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This release comes from a recording made on 1/4" Reel tape back in January 1966. It was recorded directly from the mixing desk at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila for Matt's personal archive. Unfortunately the original tape disappeared after the reel was transferred to cassette by EMI in the early 1980’s
There were several problems with the original recording. The sound mix that went to tape was exactly what came out of the PA speakers in 1966. Unlike modern concert PA systems, in 1966 not every instrument had an individual microphone. Some – the drums for instance - may not have had a direct microphone at all and has only been picked up by other nearby microphones. I therefore had to spend a long period of time levelling out as much as possible through use of compression and eq – not an easy task when on a mono recording everything is locked together.
But before I could do that I had to remove as may imperfections as possible from sound. The original reel had a fair amount of hiss already – not just from the tape but from the mixing console which had also introduced a low frequency hum to the recording. After removing the hum I then set about removing the hiss introduced by the cassette and as much of the effect of the Dolby B noise reduction as possible. Finally the reel to reel tape hiss (Yes, tape hiss from a reel tape has a different sound to cassette!) was reduced. Not all the hiss could be removed from the recording without hurting the original sound.
After the re-balance, the whole concert had to be listened to very carefully to find as many drop outs (from both tape sources) that could be repaired – this is not always possible with current technology but the vast majority were fixed in this case.
One last restoration task was to minimise the effect of a faulty piece of equipment that sent a series of loud bangs through the PA system during ‘Walk Away’. This has been minimised by “painting” out the noise in a similar way to the way you can remove defects on a photograph. Unfortunately the sound was so loud it obliterated everything else so it could not be removed altogether.
The 1983 concert had less problems but it was also a 2nd generation copy – this time a cassette copy of another cassette. The soundboard mix was much better, but the tape it was recorded on was not new and the erase head on the tape was faulty and did not remove everything previously on the tape. The bass of the previously recorded music was not erased and remains ‘underneath’ the new recording (It is unclear if this fault was on the original tape or this copy). Much of this could be removed without harming the recording but only on the four selections issued. The concert was not complete but did have a large number of songs recorded, however most were incomplete or had sections missing – some had been copied to the tape twice – but not completely so no composites could be made. There were three other complete recordings in addition to the four issued, but two were already included in the 1966 concert and the third was marred by the extreme bass ‘print through’ detailed earlier.
Comments on the recording:
“All tracks are superb-a marvellous job of remastering etc. My 'ALBUM OF THE YEAR'!”
“All these songs painstakingly digitally restored and remastered to perfection have made this CD a real winner”
On this release I was working from a master that previously had some restoration applied to it. Thankfully this was carefully done – but I felt more could be achieved.
The source for this recording was a 3-¾ inches per second, quarter track, reel to reel tape which had been recorded directly from a TV line source. Professional standard mono recordings are made at the very least on 15 inches per second full track tape. As you decrease the speed of the tape the quality and frequency response of the recording drastically reduces. On quarter track tape the sound is squashed into a smaller area and any defects on the tape become more pronounced causing what is known as ‘dropouts’, where the sound disappears for a fraction of a second.
The original restoration had removed some of the hiss and tape noise but had left behind some smaller defects that still needed to be addressed which meant removing them so as to bring the recording, as close to it’s original sound as possible. The first problem was a hum (caused by the mains electricity supply) that ran throughout the tape but was most pronounced during the spoken sections. The recording also has had a considerable amount of high frequency distortion removed and had then been re ‘EQ’ed’ to compensate for the slow recording speed. After more hiss removal there was still two more faults that needed attention which was altogether much more time consuming. The microphone that Matt used during this broadcast had a minor flaw, which caused some strange ‘clunking’ noises to appear on the soundtrack whenever the microphone was jolted. On this edition as many of these noises have been removed as possible but only where the removal of the noise would not harm or interfere with the original recording. Lastly, as many of the large ‘dropouts’ as possible were repaired, although once again immeasurable care was taken not to harm the original recording. One thing that could not be achieved was to restore the bass frequencies; there was nothing there to boost. As these frequencies are not usually lost on lower speed recordings, it can only be assumed that it was broadcast in this way.
Comments on the recording:
" I am AMAZED by the incredible sound quality! I just keep playing it over and over. It is such an improvement over the first pressing...I've never had my enjoyment of a piece of music increase as much simply from a technical improvement. I keep playing “Strike Up The Band” over and over and over at full blast in my car "
Having entered public domain and releases by a number of labels of this material, it was gratifying to work with a company that wanted the Monro Estate’s approval.
The recordings come from mint condition vintage vinyl pressings of Matt’s Decca material which though the power of digital restoration have been transformed into recordings that rival the mastertapes.
“We can't believe the amazing improvement on the Decca tracks” – comment on this release.
(These recordings were originally prepared more than 12 months ago for a different record company who – having agreed that I would re-master the recordings and the work had been completed they then changed their minds and backed out of the deal. However ‘Not Now Music’ came to the rescue).
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