Friday Top: 11 Worst Album Remasters Ever

As voted by UG community.

Ultimate Guitar
Friday Top: 11 Worst Album Remasters Ever

This week's traditional Wednesday Question saw the people of UG community discussing the matter of worst album remasters ever. Based on your votes and more than 100 comments, we summed this one up to a Top 11 rundown, make sure to check it out below.

Before kicking things off, this week's notable prank votes are: "Star Wars" and "Avenged Sevenfold's remaster of the 'Black Album.'"

And now, the actual list!

11. MD.45 - The Craving (2004 remaster)

Being a part of controversial 2004 "Remixed and Remastered" series, when Dave Mustaine decided decided to re-mix and re-master all of the first Megadeth albums up to and including "Risk," the "remastered" version of "The Craving" by MD.45 is perhaps the most controversial.

Originally MD.45 was a side-project of Dave Mustaine and Fear guitarist/vocalist Lee Ving - but for his 2004 "remaster" of the band's only 1996 album Dave Mustaine replaced original Lee Ving's vocal tracks and Lee's harmonica parts with his own vocals and simulated the harmonica on his guitar.

Due to many mixed reviews since 2011 all remastered versions were based on the original master tapes again rather than on 2004 ones. So as many said, basically Dave Mustaine took a side-project and turned it into a solo album.

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10. Solefald - Neonism (2007 remaster)

For the 2007 reissue of Solefald's 1999 avantgarde-metal masterpiece "Neonism" all tracks were remastered and appear in a different order than the original. And the remastered version didn't receive any good reviews compared to the original.

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9. Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells (2009 remaster)

Mike Oldfield's masterpiece "Tubular Bells" was recorded when he was 19 and released in 1973 when he was 20. In 2003 he fully re-recorded the album under name "Tubular Bells 2003," but in 2009 he released newly mixed (in stereo) and mastered re-issue of the original 1973 album. And though it wasn't really "bad" but it definitely just felt flat compared to the charm of the original.

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8. Arcturus - Aspera Hiems Symfonia (2002 remaster)

In 2002, the debut album of Norwegian avant-garde/progressive band Arcturus was remastered - and it faced many negative reviews: the remastered version has a considerably stronger, clearer sound that restores many of the lower-frequency elements of the music lost in the original mastering.

Although the liners notes on the CD booklet state that Arcturus did not re-record material, certain passages are evidently different from the originally released versions. Examples are the clean vocal sections in "Wintry Grey," "Naar Kulda Tar" and "Raudt og Svart." The original synthesizer lines in the opening of "The Bodkin and The Quietus" are replaced by a (similar but slightly more complex) guitar solo.

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7. Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Red Hot Chili Peppers (2003 remaster)

In 2003 Capitol Records reissued the remastered version of RHCP's 1984 debut, and though they have some interesting bonus tracks (which were previously released on "Out in L.A." compilation in 1994), the actual reissue got bad reviews because of the whole sound - it was so loud and "brickwalled" and lost original rawness, as many fans said.

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6. Bad Brains - Rock for Light (1991 remaster)

Bad Brains' 1983 album "Rock for Light" is a really influential record, completely changed the way hardcore punk developed. I was raw and energetic. But for 1991 re-issue album was remixed by Ric Ocasek of The Cars (who was the producer of the original record) and bass player Darryl Jenifer.

The re-issued version has some extra tracks, an altered track order, significantly different mixes and, on most tracks, a speed increase of the master which results in a raising of the pitch by one-half step. And according to fans, 1991 version completely smashed that dynamic of original, made it flat, "clean," with loads of additional guitar reverb and reduced bass.

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5. Death - Individual Thought Patterns (2011 remaster)

As a part of 2011 reissues of Death's albums, Relapse Records did the remastering for the band's 1993 album "Individual Thought Patterns" as well. But it wasn't just remastered - actually the whole album was overhauled with completely different mix.

It's rather an alternative listen, because the drums have absolutely different and more straightforward sound/feel to them - as opposed to the pretty "small" drum sound of the original.

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4. Nirvana - Nevermind (2011 remaster)

Nirvana's cult record "Nevermind" was originally mastered in 1991 by Howie Weinberg. But for the record's 20th Anniversary Edition in 2011 Bob Ludwig remastered the album, and many fans weren't pleased with the result - "Nevermind" became a victim of "loudnes wars" - and "cleaner" compared to the original that wasn't permissible for a grunge album.

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3. Pantera - Cowboys From Hell (2010 remaster)

For its 20th anniversary "Cowboys From Hell" was remastered in 2010. But the main issue with the 2010 version was the sound of cymbals - it became really loud and too high in the whole mix.

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2. Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz / Diary of a Madman (2002 'remaster')

Maybe one of the most controversial reissues/remasters in the music history - though actually it wasn't even a remaster - Ozzy and Sharon hired Rob Trujillo and Mike Bordin to re-record original parts made by Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake - in order not to pay them royalties.

