Saturday Deluxe / 7 October 2017

Henry Rollins wades into the Bowie mastering debate

Every now and then it all kicks off here at SDE and this week has definitely been one of those weeks, with the ongoing David Bowie A New Career In A New Town mastering debate (master-bate for short) and then, yesterday, the bizarre goings on with various UK retailers seemingly reacting in realtime to this blog’s criticism over the pricing of the newly announced Paul McCartney coloured vinyl!

If you’ve not had a chance to read SDE this week, first of all you need to take the rest of the day off to give give yourself time to digest the Bowie story and all 374 comments on the post. If you don’t want to do that, the short version is that some fans don’t like much of the remastering on the new box set (compressed, too much bass etc.) and are particularly irate about the ‘error’ on the title track of Heroes, which Warners admitted was an attempt to fix a ‘loss of energy’ on the master tape, and acknowledged that they probably could have communicated about this more transparently. Other fans don’t mind the mastering, some really like it and there’s a few who profess that they probably wouldn’t have noticed the Heroes issue, if it hadn’t been pointed out!

Warners stance is that the box isn’t faulty, and no replacement discs will be pressed. However, whether they stick doggedly to that remains to be seen, because the issue isn’t really going away any time soon. Legendary British producer Stephen Street was tweeting about it during the week. First off, he liked my Lodger review which compared remix with remaster, and I was chuffed when he told his 9,000 strong following how much he liked SDE!

But interestingly, Stephen chipped in with regards to the Heroes issues with his own thoughts, not once, but twice, concluding “sounds like a mistake to me”.

You know ‘word has spread’ when actor, musician, radio host Henry Rollins writes an article titled “Fanatics! Avoid the New Bowie Box Set, A New Career in a New Town 1977-1982” on the LA Weekly website. Admittedly, he has probably been influenced by the reviews on Amazon (which he references) but he goes on to say “Until they straighten them out, if they ever do, I would strongly recommend you stay well away from this release.”

I don’t know where this will end, but it’s a fascinating insight into the power of social media and how loudly fans’ voices can be heard these days, via various online forums and sites like SDE.

Read the about how Parlophone responded to the criticism this week

Paul McCartney Archive Collection / Limited edition 180g coloured vinyl pressings

Don’t Macca me laugh

It was a comedy of errors yesterday as Capitol/UMe/MPL proudly announced that eight of Paul McCartney‘s albums were re-re-released on Capitol and that each record would be available as a limited edition coloured vinyl pressing.

They hadn’t got their ‘ducks in a row’ (as my wife likes to say), so the announcement came at noon, but no one ‘in retail’ was ready. Links on Macca’s site took those in the UK/Europe to the USA uDiscover store, where we saw a lovely vinyl bundle (now gone!) that wasn’t available to us. The Band on the Run white vinyl link went to an Amazon UK page that listed the 1992 Paul McCartney Collection CD – in short, the whole thing was a bit of a mess.

A few hours later, the coloured vinyl limited editions did start filtering through on sites like The Sound Of Vinyl, although as the screenshot belong shows you, they wanted £35 for most single vinyl albums and £43 for Band on the Run! Meanwhile, the recent Flowers in the Dirt double vinyl (with bonus tracks) was only £27!

click image to enlarge

I posted about this rip-off and within the hour all the limited vinyl had been pulled from the listings, only to return about an hour later at a ‘new’ price of £29.99. But even that didn’t last long and now none of the sites which listed them yesterday (uDiscover USA, uDiscover UK, The Sound Of Vinyl and RecordStore.co.uk) have any of the coloured vinyl listed at all. Which either means they’ve sold out almost instantaneously (seems unlikely, even for Paul), or McCartney’s team are having a re-think. Unlike with David Bowie, the criticism was almost unanimous. Charging close to £10 extra just because it’s a coloured pressing did not go down at all well with fans.

I will keep my ear to the ground as far as this is concerned and we will wait to see if these coloured vinyl pressings will be returning to an online shop near you, anytime soon.

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Matthew Best

A new master is being created and replacement CDs/vinyl will be available. Good news and finally a sensible conclusion.

Auntie Sabrina

There’s a documentary on tonight David Bowie’s Heroes 40th Anniverary, BBC Radio 2 10.00 to 11.00pm narrated by Florence Welch from Florence And The Machine.


