This chapter is going to be a discussion on the topic of obtaining all the original tracks ready for the remake.
I’m going to be talking about my decisions behind the formats of the tracks and the release data, information on the stores I used and also highlight a couple of anecdotes from the experience.
Obviously one of the most important aspects of the entire project was getting hold of all the pieces of music featured on the compilation, and like most of the areas across the project I had a strong idea of how I was going to approach this, which I split across 2 separate sections:
The first part of this exercise was to look through the sleeve notes from the original Euphoria album and identify which tracks I needed to obtain, and also highlight which particular remix (if any) was used for the album.
This aspect of the task was pretty much a no brainer, but I wanted to also integrate parts of the “method mixing” concept I discussed earlier, and also treat the exercise as an education for myself, and this was accomplished by identifying the year of release and the record label the particular track was licensed from, and then using this data as a foundation in my search.
Choosing what format to have the tracks on was entirely based around sound quality, and as the overall concept of the project was a remastered anniversary edition I needed the sound quality to be as high as possible from the source, which is why I opted for CD copies of the original tracks.
I was also aware that some tracks were only ever available as 12″ vinyl in the first place, but I figured this added to the challenge of the project as it enabled me to showcase my skills in sound restoration in terms of the assignment later on, and I will be doing a chapter on the vinyl aspect later in the blog.
A number of my fellow coursemates at the time could not understand why I was even bothering with getting hold of CD or 12″ copies when I could just download MP3’s or WAVs from the plethora of legal and ‘not so legal’ online sources, but as I mentioned above, it was all about sound quality and the method mixing.
As easy as it would have been to download an MP3 or WAV of each track featured on the compilation, I decided against it due to :
A) not trusting the way the MP3s and WAVs are mastered on some of the sites (I downloaded a couple of tracks from Beatport & iTunes to compare against the CD versions and was shocked at the RMS and limiting)
B) I wouldn’t really have much to show in terms of evidence for the academic side of the project and this blog.
The method mixing came into its own here, as by searching for the original CD or 12″ vinyl copies I got the opportunity to read reviews of the music from fans on internet sites such as Amazon and Discogs, and it fascinated me in how I would be using actual physical copies of tracks that have existed across various parts of the 1990s.
Knowing that these tracks have been shifted from pillar to post over the past 14 or so years and imagining all the places they had been really added to the ‘anniversary’ aspect of the entire project, as the average listener would not really care (or be aware) if the version included within the remake was a vinyl, CD or an mp3, but I believe that by using a physical copy that has an actual history, I would be capturing a certain type of atmosphere and legacy within the compilation as a whole.
GETTING THE TRACKS
Once I had figured out which versions of the tracks I would be using for the album and made a list detailing the record labels, release year and remix details etc, I then shortlisted a number of sources that I would use to find the tracks.
The first source I decided to use was to go onto Discogs.com and look at the details of each track and cross reference the details of the tracks with the sleeve notes on the original Euphoria compilation. Once this was completed I could then figure out which release to purchase having made myself familiar with the cover art etc.
After this initial step was completed, I then hunted through my own CD collection to see if I owned any of the tracks in question, and as it turned out I did in fact own a fair number of them, but only a few matched the exact release data I was looking for.
The next steps were then focused on looking to see if any of the CD singles were available on Ebay, Amazon & Discogs, and this was a process that obviously took a long while, as not every track was available at the same time. It became a case of creating bookmark folders for each site such as Ebay & Amazon, and bookmarking each search pertaining to that track within the folder and checking back constantly for any developments.
Of course whilst this process took at least 2 months in total, I took every chance I could to search in record stores and any charity shops to see if the singles turned up there – and luckily for me Manchester was not short of music & charity shops.
An interesting point here was that by looking through the record stores and physically hunting for the tracks, it was like I was actually back in 1998 buying the records again, and this linked in with the method mixing I spoke of in which by holding the physical copy of the track in your hand your also holding a piece of history, almost like an archeologist discovering a relic.
The process was also an educating experience as I got to speak to some members of the staff who could remember the tracks being released originally, and were more than happy to help me out with release data details and such like.
Another point worth highlighting here was that some of the tracks were part of unmixed artist albums, such as ‘Stella’ which was referring to a 1994 album release of Tripomatic Fairytales 2001, and ‘No Other Love’ by Blue Amazon which was referring to a 1997 inclusion on the album Javelin.
This was a great education for me, as I’d never heard either of the above albums before, and after hunting them down and including them on my iPod, I was pleased to say they did not disappoint in quality.
As with many aspects of the project in general though, a lot of the workflow was trial and error and I made a number of rather expensive mistakes during the process:
Lost Tribe’s The Distant Voices E.P‘ which I needed for ‘My Soul’ & ‘Angel’ was extremely hard to find on CD for less than about £40 and after waiting over a month tracking it down I decided to bite the bullet and buy both the 12″ Vinyls from Ebay, and then the following day it turned up on CD on Ebay for 80p starting bid! (which I subsequently won for £9)
Hybrid’s ‘Symphony’ was easily the most expensive purchase across the entire album, as after initially being led on a wild goose chase by Wikipedia of it being a ‘Promo CD’ (don’t trust the internet!) I then spent a lot of time trying to find out if it the track was indeed available on CD (it wasnt) so I purchased the 1997 12″ vinyl from discogs at the cost of £13.
After getting it home and playing it I realised it was an incorrect version, the breakdown had a saxophone part included, which was not on the version featured within the original Euphoria, so I had to buy the 1996 promo from Discogs.com for £19.99 which thankfully, included the correct version.
All hail the student loan.