The Kinks Are The Analogue Mono Preservation Society
It's been two years since the Beatles Mono Boxset showed the value of going back to the original master tapes and just how superior the mono mixes of sixties pop were. However, as anyone who has listened to the UK Mono re-issue of the debut Jimi Hendrix lp "Are You Experienced", it does depend on what shape those old tapes are in. The tapes from this period are operating well beyond their expected lifespan of 20 to 30 years and bands such as The Doors, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin & Queen now have to rely on their high resolution digital masters for future releases.
Here's the blurb about these new tranfers :-
All of the original albums in The Kinks in Mono vinyl LP box set were cut by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Mastering, supervised by Andrew Sandoval, direct from the original UK Pye NPL analog mono masters. Only analog EQ was used in the process. The 1970 compilation album, The Kinks (Black Album), was recompiled from flat digital transfers of original analog masters, and was cut to match the original LP. First UK Pye pressings of all of the albums were used in comparison to tapes to insure period accuracy with level, track spacing and artwork. Andrew Sandoval (Box Set compiler)
The Mono Collection packages the first 8 albums in glorious mono, including ‘Live At Kelvin Hall’. The set also includes the bonus double LP compilation ‘The Kinks’ (aka ‘The Black Album’) PLUS a lavish hardcover 48-page book including never-before-seen photos and new interviews with Ray Davies, Dave Davies and Mick Avory.
So before we put the box to the test, let's see what they are up against.
Arthur - Stereo Reissue 2015 & Village Green Mono Reissue 2014
Kink Kontroversy - Mono Reissue 1980
Kinda Kinks - Mono First Pressing
The box itself is pretty sturdy and colorful, first out comes the hard back book exclusive to this box set with plenty of photos I've never seen before, along with interviews with Ray, Dave & Mick with their thoughts on the mono format.
The album sleeves are well printed, although they lack the aesthetics of the originals that were resplendent with flipbacks and lined inner sleeves, these new re-issues come with plain paper inners. The discs are of high quality with no warping or pressing issues and the labels correspond to the pink & blue Pye eras.
So how do these reissues sound?
Surly the toughest shootout is for Kinda Kinks, going up against a PYE original pressing, there is a reason why mint copies go for three figure sums. However after listening to the PYE and thinking how great it sounds, the reissue is like removing some gauze from your eyes. It's clarity and transparency more than makes up for a virtually imperceptible loss of warmth in the bottom end. The 1980 Kink Controversy fares worse against the re-issue as does the 2014 Re-issue of Village Green. For the most part the mono Arthur from this boxset out performs the 2015 stereo reissue with only "Shangri-La" sounding better in stereo. Live At Kelvin Hall has always sounded better in Mono; the stereo buries the vocal, and here it sounds far more listenable than I remember it being. The final album, a double "best of" that was originally released in 1970 was cut from digital masters, don't be put off though as this album also sounds great.
Most importantly, the music. You are getting 8 albums and a double best of from one of the finest bands in pop history at their zenith. From the initial LP that borrowed from their former "Ravens" set of rock and roll, through pop vignette masterclasses on Face To Face and through to proto futuristic folk nostalgia from one of the four great pillars of sixties british pop.
I can't recommend this enough, an essential purchase.
· Kinks · Kinda Kinks · The Kink Kontroversy · Face To Face · Something Else By The Kinks · Live at Kelvin Hall · The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society · Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire) · Kinks (2 LP Black Album)