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Saturday Deluxe / 22 July 2017

This week: Tears For Fears take SDE’s advice and we explore the mystery of the new The Smiths remaster…



SDE can exclusively reveal this lyric sheet for ‘Broken’ handwritten by Roland Orzabal. It was found in a tape box during the research for the 2014 ‘Songs From The Big Chair’ reissue.

SDE review inspires Tears For Fears setlist change

Regular visitors here should already know that together, SDE and its readers have been known to influence and actually affect change in archival product, thanks to pointed observations and often forensic knowledge of artists’ back catalogue. Reissues from the likes of Swing Out Sister, The Blow Monkeys, Bros, Donna Summer and Peter Gabriel have all been ‘improved’ to some degree or another – thanks to this community, and they’re only releases we actually know about!

However, having an impact on a band’s live performance is a new one, but that’s exactly what happened this week, as a tweet by Tears For Fears singer and songwriter Roland Orzabal revealed.

SDE only occasionally writes about live gigs, but I had reviewed the Tears For Fears 8th July performance at the British Summer Time festival in London. I do know Roland and Curt a little bit, from interviewing them for the various reissue projects that I’ve been lucky enough to get involved in, but there was no special treatment – no backstage passes, or wristbands… I was there as just a punter in the general admission area with my family.

https://twitter.com/rolandtff/status/887891022117822464

One of my observations in the review was that I felt that Head Over Heels sounded a bit ‘weird’ without the segue into the reprise of the song Broken, as it does on the Songs From The Big Chair album. Roland and/or Curt not only clearly read the review but then decided I had a point! The tweet above followed, telling me and their 65,000 follows: “we took your advice and put Broken at the end of Head Over Heals“. They did this at their 19 July San Diego concert. In Roland’s own words it “worked a treat”!

A quick bit of history… Broken from Songs From The Big Chair is basically a re-recorded version of We Are Broken which was the B-side to the re-released Pale Shelter – the fifth and final single from The Hurting in April 1983. Recalling the song when interviewed by this writer for the notes in the 2014 Big Chair reissue booklet Roland said : “It was that 1983 tour – we did the whole Broken/Head Over Heels segue, so it kinda had to go on the album, I think. Even though it had been a very basic B-side, which I think was done in a day.” Producer Chris Hughes also remembered that “The live version was really live but I don’t remember which gig it was. I suppose that’s slightly ‘prog’ in the sense that you might have a reprise. It’s kind of pop on one level and I suppose it’s an ingredient for a great album to have a reprise.”

Back to the here and now and I’m naturally flattered that the band read the review (they have good taste), but also thrilled that my words encouraged them to dust down such a great song (albeit it’s the short instrumental reprise). Someone said it was the first time they’d played it in 11 years – hopefully they’ll keep it in place for future shows – it only adds 45 seconds to the set, but it’s quite powerful. You can listen to this very performance below!


The Smiths / The Queen Is Dead / deluxe reissue box set

The Smiths’ new remaster – What Difference Does It Make?

One of the highlights of this week was the news that The Smiths‘ 1986 album The Queen Is Dead is to be reissued in October. However there appears to be an element of mystery over the remaster that will be included…

Johnny Marr oversaw the remastering of the entire Smiths back catalogue when the 2011 reissues came out. He worked with remastering engineer Frank Arkwright and Marr had this to say at the time:

“I’m very happy that the remastered versions of The Smiths’ albums are finally coming out. I wanted to get them sounding right and remove any processing so that they now sound as they did when they were originally made. I’m pleased with the results.”

So if The Queen Is Dead was remastered to sound as it did when it was ‘originally made’ for the 2011 re-release, why has it been remastered again? What is wrong with the 2011 remaster that Johnny Marr was so ‘pleased with’?!

Has the forthcoming reissue even been remastered at all? Warners were very clear on the press release: “Warner Bros. Records can confirm details of a newly remastered and expanded version of the album that will be released on October 20.” And the tracks from the album are labelled ‘2017 Master’ or ‘2017 Remaster’ virtually everywhere.

So who worked on this new remaster and why? I made enquiries at Warners regarding this issue, but no one got back to me. I asked the original engineer on the record, Stephen Street if he’d worked on it and he told me that he hadn’t… but that he would have “loved to” have been involved. Frank Arkwright also me this week that he also hadn’t been involved with the new reissue/remaster. Finally, I tweeted a query to Johnny Marr directly, but he’s been completely silent on twitter since the day before the reissue was announced.

What do you think? Is this a cynical marketing exercise where the record label has to be seen to deliver something ‘new’ even if it’s not needed? Is there going to be any discernable difference to the 2011 remaster which Johnny Marr approved and the new one? If there IS a difference does that mean that Johnny Marr has now decided that the 2011 version is lacking? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

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45 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 22 July 2017

  1. Chris Squires says:

    goosebumps listening to the segue.

