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crapfromthepast
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Posted: 18 October 2014 at 9:50pm | IP Logged Quote crapfromthepast

For the search engine: Electric Light Orchestra aka ELO - Don't Bring Me Down

This was ELO's highest-charting single in the US, peaking at #4 in 1979. It's formed around a drum loop taken from another song on the Discovery album ("On The Run") and slowed down. The guy on the Discovery album cover is a very young Brad Garrett, the meaningless word in the chorus is "Grroosss", and that weird sound at the end is the sound of the fire door to the studio slamming shut. So much trivia.

In a 2001 interview, Jeff Lynne commented on the song, "It's a great big galloping ball of distortion". I agree. It's never going to sound great. The various CDs that feature the song try to EQ the weirdness as best as they can, but it'll always sound a bit off.

The very old promo disc CBS Records Compact Disc Demonstration (1983) runs at 115.2 BPM throughout, and sounds a little dull, but only a little.

The early Japan-for-US mastering of Discovery, with matrix number 35DP-24, is ear-bleedingly bright, at least for "Don't Bring Me Down". It runs at 115.0 BPM throughout. Two others that also run at 115.0 BPM and sound similarly bright are:
  • Telstar UK's 2-CD The Very Best Of (1989)
  • EMI's 5-CD Pop Complete (1999)
Much better is Time-Life's Sounds Of The Seventies Vol. 9 1979 (1990), which sounds the best out of everything I own for "Don't Bring Me Down". It runs at 115.3 BPM throughout. The same analog transfer is used for:
  • Time-Life's Guitar Rock Vol. 2 1978-1979 (1993)
  • Time-Life's 2-CD Classic Soft Rock Vol. 9 Cool Night (2007; digitally exactly 1.13 dB louder)
Finally, one last new analog transfer, on the 2-CD Strange Magic ELO collection (1995), where it runs 115.8 BPM throughout. I don't like this one as much as the Time-Life mastering. Others that use the same analog transfer:
  • Razor & Tie's 2-CD Super '70s (1995)
  • Sony's 2-CD Pop Music The Modern Era 1976-1999 (1999)
There are perhaps hundreds of ELO compilations out there, and I don't know how those others sound. Overall, I really like Strange Magic, but not for this one song.

Edited by crapfromthepast on 01 February 2022 at 2:18pm


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AdvprosD
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Posted: 17 January 2022 at 11:57am | IP Logged Quote AdvprosD

crapfromthepast wrote:
For the search engine: Electric Light Orchestra aka ELO - Don't Bring Me Down

This was ELO's highest-charting single in the US, peaking at #4 in 1979. It's formed around a drum loop taken from another song on the Discovery album ("On The Run") and slowed down.
The guy on the Discovery album cover is a very young Brad Garrett, the meaningless word in the chorus is "Grroosss", and that weird sound at the end is the sound of the fire door to
the studio slamming shut. So much trivia.


I just knew that someday I would stumble upon an answer for the years-long burning question, "Was that some kind of cart machine at the end of the song?"

I guess they wanted the effect to make it sound like the end of the song had finally arrived. Maybe not. Cool info though!

Edited by AdvprosD on 17 January 2022 at 8:19pm


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Santi Paradoa
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Posted: 17 January 2022 at 1:18pm | IP Logged Quote Santi Paradoa

I've been singing "Bruce" instead of "Grroosss" for over
four decades. Very cool info indeed.

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LunarLaugh
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Posted: 17 January 2022 at 5:50pm | IP Logged Quote LunarLaugh

crapfromthepast wrote:
Much better is Time-Life's
Sounds Of The Seventies Vol. 9 1979 (1990), which
sounds the best out of everything I own for "Don't Bring Me
Down".


Is this the 1979 disc identical to the Sounds Of The
Seventies "'70s Dance Party 1979" disc? Seems to have all
the same tracks.

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Hykker
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Posted: 18 January 2022 at 6:45am | IP Logged Quote Hykker

Santi Paradoa wrote:
I've been singing "Bruce" instead of "Grroosss" for over
four decades.


That's what I always heard too.
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crapfromthepast
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Posted: 18 January 2022 at 8:27am | IP Logged Quote crapfromthepast

LunarLaugh wrote:
Is this the 1979 disc identical to the Sounds Of The Seventies "'70s Dance Party 1979" disc? Seems to have all the same tracks.


Yes. Time-Life repackaged Sounds Of The Seventies 1979 as Seventies Dance Party 1979 and later as Ultimate Seventies 1979. Same track listing, same mastering.

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mjb50
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Posted: 18 January 2022 at 1:55pm | IP Logged Quote mjb50

FWIW, I just checked a dozen masterings out in the wild, and have to agree that the Time-Life mastering is the best overall. I believe it was by Dennis Drake?

If you like the mastering of Led Zeppelin albums or Low-era Bowie, you might like the Discovery 1993 gold disc (ZK 64646). The mastering is not an authentic "ELO on LP" sound, and definitely not the sound of 1979, but the extra emphasis they gave to the drums & vocals is enjoyable in a 70s rock-radio kind of way.
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crapfromthepast
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Posted: 18 January 2022 at 2:37pm | IP Logged Quote crapfromthepast

mjb50 wrote:
FWIW, I just checked a dozen masterings out in the wild, and have to agree that the Time-Life mastering is the best overall. I believe it was by Dennis Drake?


