Why am I re-mastering the first Skafish album?
In my original post, “First Album News,” I talked about how I need to re-master the first Skafish album. One of my fans who loves the record didn’t understand why I needed to do this. He commented that he thought the record sounded just great as it is, so why in the heck would I re-master it. So, let me take a minute to clarify the re-mastering process and why it absolutely needs to be done.
First, here are the things I am NOT planning on doing in the re-mastering process:
1-I am not going to remix the album. Sometimes, people remix a record in an attempt to make it sound better, or different. I won’t do that. You’ll still be able to hear everything as you always have. The synthesizers won’t disappear and the drums won’t be louder, etc. I know in my heart that it is better to leave well enough alone.
2-I am not trying to change the sound of the original recordings. The album was recorded in 1979 and what recording technologies were at the time are just fine – and they will remain. I won’t add any fancy bells and whistles. There won’t be any pitch correction on the vocals, lol.
3-I am not trying to modernize the record. Since this record was quite different for its time and is still unique by today’s standards, it will be left as it is. It has never been nor will it ever be a trendy record.
This album stands on its own, as it was then and will always be. It is what it is – plain and simple. The fans who bought the record back then loved it for being outside the norm and that is one of the reasons why this album remains special decades later. It is an individual piece of art that should not be tampered with – and now that I own it, you can trust that I won’t let that happen. Now, here are the reasons why re-mastering is absolutely necessary:
Ideally, I want to ultimately re-release the first Skafish album on vinyl, CD, and in digital formats. To release the album in today’s technologies (which have obviously changed from before), re-mastering is essential. And, I actually need two masters: one to reproduce vinyl records, and one for CD and digital release. Done correctly, the actual mastering techniques and sound needed for each format are somewhat different.
To manufacture new vinyl records, there has to be a new master to reproduce from. Any old masters are now obsolete. And, the process is quite complex. Even though I am not going to attempt to tinker with and alter the sound, there are technical specifications that are vital to making vinyl records correctly. One example of this is that the treble and bass levels need to be absolutely correct, so as not to cause distortion or skipping.
For CD and digital release, a master was never done. As you may already know, that’s because the record company who used to own the first Skafish album never bothered to release it on CD or digitally. So, there needs to be a master, even to just be able to reproduce the album on CD and digitally, as well as getting those formats to sound as authentic as possible.
When it comes to the sources to master from, I have some options: I have two unopened copies of the album that have never been played. Many mastering experts feel that mastering from never-before-played vinyl can actually be notably better than doing so from tape. In fact, I learned that a Rolling Stones re-release was re-mastered from vinyl, versus tape, because the vinyl actually sounded better.
I also have reel-to-reel tape copies from the studio that were done as dubs back in 1979. Those tapes have already been digitized and might be a source to master from.
The reasons these sources are important is because I do not have the original master tapes to the album. That’s because the record company won’t give them to me. As some of you may know, legally fighting to get the rights back took decades and was extremely expensive to get done. However, acquiring those rights does not force the record company to turn over the master tapes. I could sue them, but it would be tremendously costly and at this time, the money isn’t there to launch such a costly lawsuit that could take years to resolve in court. That would also mean it would take that much longer until I could get the first album out there. Since it was originally released 36 years ago, I think we’ve all had to wait long enough. That’s why I am choosing to focus on getting it out there sooner.
I am sure that between the never-before-played vinyl and the tape copies I have, a state of the art master can certainly be made.
As the producer of the original recording and the person in charge of the re-mastering project, it is my commitment to honor the original art and intention of this album and give the fans what they want. Those who have this record often tell me just how much they love and cherish it. I frequently hear from fans how they still have their original vinyl copy and listen to it often.
At this point, I am trying to raise the necessary funds to do the re-mastering project. Some of you have already donated and that means the world to me. If I can indeed raise the money needed, I can complete this part of the project. If you’d like to support the project, you can use the link below to buy me a cup of coffee! (Account name is La Befana Records.)
Thank you from the bottom of my heart and spirit!