Has anyone else noticed any pops in their vinyl? My copy arrived yesterday and side 2 of Low has some pretty big ones.


If it is a fault with the master, then I should hear it on my 1977 vinyl copy, which I do not?
Or my Ryko disc, which I do not. Or my 1999 remaster, which I do not.

I am assuming that at a point in time there was a single source for this song which has either degraded in some way to cause the issue (not sure if master tape degradation could cause such a fluctuation) or the source for this reissue is different to the source from the other issues and reissues.

Or am I rather naively not understanding something more subtle here?
If the source is different, then why the hell did they use it.
If the source is the same then why don’t we hear the problem in other versions.

Or it is simply not a source issue, but a mastering issue – which to someone who is sadly versed more in logic than in mastering techniques (god I wish I had those….) seems the most likely reason. No?


And if it is down to source master degradation, why would you want to retain this degradation for the sake of authenticity?

I just don’t buy the justification but would be very happy if somone could explain if there is a grain of truth to what Warner have put out.

Randy Metro

If I look at the wave forms in Audacity, I can see that the entire song drops a tad in volume at 2.52 and never recovers. When I look at the VU meters thru Foobar, the music hovers between -10 DB and -15 DB. When I listen to it on PC speakers with my eyes closed and open them when I think I hear a dip; well, I am blinking my eyes quite a lot. The real test will be to flip it over to my stereo in another room. I don’t know when that will be.

If I remember correctly, didn’t Visconti have Bowie move further away from the vocal mike after each chorus so that he had to yell in order to be heard. Maybe the ratio of music to the changed volume of the vocal (louder but further away from the mike) wreaks havoc with our ears? Visually on Audacity & Foobar, I don’t see anything criminal.

Jim Galvin

Personally I think the whole “remastered” set is a bit muddy throughout. For the kind of money they charged for the Bowie set you’d think they could get it right. As for the McCartney issue, I can tell now that the rest of the catalog is going to be a huge disappointment when they decide to actually go back into it. P.S. Keep your colored vinyl, you’ll fuck it up somehow and my Concord issued LP’s sound fine

Paul Kent

I just want to say a huge thanks to Paul and all you guys for this lengthy yet informative discussion. I didn’t even notice the glitch on “Heroes”, but I just bagged a £27.00 refund from Amazon nonetheless… the Milky Bars are on me!!


why was the other thread almost closed for “insulting” tony visconti and his flawless legacy, but comments like this are allowed? essentially they are saying – “there was nothing wrong with my set, but i pretended there was to extort money from amazon…and it worked!”


so if i wrote, “guys you can get this set on all the torrent sites for free!” you’d be fine with that as well?
i have no problem with people getting money off if they think the set is sub-standard, which it is. but, people just trying to get money off, when they think there is nothing wrong with it, really muddies the water on how some people feel about the set – people are complaining because they are fed up with how they want these sorts of releases to be handled by the labels, and they feel they are being ignored, they aren’t complaining to get a bit of money back on a set that they think is ok.
it seems ok to say – “those audiophiles are just nitpicking, that’s all they ever do, them and their graphs and figures – because i can’t hear anything wrong!”, but for some weird reason it’s then also ok to nitpick about something to a company just to get money back. it’s an odd stance to take.


also, it wasn’t attacking the other person personally – it was attacking your stance on what is ok to discuss and what is not. again, it’s not a direct personal attack – it’s an attack on what you think it is acceptable to discuss and what you don’t. and i’ve explained to you, in the other post, why i think it’s a very unhelpful comment to be making – as all it does is undermine the reasons why the consumers who have complained have done so.

Paul Kent

It was a joke, for God’s sake! This kind of response doesn’t really help explode the myth that all audiophiles are intense, humourless joykills!! Here’s the science bit…

1) No, I didn’t notice the drop at first. However, once made aware of it by SDE readers, it is, as many have testified, now impossible to ignore. The remastering across the other discs does not distress me one iota, I might add, in the interest of transparency.

2) Warners/Parlophone have admitted that the “energy boost” is present and intended, as is the over-enthusiastic promotion of the bottom-end to the whole set.

