02) Take A Chance On Me
03) One Man, One Woman
04) The Name Of The Game
05) Move On
06) Hole In Your Soul
07) Thank You For The Music
08) I Wonder (Departure)
09) I'm A Marionette
10) Eagle (single edit)
11) The Name Of The Game (promo edit)
12) I Wonder (Departure) (live version, single b-side)
13) Take A Chance On Me (live version, single b-side)
14) Thank You For The Music (Doris Day version)
The fifth big project was to compile and restore the 1977 album. I used the following sources:
- The Album (Astley / Tretow Remasters 1997)
- The Complete Studio Recordings (Johnsson Remasters 2005)
- The Singles 1972-1982 (Astley / Tretow Remasters 2005)
- Thank You For The Music (Tretow Remasters 1994)
As you know as an audiophile ABBA fan, there is no perfect version out there, so the research took a bit longer than on the other projects.
First I tried to use the original Polydor pressing from the eighties, but especially the tracks for Side A suffer from some distortion in the high middle frequencies (as you can read on ABBA Plaza). Must be a fault whilst dubbing the master tapes, using a peak limiter to avoid clipping.
For the Tracks "Eagle" and "Take A Chance On Me" I could use versions included on compilation albums, but "One Man, One Woman" was never released on another album and "The Name Of The Game" was not included on other releases in its entire form, cause an US promo edit was made back then when Tretow cut a one-minute-piece off the original mixdown tape.
In 2011 I deleted all three tracks from the mini-musical ("Thank You For The Music", "I Wonder (Departure)" and "I'm A Marionette") and used the versions from the original german Polydor pressing. The reason is always the same - too much noise reduction on the 1997 remasters.
I listened carefully to the "One Man, One Woman" versions on the original Polydor pressing, the Astley / Tretow remasters from 1997 and 2001 and "The Complete Studio Recordings", released in 2005. In the end I decided to use the 1997 version, cause there is absolutely no distortion, but some noise reduction (to my ears it is less disturbing than the overdriven middle spectrum on the original version).
Next problem was "The Name Of The Game", cause the search for an entire, unedited version without the annoying distortion seemed to be unsuccessfully...I was sure to have use the version from the 1997 remasters, but when I recognized that they used the US promo edit by an oversight, the entire project was in danger...I checked the 2005 remasters, but Johnsson used the same source tape (maybe THE damaged vinyl cutting master used on all early pressings) for the first 4 tracks and the distortion was always there...
I used my headphones, cleaned my records and listened to the original vinyl pressings on Polydor and Polar and it was the same there...I have to say that I use a very high quality turntable and a really expensive pickup and it would be no problem to dub the track to computer, remove clicks and pops and the humming noise below 40 Hz and insert it into the entire CD album...but if you are a vinyl fan you will know, that the last tracks on a LP always have a little bit more distortion - it's a physical thing and you can't do anything against it...so I never really recognized the additional noise on "The Name Of The Game", sourced from the master tape, before.
I was helpless...what could I do ???
My very last chance was the 2001 remaster, made by Astley and Tretow, where I found the entire version without any distortion, but with a little bit of noise reduction on it...as you can read on different forums, some audiophiles claim that all 2001 remasters have more noise reduction and a louder level - THAT'S WRONG !!! I checked the 1997 and 2001 remasters and they have exactly the same level and frequency spectrum. As I know, Astley and Tretow reworked the first three albums for the 2001 editions and the "30th Anniversary Edition" of "Waterloo" and the "Sound & Vision" box set of the 1975 album only, but tell me if I am on the wrong path here...
I checked the only available complete version and I could hear the pasted part they added later...I was very disappointed about the result, cause the mastering of the part was a little bit different than the rest of the song and I could cleary detect the exact cutting points...so the next nerve-wracking restoration job has begun...
Here is a screenshot of the 1997 version. I added two markers for the start and the end point of the later pasted verse. As you can see, Astley used a more excessive limiter for that part and had to turn down the volume of the pasted part after inserting it into the finished masterfile of the edited version:
I separated the added part from the rest of the track and did a remastering, especially for this one-minute-piece (using a filter to analyze the exact frequency spectrum of the first verse to copy it to the section I cut out). It was not easy, cause on the pasted and later mastered part, they used different settings for equalization and noise reduction...what a lousy and hurry job...!!! I wish that they decided to restore the unmastered track before processing the entire thing...
So it took many hours again to make it perfect, but now I can suggest that I created the best possible version out of it...unfortunately the noise reduction of all Astley / Tretow remasters is irreparable, but I think it is acceptable on most of the tracks, except on the very quite ones or on some fade outs, where you can hear the artifacts by using a denoiser.
Here are small samples from both editing points:
Original Astley Remaster 1997 (First Editing Point):
Restored ABBAmaniac Version 2008 (First Editing Point):
Original Astley Remaster 1997 (Second Editing Point):
Restored ABBAmaniac Version 2008 (Second Editing Point):
Did you ever recognized that some strange noises are listenable in the very quiet parts and the fade out of "The Name Of The Game" ??? It sounds like some backwards music, maybe a fault of out-of-tune heads on the reel-to-reel-machine they used for dubbing...I am sure some music was recorded on the b-side of the tape and you can hear it with headphones when you turn up the level. All versions out there include these noises, so it must be definitely on the mixdown tape. Check it out !!!
Rest of the album was used from the 1997/2001 versions after I checked the original Polydor pressing, where the recordings have a little less brightness and clarity as the versions used by Astley and Tretow. I am sure one more time they used the mixdown tapes to compile the entire album for remastering.
Three years later I discovered another small mistake. When I listened to my restored versions last week, I was wondering about a kind of a little scratching noise in the song "Move On" around the 2:40 mark. First I thought it was an errror on my burned CD and I checked the original restored files on my backup harddisc, but it was also there...unbelievable that I overlooked that strange noise back in 2008 and it was time to fix it !!!
First step was to check the song on all pressings I own - the original vinyl versions, the Polydor pressings and the later remasters...and it was included on all versions !!! Nobody quoth about that until today - neither some engineers, nor all the audiophiles out there !!! Where are your ears...???
So I had to restore that part - and it was the same complicated thing as on "Dancing Queen" from the "Arrival" album. It was impossible to cut the snippet complete out, cause it was too long to simply delete it. A simple copy-and-paste job didn't work, so I had to do the same kind of restoration as I did on "Dancing Queen" - a crossfade-correction. I used a nearly similar part and pasted it into the damaged section. After I tried some different versions, I got it and it sounds really good - not perfect, but much better than the annoying noise !!! I think there is no way to make it better.
Here are the examples (links will open in a new window):
Original Polydor 1984 version:
Restored ABBAmaniac version 2011:
A very interesting fact: The same error is also included on the spanish version "Al Andar", so it must be an information, stored on the original multitrack tape. It could be possible that they used a paste-in on one of the separate tracks. Check it out, if you never heard it before !!!
Original Japan 1986 version:
Restored ABBAmaniac version 2011:
All other tracks were okay, except the live version of "I Wonder (Departure)". All versions, included on "Thank You For The Music" (1994), "The Singles Collection 1972 - 1982", "The Album - Deluxe Edition" (2007) and "The Complete Studio Recordings" (2005) have a high amount of noise reduction. Today I discovered that "ABBA International" (1984 compilation CD) includes an untouched version of it, so the next step is to interchange the song to finish my work.