Opinion: Remastered Albums – a brilliant marketing ploy or loss of authenticity for a new generation?

Every once in a while, there comes along an album that has the ability to shape and influence the way you perceive the world and the people in it. However you look at it, the re-issue of an album simply means that its success had the ability to resonate with the targeted listeners, which is what most musicians dream of in terms of their desired creative outcome.

For Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon presented us with their most iconic album art cover, alongside the distinctive tracks featured on it, to become one of the best-selling albums of all time. Not only is there one re-release, but three versions of the album to choose from, with:

1. Dark Side Of The Moon [Experience Edition] (2CD)
2. Dark Side Of The Moon [Immersion Box) (6CD)
3. Dark Side Of The Moon [Remastered] (LP)

The variations in formatted releases may have only just surfaced on September 23, but time has paid off for the English rockers, with the LP moving one million units in Australia, making it certified 14 times platinum, according to Spotlight Report. Not a bad feat for the 38-year-old album!

With that being said, it begs the question… what constitutes as a ‘must-have’ album? Conventionally, it would seem that is determined by its high chart positioning and number of units sold. Or perhaps it is decided by the number of accolades it received.

Now, with indications showing that demand is still prevailing for albums of the past, it is possible that the later generations are showing an appreciation for ground breaking and genre defining music. Or it could be that avid music collectors are enthusiastic to grab their hands on anything that is remotely worth value, exclusive or containing a better quality sound.

Re-releasing an album with a higher quality sound, that is, a remastered edition, is less expensive than an LP released with the original quality, which is known to come at a higher cost due to its authenticity, scarcity and high value. However, the clincher of releasing a remastered edition is by adding several unreleased studio tracks, audio from live performances, remixes, B-sides or exclusive video footage, justifying the purchase to those who already may have several copies of the same album.

This may bode well for fans and record companies, but musicians have a different perspective.

One of the most prolific singer-songwriters in our history, Neil Young, commented on the quality of remastering after his Greatest Hits album was released in 2004:

“One of the most important jobs of any musician is to provide quality sound to the people. Quality has taken a hit in recent years, but it’s starting to come back thanks to DVD-stereo. There is just no comparison between DVD-stereo and a regular compact disc or even 5.1 sound. It’s the difference between a true reflection of the music and a mere replica. I’ve always been a strong believer in analogue and this is about as close to the rewarding listening experience of vinyl as the real thing.”

Following on from the news about the November 4 release of another Pink Floyd cult classic LP, Wish You Were Here and best of singles album A Foot In The Door, The Best Of (https://www.theaureview.com/news/pink-floyd-to-release-new-editions-of-wish-you-were-here-on-friday-plus-a-best-of), it should be interesting to see how sales fare against new album releases, particularly after the highly-successful re-release of Dark Side of the Moon just over one month ago.