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SWEET MEMORY Set - Question

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by Chris May, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    How many of us own or have previously owned the Japanese 6-CD mail order set Sweet Memory?
     
    Jeff likes this.
  2. I have it courtesy of Yuka.
     
  3. I have it . Through eBay.
     
  4. I've never heard of that one. Can someone post a picture?
     
  5. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    I have the 6 CD set and 2 extra home made ones with cover art....but of course you knew that right??? :wink:
     
  6. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    I recently purchased another sealed set from a colleague after selling my previous set to friend Yuka Ogura (Hey wait a minute Harry!). I'm an audiophile purist when it comes to Carpenters, as its greatest value to me is a remix found on disc #4, track 12 - and the whole thing got me thinking about whether or not this set might warrant an 'Official Review' thread.

    Several of the remixes featured therein showed up on various other compilations, save for the ever-scarce Another Song remix, which to date features one of my favorite bass lines executed so beautifully by Hollywood's Wrecking Crew bassist and Carpenters regular, Joe Osborn.

    I really think this is an underrated set for what it's worth. For those of you who might own it, what are some of your thoughts? Harry - how about an overall review?
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2015
  7. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

  8. Oh drat. I linked to a private conversation! No wonder you couldn't see it!

    Here's what I'd written in that conversation - thinking that it was general thread:

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You know what's funny? I've had that SWEET MEMORY set now for nine years at least, and I don't think I've ever just sat down and listened to it in the order the songs are presented. I've used it for comparisons of versions, and of course to send a few folks the "Another Song" remix, but because of its rarity, I've never taken it to the car to listen to.

    On the occasion of the subject of this thread/conversation, I took the entire ripped set (in WMA files) and put it on a single disc for the car, and we were just riding around doing some errands, and I was struck by how well, thematically, the first disc was holding together. It made for a really nice and uplifting ride with the songs from that first disc.

    Good stuff...

    Harry

    --------------------------
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2015
    Chris May likes this.
  9. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
  10. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    Oh that's right! I remember seeing this and thinking how well it was put together - great job Chris!

    I really find it so fascinating how these box sets in particular manage to hold their value. For me, it came down to Another Song. I just think that remix and bass line is worthy of owning the set. Also owning a sealed copy of the Japanese Single Box as well as a mint Anthology set, I have several other mixes that appear on this set.

    Occasionally I will browse the net to see what these box sets as well as sets such as the 30th and 35th Anniversary sets are yielding. It's astonishing to think. Personally my audio collection everything 'Carpenters' is so extensive and mint that I'm actually considering insuring all of it. I can't imagine the dollar amount - between all of the vinyls, discs (originals and remix sets) etc, etc, etc. Something I've spent many a year building and very proud of.

    I also got to thinking about the series of interviews I did on my radio show here in Palm Springs. The interview with Richard is probably the most valuable, just given the nature of it and where he's really at in terms of no longer doing them. There are a few outtakes from that discussion that were edited out that really are quite fascinating. I multi-tracked all of those shows, so I may just go back to the master of that interview one day and remix it with the outtakes. At one point he flies off the handle, then right back on point and laughing - typical Richard.
     
    Don Malcolm, Jeff and byline like this.
  11. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    ^^Yes we need to hear that remix version!! :laugh:
    In the words of Olivia......."Please Don't Keep Me Waiting"
     
  12. byline

    byline Active Member

    Count me in as one who would love to hear that remixed interview, Chris!
     
  13. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

    All about remixes in Portland!
     
  14. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    We talked briefly about the song "B'wana She No Home" from the original 80's Passage CD and how it sounded (at least to me) brighter, crisper especially with the instruments throughout the song and Karen's lead vocal even sounds clearer to me.

    Can someone else do this test with headphones on and listen to "B'wana She No Home" from each of these, listen to Karen's vocal and instruments:

    1. The Japanese Single Box Collection
    2. The Passage 80's CD 3199/DX 787
    3. Japan 35th Anniv Black Box Set (Remastered Classics)
    4. Sweet Memory Set

    "B'wana She No Home" from the Japanese Single Box Collection, didn't sound quite as crisp in the highs and was a bit muddy but it was not quite as muddy as the 35th Black Box set from Japan. "B'wana She No Home" from the Japan 35th Box Set sounded the worse of the group, muddy in the vocal and the instruments did not pop out and sounded buried in the song, it sorta just drags.

    So then I went and listened to "B'wana She No Home" from the Sweet Memory Set and it sounded almost as good as the 80's CD, it had better high's and the instruments were clearer. So we know this track was not remixed by Richard (as no mention has been given) but why does it sound better on the Sweet Memory Set than say the Remastered Classics, it's like night and day difference. So when Richard put "B'wana She No Home" on the Sweet Memory Set did he use the old 80's CD mastering because he definitely didn't use the remastered classic version from the Japan box set that is muddy.

    To my ears, "B'wana She No Home" has the best sound from the 80's CD although you do need to turn it up some, however the Sweet Memory Set version is almost just as good as the 80's CD with a fuller sound while still hearing the crisp highs. So whatever Richard did would that be considered a new mix of "B'wana" from the Sweet Memory Set or does it just sound better because of the mastering done as a whole on the Sweet Memory Set because that song sounds almost as great as it sounds on the 80's Passage CD.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
  15. davidgra

    davidgra Active Member

    My theory on the drop in sound quality for the late-'70s albums is that the tape that was used for the two-channel album masters deteriorated over time, due to the "sticky-shed" problem. The CD masterings done in the 1980s were done when the tape was still in relatively good shape, but, by the late 1990s, the tapes had shed some (or a lot) of their oxide particles, and so the sound quality was noticeably worse. Richard did say that some of the tapes from that era had to be "baked" in order to do a new transfer, so we know that the tapes were definitely suffering from the "sticky-shed" syndrome.