Bill Inglot was involved with this disc, and a handful of the early Sounds Of The Seventies series.

The credits in the booklets are a little dicey regarding who actually mastered them: Bill Inglot is mentioned only in the Ultimate Seventies booklet, Dennis Drake is credited with mastering the '70s Dance Party disc (and he likely just signed off on the earlier mastering), and the original release just said that it was mastered at MCA Recording Studios in California.

Take your pick! Any project that involves Bill Inglot *and* Dennis Drake is going to sound great.

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KentT
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Posted: 01 February 2022 at 8:23am | IP Logged Quote KentT

A note: CD releases of this which are bright (have pre-
emphasis) in their mastering. If your player does not
decode pre-emphasis correctly, these discs will be very
bright sounding.

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AdvprosD
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Posted: 01 February 2022 at 2:51pm | IP Logged Quote AdvprosD

KentT wrote:
A note: CD releases of this which are bright (have pre-
emphasis) in their mastering. If your player does not
decode pre-emphasis correctly, these discs will be very
bright sounding.


This is something new to me. I don't use a player, I do all the work on a PC with an external USB interface. Will this affect my ripps?

The above post made me dig out the CD. I went to the chorus and listened to that too. I never heard Grrross before either. Nor did I hear Brruuce.
As artists sometimes tend to just blurt out stuff, I would use Peter Gabriel as a fine example, I just assumed it was a nonsense sound.

Edited by AdvprosD on 01 February 2022 at 2:57pm


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crapfromthepast
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Posted: 01 February 2022 at 3:24pm | IP Logged Quote crapfromthepast

Dave - Pre-emphasis was used on very early CDs, and was thankfully retired after the mid-'80s. Unless you have a really old CD, it won't be an issue.

If you do a normal rip of a CD with pre-emphasis, it will have a really bright high end and a deficient low-end. It'll sound tinny.

There is software out there that can re-EQ a CD rip to compensate for the pre-emphasis, but I don't have any firsthand experience with it.

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Hykker
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Posted: 01 February 2022 at 4:25pm | IP Logged Quote Hykker

crapfromthepast wrote:
Dave - Pre-emphasis was used on very early CDs, and was thankfully retired after the mid-
'80s.


Wasn't this due to using tapes originally mastered for the vinyl releases? I've heard that Motown was particularly
notorious for this.
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crapfromthepast
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Posted: 01 February 2022 at 5:25pm | IP Logged Quote crapfromthepast

Hykker wrote:
Wasn't this due to using tapes originally mastered for the vinyl releases? I've heard that Motown was particularly notorious for this.


I think the source tapes and the pre-emphasis are two different issues, although both plague some of the first-generation CDs.

The internet has a list of CDs that use pre-emphasis, and it's a pretty small list - probably 100 or fewer. I think that ELO CD from above is one of the pre-emphasis CDs, which is why I thought it was ear-bleedingly bright.

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Posted: 01 February 2022 at 10:25pm | IP Logged Quote mjb50

Indeed, pre-emphasis is an option which can be applied during the digitization of analog tapes. It is not on the analog master tapes, and has nothing to do with the fact that some CDs were made from the wrong production masters.

That said, Dolby A or dbx noise reduction is sometimes encoded onto the analog tapes and does not always get properly decoded when playing the tapes during digitization, and they can end up having a similarly bright sound because of this. But that's less common than pre-emphasis, in my estimation.

Also, when I used the word emphasis in reference to the 1993 gold disc of Discovery, I did not mean pre-emphasis. I know what pre-emphasis sounds like and that's not what is on that particular disc. I was just using the word in the general sense.

But it is true that at least some of the 1980s pressings of Discovery were mastered with pre-emphasis. Lazlo's list of releases suspected of having it hasn't been updated in years, but it does mention those. I believe "Don't Bring Me Down" on ELO's Greatest Hits Vol. Two also has it. There's a Steve Hoffman forum thread where these suspicious CDs are discussed.

Edited by mjb50 on 01 February 2022 at 10:26pm
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Posted: 05 February 2022 at 4:48pm | IP Logged Quote EdisonLite

I never even heard of this "pre-emphasis" issue until reading this post. I did look at the list of CDs that used this - in the link provided above. Quite a few CDs. Does anyone know what year they stopped using Pre-Emphasis?
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Posted: 05 February 2022 at 4:51pm | IP Logged Quote EdisonLite

Trivia - I knew about the "groooos" lyric. (Probably on the album sleeve's lyrics). But I didn't know the guy on the Discover cover is a young Brad Garrett. That's the brother of Raymond in "Everybody Loves Raymond", right? I sort of see the resemblance looking at the album cover now.

<that weird sound at the end is the sound of the fire door to the studio slamming shut.>

To me, that did sound simply like a slamming door. Didn't know it was the one in the studio, but that makes sense, as it was the closest door to shut during the recording :)
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