Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations 3

Continuing commentary on the Blu-ray set of Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations , following up on postings here and here.

Since the last post, I’ve viewed the shorts Hog Wild (1930), Come Clean and One Good Turn (both 1931), and the feature Sons of the Desert (1933). All have superb commentary tracks by Randy Skretvedt—whose L&H book is absolutely definitive (to overuse the word!). I bought the first edition paperback in early 1988, and this copy is still with me—and in surprisingly good shape! The newest edition is more of the same, only much more, but it’s an indispensible tome whatever edition you own. (I own both. I wouldn’t part with that first edition.)

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David Bowie: “Where Are We Now?”

Where were we then? David Bowie’s first solo single in more than nine years dropped out of nowhere on his 66th birthday—January 8th 2013. (Also Elvis Presley’s 78th birthday, of course.)

I woke up that morning to find social media (I still used social media quite extensively, if not enthusiastically, back then) buzzing with it. Still groggy and sipping a coffee, I tried to absorb the song and its video, while dutifully sharing my own reaction amidst the digital cacophony.

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Dogs In Glasses

What I think this blog lacks of late is dogs. In this case, dogs wearing specs!

Top pic is of the late, great Fred (2004-2018), thus attired in May 2016. The second pic is of the beauteous Tikki, actually sitting in almost the same spot as her much-missed uncle, circa June 2019…

Fred Glasses May 2016

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Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations 2

More on the Blu-ray set of Laurel & Hardy: The Definitive Restorations , following up on this post.

The two shorts Berth Marks (1929)—their second “talkie”—and Brats (1930) benefit from having their original soundtracks offered as an option, in addition to the more familiar 1937 reissue sound (different music cues and, in some cases, FX).

Picture-wise, neither come off as pristine as the first reel of Battle of the Century, but few things of this vintage do. I felt Berth Marks was the clear winner of the two—Brats seems, at best, occasionally a marginal upgrade on the DVD transfer, but some shots seemed a whole lot softer than I ever remembered them from back in the 1980s on TV and VHS. Neither are in brilliant shape, and sadly it seems they will never look any better. Of course, it is high definition, so is inherently stronger than previous releases, but the condition of the source materials does place limitations on some of these items. I do believe there are much stronger items to come in this set.

Brats

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The Last Club Vamporama

Hah! So here it finally is!!

I’ve given this a lot of thought. I wasn’t planning to publish it. One of the reasons being that my attempt to do a colour version in Photoshop was looking so horrible (IMO), I couldn’t finish it. There were other reasons. See below the artwork for more details!! (Also, page two etc is below the cut, if you’re reading on the front page!)

Anyhow, finally decided to just put it up here and to hell with it…

One note before you read on: these are “original art” scans, before any clean-ups or adjustment, so what you see it what I drew, warts & all.

Last CV Original Art pg1

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Compression & Brickwalling Examples

Following the previous entry.

Before I move onto other things—although music mastering & quality is something I might like to return to periodically—here’s a few more musical waveforms for comparison, with comments.

KATE BUSH—RUNNING UP THAT HILL (1985)

The top image is the original 1985 mastering. It has a dynamic range of 11dB. Below it is the 1997 remastering (not by Kate herself)—the dynamic range (DR) is 7dB.

Kate Bush Running 1985

Kate Bush Running 1997

You’ll note on the top one, Kate herself does make use of the full soundscape and sometimes clips the very peaks of the sound for effect (which is perfectly fine & valid!). On the ’97, there is lot of peak-clipping (the tops of the waveforms being cut off) and compression, which results in a loss of 4dB of DR. Kate’s own 2018 remaster of Hounds of Love, which I’ve yet to hear, has the same dynamic range as the 1985 release.

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Brickwalling Music

As mentioned in the previous post… I thought I’d talk a bit more about the dreaded Loudness Wars™ and the brickwalling of a lot of modern music. I’m not a full-on audiophile and not a sound engineer, or any kind of expert, but I do know what I like and I have a reasonable grasp on this stuff…

The dynamic range of a piece of music (or any audio) is the difference in dBs (decibels) between the quietest sound and the loudest. It hardly need be said that a wider range of difference creates a more dynamic soundscape. Whether or not this is desirable depends on the intent. For a classical symphony, for instance, you’d definitely want a big contrast between the quieter sections and the parts that boom out dramatically… whereas with heavy metal, a big fat wall of noise is pretty much the goal. (Even then, maybe it’s possible to go too far; more on that in a bit.) But with most music, I think most people would agree that something in-between would generally work quite well.

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David Bowie’s Toy Finally Gets A Release

You might remember I was discussing Bowie’s Toy a while back—my speculative cover design for his unreleased 2001 album.

And now it’s finally getting an official release! Both as part of the newest big Bowie boxset in November (which I couldn’t possibly justify buying even if it was affordable!), and more sensibly as a standalone Toy:Box (snigger, very witty) in January 2022, the month of DB’s 75th birthday.

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Kirby Art Inside Amazing Fantasy #15

Of course, everyone knows that Jack Kirby designed the original version of Spider-Man, which never got used. We know, also, that Kirby pencilled the cover to Spidey’s first appearance, in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962)—because the original cover Ditko drew was rejected by Stan Lee.

But how about Kirby artwork inside this landmark comic? Well, surely, the iconic origin story is fully-pencilled & inked by Mr Ditko. But there’s one aspect I never paid much attention to before—the teeny-tiny Spidey figure at the top right of the opening splash page…

AF15 pg1

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