3) Amazon, as a business, have taken the decision to remove the set from their own virtual shelves. If you place an order for it on Amazon today it will be through a third party Marketplace retailer.

4) Countless posts on SDE this past week, across countless threads, have posited that this set is, in actuality, faulty and have, either consciously or not, encouraged purchasers to seek compensation.

So, in summary, why the hell should I not be entitled to a discount along with everyone else. It is true that I barely noticed the glitch on “Heroes” until everyone started banging on about it. But it is there and many consider it, therefore, to be faulty. Does that mean faulty for all or just those who notice it? The label recognises the depth of feeling enough to discuss the issue with Paul. They might take the stance that this set is not faulty but, at the same time, do acknowledge that their processes should have been more widely published beforehand. That same strength of feeling has spurred a major online retailer to pull the product until, presumably, a satisfactory resolution has been reached. This ultimately leads to people demanding recompense in droves, resulting in some posts declaring victory against the Man. So, I ask again, in light of all of the above and in the face of such overwhelming evidence – why the hell should I not be entitled to a discount along with everyone else?

As Paul states, why should this matter to anyone else, anyway? Consider it payment of a tiny portion of the tax they avoid paying to the UK. And, speaking of Paul, let’s not forget this is his site and he can decide, quite adequately, what posts should and should not be deleted.

Beep, Beep!


I recieved my vinyl Bowie boxset from Amazon on Thursday so today was my first chance to listen to some of it.

The attention to detail is superb. “Low” is an exact replica of the first issue and there is even a reproduction of the original paper inner sleeve. All inserts have been replicated even to the extent of including a fan club insert with each of the albums when only “Low” originally had one.

I listened to “Low”, “Heroes” and both versions of “Lodger” and honestly cannot see wat the fuss is about. The two versions of Lodger” are noticeably different but both are enjoyable. I didn’t notice any issues with “Heroes” and the remaster of “Low” sounds perfectly OK to my ears and I have listened to a first pressing several times recently.

At the end of the day it is each to their own but I think that this boxset is excellent value for money and do not regret buying it for one moment and would recommend it unreservedly.


i meant to say ” it’s a question of why they do that which is worth finding out.”


Those images offer no help at all. One is of the entire album and done in Audition, another is of an individual song and done in Goldwave.


Both those images are of the full album. The validity of whether or not there is a different master is not a fact yet, but they do both show the albums – not just a single track, and they do both appear to show major differences; it’s a question of why they do that is worth finding out.


The use of different audio editing programs is an issue, however. The same audio file can look substantially different with different programs.


Thanks to SDE I locked in at the price of $159,98 at Amazon.com and I just got a refund of $30. I’d rather have a perfect Heroes, but at this price (plus $50 tax/) duties I can live with it.


When there is this much controversy with a product, successful companies react by making a simple decision, they take responsibility.
This record company(ies) is never going to be Amazon, but whether they believe this set has any issues or not, the consumer reactions speak for themselves. They simply have to provide a positive response that gives the consumer options if they want to continue to be in business.


The mistake on “Heroes” from 2:49-2:50 is ridiculous and actually pops my ears.


Paul: There is possibly a new development in the ANCIANT box set debacle in that the hi-res downloads appear to have different remastering to the other editions.
Here is a pdf of the various editions of low (with the 2017 at the bottom – yes it’s a brickwalled mess!)
Now here is an image of the hi-res 2017 edition of low from HiResAudio
These is a massive difference.
Now the interesting thing is that apparently other hi-res audio sites don’t appear to be offering the same better mastered files.
Any idea what is going on? Have things gone all Franz Kafka and we need to know the people and the right way to get the right master for this set? Has there been a mix-up with the files?
The mystery continues . . .


Given that information, I half wonder if the wrong “finished” master was pressed to these discs…


Given Parlophone’s acknowledgement (limited though it is) of the “Heroes” issue, I don’t see why they couldn’t have put a second version of the album in the box set where the volume problem had been fixed. Their commitment to authenticity if of course commendable and I am sure their motives are pure, but given the doubled up versions of Ziggy, David Live, Stage, Lodger and even YA / Gouster we’ve had, a second version of “Heroes” would have been an easy fix


Agree that fixing the “Heroes” title track in the CD and LP standalone releases would be the easiest and best way to solve the problem, would allow people to swap their discs in the box sets, although still paying an extra. But I doubt that will happen, how much would cost to the label to process the whole thing? Unlikely.

