Besides looking to improve my music listening experience through the research, purchase, and comparison of headphones, I’m also looking to improve the source. As such I started a free trial subscription to Tidal and as part of comparing it to my current music service I was looking up my favorite artists to see how the catalogues compare. That’s when I saw something new, a Yes album labelled “The Steven Wilson Remixes”.
As a huge Yes fan I’ve listened to different remasters of Yes albums like the original CDs, CD remasters by Mobile Fidelity, newer CD remasters by the publisher, Apple Digital Masters, etc. but I’ve never even seen something called a “remix”. Also I knew the name Steven Wilson because that is the name of the founder of one of my favorite modern progressive rock bands, Porcupine Tree. Could it be the same guy? I was suddenly VERY excited. Turns out it IS the same guy, he has remixed/remastered 5 classic Yes albums, and they sound incredible!
Today was the first time I’ve really had time to sit down and listen to a full album of his remixes. I started chronologically with The Yes Album. The sound quality is noticeably improved, but what struck me like a thunderbolt was in the middle of Starship Trooper. There is a break at about 4 minutes into it where the band stops except for Jon and Chris singing over Steve’s acoustic guitar playing. That leads into a four part harmony that has always been my favorite part of this song - one of my favorite parts of any song ever actually. Part of the reason is because I discovered this song while I was singing in choir in high school so it was a rare example of the type of classical harmonizing I was learning being used in modern rock music. This time, though, I could hear every part SO distinctly. Subtle changes in pitch that I hadn’t heard before were suddenly not just noticeable, but prominent. I have to admit that I teared up.
It’s like that audiophile cliche of “hearing things I’ve never heard before”. Except I have never experienced it at this level before. I have listened to this song countless times over more than 30 years. Heck I’ve even played the Rock Band video game to this song. But I have never heard everything in it so well or enjoyed it so much.
I immediately Googled “Steven Wilson remixes” and found this article going into the extremely tedious process that Steve applies to his remixes. It also says he has done remixes for several other bands including King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Tears for Fears, and XTC. Really interesting to read even if you don’t like any of those bands or Steven Wilson.
Steven Wilson: Remixing Classic Albums