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Smokin'

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★★★★½
(23 Reviews)

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  • This domestic “Smokin’” CD, along with the rest of the domestic Pie discs, are still the same crappy, 35+ year old, vinyl-EQ’d masters, which all sound like music emanating from an AM radio: No bottom, no definition, no soundstage, nothing.

    *** HOWEVER ***

    On 2/14/07, Universal Japan released the entire A&M catalog, plus the “Marriott” solo album, in remastered mini-sleeves. These remasters are GLORIOUS. It’s so great to finally hear all the great Smokin’ tracks the way the band recorded them.

    You will not believe the transformation of the Pie rhythm section in the new mastering; Greg Ridley THUNDERS, and you can hear every bass note so distinctly, it sounds like you’re standing right next to his cabinet… Man, this is how it’s SUPPOSED to sound!

    Be aware, however, that there was a 2002 previous Japan “Smokin’” mini-sleeve that was NOT remastered. The blue obi pictured above is the 2002 release. I have loaded the image of the 2007 version, and its black obi, above.

    Four of the five 2007 Japanese remasters are now the audio benchmarks for these titles: The 2006 UK Repertoire version of the third album, “Humble Pie”, definitely has more clarity than the Japanese version, especially in the drums.

    Perhaps now, Universal U.S. will get up off its lazy collective a** and make these fabulous remasters available. Until that day, grab the Japanese CD’s before they’re gone, as all mini-sleeve CD’s are limited edition.

    Link to the 2007 Japanese remaster of Smokin’.

    2009 UPDATE: Japan has re-released the mini-sleeve remaster!

    WHAT IS A JAPAN “MINI-LP-SLEEVE” CD?

    Have you ever lamented the loss of one of the 20th Century’s great art forms, the 12″ vinyl LP jacket? Then “mini-LP-sleeve” CD’s may be for you.

    Mini-sleeve CDs are manufactured in Japan under license. The disc is packaged inside a 135MM X 135MM cardboard precision-miniature replica of the original classic vinyl-LP album. Also, anything contained in the original LP, such as gatefolds, booklets, lyric sheets, posters, printed LP sleeves, stickers, embosses, special LP cover paper/inks/textures and/or die cuts, are precisely replicated and included. An English-language lyric sheet is always included, even if the original LP did not have printed lyrics.

    Then, there’s the sonic quality: Often (but not always), mini-sleeves have dedicated remastering (20-Bit, 24-Bit, DSD, K2/K2HD, and/or HDCD), and can often (but not always) be superior to the audio on the same title anywhere else in the world. There also may be bonus tracks unavailable elsewhere.

    Each Japan mini-sleeve has an “obi” (“oh-bee”), a removable Japan-language promotional strip. The obi lists the Japan street date of that particular release, the catalog number, the mastering info, and often the original album’s release date. Bonus tracks are only listed on the obi, maintaining the integrity of the original LP artwork. The obi’s are collectable, and should not be discarded.

    All mini-sleeve releases are limited edition, but re-pressings/re-issues are becoming more common (again, not always). The enthusiasm of mini-sleeve collecting must be tempered, however, with avoiding fake mini-sleeves manufactured in Russia and distributed throughout the world, primarily on eBay. They are inferior in quality, worthless in collectable value, a total waste of money, and should be avoided at all costs.

    Posted on January 31, 2010