If we talk about the remastering in general, well that is silly complaint in my opinion. Those sound just like how remasters sound these days, deal with it. If you listen to the 2016 remastered version of Rebel Rebel and then the version included on ‘Nothing Has Changed’ you’d find that the remaster sounds a lot quieter and muffled, whereas the previous version is louder and clearer. I prefer the older version but the new one doesn’t affect my enjoyement of the album. If people don’t like the sound of remasters just stick to earlier versions, it’s not like you have to own ten copies of an album just because they put out a remaster every 5/10 years. And it’s not like the latest version has to be necessarily the best.

Ty Tudor

A straight transfer of the master tapes will be the end this. This wont happen of course.
Can someone remind me of the release that gave the multi track stems on a DATA CD for the end user to mix themselves? Or have I dreamed this? I was very excited and thought this would catch on.

As mentioned on SDE this week the technicians working on The Rolling Stones ‘On Air’ are using multi track stem isolation/ demixing from a single source. This technology is improving. The Elvis and the Royal Philharmonic releases are extremely good. BTW Aretha Franklin is next to be de-mixed for this campaign.

Perhaps as technology moves along we will make our own masters?

Randy Metro

The issue with the newest Heroes & Parlophone’s excuse reminds me of one of the anniversary editions of the T.Rex album Electric Warrior. The first song, Mambo Sun, had a one or two seconds of total silence near the middle. The label, engineers, whoever – but not Tony Visconti – insisted that was the correct version on the master. It wasn’t a bad tape edit but actually silence in the middle of the GD song. I have several editions of Electric Warrior and that is the only time I’ve ever heard that song with the silence. I bought it for the bonus CD of outtakes, so it wasn’t a BFD for me. But irritating nonetheless.


Maybe I’m alone in this, but the Bowie box is crippled by the horrible mastering more than the error on “Heroes.” That error (I’m told there are others on Lodger, but I honestly gave up on the set before I even heard them) was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Some have complained about the bass emphasis on the prior two boxes, but compared to the EMI remasters from the late ’90s, they sounded like a marked improvement. Fast forward to A New Career in a New Town and this same approach was used, but then compressed to within an inch of its life and you’ve sucked all dynamic movement and separation out of the tracks while giving the listener a nice “cotton balls jammed in the ears simulator” experience at the same time. Seriously, there were points my speakers sounded like they had blown out listening to “Speed of Life.”

Likewise, what I heard of Lodger was either from such a terrible source or so shoddily mastered that it sounded like a late ’90s low-grade MP3 downloaded from Napster.

Looking on the positive… well, the box looks nice on the shelf? But seriously, I have to question if anyone “at the top” ever really listened to the finished product before it went out. Compared to the other two releases in the series, this one represents a huge dip in quality and will inspire a lot more caution when it comes to Box #4 from me. I’ve pre-ordered all of them so far, but I doubt I’ll bother going forward – likely unless they go so far as to correct this mastering and offer replacement discs so I can easily say it matches the quality of the other releases in this reissue series.

Gary B

Regarding the Macca/Wings reissues I’m finding them on several US sites but there’s no details. No black vinyl vs color (except on one site I found later). So at first these seemed like great deals. I found it difficult to determine if there were also black vinyl issues. Apparently there are. So those great prices must be for the black vinyl. Why don’t these online retailers say that? Are they hoping you’ll think they’re the color vinyl and order them?
It’s all pissing me off. I already refused to buy any Flowers In The Dirt archives and now this.
Why just these 8? How many are they making? Why is the sky blue? (That answer I know).


I got a refund from Amazon of $25 for the Bowie box set. Not bad. Who do you think takes the hit for this? Amazon or Sony? Hope all the refunds don’t mean that they won’t do anymore boxes as I was looking forward to the next one.

Do you think after all the album boxes are out they will do DVD set much like the Genesis movie box?


