The 40th anniversary edition of “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars” was released this year, and I thought it would be interesting to take a listen to the mastering. What I decided was to look at the original pressing, the SACD, and the newly released 40th anniversary version.
I thought “Soul Love” would be the most interesting to compare as it has really good dynamics, and I love those big thick claps at the beginning.
First up is the original LP
The sound has a lovely roundness to it, great stereo separation and a very good dynamic range. When I say that I don’t just mean that the transients pop, I mean true contrast between the quiet and loud sections. It’s a little noised after 40 years of play, but it’s holding up well. The vocal in this sounds especially natural.
Next is the SACD:
The SACD isn’t bad, in fact I’m pretty sure it’s from the exact same master as the original LP. However, there’s muddiness to the sound now, like too much noise removal has taken away some of the air and energy of the recording. Or maybe the master tapes faded a little over time. Either way something is lost. Dynamically it’s really good.
And finally the 40th Anniversary Edition disaster
It’s crap. The dynamics are gone, the voice is not thin and brittle, and the claps really hurt my ears. Why the fuck would you master classic old rock tunes like this? Who listened to Soul Love and though “this needs multiband compression limiting and digital EQ”? What a fucking waste of time. Save your money, buy either the old LP if you’ve got the facilities, or look for the RCA release on CD [RCA PCD1-4702].