The first two Ozzy's classic albums, "Blizzard of Ozz" (1980) and "Diary of a Madman" (1981), were recorded and co-composed with bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake - but the bass and drum credits were originally given to Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge, then members of Ozzy Osbourne's live band, even though they didn't play a note, and performance royalties have never been paid to Daisley and Kerslake. Daisley also claimed that, in addition to his studio work with Ozzy, he was responsible for all the lyrics in Ozzy's solo catalog in the 1980s (something Ozzy admitted to in his later interviews).

In 1986, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake won a court case which awarded them songwriting royalties, but until 2003 they still didn't receive proper performance credit for "Diary of a Madman." Daisley and Kerslake have been fighting the Osbournes in court again over that same issue. The lawsuit has yet to be settled, but Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne did it further. They made a 2002 reissue of these two albums which replaced Daisley and Kerslake's original bass and drum parts with new parts recorded by Osbourne's then-current drummer Mike Bordin and bassist Rob Trujillo. The 2002 reissue also included new backing vocals from a pair of singers named Mark Lennon and John Shanks.

Sharon stated at the time that it was Ozzy, not she, who was responsible for the decision to re-record the parts. However, Ozzy contradicted this claim in his 2009 autobiography, stating that the decision to re-record the original bass and drum parts was strictly Sharon's decision. He also stated that "a sticker was put on the covers telling everyone about it," though in fact the sticker was not initially placed on the re-issue and was only placed on the covers at a later date due to fan outcry over the altered recordings.

Later because of much of negative feedback from the fans Ozzy stated: "You know what, whatever the circumstances were, I want the original thing back." The 30th Anniversary release of "Blizzard of Ozz" and "Diary of a Madman" contains the original recordings, not the 2002 reissues.

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1. Megadeth - Rust in Peace (2004 remaster)

Another victim of controversial 2004 "Remixed and Remastered" series. After remixing the band's debut "Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good" in 2002, in 2004 Dave Mustaine started working with the other albums, trying to improve the sound. And the "Remixed and Remastered" versions met very mixed reviews among fans as many of them weren't satisfied by the new sound of classic records - as many said, raw energy of original recordings was lost in translation.

And another controversial decision was to completely re-record in 2004 some of the classic parts such as vocals, bass and guitars (for example, vocals on "Five Magics"). And due to many mixed reviews since 2011 all remastered versions were based on the original master tapes again rather than on 2004 ones.

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That's all folks; we hope you enjoyed the top, stay tuned until next week for another WQ!