Did they offer this unprompted or did you chase them down


Just sent a mail to amazon with the order number and the details and they replied within the hour with the offer. Top quality customer service

Roy W

Thanks Paul you are doing a grand job. As Mark B has stated above the errors on the Kinks and Dylan Self Portrait were fixed without a big fuss or public relations disaster.


I intend to buy the Bowie box set on CD, I’m going to hold out a bit though to see if this issue gets resolved.

John Barleycorn

Sounds like Parlaphone have painted themselves into a corner with their response to this but I wouldn’t mind betting that within five years (!) or so Heroes will be on on a re-release with “fixed” audio levels via some enhanced reissue. Perhaps they can do a free download to appease box set owners? Oops! I will get my coat……..


The best way to fix the Bowie issue is to “fix” the single CD releases and leave it at that. They retail cheaply, and anyone especially bothered can buy it and swap the discs out.

And yes, I bought the set, and would have to pay a little more for the “fix”. In the mean time, I have a nice box to be getting on with.

Martin Power

Yep I agree and have the vinyl set. Managed to get a 30% refund from Amazon so will follow it up with the cd box later if poss


Regarding the ANCIANT outrage, a French saying comes to mind. A barrel of poison with just a spoonful of wine is clearly poison. But a barrel of wine with just a spoonful of poison is also poison. (Probably sounds nicer in French)

Ann Coates

At the time of writing, the Bowie boxset on CD isn’t being sold direct by Amazon UK again, only third party sellers (vinyl still available though).


@Charles Christopher, not for that price. You have to buy the Gene Simmons ‘The Vault Experience’

Chris Marsh

Genuine question about coloured vinyl. Just one question. WHY? I remember my daughter as a small child, collecting small metal discs called ‘pogs’. Thisfascination with coloured vinyl reminds me of that. What am I missing?

Colin Harper

You’re missing nothing – it’s exactly the same as stamp collecting. These are aimed at people who have to have everything – and Macca’s Team clearly know that if even 0.5 per cent of his fan base are such types, they will generate a load of income from selling them the same thing again and again. I suspect absolutely no one in the world will think ‘Hey, I’ve never heard this Paul McCartney album – this new £35 pink vinyl version looks like the ideal way in to me…’

Martin Power

Funnily enough i have not been a big Macca fan but might have taken the coloured vinyls for novelty value but at the prices quoted not a chance

Chris Squires

You are not missing anything Chris. It’s ( for me anyway) a feeling of oooh that’s beautiful. I spent a good couple minutes fondling Frida in green vinyl this morning, just looking and flipping it over before cleaning and sticking it on. It is probably no more than a translation into middle age of collecting Top Trumps as an 11 year old.
For me it goes like this, if I am early enough I will order the coloured version, all of my “collected” series are on coloured vinyl, if they are all sold and the choice is black vinyl for £20 or coloured for £50+ then I will get black. Proven to myself this week where I bought “Man on the Rocks” in black as the coloured was 5 times as much. If these McCartney vinyls were £18-£20 I would have probably bought them all, partularly if there was a bundle offer. As it is I won’t bother, and unlike someone above who said they shouldn’t have to make it affordable, it’s not that many here can’t afford it, we probably can, I can, it’s just that most of us know when someone is taking the piss. £30 for a coloured vinyl new release is just that. And even if I could, I just wouldn’t. It’s totally different to those who were moaning, and there were some , at the cost of Purple Rain. £21 for 3+1.

Randy Metro

I collect tree burls… I don’t know why. I am fascinated by them and have a basket full of them. Most are only the size of my fist, not like those from the Redwoods that people make beautiful grained table tops. I also collect teeth and kidney stones! They fascinate me (and are free). A pastime I inherited from my Grandpa Hannibal Metro.

Michael Fortin

Great job on the site this week Paul! This is my favorite site and I’ve been checking in every day for years. Keep up the good work!

As far as Bowie goes, I’ll probably get a shoe thrown at me, but I’m sticking with my ’99 remasters for the albums in the latest box set. I’m mostly listening on earbud (Bose) headphones so I’m probably not as sensitive to mastering as a lot of people here.


Will the Venus and Mars vinyl rerelease include the original stickers and, I think, poster? I recall immediately slapping one of the stickers on my parent’s work desk, where it remains to this day!

