A Night At The Opera Album query

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A Night At The Opera Album query

Postby allanwhitt » Wed May 04, 2011 8:51 am

Hi
I have heard that there is a different version of this album available, the difference id that it has "Blairs" etched on the run out grooves on each side, does anyone know why? Is this album more valuable? Also there are some albums with "Mr Blairs Cut" on 1 side. Any ideas?
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Re: News Of The World Album query

Postby Kes » Wed May 04, 2011 10:08 am

Different? In what way?

I think you'll find the music on the record is fairly consistent.

When a record is "mastered", ie the master pressing plates are cut on a special lathe, often the tech doing it will add detail to the dead wax area to identify either the lab it was done at, or the mastering tech who did the cut.

In the cases of The Game, the record sleeve says "Mastered at Allen Zentz, LA, Calif" and generic copies of the album in the UK and USA carry this message also on the dead wax area, however, MANY territories did not issue pressings from these master plates, and instead used their own labs to manufacture pressing plates, so these won't carry the identification on the disc, but will still say "Mastered at Allen Zentz" on the record sleeve.

In the case you've mentioned, I think "Blair" was a mastering tech at EMI UK's facility, who happened to be involved with a few of the earlier Queen album's transition to vinyl, for issue in the UK.

Here's a bit of info on vinyl mastering that explains the processes a bit.

http://emusician.com/tutorials/mastering_vinyl/
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Re: A Night At The Opera Album query

Postby Kes » Wed May 04, 2011 10:11 am

Oh, and a lot of Queen vinyl aficionados, believe the German and Portuguese pressings are slightly better than the UK ones, and most of those were cut by local techs in the respective countries.
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Re: A Night At The Opera Album query

Postby tenementfunster » Wed May 04, 2011 11:25 am

Kes wrote:Different? In what way?

I think you'll find the music on the record is fairly consistent.

When a record is "mastered", ie the master pressing plates are cut on a special lathe, often the tech doing it will add detail to the dead wax area to identify either the lab it was done at, or the mastering tech who did the cut.

In the cases of The Game, the record sleeve says "Mastered at Allen Zentz, LA, Calif" and generic copies of the album in the UK and USA carry this message also on the dead wax area, however, MANY territories did not issue pressings from these master plates, and instead used their own labs to manufacture pressing plates, so these won't carry the identification on the disc, but will still say "Mastered at Allen Zentz" on the record sleeve.

In the case you've mentioned, I think "Blair" was a mastering tech at EMI UK's facility, who happened to be involved with a few of the earlier Queen album's transition to vinyl, for issue in the UK.


But there's a different between mastering (which would have been reel based and foreign terriroties would have been sent safety copies of those to work from) and producing a new plate isn't there? Different territories may have produced new master plates, but surely they'd still be using the same master that was produced for vinyl cuts of the album? If a different territory had gone to the expense of remastering the album specifically for their own pressing they'd surely mention that on the sleeve (it wouldn't have been hard to add that detail).

Kes wrote:Oh, and a lot of Queen vinyl aficionados, believe the German and Portuguese pressings are slightly better than the UK ones, and most of those were cut by local techs in the respective countries.


Seems unlikely doesn't it? Both territories would surely have been working from safety copies, so already a generation worse than the UK pressings. Particularly can't imagine vinyl from Portugal generally being up to snuff either.
It's a bit like if you go on these "audiophile" forums where there's some kind of consensus that early Japanese CD pressings that are all sourced from bad sources (nth generation reels with loads of hiss) and using very early analogue-digital converters sounding better than later pressing - purely because they haven't had any new compression applied. To my ears, most of those early Japanese CD pressings just sounds dull and hissy.
 
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Re: A Night At The Opera Album query

Postby Kes » Wed May 04, 2011 11:46 am

You'd have thought so, but record mastering differs greatly from CD mastering, talking about the transition to the actual pieces of metal used to make the discs.

I'll quote Brian direct here: "When you're mastering a record, that's physically putting the music onto a disc, there's a lot you can do it to change how that then comes out on people's stereos. The first three albums when originally issued in the US, were run through a very vicious limiter, which created an effect they called "pumping", basically, if you have a sustained note, then the volume on that note goes up and down around a drum beat, giving it a quite different sound. Actually, it was something that came across very well on FM radio over there, and was an effect we later used a few times in recording".

So, whatever master tape source you're using, the sound reproduced during the actual cutting off the disc can be critically changed, and it's THAT which people talk about.

As regards the Portuguese stuff, when you see it on e-bay, check out the prices it generates. I've got two albums that qualify, Queen II and NOTW, and they don't sound bad, that's for sure. Greek ones aren't that special, Italian ones seem a bit behind UK, German and US ones, but largely it's down to the ears of the user, the condition of the record, and quality of the sound system, so one man's meat is another one's poison.
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Re: A Night At The Opera Album query

Postby allanwhitt » Wed May 04, 2011 2:05 pm

Ive also got 2 versions, one has the crest embossed on the front cover and the other one doesn't, does any one know which was the first press? Also is there any websites which gives any details about the matrix numbers used on various Queen albums?
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Re: A Night At The Opera Album query

Postby Kes » Wed May 04, 2011 2:28 pm

Not really.

Things like embossing usually happened with the first runs, though not exclusively.
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Re: A Night At The Opera Album query

Postby Red5pecial » Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:15 pm

Stumbled across this while looking for something else - there is a definite difference to the cuts that have Blair's' or 'Mr air's' on them - the latter having much more bass to the sound.
 
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Re: A Night At The Opera Album query

Postby Kes » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:57 pm

If I didn't say it earlier, Chris Blair and Nick Webb were two of the most productive cutting engineers at EMI Uk, you'll find one of either of their names on lots of Queen's UK 7" singles and albums.

Another issue with vinyl, is the quality of the materials used in making the record itself. These days they make a big thing about "virgin" vinyl, ie records that are made out of completely fresh plastic, and not stuff that's been recycled and chopped up. Some (OK, most) companies used to mince up old records, complete with the labels on them.
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