I have been interested in undertaking a review of Deep Purple’s Made In Japan (The Remastered Edition) CD from 1998 for quite a while. It is a live performance that captured Deep Purple at their peak and even if you’re not a fan of the band, this is one performance that you have to listen to. It set a standard for all rock and roll bands to follow and is as unique today, as the day it was recorded.
However, in 2014 a number of new editions were released that would go on to complicate my thoughts about the performance, album, and re-issues in general. While the performance had already been re-issued numerous times, this didn’t stop Universal remixing, remastering, and re-releasing the performance once again.
Rather than a linear performance, Made In Japan was initially comprised of the best takes from three different, concurrent, performances in Japan. Logically, this should be as complicated as it gets, but that isn’t the case as there are too many editions. Let me explain:
Single CD Edition
The single CD edition features the original 1972 mix, but it has been remastered during the 2013 mastering sessions.
If you want the album that was originally released in 1972, then this is the go-to release.
2CD Deluxe Edition
The Deluxe Edition features the 2013 Kevin Shirley remix, of the original 1972 album. It also includes all encores, from all three nights on the second disc.
The 2013 remaster/remix of this album uses the original 1972 analogue multitrack masters. While the original 1972 mix, found on the single CD edition, is remastered from the 1972 analogue stereo master.
Therefore, if you want a newly mixed edition of the performance, this one will service you well. It is true to the original but I am honestly torn as to the mix I prefer. The original 1972 mix is still solid, but Kevin Shirley’s 2013 mix somewhat modernises the performance without changing it. Although, I find Shirley’s edition to be a little boomy and muddy in the low end. This is most noticeable in the song Lazy.
It is also important to note that as both the single CD and double CD have been remastered, the overall dynamic range, compared to the 1998 remastered edition, is reduced. Remarkably, the ’98 remaster maintained the dynamic range of the original ’72 release. That said, none of the 2014 releases could be considered sonically poor performers.
If you’ve never heard this performance before, this 2CD edition will be a welcome edition to your collection. Although, I feel us old-timers might be best served sticking with the original 1972 mix that we know and love. Although, when it is all said and done, it really is subjective!
High Fidelity Pure Audio (HFPA) Blu-Ray
Of course, if you want both the original 1972 mix and Kevin Shirley’s 2013 mix, you can pick up the HFPA Blu-ray Edition. However, no encores are included.
While HFPA Blu-ray is a favoured format here at Subjective Sounds, it is important to note that the dynamic range of this release is no better than the before-mentioned CD releases, hence the benefits of High Fidelity (24bit/96kHz) are trivial at best.
Given the capacity of the HFPA format, you would think that the entire three nights of recordings could be included on a single disc, along with all the encores, the 1972 mix, and Kevin Shirley’s 2013 mix. After all, The Rolling Stones Grrr… 50-song (>3 hour) epic is on a single HFPA disc and only consumes 20.02GB of the possible 50GB capacity. Yes, I acknowledge that this release is on a BD-25 disc and therefore limited to 25GB, but to my knowledge the HFPA specification does not exclude the BD-50 (50GB) option. Yes, the HFPA format didn’t last long, but as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I still don’t understand why the music industry simply didn’t move to hybrid SACD releases for every album. Those who don’t care about the ‘ultimate’ in audio reproduction can enjoy the discs in a standard CD player, while audiophiles can use their dedicated SACD players to get the most out of the disc and their system. It was a win-win format!
The music industry is full of missed opportunities and putting low dynamic range masters onto an audiophile format is almost a guarantee of failure.
This edition features the complete performances from each night in a linear manner. You also get the encores, on a separate disc, a making-of DVD, and a Japanese 7” promo. Also included is a hardcover book and a download code for the MP3 and HD files.
Let’s just say it is a pretty impressive CD collection that gives you everything, except the original 1972 mix and the 2013 Kevin Shirley remix; although from what I understand each performance, in this collection, is from the Kevin Shirley 2013 remix/mastering sessions.
All of a sudden things got awfully complicated for this completist collector!
It is clear that each edition has been purposely designed to have something that is not available on another edition. Therefore, those wanting to purchase the complete recordings of this iconic performance will need to dig deep and hide the expenditure from their significant other.
That said, let’s take a look and see how the analogue formats fit into this equation.
According to the production notes, this edition was cut at Abbey Road Studios from the original 1972 stereo analogue master. It is, however, the 2013 remastering and hence the dynamic range would be on par with the digital releases.
That said, the track listing mimics that of the original 1972 mix, so purists looking for a new copy of the original compiled performance will be pleased with this version. However, this edition includes no encore performances and therefore it is the analogue equivalent of the 2014 single CD edition.
This monolithic collection should have everything, shouldn’t it? Well, not exactly!
Just like the 4CD edition, the 9LP includes all three performances in their linear 2013 mix. However, the making of DVD, original 1972 mix, Kevin Shirley 2013 mix (of the original track-listing), encore performances, and Japanese 7” promo aren’t included. From what I understand, the DVD that is included in the 4CD edition is the same as the standalone DVD that was released at the same time. It is important to note that while the DVD has the same cover art as the album releases, it is a documentary and not a live recording of the performance. A quick view at some of the feedback on Amazon, for the standalone DVD, shows that it caused significant confusion amongst fans.
If you’re interested in watching the documentary, it is available for streaming on TIDAL. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t worth owing.
The 9LP collection also includes the hardcover book and album download code with both MP3 and HD download options. That said, there have been inconsistencies reported regarding the availability of HD files in some regions, therefore you should take that into consideration prior to purchasing.
It is also important to mention this 9LP collection features a number of significant typos such as Oaska instead of Osaka and Somoke instead of Smoke. Perhaps one could forgive the misspelling of Osaka, but how could they possibly release a Deep Purple album with the misspelling of Smoke On The Water?
It doesn’t exactly generate consumer confidence, does it?
Personally, I would stay clear of this release and hope Universal have the good sense to re-issue this set with relevant corrections. Although, I wouldn’t hold my breath as Universal’s atrocious pressing of Abba’s Live At Wembley Arena (pressed and released in 2014) was never rectified. Interestingly, both this album and Deep Purple’s Made In Japan were pressed at GZ vinyl and their reputation isn’t the greatest.
Now, most normal people are probably rolling their eyes by now and truthfully I can’t blame them. The problem is, there are just too many different editions. While I have wanted to purchase one of the 2014 releases, to go with my 1998 remastered edition, the variety has been too daunting to even consider and therefore I have not made a single purchase.
For the moment, the single and double CD editions are available on TIDAL Hi-Fi, hence I feel no need to pick those up. Plus, besides the 2013 remix on the double CD, they mimic the 1998 remastered edition exactly. It is important to note that the full linear concert performances, as found on the 4CD and 9 vinyl box set are not replicated on any digital music stores or streaming services. Subsequently, if you’re interested in the full performances, you will need to purchase the physical releases. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it offers fans a value-added proposition; it is just a shame that the options are so convoluted.
…and with that, I have decided that the best approach for me would be to ignore my completist mind and simply pick up the HFPA Blu-ray release as it contains the original tracking and mix of 1972 stereo master, as well as the 2013 mix. Yes, I remember my earlier comments regarding the reduced dynamic range, but every time I look at my HFPA Blu-ray collection, this album is one that is sorely missed.