ... you can only turn up the bass, mids, treble, and gain so much before it all gets distorted. And sometimes a really good set of studio monitors will hide the flaws in your master tracks.
I am cautiously optimistic about this one. I do like the music on VT, but however it got that way (original tracks, mastering, both?) the sound is a poster child for the loudness war. Look at those tracks in a program like Audacity, and they are a maximized, flat topped, peak limited mess. It is not a pleasant listen.
The two tracks on the last comp were better but still pretty poor sounding.
I read over at Steve Hoffman Forums that the guy who did the remix (sorry the name escapes me) has a pretty good track record. We shall see.
Just to put a positive spin on it, it would be a really challenge for anyone to actually make VT sounds worse than it already does. :-)
I agree, it would be hard to not improve it with a remix/remaster. Great record but it really sounds awful. I'll pick this up once I hear something from the new issue.
Obviously if they pull it off, it will go over really well, as there are some terrific tunes on that album that have never been done justice.
I'm not going to blindly buy it though until I have a chance to hear it. Show me, don't tell me, right?
I pre-ordered it last week, hopefully, the remix will make it listenable. I haven't listened to that CD since it came out.
I am no sound engineer, but I am thinking that as long as the clipping and compression was in the final mixdown for the CD, that the original levels can be worked with and the dynamics restored before it is mixed down again.
I haven't listened to Clockwork Angels with headphones to see if this album is compressed too much. I have noticed that the mix is pretty "thick", meaning that there's a lot going on and clarity is lost. The thick term is my own, I really don't have another word in my head to describe it.
I was wondering if Rush will use Nick again for their next recording. I know they really love him and I do like that he got them to rock again, but I think his time has gone, time to try another tack. I am an old time Rush fan, and to me, their earlier stuff is still a lot better than anything since VT to the present. Just like any band that's been around more than 20 years, the early recordings got them noticed and built their fan base, and the later stuff is more hits and misses. I realize they progress and reach further with each record, but the "simpler", earlier stuff is what makes me play "air" bass, guitar and drums while listening to it, the newer stuff, not really. But that's just me. Sorry for my off tangent ramble. :hiding:
I think "thick" or maybe "dense" are fair words to describe Rush's sound on S&A and CA. There is no room for anything to breath. "Wall of sound" perhaps?
Just to go further off topic, the new Sabbath album 13 looks almost as bad at VT when looking at the wave forms. But for some reason, it is really not that bad of a listen, considering it is a modern recording. I attribute that to the possibility that I just happen to like the EQ choices they made, but maybe more so that it is not really a dense mix at all. Guitar, bass, drums and vocals, and there seems to be a lot of space around the instruments. Just imagine if the mastering was not a compressed, maximized mess.
Back to Rush, I would love to hear what they would sound like if they recorded with a minimum number of tracks like they did in the old days. Alex can have 3 (left/right panned rhythm guitars, and one for leads), Ged's bass gets one, Prat can have two, have one for vocals, and they can collectively use one for whatever bass pedals, keys, or synths they want. So, call it 8 tracks. And no cheating by bouncing down. :-)
Not likely to happen, but I did not expect Sabbath to go completely old school with a great record again either.
I hope they can fix it. It has good music but I really hate to hear this CD in any of my radios because in my opinion is the worst Rush recorded sound of all time. Drums sounds like aluminums cans, bass sounds to much treble and guitars is noisy and too high.
So long as they don't completely gut "Peaceable Kingdom" - that tune really crushed I thought...
30 second sound clips from the remix are available to hear:
I'd like to hear Rick Rubin, or Steve Albini, produce them. ;)
Can't wait for the remix! I love the remix of One Little Victory; the bass is probably my new favorite Geddy tone. If the rest of the album sounds like that...damn!
Vapor Trails has been the only album that came out of theirs that I couldn't listen to more than once when it came out, and it was due to the horrendous distortion. Since then I've heard the songs live or on live recordings and I can appreciate it much more. I just hope they give the songs some space and clean it up.
From Geddy Lee interview with Rolling Stone:
"It's kind of a long story, but there are essential building blocks to what lead to a remix. You have to put yourself back to that period of time. We had just gone through a very sad and dark four or five years after Neil's family was so tragically taken from him. When he reached out to us and said he wanted to come back and attempt to work together, we wanted to do it in an environment that was as comfortable to him as possible with as little pressure as possible.
At that time, we had talked to various producers and one of them was David Bottrill. In the end, Alex and I looked at each other and said, "I don't think it's fair to Neil to bring a stranger in the room when he's kind of in a delicate state." We said, "Let's get Paul Northfield. He's not only worked on many of our albums, but is a very close friend, so Neil is comfortable from the get go."
Neil had to learn how to play the drums again, how to get his confidence back. It was a lot of slow baby steps to getting back to us at our peak. The writing process took a really long time. Alex and I would work all day in the control room and Neil would practice and write lyrics. We kind of blocked out a small studio in Toronto and we were there for 14 months making this record. It was a long and emotional and stressful time to the end, because we were close to the finish but we had spent so much time on it. We were way too close to it.
Had we been wise, we would have said, "Okay, we're taking a two-month break and then bring someone in to mix it when we all have fresh ears." We figured, "The show must go on! People are expecting the record now." The record company had been waiting and waiting for it. So we just pushed through and got it mixed. We went through two different people to mix it because we were so unhappy with it. We just believed in the record, but in the end we were just fried.
Everybody went their own way. I took the record to New York to master it. By the time I had a couple of weeks off to hear it clearly, I realized we had kind of over-cooked the record. The mixes were really loud and brash. The mastering job was harsh and distorted, but by then, it was out of my hands. It was already out.
It's a terrible feeling that, due to lack of objectivity, you let an imperfect piece of work get out there. But the songs are very strong and people really responded to the record and people were welcoming us back. The sonic defects of it got lost in the excitement of the bands return to functionality. It's always been a bee in my bonnet. We had various people attempt to remix it and remaster it over the years, and it still didn't satisfy.
After a while, it was hard to get people onboard. "Why are you obsessing over this one record? You have 20 records. Why the **** do you care about this one record?" I just felt it was so pivotal that the songs required some justice. We gave it one last kick of the can, and Andy from our management suggested that David Bottrill have a go at it. I thought it was kind of strange/full circle that the guy we almost used in the first place is trying to save it. We were on tour and Neil didn't want to have too much to do with it. The album has a lot of very painful memories for him. We said, "Don't worry. We're going to let David just follow his instincts and he'll do it while we're touring."
David just got the record right away and started sending us mixes. Of course, we'd have comments here or there, but generally he understood what it should sound like. So, I'm very pleased with the end result. I think he's finally brought some completion and some justice to some of those songs we'd put so much of our heart and soul into."
I miss the days when Rush was completely ignored by the entertainment elites (Rolling Stone and the like). Even Zappa hated those guys. "Why should I help them sell their magazine!?" he was once quoted as saying.
On another note, maybe this remix has set the stage to moving on from Nick (oh please, oh please...) to David. That'd be pretty cool.
Full length clips at Rolling Stone now online.
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