Roxette remasters reviewed

LJUSDAL (Updated) – 090909 the Beatles remasters were released (by EMI), both in stereo and in mono, now EMI is releasing Roxette's entire (well…) album catalog remastered, albeit only in stereo… "The Rox Archives." Which is more anticipated I cannot say, but from what I can gather both the Beatles's and Roxette's albums are released in this new "eco friendly" packaging. Which is a fancier name for a high gloss gatefold paper sleeve. The albums look very spiffy, with a collection name on the former jewel case spine; "ROX ARCHIVES VOL. X. FILE UNDER POP" written in the style of an old plastic strip type labeler – all labels of the releases follow this pattern. All the albums have the same back sleeve. Do the albums come with a booklet? Yes they do, and they are indeed redone, however, they are not better, in fact they are very plain with just the lyrics and the odd photo. These are not collector's items as Per stated, and mind you they are also not priced as new releases. So, to recap: very very nice looking sleeves, quite disappointing booklets. But the music, you ask? Hey, I'm getting there!

First, let me present to you some graphs of "Neverending Love." The top one is the 1986 release, the middle is from 1997 and the bottom is the new 2009 release. As you can see the sound has gotten more compact for every release. But is this a good thing? There's no right answer to that question, some songs are better more compressed and some aren't. In my opinion, pop music generally doesn't suffer from this, as long is it's not overly compressed and/or distorted. What gets lost is the dynamic range.
We're using "Neverending Love" as an example here and the song is much much louder on the new release, but I feel that the song sounds better than before so it's not just louder.

The sound of these albums is nothing short of amazing! The bass punches like it hasn't done before, the highs are crisp like a razor, and like I said – pop music doesn't usually suffer from this kind of compression. There's much more presence in the songs, I feel almost like I'm in the studio at times. The sound of first and foremost "Look Sharp!" and "Joyride" is truly great, the sound of these albums was very dated. Now they both feel like they were more or less recorded in 2009. "Pearls of Passion" was already remastered once, but gets the treatment again, with good results. "Tourism" sounds as perfect as the other albums, especially the studio tracks, but also the live material. Two tracks that sound extra excellent are the country version of "It Must Have Been Love"and the live version of "Things Will Never Be the Same."

"Crash! Boom! Bang!" is my favorite Rox album and the remaster does not disappoint. "Crashing Guitars" is even more crashing, and "What's She Like?" sounds better than ever. "Honey butt, keep your big mouth shut!" "Love is All" is magical, sounds more like a hymn than ever before… Over to newer albums!"Have a Nice Day" and "Room Service" both sound better than their older counterparts, but not that much better. Obviously this is because by 1999 people had learned how to make CDs sound as nice as vinyl records. As far as I can tell none of these CDs are encoded in HDCD format.

By the way, "Soul Deep" on "Joyride" is so much better than the original boring version, but the best version of all is on the B-side of "Church of Your Heart".

Too bad EMI feels that the majority of the bonus tracks should be available as digital downloads only. There are many among them that I personally would have liked on CD, and not on a semi-decent 256 Kbit AAC-file (iTunes). According to Per there were talks about a box with all albums and a bonus CD with all the bonus tracks, but the plans were scrapped.

What else can I tell you? The "Joyride" inner sleeve is actually like the original, scrapped, gatefold sleeve with the picture now where it was supposed to be, while the "Tourism" sleeve suffers from the small format and the generic back side. "Pearls of Passion" is no longer dubbed "The First Album" and "Look Sharp!" has the original LP sleeve with "A collection of 12 songs…" instead of the CD sleeve with "…13  songs…"

In conclusion, these releases are what every Rox fan needs to own if you like Roxette's music and have a decent stereo system. The albums sound terrific in headphones. 

I have not heard the iTunes material so I cannot review that.

One last tip: don't eat cheez balls while handling the new sleeves…

Update: Erik Broheden at Masters of Audio (former Polar Mastering) has remastered the albums.

This article was written for an earlier version of The Daily Roxette.
Technical errors may occur.

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September 25th, 2009

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Archive, TDR:Editorial, TDR:Exclusive, TDR:Releases, TDR:Roxette, vintage.

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