    Probably like many here I was 18 in 1985 and that’s a powerful time for musical influence and as you said Paul you can’t have one without the other and it’s guaranteed that if anyone heard Head over Heels on the radio or in their head they automatically go into Broken. You can’t stop it….

  2. Lemmin says:

    I’ve always known remastering and remixing to be two separate processes with the mixing being more integral to a major change in sound. The 2011 edition of The Smiths remasters were remixed and remastered with this 2017 version being only remastered according to the label. I would assume that newly remastered or not it won’t sound drastically different from 2011.

    Someone please correct if wrong but this is how I understand it.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      They weren’t remixed in 2011.

    • Chris says:

      Lemmin: to an extent, it depends on how you listen to the music. Mastering absolutely *can* definitely have a significant effect on the sound; but if you listen to the music more in the background while doing other things that are occupying most of your attention, or in environments with lots of ambient sound (e.g. on earbuds in public/on a subway) there’s a good chance you won’t notice that effect, even if it was pretty strong.

      Just this week I finally got a chance to listen to the new Purple Rain remaster, and the impact is quite prominent and, for me, disappointing. At the same time, though, I expect that in the modern era, a lot of people will listen to it in situations where it won’t matter much and they honestly won’t care — and they’re not wrong. It’s not what I want, but who says I’m the boss? On the other end, from what I’ve heard so-far, the recent _Full Talk_ re-release of the Midnight Oil back catalog is clearly remastered, but only a little bit louder and not so much as to crush the dynamics or bury drum hits or anything like that. So back to this release, for me it’ll depend on the details of the remaster.

  3. Simon says:

    Have read in some places online that Morrissey has taken back control of the Smiths catalogue and is behind the new TQID re-issue, which may explain Marr/Street’s etc silence.

  4. Lee Taylor says:

    When I saw TFF in Pittsburgh last month, Roland didn’t actually sing the “…time flies…” at the end of “Head Over Heels;” they just let it trail off after “Funny how….” I can’t help but hear the “Broken (Reprise)” at then end of the song either…

    • Julian H says:

      Yes, they had let the fans sing the ending for the last couple of years. Sometimes it works (Hong Kong), others it doesn’t! (Paris)

      @Paul Since Roland has bizarrely deleted his twitter account, the tweet is obviously gone… :(

  5. Auntie Sabrina says:

    I think you could be right Simon.

  6. Lee Taylor says:

    IIRC, Radiohead stated specifically that the OKNOTOK edition of OK Computer had been remastered but not remixed, due to the advances in mastering technology since 1997. Maybe one can assume that the same is being done for TQID. However, I doubt the technology has improved that much since 2011…

  7. Leemer says:

    I was hoping for a photograph and a tacky badge with the Queen is Dead.

    • -sg- says:

      I think they are saving that for the Strangeways reissue…

    • Hello Bongo says:

      Noooo! Given that all posts to this site are moderated I would like to propose a motion that Paul is entirely within his rights to discard any post that quotes from “Paint a Vulgar Picture” –

  8. I feel that the Smiths reissue is a rush release, because wanrers want it out BEFORE the actual Queen on England passes away so they dont get blamed for any poor taste release. Thats just my guess..

  9. Andrew says:

    Well done boy! (re:TFF) So glad it’s now in the set! If only they would play London again so we can experience it! Sigh!

  10. mike says:

    all i have to say after multiple listens, the original vinyl on a very high level system-Louder than bombs sounds much better as original-the reissue is MUDDIED at the bass. can’t say i saw the same on the others- but remastered is a con!!

  11. Daniel says:

    Hopefully we’ll soon get the SOL box set, but I’m sure you’d know about it first Paul, now seems like the perfect year for this.

  12. RJS says:

    I reckon The Queen is Dead hasn’t been re-remastered at all. From the regular comments I read on this site, suffixing any re-release with the word “remastered” gets people excited and clicking away on Amazon (can’t say it excites me personally!) and the 2017 remaster is a sales gimmick by Warners.

  13. Dave says:

    Remasters are usually worse to my ears. The original pressings might lack some loudness, but I have a volume knob, and I know how to use it, so I don’t need sound engineers trying to use it for me (and often clipping waveforms in the process). I need to hear the remaster before buying. I’ve been duped so many times in the past…

    Remixing, especially from original source material – that’s where I’m always curious, especially if someone like Steve Wilson is doing the work (King Crimson, Yes, Jethro Tull, Tears for Fears, Roxy Music, Chicago, etc.).