Charles Christopher

I confess I’m a little baffled by some of the reactions here – in general, but especially by the McCartney colored vinyl releases. My feeling is that, if you think the vinyl is over-priced (which, let’s face it, who’s jaw didn’t drop?), simply don’t buy them if you can’t afford them – especially if it’s something you’re not particularly interested in. There’s no obligation to buy them, after all, but many reactions I read here suggest that people feel there is. And there’s certainly no obligation for anyone involved to make them cheap enough for *everyone* to afford them (these are, after all, luxury items and not, say, life-saving drugs). If McCartney and/or his people have over-estimated the market price for these, that’s their mistake – but if McCartney feels that a significant portion of his audience has wads of cash to throw at something like this (not unreasonable for someone with loads of fans who could be in their hedge-funded retirement years), I don’t think any of us should feel that he’s obligated to make it available to all income brackets. I’d love that $600 tombstone Pink Floyd released last year, but I can accept that it’s too large a purchase for me at the moment, and don’t believe Pink Floyd are trying to gouge me. I’m really baffled when any release is ‘fleecing the fans’ when it’s something some people personally can’t afford.
That said, seriously, 29.99 pounds is what, $60 US? What, does McCartney come to the house and deliver it personally?

As for the Bowie set’s mastering issues (and I’m not referring to the specific song Heroes)….. I don’t recall this box set billing itself as ‘the definitive/ultimate editions’ or something like that, so presenting them with extra bass, etc is just another version of the same music. And make no mistake, they do sound *good*, they sound different (probably inevitable if you’re going to make them sound like they’re meant to be played in 2017 instead of 1977). My impression from reading SDE and other sites is that poring over the minutiae and being able to tell others the differences from one release over another at a moment’s notice is part of the ‘fun’ of owning multiple versions. To each his own.

Andrew r

This would be the Henry Rollins whose band was the last word
in hi fi audiophillory and never relayed a single mistake to vinyl in his career?


I’d still rather be waterboarded for week listening to My War than purchase another Macca reissue.


Paul- Id just like to say you do a FANTASTIC job.
I really would like the coloured McCartney vinyls but the price they were charging was crazyily inflated. Its great that you and others pointed it out and you might just have made a difference.Hope so.
By the way,talking of couloured vinyl,my first lp was Ohh la la by Faces. This is being released on red vinyl and is for sale on my favourite record buying site- What Records.
Take care and keep up the great work.


I did not grow up with these albums, and while I did own much of his earlier 70s output, I always thought I’d wait for a “Berlin” set to buy, and ANCIANT CD box ended up being that opportunity for me. I’ve listened to the first five discs, and I’m basically hearing all of the non-hit material for the first time.

Low sounds great to these ears. Heroes sounds a bit louder and compressed, but not so much that it tires. The “Heroes EP” is consistent with the album, and the original Stage sounds a bit distant with the vocals a bit forward, like you might expect a 70s live album to sound. I’m expecting good things from the rest of the box, and I believe what the record company said about the low end on Low; it’s perfectly good.

But I’m sorry, the glitch on the song “Heroes” is so noticeable that even if you’re not really paying attention, it will perk up your ears. And you can tell that something is different about the sound afterwards than before, even without being alerted to it – the atmosphere feels different.

I would not expect them to reissue Low (and probably not Lodger either, based on your review), but I don’t think it’s too much to ask to fix Heroes. And don’t send me a file – I bought a disc, I should get a disc to replace it.


Hank’s word is the law. Worship at the Rollins alter.


Hank’s ego is the size of a small planet, but in this case he is right.


Paul, there is no need to tiptoe around an ‘error’; it’s clearly an error, despite the nonsense fed to us, via yourself, by the label. In the greater scheme of things it’s a minor error, and you’ve got to feel a smidgen of sympathy for the cloth-eared label folks who messed up the highest profile track on the set!

Colin Harper

The 7CD Pentangle ‘The Albums’ box set, in contrast, looks really impressive: compact packaging, mini LP replica sleeves (including four gatefolds, as per the originals) and an 80 page lavishly illustrated, beautifully designed booklet including written content from eight well-regarded writers. It really is the last word on their Transatlantic & Reprise studio recordings, with all previously released outtakes and 22 first-time-released studio outtakes and live tracks.