51 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I think remasters are completely pointless, unless they try to actually improve the sound, and not brickwall it or outright re-record it. That said, i would love to see the same question, but with GOOD remasters.
    They'd all be made by Steven Wilson. Seriously, every time I'm mulling over whether or not to buy a classic rock or prog remaster, I go online and check to see if he did it.
    Ride the Lightning sounded fantastic, you really got to hear Burton's subtle little adds and parts that were buried in the original.
    One example: Meshuggah remastered their Nothing album back in 2006. Vastly improved the sound of the guitars (I'm pretty sure they rerecorded them), and even changed the arrangements on a few songs.
    Yeah, that one is a pretty good example of a re-record that was worth it. Straws Pulled At Random is my favorite song of them and is just miles better on the re-record. In general, the mix was more round and not as treble-heavy as the original, it also felt more dynamic and as such had more emphasis on their signature grooves.
    Same. Earache Records have done some really cool full dynamic range remasters of old death metal classics. Some of them sound even better today, remastered in fdr, than they did back in the day. Not all remasters are terrible but it's shameful how some audio engineers today can even call themselves "professional" when their product is complete garbage.
    Also on the note of having a question revolving around good remasters, maybe have a questions about the albums that most badly need a remix/re-master because they were so poor sounding due to bad budget or just bad production.
    Like Metallica remastering And Justice For All, St. Anger, and Death Magnetic.
    Rust in peace is literally one of the best recorded and mixed thrash albums of all time, why it needed remastering is beyond me
    Megadeth's then record company Sanctuary records wanted to remix and remaster the entire Megadeth catalogue so they called Dave about it and instead of giving his approval and letting someone else handle the procedure, he decided to do it himself.
     Originally MD.45 was a side-project of Dave Mustaine and Fear guitarist/vocalist Lee Ving - but for his 2004 "remaster" of the band's only 1996 album Dave Mustaine replaced original Lee Ving's vocal tracks and Lee's harmonica parts with his own vocals and simulated the harmonica on his guitar.  
    What the hell?? I've owned this album since 1998 and didnt even know that. I must have an original. Not a fan of it after my first listen.
    'Remasters' is perhaps a bit misleading, seeming as half of these were remixed, or even in some instances partially rerecorded
    Let's be honest, in almost all cases, a remaster is almost pointless, as the final product still sounds average in comparison to a modern recording.  Record labels should start releasing "unmastered" recordings to the public, just the raw recorded tracks, and let the people do something with it. 
    Older recordings sound average compared to modern recordings?  That's a matter of opinion.  I like the idea of releasing the raw tracks though.
    Remastering is cheap, easy and relatively quick to do. Not a big deal to spend $1000 and have a reason to re-release or regurgitate old material.
    Remasters always just seem like a cash grab to me. More often than not people seem to enjoy the originals better. At least from my experiences anyway. 
    This leads me (as someone who buys albums) to conclude they should just keep selling original recordings just in up to date packaging. I'll admit sometimes I buy the remaster because the case/sleeve looks better.
    My copies of cowboys from hell and rust in peace are the remastered versions and I never realised how much better the originals sounded until I heard them compared here. Shame, really.
    Great list! Not a lot of warranted remasters out there, seems to me that a good majority of them are just cash grabs. Happy to have made the notable prank vote!
    Way Cool JR.
    I absolutely love my Judas Priest Turbo and Ram It Down Remasters.  Everything about them is still the same as the originals but only more powerful and clearer.  2 of my favorite albums nicely improved.  
    Well thats all remastering is. Just a final adjustment on a mixed track.
    With technology the way it is now, wouldn't it be great if we could download all  album songs as individual tracks and mix them ourselves?! Now that would be cool.
    Speaking of Pantera on the vinyl reissue of Great Southern Trendkill the arpeggio ending to Floods is missing. I don't know if this is the same on the CD but it really pissed me off when I bought that album.
    No mention of Iggy Pop's remix of Raw Power? Absolutely unlistenable.
    "everything here is in the red" - they tried to make it sound like such a good idea in the booklet then I realized that what they meant was that they topped it out to the point where there were no dynamics at all, like when you get a red light from your compressor mic saying "hey dude turn it down if you want to hear any dynamic range". So frustrating. And I think that sort of thing has a place with certain projects, but so few compared to the albums that get that sort of work done.
    Black Sabbath "Born Again". and possibly the first six albums from ZZ Top?
    Are you referring to those horrid ZZ Top remasters they did in the 80s to give them production like Eliminator and Afterburner? The new ones in the box set that came out a year or two ago with the original mixes are much better, no 80s drums.
    Symphony X's Divine Wings Of Tragedy ranks as one of my worst remaster discoveries. I was sickened by the brickwalled mush that was the drums and guitar, that I shelled out some exorbitant cash to get the original.
    Lamb of God's remastered edition of "As the Palaces Burn" sounds like a bad cover band doing the entire record. I literally think they re-recorded every single instrument and vocal, I was shocked when I first heard it. Anyone else have a gripe about that re-shit? 
    I don't know about all that but I do prefer the original over the remaster.
    Personally I prefer the newer version of Five Magics. Having said that, I have listened to my remastered copy countless times and this is the first time I've heard the original, so I might be a bit biased. Five Magics has always been one of my favourite songs from that record, and I don't see the problem. I guess it comes down to what you know; I'm certainly not going to go and get all of the original albums to replace the remastered copies that I purchased and have loved for the last 10 years.
    What happened to you is what they want. It's so dirty - because it IS what you know - and you grew and loved it, and that was the whole intent. Dave Mustaine is turning into George Lucas it seems. Glad you're into rad music and everything though.
    What's the point of remastering a great album. Surly remastering said should be for albums that were good but didn't reach their full potential.
    You can't bitch about the Death one, Relapse lost the original tapes, we are lucky to have it in print again at all.
    Half of these "remasters" are remixes. If we want to talk about remasters the worst are The Beatles, Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. Such obvious cash grabs.
    I think countdown to extinction and youthanasia remastered versions are even worst.Just fuck that drum sound
    Gee Halen
    I actually liked some tracks from the Mustaine version of the MD45 record. I think "The Day the Music Died" fits Mustaine's voice much better.
    Dave did the vocals on Md. 45 Remaster because the original vocal and harmonica tracks were recorded at a different studio and that studio no longer existed so there was no way of getting the original vocal an harmonica masters so he decided to do the vocals himself. The same goes for Rust in Peace. He said he hasn't listened the original mixes after the album was released so while they were remixing the album they found out that the vocals tracks and some guitar parts were missing on Five Magics so Dave recorded the missing guitar parts again and for vocals he used an alternate take that he recorded during the the original recording process. Overall I like the remixed and remastered Megadeth catalogue except Rust in Peace. The drums are too loud to the point it even suppressed guitars at some points.
    With The Craving - wow holy damn that is the dirtiest thing I've ever heard of a musician doing. Even vocals? What in the world. I knew about the Ozzy stuff and that is totally awful and all involved should be ashamed, but going through a whole album and erasing the other participants vocals with yours and your lead playing, and then RE-RELEASING IT FOR PROFIT PUBLICLY. What did he think no one would ever find out? Is there some sort of explanation that I'm missing? What in the world.
    It's not a remaster, but I hated every single "S" during the entire Black Veil Brides' self titled album. Whatever they did in the mix, the vocal's S just slit your eardrums in half and made my teeth feel like I chomped down on some liquid nitrogen. Maybe the cymbals also did something similar.
    What a coincidence, I'm making an attempt at trying to remaster Bone to Pick by The Gone Jackals.