Some surround fans may wonder why the Emerson, Lake & Palmer classic album Brain Salad Surgery was advertised to be re-released in surround, when an SACD Deluxe version and a DVD-Audio have already been released in the past. It would have made some sense for a couple of reasons, those previous versions are out of print and fans are being ripped off for the ridiculous prices asked for these previous versions. But, this isn't the case. The 2014 DVD-Audio contains only stereo 24bit / 96kHz versions of both the new 2014 mix and original mix. So Sony/Legacy dipped in on the action with an incomplete box set, which is available as an extended Super Deluxe moderately priced edition. However, we can give them some slack for also including a lower cost standard edition too.
Packaged in the famous artwork by HR Giger, the new edition contains new stereo mixes, previously unreleased material and more. Oh boy, why stop there? The "ultimate expansion" treatment is now here to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its original appearance in November 1973. But it looks like they screwed this up again, although in a different way from the earlier surround releases which butchered their classic ELP album by leaving off a critical piece (heck leaving off any song is critical).
Their marketing buzz from ELP says: "We are amazed that after 40 years, so much of the original recordings, photos and artwork are still usable. Some of it has never been released before, but it's fascinating to hear how the recordings progressed. We are delighted that this new version will reveal some of these transitions."
As fans we must remember it's an album that saw Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer displaying more creativity than most bands achieve in their whole lifetime. A two CD and DVD-A or a triple CD, DVD-A, and Vinyl deluxe are available. Remixes have been handled by Jakko Jakszyck who has taken over from Steven Wilson to remix the remaining ELP albums. Jakszyck is a member of King Crimson and formerly of 21st Century Schizoid band. He has also produced an outstanding album in called the Bruised Romantic Glee Club, considered as one of the best produced/engineered albums of that year.
Without a surround version, this set hardly seems worthy of a full review. Overall I was pleased with the sound, and the alternate album order with alternate takes are interesting from the progression of musical composition. But, I really can't recommend this release, as I truly believe Sony and the band made a critical error in judgment by not including a new 5.1 mix, or even the one previously released on SACD. I am certain there are plenty of fans who still desire hearing that version. Sony, what the heck were you thinking?
UPDATE: Since writing this review, I have discovered that the over priced Super Deluxe version contains the new surround mix fans like myself were expecting on the Deluxe edition. If you have a copy of this, please let our readers know how the surround mix sounds!
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