It’ll be interesting to see how this fares commercially – I think a 7CD single-band set at a £49.99 price point is new territory for Cherry Red. They’ve previously done plenty of 3CD clamshell box sets and 4CD long-book-type packages, generally themed on genres, and rcently one or two sub-£30 4CD clamshell boxes of single artists (e.g. Stray, Atomic Rooster). Jumping to a £49.99 7CD bracket for a previously well-mined ‘top of the second division’ act is a bit of a leap of faith.

Obviously, one can’t compare this kind of set to releases of product by bigger-ticket artists like David B or Macca, but this set looks to me like a benchmark for similar ‘full career’ compact sets by vintage artists, where a whole career can be encompassed in 7-8 discs but where the market wouldn’t obviously stand for Bowie/Macca type prices or presentation format, no matter how great the booklet/mastering/bonus content is.

Ten Years After (who had a comparable career in terms of its span, 1967-74 to the Pentangle’s 1967-72) have gone for a new 10CD set that aspires more to the luxury end – 10 discs featuring JUST the original 9 LPs across 9 discs (WITHOUT any of the bonus content of previous reissues) but with the addition of a hitherto unreleased 1970 live album on disc 10 and a price tag of £79.99. Curious. Neither a true ‘super deluxe’ set nor an affordable compact set.

This seems like a pretty interesting area of the market, Paul – one that looks pretty ‘new’ to me’ – full career sets by artists that, 10 years back, were all generally getting 2CD anthologies on the likes of Sanctuary or the odd single-album expanded edition, but who have now moved to the ‘everything-plus-in-a-box’ stage. It feels like the last throw of the dice for 60s/70s second divisioners. Okay, I know it’s focused on artists/era that aren’t your core interests, but I think you’d have lots of interest to say on the subject!

adam shaw

Great job this week Paul .
I get knackered reading it all so I don’t know how you feel writing it .


Not sure if master-bate is an appropriate term in this case, Paul . Master-gate then…


Who knew this world was ready for a dick joke on a remaster topic? Thanks for keeping this website not pompous and elitist :-)

Darren Briscoe

Snigger…. titter….*does Benny Hill dance


I made a tape of bang a gong by the power station when I was young. There was a slight skip about a 1/3 of the way through but i decided it wasn’t that big a deal and i could live with it. To this day when i hear that song i brace for that skip. Mistakes ignored can have a negative experience to the listeners experience over time.


Negative impact, that is…


Know what you mean my copy of ‘cars’ by Gary Numan did the same , it still skips in my head every time I hear the song wherever it’s played. Did you mean ‘ get it on ‘ by the Powerstation ?

Randy Metro

The T.Rex song was “Get It On” in the UK. There was already another artist with a song called ‘Get It On,’ in the US, so the song was re-titled “Bang A Gong” for the US release. The titles are interchangeable. The T.Rex kids always know regardless of which title. Also known as GIO on forums.

Amy L

Yes, same here with Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. My old vinyl copy skipped and now it sounds wrong without the skip. Weird, huh?

Ann Coates

It’s not just 3 seconds though is it? It’s a drop in volume of more than half of one of the best and most important songs of Bowie’s career. And once you hear it you can’t ignore it and so it spoils the enjoyment of listening to the whole album because you have an awful feeling that you know it’s coming. I don’t look at graphs or any of that kind of thing, I trust my own ears and have played the song on vinyl, CD and as a digital download through my car’s crappy speakers and it’s noticeable on all. Even my wife who couldn’t care less about this kind of stuff spotted the volume drop and thought the song was fading out. They should have put 2 copies of the album in the box , one produced from the original tapes and a new one with a correction. What a shame.


I agree – played the track to one of my friends at the weekend and his jaw dropped, he said it was really noticeable and once you’re aware of it you can’t go back and “unhear” it. Surely someone must have listened to it before the box set was issued? I sent by box set back to Amazon for a refund because I’m not buying it again until they fix this.


I listened to all content in the box set, the “Heroes” thing is noticeable but at the end of the day forgivable, everything else sounds just fine. I’m going to buy the individual CDs and the “Heroes” vinyl, no matter what Henry Rollins or whoever else say.


The problem I think is that the mistake is on “Heroes”, one of Bowie’s most revered, critically acclaimed and historical tracks.


