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REVIEW:  Klaatu - “Klaatu/Hope”, or... yet another Klaatu CD reissue falls short of the mark....

BGO Records (BGOCD518) - 2000
By Dave Bradley
Here we go again! :-)

The Klaatu catalog has been butchered by Capitol Records with their various CD reissues for more than a decade.

When I was contacted by John Tobler in late 1999 (or was it early 2000?) about some information for some liner notes for an upcoming reissue of the first two Klaatu albums being prepared by BGO (Beat Goes On) Records in the UK, I was very skeptical. They were licensing the tapes from Capitol, and like the Capitol single disc release of "Klaatu", the Capitol 2-for-1 release of "Klaatu/Hope", and the Collector's Choice Music release of "Klaatu/Hope", I expected the sound to be horrid.

In the early 90s, Capitol had created an "edited" master of the two albums together for a 2-for-1 release and had generally weak sound on top of the editing. In 1999, Collector's Choice Music licensed the same 2-for-1 disc, and they did some digital manipulation of the bad master to create an even muddier presentation of the same edited digital master tape. You can read my review of this travesty at   I let John Tobler know that if BGO was going to get the tapes from Capitol, that they would probably be sent the edited master, and even if they weren't, Capitol doesn't own the original masters, so they wouldn't be sent the best source material available.

Well, I just finally got a copy of the new BGO release from 2000 (I received it on October 1, 2001). I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised. It isn't the edited master after all! Although, there's a ton of hiss on Hope on this release, and the tracks from the first album are muddy.

First off, this isn't the edited master used by Capitol and Collector's Choice Music for their 2-for-1 releases. The mouse squeak at the end of "Klaatu" is there. It's followed a few seconds later by the mouse squeak at the start of the "Hope" album. The edits on side two of Hope are gone. This truly sounds like a complete version of the albums.

I do, however, have some issues with this release.

1: The sound of Subrosa Subway still sounds washed out. The bass is too muddy and buried.

2: The track IDs are screwed up on Hope.
They list the following:
13 The Loneliest Of Creatures
14 Prelude
15 So Said The Lighthouse Keeper
16 Hope

but what they've REALLY got is this:
13 The Loneliest Of Creatures / Prelude
14 So Said The Lighthouse Keeper
15 Hope
16 Reprise of We're Off You Know

That, to me, is a MAJOR screw up and shows that the person mastering the CD had never heard the albums/music before.

The packaging isn't very good either, which leads us to #3.

3: The jewel case has a sticker on it (why can't they put it on the shrink wrap?) that hides the artwork of their cover.

4: The sticker makes 3 claims, 2 of which are false.

It looks like BGO's heart was in the right place originally, but they apparently don't have any qualms about making false statements on the stickers they put on their releases, and don't have any quality control in their art department. For that matter, they didn't bother to check the track indexing and really badly blew the track IDs for the second half of Hope. But if what really counts to you is the sound quality, then this just isn't the issue for you. The hiss level is still what I would consider inappropriate, but considering that they didn't go back to the "ORIGINAL MASTER TAPES" as they claimed they did, well.....

[Having heard a test pressing for the upcoming Bullseye Records release of the first Klaatu album (and pointing out a problem that has been fixed BEFORE going to manufacturing) and having been completely blown away by the incredible quality of this upcoming release, I would suggest you save your money and wait until October 23rd, 2001 to buy the Bullseye Release when it comes out. And early next year when the Hope album comes out, let's hope Bullseye does as nice a job with that one too.]
My revised ratings of the Klaatu CD reissues so far:

For "3:47 EST" aka "Klaatu":
Capitol - 1990 - 8 out of 10.
Justin - 1990 - 8 out of 10.
Capitol - 1992 (2-for-1) - 6 out of 10.
Attic - 1993 - 9 out of 10 (the only thing preventing a 10 out of 10 is the missing mouse squeak).
Collectors’ Choice Music - 1999 (2-for-1) - 5 out of 10.
BGO Records - 2000 - 5 out of 10.
Bullseye Records - 2001 - 10 out of 10 (if the quality of the test pressing stays as is)

For "Hope":
Justin - 1991 - 4 out of 10. Low marks for quality.
Capitol - 1992 (2-for-1) - 4 out of 10. Low marks for editing the world’s most perfect album and partially for quality.
Attic - 1993 - 9 out of 10.
Collectors’ Choice Music - 1999 (2-for-1) - 3 out of 10.
BGO Records - 2000 - 4 out of 10 (with bad track ID placement).
Bullseye Records - 2002 - 10 out of 10 (the best has finally arrived!)

- Dave Bradley – October 2, 2001, revised April 2003.