🎵 Classic AOTW Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - FOOL ON THE HILL SP-4160

What is your favorite track?

  • Fool On The Hill

    Votes: 7 21.2%
  • Festa

    Votes: 5 15.2%
  • Casa Forte

    Votes: 4 12.1%
  • Canto Triste

    Votes: 2 6.1%
  • Upa, Neguinho

    Votes: 3 9.1%
  • Lapinha

    Votes: 3 9.1%
  • Scarborough Fair

    Votes: 3 9.1%
  • When Summer Turns To Snow

    Votes: 1 3.0%
  • Laia Ladaia (Reza)

    Votes: 5 15.2%

  • Total voters
    33

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
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Here is another question. What other A&M albums, if any, had HAECO-CSG and does anyone know what it stands for?
I have looked at some of my A&M records and do not see it. I thought that since the Brasil'66 Greatest Hits had ti that the TJB Greatest would as well but it does not state it. The closest catalog number to Fool On The Hill that I have is Claudine Longet Colours and it does not have it.
In a nutshell, CSG (compatible stereo generator) adds a 90° phase shift to only one channel of a stereo recording.

The plus side is that if you play the stereo record over a mono system, the level of the center signal (consider a lead instrument or singer centered between the two speakers) will be dropped in level so it does not play back too loudly, due to the electrical summing of both sides.

The minus side is that it sounds weird and "phasey" when played in stereo, and smears where the instruments are placed left to right in the soundstage. (For instance, you might hear the fundamental note of a bass in one place, and the overtones (the "plucking") in another. It's not as bad as a stereo signal being completely out of phase (which over headphones, feels as though your eardrums are getting sucked out of your head), but it's enough to ruin the enjoyment of an album.

The only software I've found with a phase shift feature is made by Izotope, so thankfully I mostly corrected my copies of these albums after I ripped them for the music server.
 

rockdoctor

Well-Known Member
In a nutshell, CSG (compatible stereo generator) adds a 90° phase shift to only one channel of a stereo recording.

The plus side is that if you play the stereo record over a mono system, the level of the center signal (consider a lead instrument or singer centered between the two speakers) will be dropped in level so it does not play back too loudly, due to the electrical summing of both sides.

The minus side is that it sounds weird and "phasey" when played in stereo, and smears where the instruments are placed left to right in the soundstage. (For instance, you might hear the fundamental note of a bass in one place, and the overtones (the "plucking") in another. It's not as bad as a stereo signal being completely out of phase (which over headphones, feels as though your eardrums are getting sucked out of your head), but it's enough to ruin the enjoyment of an album.

The only software I've found with a phase shift feature is made by Izotope, so thankfully I mostly corrected my copies of these albums after I ripped them for the music server.
Apparently it is a sound that I do not notice. Thanks for the information.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
Apparently it is a sound that I do not notice. Thanks for the information.
It's easier to demonstrate if you can hear a before and after comparison. I tend to notice it more when I'm using the system at my computer, since the speakers are closer to me.
 

Harry

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And it's a dead giveaway on headphones.
 

Harry

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Mono copies of FOOL ON THE HILL can be tough to find. It took me a lot of years of searching, as I wanted to get a version without the CSG nonsense, and mono is one way to not have that.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Mono copies of FOOL ON THE HILL can be tough to find. It took me a lot of years of searching, as I wanted to get a version without the CSG nonsense, and mono is one way to not have that.
Just curious -- is this a dedicated monaural mix or a fold down?
 

Harry

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I believe it is a dedicated mono mix. There are subtle differences, but overall, nothing dramatic. The mono mix captures most everything in similar balances to the stereo mix, but doesn't annoy like the CSG does.
 

Rudy

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I have a theory I haven't tested yet.

Wouldn't a CSG-processed stereo track make an ideal fold-down? Part of the reason for CSG in the first place was to make the stereo version more compatible with mono. I wonder what would happen if we summed a CSG LP to mono and compared it to the mono version.

Likewise, I wonder how it would sound if we took a standard stereo LP, put the 90° phase shift on one channel, and summed it to mono. Theory being that a phase shift partially "cancels" (attenuates) some of the common signal in both channels (whatever is in the center) which would keep that content more in balance vs. summing it together and getting a ~6dB increase in center information.

I may have to experiment later today...
 

Harry

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Wouldn't a CSG-processed stereo track make an ideal fold-down? Part of the reason for CSG in the first place was to make the stereo version more compatible with mono.
Theoretically, that should be correct. Hence, probably the reason that the mono FOOL ON THE HILL is so scarce. Once they decided to go ahead with the CSG, there was no further need for a mono mix.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
A friend of mine recently started collecting commercial vintage RtR releases...I reminded him of those gadawful A&M CGS LPs and that the RtR versions should be a way to obtain the unfettered stereo versions.
 

