From: Ofir Zwebner
A Live Record CD Comparison
Comparing Deram 844 122-2 (original edition) vs. Deram 8829282 (remastered edition).
The original edition is a double CD case (which is 2.5 times wider than a single CD case). The sleeve attempts to faithfully represent the contents of the original vinyl cover.
The remastered edition CD utilizes a slim CD case, which is far more convenient (for storage) as long as you don't break it. The cover design is in fact more faithful to the vinyl release, and the sleeve itself is messy but very informative; it is considerably better than the other sleeves on the remastered series. Mark Powell's notes are very informative. The sleeve notes bear either unclear or contradicting dates for the recordings.
Never Let Go - In the original CD release the entire recording switches into mono at about 3:21 into the track. It stays like that for the rest of the track apart for a few short glimpse of stereophonic spread. The remastered edition is stereophonic (just as in the original vinyl). The equalization emphasizes the middle and lower frequencies, but lacks the high frequencies which is pretty disturbing in the first half of the song. Sinclair's voice is far clearer in the original release, but the proper stereophonic sound makes up for whatever got lost in equalizing throughout the rest of the track.
Song Within A Song - The lousy stereophonic spread, which kicks in from the beginning of the original release, make the remastered a true revelation. The equalization gives the remastered edition a warmer sound, but Ward's snares and cymbals are somewhat muffled.
Lunar Sea and Skylines - The remastered has a superior stereophonic spread, although the original is not as bad as in the previous tracks. The equalization of the remastered edition smudged away the tambourine (did you know there was a tambourine!) during Bradens' solo. All in all the track on the original edition sounds better.
It's hard to explain how bad the monophonic Ligging at Louis' and Lady Fantasy sound in the original release. Again the remastered equalization slightly muffled the vocals and the light percussion sounds, but it's nothing to compare with the switch to stereo.
The two live versions of The Snow Goose are very different from each other. The remastered CD featured a mix prepared by David Hitchcock (who was Camel's producer for Mirage and The Snow Goose) using the original live recording. It turns out that Ward's drums were not properly recorded, and the band decided that he would re-record his part in the studio. The live recording, with the studio-recorded drums were then mixed again and the result is what surfaced on the album (the original edition of the CD).
Hitchcock's mix sounds more like a live recording: The hall echo is more evident. It is my opinion that his mix was probably abandoned at some point when the drums problems became obvious. His mix lack balance of volume between the different tracks (the orchestral breaks are too soft) and the stereo spread is often less interesting.
All in all the mix on the original release sound better, with Ward's drums sound snappy, crunchy and in stereo. On Hitchcock's mix they sound as if they were played in a room next door. However, and this is a huge "however" - I found a few minutes where Ward lets himself go wild on stage, and his drumming goes into some zany improvisations that were never reproduced in the studio. Too bad the faulty recording did not capture his drum sound properly.
A total of 40 minutes worth of bonus live material has been added to the double CD set. The track list of the first CD has been entirely reordered, giving it a sense of an entire live performance played through, although the tracks obviously come from different dates. I found the bonus tracks, which were mixed especially for this edition from 16 and 24 track tapes, to be of inferior quality to those that surfaced in the original release.
The new tracks reveals some fine moments of Camel's 2nd line up, with Sinclair and Collins delivering terrific songs from Moonmadness and Rain Dances: First Light, Metrognome, Unevensong and Raindances. Bonus tracks from Camel's 1st lineup are Chord Change, The White Rider and Another Night. Many of these tracks were never before available on an official live release.
The remastered edition of tracks of "A Live Record" is far from perfect, but the original edition doesn't stand a chance against it due to the many mastering faults [in the original] and the excellent bonus tracks [in the remastered]. I found the new Snow Goose rather interesting, although the previous release was technically superior. I strongly recommend owners of the previous edition to get the new edition. You can get it at a bargain price at Amazon.co.uk.
On the other hand: I think the mastering of the original CD is an act of negligence and carelessness. I'd expect Deram to offer me a free replacement. Send them a letter, and while you wait for their answer get yourself a copy of the 6 tracks from the remastered edition. I think you have all the (moral, if not legal) rights to do that.
Disclaimer: The above comparison was performed using simple home equipment by an amateur musician who is equipped with fish gills (muffled with sea weed) for ears. I would appreciate (and cherish) anyone who can perform a more educated comparison!