… seemingly reacting in realtime to this blog’s criticism…
Yes, I noticed that too, yesterday, it did seem very real, most probably it was. I enjoyed it hugely, checking the replies. I enjoyed it particularly because one person, one blog can have such an impact at things that matter to us, mere readers. Are you even aware of your powers, Paul? Anyway, thank you for a great blog and all the long hours on our behalf. Now go back to work. (Don’t know how to insert a smiley here, I’m 52, bear with me).

Eric M.

They should do a new master of “Heroes” (the album track) with similar EQ to the rest of the set, but sourced from whatever low-generation backup master they can find, and offer it as a free .wav to any who have purchased the box.

Hey, maybe Warner is reading this!

Eric M.

Or, once the backup is freshly mastered, just replace the offending section. With pitch/time correction to be sure the tone is matched, one small paste from a backup of the same analog transfer should be far less noticeable than what they’ve done.

But OK, let’s see what happens…


NO. Doing it only as a WAV is not a fix for me. If they do it, they must reissue the disc. I already have files of previous versions.

Eric M.

Well, putting myself in the shoes of a businessperson, who works within an alotted budget and apparently doesn’t think the error is a big deal— I think the scenario of replacing the one track is just more realistic than producing countless new discs. I agree what you propose would be the preferred method, but the cynic in me thinks it has not much of a chance of happening.

CJ Feeney

Yet Universal replaced the disc in Mike Oldfield’s Incantaions Deluxe after initially saying the error on track 4 was on the mastertape. It would have required extra studio work to put it right, but they did it due o feedback and, no doubt, social media pressure.

Not sorting out this type of error put sales of future remasters in jeopardy.


I really don’t get it why this box set by David Bowie is so controversial. Ok, there IS a tiny “mistake” on the Heroes track. But I am very shure 99% of all buyers will not notice it (if they don’t know it). And because of this tiny “mistake” the whole set with all the great music with all the details (stickers, coloured vinyl, fan items etc.) shout be bad and you should stay well away from it?? That is ridiculous. I mean the John Lennon vinyl box set had a really bad mistake (2 times the same song on one record) – but this Bowie Box is just lovely. I think it is a strong buy. The price is great (if you compare it for example with the coloured McCartney vinyl) and this 3 (?) seconds on the Heroes trake make not the whole box bad. And again: this mistake is nearly not audible.


Box sets are hugely profitable for record companies and the people that buy them tend to be more critical of quality than your average listener. And, frankly, mistakes can easily be corrected. I have bought albums in the past that contain mistakes. When the record company acknowledges and corrects the mistakes you end up feeling good about the product and the record company. When they don’t you end up feeling ripped off and have negative feelings about the product and the record company. Pretty simple really.

Mark B

There was a ‘tiny’ mistake on disc 4 of Dylan’s another Self portrait, a skip on the track Copper Kettle, and on the track Two Sisters by the Kinks on the Kinks Anthology boxset. Both times Sony corrected the error and issued replacement discs. That’s all it takes.
Why are Parlophone boxing themselves into a corner here, just fix ‘Heroes’ and issue replacements, it’s not hard.
Why would anyone pay £100 and accept this?


That’s not true. It’s quite noticeable and is not just a few seconds. The song dips in volume and that continues through the end of the track. The nefibbing of the next track is clearly louder.

The mastering choices are what they are, but this is clearly a mistake, one one of Bowie’s best known songs. Given the work that went into the set, it’s an embarrassment that the label isn’t owning up to this mistake and correcting it.


Has not been a great 24 months for Team McCartney, has it? This is what happens when you have many chefs involved in the recipe and the Masterchef doesn’t care at all.

Auntie Sabrina

Whether the ANCIANT boxset issues are resolved, I think any standalone releases next year will be touted as new remasters. The McCartney reissues, CD, black and coloured vinyls are all too expensive. Either the record company (Universal) gets it’s act together or people won’t buy physical product.

You must be pretty tired this week what with all our posts so thank you for allowing us the opportunity.

Hope everyone has a great weekend…


Hey McCartney-team, it’s not too late to give the Flowers In The Dirt SDE box a re-think as well! Never to late to fix your mistakes.