Great Music - But Tracks are Remixes, Not the LP Originals
R J | Texas | 01/01/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ten stars for the music, five stars for the remastering, but zero for the remixing. Like all of Rory's albums, this is a great one. If I were to choose one as his best, this would be it. The LP version of this album was my introduction to Rory, and it instantly made me a fan. Rory was in a class by himself, and his talent was on a higher level than anything I had heard before. This album is a classic and is one of my all-time favorites. Rory displays his talent on the mandolin and blues harp, and he creates riffs and solos from his Stratocaster as if it were a part of him. Every track is outstanding. While it is more rock-oriented than other releases, Rory still stays true to his blues roots.
BUT -- the remixes on this CD are NOT the original LP versions. A few differences are slight and merely annoying, but unfortunately some are great, to the detriment of the music. From what I have learned, Rory's brother Donal entrusted to recording engineers Colin Fairley and Tony Arnold the task of remastering the album for CD release after Rory's death. For whatever reason, they also remixed it to the extent that the content and sound of most of the tracks have been very noticeably altered. A reading of the credits and the third paragraph of the enclosed liner notes will reveal that Rory did not make these remixes, and they did not have his approval -- they were made two years after his death. They are instead the misguided work of Fairley and Arnold.
Here is a partial list of the ways the CD versions are different from the LP originals:
Shin Kicker - ending doesn't fade out completely like the original (one of only two instances in which the CD version may be as good as or better than the original).
Brute Force & Ignorance - different notes sung at 2:32 through 2:33.
Cruise on Out - different word sung at 2:54 ("step" instead of "groove"); ending begins to fade out, unlike the original.
Cloak & Dagger - different mix on guitar overdub.
Overnight Bag - the CD version may be better than the original. This track is a beautiful Celtic-flavored ballad with acoustic guitar overdubs. This version has a line added at 2:56 through 3:12 that had been omitted in the original, making it slightly longer. No other noticeable changes, thankfully.
Shadow Play - echo has been added to vocals.
The Mississippi Sheiks - excessive, muddy-sounding bass, and added reverb. Bass is much cleaner and tighter on the LP.
The Last of the Independants - echo has been added to vocals.
Fuel To The Fire - Fairley and Arnold did a LOT of damage here. Rory's guitar tone is distorted, there is excessive muddy bass and lots of added reverb, and there are overdubs where none existed on the LP original. Rory wrings a moving Celtic-flavored solo from his Stratocaster on this track, but the factors listed above completely destroy the mood of what was, in its original version, an outstanding blues song. This version is vastly different from the original, which is much cleaner and better in every way.
Despite all the negativity, for those who have the original LP, this CD is worth having for the bonus tracks (even though they are not essential), the liner notes, the remastering, and the longer version of Overnight Bag. Just try to overlook the horribly executed remixing efforts of recording engineers who chose to disrespect the greatness of a classic album from a Guitar Master, and for whatever reason, put their own spin on it. For those who have heard only the CD version of this great album - this is NOT what Rory wanted you to hear. Get an LP copy to hear what this album is supposed to sound like. Fuel to the Fire and The Mississippi Sheiks in particular sound much better in their original versions.
Rory is King
P. Knedler | 10/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the Rory albums, of which you will not find a bad one, Photo Finish is probably the best one from start to finish. Songs like Shinkicker, Overnight Bag, and Fuel to the Fire are classics. He is a true genius of guitar and song writing. Rory is one of the few, if not the only, artists that I know of that I cannot point to bad record or a period that wasn't very good. You will not be disappointed with this album."