    Some of the problems with the deteriorated audio quality can be improved through EQ, but there's really only so much that can be done. You can only boost the high frequencies so much -- the high frequencies are what give the recording its "crispness" -- before you start boosting things like tape hiss.

    I'd guess that the Sweet Memory set relied on the original '80s masterings for anything that hadn't been more recently remixed. This would be why the mastering for "B'wana" sounds about the same as on the original CD release of Passage. It's also possible that a new mastering was made of the song from the two-channel master that had been sent to Japan in the 1970s for the original album pressing, and that the Japanese copy of the tape wasn't as deteriorated as the original tape in the A&M vaults. That would be a question for Richard.
     
  16. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    I agree with David, the mastering most likely had everything to do with this one.
     
  17. Yes, there are lots of mastering choices made for each and every disc. One might think that every version of a song sounds just about the same, but when you can do valid A/B comparisons, you can hear the differences in those choices. Some are mastered louder or softer, some have different EQ choices, and sometimes the indexing choices between segued songs are quite different.

    It's interesting that with a group like ABBA, there are whole websites devoted to outlining the best choices for each track of each album, and that's because of the way ABBA was recorded, processed, and mastered over the years. Many think that the oldest versions on CD sound best, while some admit the the newer deluxe versions have some merit. The point here is that most of the time, Carpenters output in the digital age *sounds* just fine. I think that's a tribute to Bernie Grundman mastering and the engineers that Richard chose to work with, that we don't have to pick apart various issues because of bad mastering choices.

    To be sure, there are some bad-sounding Carpenters discs out there, mostly from locations other than the US and Japan. That O MELHOR DE CARPENTERS from Brazil and THE CARPENTERS COLLECTION (THEIR GREATEST HITS) from Holland are two such examples of really bad mastering choices. But far and away, if you've got a compilation or disc that's official and genuine, it's gonna sound pretty good.

    Still, as Chris-an-ordinary-fool brought up, some issues/sets sound exemplary. I've always been impressed with THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION. The sound just sparkles on that one - as it does on SWEET MEMORY. And, as with the "Bwana..." example, sometimes those old CDs might have something of value to them - and I suspect the age of the source tapes used could be a valid reason.

    So if you're on the fence about adding another large Carpenters collection to your inventory, think about the fact that track-for-track, it is exemplary in the sound department.

    Harry
     
    LondonRobert likes this.
  18. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    Well, and to further delve into another related conversation that followed a similar thread (I think we were discussing the Hush album and the loss of sonic quality when A/B'd (i.e. compared) with the Horizon album, you have to remember that much of the EQ'ing that took place and what the listener ultimately hears in the playback of any given album is the indirect result of how each instrument and vocal take (be it lead or backing) was captured to tape to begin with. Microphone choices, preamp and recording studio condole choices, etc. In other words, if Richard were to go back and remix let's sway B'wana She No Home, what you're gonna hear (short of anything he might choose to *add* to the existing multi-track recorded performance of the song), is virtually a slightly remixed version of an already primarily monaural recording (albeit on 24-track tape) of he song. It's NOT going to sound much if at all different from the original. Why? Because it was recorded a certain way.

    The rule of thumb in the business isn't to "record it as best you can now and we'll fix it in the mix". This is the WORST possible theory one can follow and downright lacks professionalism amongst the pros in the industry when it comes to recording. Whether it be the Hush album or Passage or what have you, those tracks were captured with a certain EQ and even downright lackluster when the instruments went to tape. There's only so much "remixing" that is gonna fix that.

    There's a saying in the business that "You can polish a turd all day long, but at the end o the day it's still a turd." I'm not at ALL suggesting that the music made on any of the latter alums lacked an incredible amount of talent [and even though I'm bitching about the sonic quality], but in comparison with some of the earlier projects, there was definitely a difference in passion and attention to detail that got overlooked from '76 until they hit Made In America in '80. They were healthy by then (or at least Richard was) and passionate about making a record again together.
     
  19. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Many wonderful technicalities for my brain to absorb, thanks all !
    Presently spinning the Vinyl copy of Passage--Japanese pressing ( GP-2055).
    Crystal clear, all instruments and vocals are up front.
    (And, this on a rather substandard record player, although near mint vinyl.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
  20. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    FL
    I'm thinking that David's theory might hold some weight and this would be another great question for Richard. I was looking at my inner booklet inside the Sweet Memory CD (each CD has it's own booklet and it's rather thick) but on the last inner page it clearly says:

    Music selection supervised and mastered by Richard Carpenter
    Producer: Masamichi Nonaka

    However, when did Richard master it and from what tapes, I believe it had to be a new master, a collection of songs specially mastered by Richard because why not just use the 35th Japan mastering and add those to the Sweet Memory Set and call it a day? In addition, did Richard master the Sweet Memory Set from LA and send the mastering set over to Japan to be printed and that's why we also see Producer Masamichi Nonaka? or were these Japan masters that this collection was taken from? and even though Richard mastered them don't we usually see another name who helped him master them like we saw on the 2 Ch SACD Singles where we saw Bernie Grundman's name?
     
  21. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator Thread Starter

    Well first off, Sweet Memory was released in '94 and '95 I believe, so he wouldn't have been able to use the stuff for the 30th and 35th anniversary sets (assuming I'm understanding your statement). My guess is Masamichi Nonaka is a foreign affairs executive with Universal Japan.
     

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