Harry

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IIRC, with the A&M reels, the CSG is used on them too, as well as the cassettes.
 

Harry

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I have a theory I haven't tested yet.

Wouldn't a CSG-processed stereo track make an ideal fold-down? Part of the reason for CSG in the first place was to make the stereo version more compatible with mono. I wonder what would happen if we summed a CSG LP to mono and compared it to the mono version.

Likewise, I wonder how it would sound if we took a standard stereo LP, put the 90° phase shift on one channel, and summed it to mono. Theory being that a phase shift partially "cancels" (attenuates) some of the common signal in both channels (whatever is in the center) which would keep that content more in balance vs. summing it together and getting a ~6dB increase in center information.

I may have to experiment later today...
I'm going to add an addendum here. Playing around with the song "Upa Neguinho" from both the mono LP and the Verve CSG'ed stereo CD, I find a difference that remains between the mono and a mono'ed stereo version.

At around the 1:17 mark, Lani and Karen are doing their call/response with the guys and at this point in the mono, it's clear that they've broken into harmony thirds. This is barely audible in the stereo version as the guys and orchestration are pretty well burying the ladies' vocals. Summing the CSG version to mono doesn't help at all, which tells me that the mono must be its own dedicated mix.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
it's clear that they've broken into harmony thirds. This is barely audible in the stereo version as the guys and orchestration are pretty well burying the ladies' vocals. Summing the CSG version to mono doesn't help at all, which tells me that the mono must be its own dedicated mix.
Well, even on my cheap computer, I prefer the monaural mix. I like the clarity of it all (now if we could just get this LP with just the combo alone).

IRC, with the A&M reels, the CSG is used on them too, as well as the cassettes.
I defer to your expertise on this. I clearly made an assumption that the CGS things would be limited to LP releases -- but recognize that a master is a master, for all intents and purposes...
 

Rudy

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I defer to your expertise on this. I clearly made an assumption that the CGS things would be limited to LP releases -- but recognize that a master is a master, for all intents and purposes...
From what I understand (reading partly into an article posted in our Carpenters area, where Richard mentioned the process), the master was created with CSG in mind during the mixing process. This even affected compilation LPs where some tracks would have CSG where others wouldn't.

So there are only a few ways to get around CSG:
  • Use software to apply a 90° phase shift to one channel, which undoes most of* the CSG process;
  • Use an existing mono mix;
  • Remix from original multitracks.
*Saying "most of" the CSG implies that the CSG (Compatible Stereo Generator) works in the analog domain, and the components (resistors, capacitors, chokes, etc.) used have their own range of tolerances--commonly 20%, although there could also be tolerance ranges of 10%, 5% or even less today. That means the phase shift theoretically may not be an exact 90°. Also, from that article I mentioned above, it appears there were some adjustments made to the CSG, plus we have no way of knowing if there is any frequency adjustment in the circuitry.

Software, in comparison, can do an exact 90° phase shift. I've done this on the few CSG albums I have, and they do sound much more focused and clean than the originals. (It eliminates the "smearing" of images in the soundstage--with CSG, we might have the high frequency overtones of a vocalist in the center, but the fundamental frequency of the note they are singing is off to one side.)

Could they use further improvement? Sure...maybe they need a slight phase adjustment a hair in either direction, maybe a tweak in EQ to account for some of the change in the phase. But CDs are such low resolution that they are poor sources to use for editing, so I'd need either an original two-track master, a hi-res release (minimum 24-bit, 88.2kHz), or a very clean needle drop to do it so it's not polluted by digital artifacts caused by rounding errors (which makes them sound harsh and nasty).
 

Rudy

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BTW, I wonder what would happen if someone used an old, original (and at this later date, fully refurbished) CSG unit on those old recordings, but apply it to the opposite channel. Would it possibly undo the effect. Or would it make the channels 180° out of phase, requiring only a simple phase reversal to correct?
 

rockdoctor

Well-Known Member
This mono version has blown me away. I have the Beatles Mono Remasters and now I want to see that happen with Brasil "66.
I was thinking the other night, the Mono copies of Fool On The Hill may not have been a widespread release and that is why they are so rare.
 

Harry

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I was thinking the other night, the Mono copies of Fool On The Hill may not have been a widespread release and that is why they are so rare.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure it wasn't widely released. With it being an early example of a full album with HAECO-CSG applied, the powers that be probably saw little reason to make separate mono copies, since the CSG was supposed to solve the phasing problem on radio. There might have been a few powerful AM radio stations that demanded mono releases and the labels acquiesced. A&M continued to provide mono copies of promo singles into the 80s.
 

