This is for sound enthusiasts and critics alike .
In March this year (2022), more than 50 years after the first release of the two inaugural Kingston Trio albums, a French company published what it claimed was the first release of true stereo versions of The Kingston Trio and From the Hungry i albums on a 2-CD set. The set included 13 additional early Capitol Trio songs that had previously been released in mono only.
Everyone knows that the first two Kingston Trio albums were never released in stereo. I understand that they were both recorded on two mono tracks which made creating stereo versions difficult. Their subsequent Capitol-recorded stereo albums were done on machines that used three or more tracks.
Capitol Records tried to satisfy stereo buyers by releasing Stereo Concert (which was recorded privately on a two-track stereo recorder) and two other albums in their Duophonic process that utilised phase differences and various filters to create a two-channel effect albeit that directional positioning was never really successful and was rather fuzzy. These LPs were Kingston Trio Encores (DT 1612) and The Kingston Trio (DT 996). Other individual songs from the first two albums and some single/EP releases were later released in Duophonic on subsequent Capitol compilation albums.
Duophonic was referred to as “fake” stereo. At best it was not too bad and at worst it was terrible. Capitol later used a more conservative Duophonic process which was almost entirely ambient rather than directional but later abandoned the whole thing altogether. This later approach was used on the DT 996 release as well as on an abridged version of their first album called Tom Dooley (DF 514).
In recent years, new digital technology has allowed two channel recordings to be remixed to provide true stereo masters without the need to create a simulated stereo effect. The first four British albums by The Beatles and Donovan’s Sunshine Superman album come to mind as examples of this process. It involved the digital removal of some audio from either the right and/or the left recorded tracks and repositioning it somewhere else, maybe in the middle.
So, I was curious enough to buy this new “true stereo” album, but fearful of how it might sound. After all, the album was a modification of the original Voyle Gilmore production and any audio changes or placement decisions were those of someone who may not have been born when the originals were recorded. Additionally, the track listing contained two glaring spelling errors that suggested a lack of care with their artwork at least. Tom Dolley, Dodi Lil ???? But the Tom Dooley error was corrected on later pressings of the CD set.
So, I listened to my copy of the new release and found it similar to the Beatles stereo albums mentioned above. Instruments predominantly on one side and group vocals on the other with solo vocals in the middle. Definitely not a re-working of the old Duophonic releases and none of that additional echo and reverb that characterised the fake stereo releases. Apart from some reduction in the treble, it sounded similar to the original mono album. Really not bad at all.
BUT there was one really big problem. There were two CDs in the set. The second disc was labelled correctly but it contained exactly the same program as the first disc.
So now I am in the process of trying to obtain a correct replacement.