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Category Archives: stereo

Yes, I know, I’ve uploaded this album already. But Dr. Ebbetts made a bootleg of the rare mono mix of RAM (not a stereo fold down) and I figured I’d just repost both mixes. The mono mix wins me over on certain songs, the stereo on others. Rockers like “Smile Away” are served well by the mono, and you can tell extra special care was taken in the mono mix for “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”, one of the weirdest singles ever. By the way, this is the single best solo work by any Beatle. Just thought I’d throw that out there. -Ian!

One collector points out “This is (so far) the best sounding digital transfer of the rare mono LP. While it sounds similar to the Japanese pirate disc [‘Ram Mono Mix’ Manural Apple MAS-3375], the sound here is a bit more open on the high and low frequencies and the bass is more profound and clear. The overall sound is very smooth and this disc plays nicely beside the DCC master of the stereo mix. We all know that the vinyl Capitol Records used during this period was not the quietest, and as such every mono LP has a small amount of audible background noise. This noise is a little more noticeable on the Dr. Ebbett disc than the ‘Manural Apple’ disc, but this could just be a result of the Equalizing. I also want to mention that it is possible that Dr. Ebbett could of mastered this version from the ‘Manural Apple’ disc but I highly doubt it (there’s a lower tracking error during “Smile Away” on this version than the “Manural Apple’ disc).”

This is a straight transfer of the mono. There is noticeable surface noise however. To give the benefit of the doubt to the label, virgin copies may be almost impossible to find, but it sounds as if no attempt was made to clean up the recording. Despite that it has the good Scorpio mastering job sounding very natural and warm. It comes packaged in a single cardboard glossy paper sleeve with an insert with the track listing on the inside.

According to the book Eight Arms To Hold You, there are differences between the mono and stereo on almost each track. On “Too Many People” the mono mix has mixed-down backing vocals, less processing and a longer fade out. On “3 Legs,” there is a stray note that is mixed out during “fly flies in…”, a tighter edit at “you know it’s not allowed,” and the background vocals are mixed lower. “Ram On” has no processing on the ukulele. For “Dear Boy” there is considerable flanging on the vocal interlude in the middle and the backing vocals are lower also. There is flanging also on the guitar intro for the mono mix of “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” The high-hat at the start of the “Admiral Halsey” section in the stereo version is absent in mono. There is a vocal harmony at 3:10 on the word “water” missing in mono and the punch in at 2:18 in the stereo version is lower in the mix on mono.

The segue between “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” and “Smile Away” is smoother in mono, and the high harmony at 1:52 in stereo is absent throughout the rest of the song in mono. Also, the fade is three seconds longer in mono than stereo. “Heart Of The Country” is identical in both stereo and mono. The mono ”Monkberry Moon Delight” has more reverb than stereo and the guitar, tambourine and backing vocals are lower in the mix. In the mono “Eat At Home” there is some mumbling by Paul after the first “eat at home” and the vocal interjections during the solo are not in mono. On “Long Haired Lady” there is flanging on the piano during the first “love is long” break, the stereo fade is slightly longer and the crossfade to ”Ram On” begins at a different point. The mono mix for “Ram On” shorter with less reverb, and finally ”The Back Seat Of My Car” has a smoother edit to the outro.

-gsparaco, collectorsmusicreviews.com

DOWNLOAD:
RAM (DCC STEREO)
RAM (MONO BY DR. EBBETTS)
320kbps

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Remember how I went (or am currently) on a country rock/psychedelic cowboy spree? Well, this is the album that started all that. It’s rare an album works so slowly and thoroughly on me, to the point I can listen to it a year later and still hear things that blow my mind and make me go “these guys were absolute geniuses, I get it now”. I never really sat down and listened to The Byrds until about two years ago, and it blew my fucking mind. The album also is produced by Gary Usher, and Curt Boettcher helped with the harmonies.

Not really going to bother with an extensive backstory on the album itself, I’ll leave that up to you to read about. Suffice it to say that the band was at the breaking point at a WHITE ALBUM-level as they were making this album. The recording reduced the band to a core duo of Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman. They then threw their lot in with Gram Parsons for their next move, a pretty unparalleled surrendering of creative control to a new band member in rock history. It was the right move though, as it brought us SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO.

I’ve never been able to decide my preference between stereo and mono mixes for this album. I love the punch of the mono, but it doesn’t have the drastic obvious superiority of, say, the Beatles mono mixes. That’s not to say there aren’t differences, ChrisGoesRock explains a few of them:

  • The horns on “Artificial Energy” are noticeably quieter on the mono mix.
  • The cello sections during the chorus of “Goin’ Back” are much quieter on the mono mix.
  • Where the stereo mix of “Natural Harmony” has a lot of double-tracking on the vocals, this is almost non-existent on the mono mix. To make up for the lack of double-tracking, the mono mix adds extra electronic phasing to the vocals.
  • The mono mix of “Change Is Now” has more echo on the vocals, which tends to give the song a “spacier” feel.
  • The Moog synthesizer sound effects on “Space Odyssey” are sometimes louder and sometimes quieter than the stereo mix.

For the most part, though, it seems like this was an early stereo rock album where stereo was used effectively and it does at least feel like there’s interaction between instruments in the soundfield. You’ll find that this isn’t really the case for most stereo mixes from 1967-68. I think that has to do with Usher and Boettcher, who really were the only guys who knew how to make a decent stereo mix at that time. At least in Los Angeles.

So I just decided to throw in both mixes and leave it up to you. The stereo mix is from an original Columbia vinyl, the mono is from the MFSL 20-bit remaster. I put the bonus tracks from the MFSL in a separate download so you can choose your preference and not miss out or have to download the bonus material twice. I recommend the bonus tracks, David Crosby’s “Triad” is worth it alone.

If you’ve never heard this album and want my suggestion: get the STEREO. You can go back and listen to the mono after you’ve fallen in love. That might be blasphemy in some circles, dunno.

But get this album. It is slowly working its way into my top five favorite all time albums like an unrelenting space monolith. It tops some of the best Beatles, some of the best Rolling Stones, some of the best Beach Boys.

DOWNLOAD:
THE NOTORIOUS BYRD BROTHERS (STEREO VINYL)
THE NOTORIOUS BYRD BROTHERS (MONO MFSL)
BONUS TRACKS
320kbps