    • Chris says:

      In general I agree. The problem is that when the remastered editions of things come out, they’re usually accompanied by a bunch of material I’m interested in that cannot be obtained any other way. The recent _Purple Rain_ expanded edition is a good example. I pre-ordered, and now that I have it I’m unhappy with the remaster; but even if I had known about what the remaster would be like, I probably would have ordered it anyway because of the other content.

  14. SimonP says:

    Whilst I agree Head Over Heels needs Broken tacked on the end what we really need is We Are Broken on CD!

    • Neil says:

      It’s on two compilations the first being Famous Last Words – The Collection and the other Mad World: The Collection both released by Spectrum. I still can’t fathom out why it wasn’t included on the box set of The Hurting.

      • mike says:

        Isn’t We Are Broken on the SDE curated ‘The Hurting’ reissue, track 15 CD2??

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          Yes and No. It’s actually ‘Broken Revisited’… but once you get a minute into it, it’s basically We Are Broken, so it’s not a disaster.

          • All wrong, sort of! The original “We are Broken” was only EVER released on “Tears Laid Low: A Tears for Fears Alter Collection”. This is a very rare CD. The versions Neil mentions are “Broken Revisited” without the intro. Paul isn’t quite right either (though it’s obviously the same recording), since “Revisited” has been treated with a lot of reverb. My theory is that they tried to make the recordings sound ‘fatter’ for possible inclusion on SFTBC. The original B-Side is much drier in its sound – like “The Hurting” material.

  15. markieface says:

    Fans can be annoying, but they’re the gatekeepers; they have to close to the centre of any reissue project or biography for it to be credible. Record companies don’t care enough, and the artists themselves just can’t be relied on; they frequently rewire their own minds to fit with the myth.

  16. spaceboy says:

    Anyone know what’s taking the SOL deluxe so long? :(

  17. Kosmischeboy says:

    I think the big selling point for TQID is the Demos and the live tracks. Although these have been heard before, judging by the one track available, (there is a light…) it’s far better sounding than the one circulating on the “Unreleased Demos” bootleg.

    I’m not overly fussed if it’s not a new remaster of the main album, but I am really looking forward to hearing a nice clear version of the frankly mr shankly demo with trumpet solo! :)

  18. Paul E. says:

    I kept all my Smiths original CDs and purchased the 2011 box set. The discs in the 2011 box paper sleeves have been coupled with the corresponding original pressing by way of a double disc jewel case. Preserving the original artwork whilst protecting the 2011 discs that, otherwise, would have risked getting scuffed in those annoying paper sleeves. I keep 50 to 100 double disc jewel cases for sleeved singles and scenarios like this. Don’t care who “remasters” TQID as I’m not letting go of any prior versions and mainly want the demos along with the abbreviated concert (“Rank 2” anyone?).

    • RJS says:

      I had a clearout of dupliacte discs whilst sorting through my CDs a couple of months ago. The Smiths, Cohen, Dylan, The Auteurs, VU and a few others that have been superseded by box set / deluxe edition copies. I was briefly tempted to keep them but they all ended up going to the charity shop except for a couple of Cohen CDs which each had a couple of bonus tracks.

  19. Todd says:

    Fantastic. Can we now convince them for that SEEDS OF LOVE box set? (ok, I’ll even wait for the new album to come out first….)

  20. Paul Jones says:

    influence them to do a tour propoer in the UK…especially Liverpool!!!

  21. Neil says:

    People keep going on about that Seeds Of Love box set but to be honest everything related to that album has already appeared on CD before apart from if they include demos or a 5.1 mix whereas both The Hurting and SFTBC had tons of stuff unreleased on CD.

  22. Neil says:

    I wish they would go back and sort the sound out on Everybody Loves A Happy Ending. A good album totally ruined by horrendous brickwalling.

    • Julian H says:

      “I wish they would go back and sort the sound out on Everybody Loves A Happy Ending. A good album totally ruined by horrendous brickwalling.”

      I agree! The drums in particular sound ridiculous. And with all the big choruses on there it just becomes fatiguing after three songs. A shame, because I love many of the tracks on it…

  23. Chris says:

    Paul: FWIW that tweet seems to be gone.

  24. Neil says:

    Listening to We Are Broken on youtube which was the b side to Pale Shelter single which i bought at the time is considerably different but the problem with that was when Broken Revisited was included on the cassette of SFTBC i was more accustomed to listening to that version and the original faded from my mind. What is really sad is this is never going to appear on CD except that promo which goes for silly money as well as Saxophones as Opiates.

    • Julian H says:

      “What is really sad is this is never going to appear on CD except that promo which goes for silly money as well as Saxophones as Opiates.”

      I’m still wishing for a odds & ends compilation containing the proper b-side versions of “Ideas as Opiates” and “We are Broken” alongside some of the more obscure alternate versions, but I doubt they would want “Saxophones” on CD…

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