This image is NOT connected to the artwork of the new CD reissue being reviewed.

REVIEW:  Klaatu - “Magentalane"

Bullseye Records - 2007
By Dave Bradley
The announcement on the Bullseye Records website doesn't do justice to the wonders of this final remaster in the Klaatu catalog.

It states, "It's back. The long overdue digital remaster of "Magentalane" comes complete with 16 page full-colour booklet, liner notes from the band and rare photos.

Available exclusively online now -- allow 2 weeks for shipping.

It will be in US retail outlets ONLY on April 10th (it will not be released at Canadian retail)."

Let me tell you what it doesn't. This is superb! This is, without a doubt, the BEST sounding release of this album to have EVER been released.

When the Magentalane LP came out in 1981, it was originally released only in Canada on both LP and cassette (I've seen one 8-track of this release, but have never been able to find another one). Later it also got released in Mexico on LP. It sounded great, the band was back to their own production techniques and everything was great. The original vinyl and cassette releases had a couple of nitpicky type problems. First, in the song "Magentalane" when the harmonies come in on the word "Browning" in Browning poem there is a distortion. Second, in the song "Mrs. Toad's Cookies" there is a distortion on the word "Blossoms" in the line "but when she'd filled her vases with beautiful blossoms". The second one is less noticable than the first.

Fast forward to 1995. Permanent Press Records in the US released Magentalane on CD. It sounded better than ever. However, the two distortions from the 1981 release were still there. They also altered the artwork to spell Magentalane as MagentaLane with a capital L.

In 1996, EMI in Canada followed suit with their own CD release of Magentalane. It too sounded wonderful, and it too had the same two moments of distortion. EMI, however, included the lyrics, which had been part of the original LP package in 1981. They are the only CD release (before Bullseye) to include the lyrics.

Also in 1996, Si-Wan records in Korea released this album on CD. They used the Permanent Press Records glass master (which is why the CDDB can't distinguish between the two releases), and also had the two moments of distortion. However, despite using the same physical master, their sound was warmer. I can only attribute that to better tolerances in manufacturing allowing for less jitter and therefore better conversion to analog on playback as a result of that.

Fast forward 11 years to 2007. Bullseye Records has completed their series of Klaatu album remasters by releasing Magentalane. It is available online from their website, and will be in retail stores in the US starting on April 10th. It will not be available in Canada at retail outlets because of a licensing restriction.

The first thing that jumped out at me when I saw the package was that the artwork has been corrected. It's now properly called "Magentalane" again. Upon opening up the case, the booklet is wonderful! It's got the lyrics, it's got notes from the band, it's got images of the band members from the original LP inner sleeve along with images of the labels of some of the singles that had come out back in 1981. The label is a picture label similar to the one on the original LP. Nice packaging. Now, considering the high quality of all 3 CD releases to date, could they actually improve the sound. Time for a critical listen.

When comparing the sound of a digital CD to an analog LP, some people complained back in the 80s that the sound was thin. There was a cleanness to the sound because there was no needle dragging along a vinyl crevice, an incredible fullness to the reproduction that brought out everything on the master tape, but somehow they sounded thin. As the labels realized that they couldn't use EQ'd tapes designed to overcome the limitations of vinyl playback, the sound quality improved even more because they started with better sounding tapes. However, through all of this, some people have complained that they still sound thin. Well, complain no more.

As the music started, I was amazed at how clean it sounded. I didn't think it was possible to sound cleaner than the Si-Wan release. I was thinking to myself that the sound was going to suffer because of this cleanup. I was SOOOO wrong! The sound is rich, full, warm, and that thinness that I mentioned was nowhere to be found. The bass was rich and full without being muddy, the highs were crisp and bright without being thin and the mids were beautiful. This is truly amazing sound. Having heard the original 30 ips master tapes on a great sounding studio playback system, I'd have to say that this CD release has captured the quality of those tapes better than any previous release.

I listened through track after track and was continually amazed at the sound quality. Then came Magentalane. I waited, holding my breath, and along comes the Browning poem and there's NO DISTORTION! Mrs. Toad's Cookies also has the same improvement. NO DISTORTION!

You won't find this package sounding better on any other release. You won't find this package looking better on any other release. You won't find more information presented on any other release. You won't find as much satisfaction from any other release.

Magentalane on Bullseye Records. On a scale of 1 to 10, this one goes to 11!

- Dave Bradley – March 25, 2007.