Stevenj

Well-Known Member
Using the PhaseBug plug-in to Audacity, I've removed the CSG processing on this album. Give a listen to "Laia Ladaia" with Lani's vocals properly centered.

I use Audacity to burn records to my music server. I never tried the B66 albums because I have them in digital already. I may have to look into this.
 

KentTeffeteller

Well-Known Member
I'm quite sure you intended that Gracinha sang lead on "Lapinha" and not on "Festa", which we know was Lani.



I have great disdain for that processing too and have checked every release of any of these tracks to see if someone's managed to "undo" the CSG. So far, still no luck on that.

As for the album, I believe it ranks highest for me among the sixties albums from Sergio & company. It's always the first I grab, and I always make sure to listen to "Festa", so I think that has to be my favorite among these tracks. The album just seemed so ultra-hip and cool to me when it first came out - from the unsmiling faces of the band while Sergio sat perched on his throne looking rather pleased, to the back-cover fold-out revelation as to just what "hill" might be in question, to the mysterious-looking black & white beach photos inside the gatefold, and finally the unannounced change of personnel in the band - who in the world was the unsmiling blonde, we wondered. It was all very different from the sunny photos from LOOK AROUND.

I've probably bought this album more times than others, as I have the well-worn gatefold SPX-4160 that I upgraded with newer vinyl when 3108 came out. As an early adopter of CD, I picked up the A&M issue of CD 3108 and played that one quite often. After joining A&M Corner and I heard about the Rebound issue and it sounding poor, I picked one of those up cheaply one day, and came to the conclusion that it was pretty much the same as the A&M 3108.

When Japan got into the Sergio reissue game in 2002 with its 24-bit "Rubidium Atomic Clock Mastering", I just had to have one of those too. Admittedly it was an improvement, but not a drastic one. The CSG still drags the album into the muck.

Then Verve did its remaster in the mid-2000's and came up with what I consider the best of these releases. It's the first CD release that I know of that actually reprinted all of the inside gatefold photos, and used the original back-cover artwork. It even finally fixed the Gracinha misspelling that had carried through every reissue up intil then.

The Dave Grusin arrangements? Love 'em. I thought they added a great deal of drama to the stripped-down combo sound of the prior albums, and gave Sergio somewhat of a signature sound. Many times I'll hear a song with high strings, and I'll still think of Brasil '66.

I suppose it's the strength of the material here, with four songs by Edu Lobo introducing me to some of these wonderful songs for the first time, plus the hit material of the very radio-friendly "Fool On The Hill" and "Scarborough Fair" covers that pushes this one over the top for me.

Good stuff.

Harry

I have a German Deutsche Grammophon LP of this classic. Superb mastering and pressing. The more Bossa Nova tracks are icing on the cake. And I love the whole LP from start to finish.
 

KentTeffeteller

Well-Known Member
This past week, I've finally located and acquired a mono copy of FOOL ON THE HILL. From what I understand there were two iterations of the album in mono: a special gatefold jacket with the LPX-160 designation containing a stock mono version of the album inside. The other is a standard stereo gatefold jacket SPX-4160 with a sticker on it referring it for AM radio play, and inside a white label promo version of LPX-160.

The question must be asked why in the world the mono even exists if the whole purpose of doing the CSG crap to the album was to make a disc that was playable in both stereo and mono without any phasing difficulties. I guess it's possible that the mono pressings were done before it was decided to lather the stereo with CSG.

Anyway, there are a few minor sonic differences, and the mono gives the album a bit of a punch that it lacks in stereo. Of course it also collapses all of the sound into one channel so you lose the spaciousness that stereo can bring. The biggest difference I can hear between the mono and the stereo occurs on "Upa, Neguinho". Toward the end of the male/female call and response section at about 1:10-1:20, the ladies split into harmony. That is not as obvious on the stereo version, but kind of fades into the heavy string/brass arrangement at that point. On the mono, the ladies' harmonies are more clearly audible. It's just more out front and noticeable.

Harry
...awaiting a hurricane, and still online...

Harry, some history for you. CSG was done to make fold downs to mono easy. However, it had a big problem. It did not solve the problem in broadcasting service, with lots of older tonearms not being suitable for Stereo use safely, and older mono broadcast turntables with excessive vertical rumble issues. Still required Stereo equipment to play safely without damage. A&M had to release mono LP discs for customers with older phonos and AM Radio stations and even FM mono stations who's equipment couldn't play a Stereo disc safely without damage. I say this as a broadcast engineer who took care of a holdout who didn't go that direction until sometime in 1973. And I was the person who did it.
 
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