Quad LP/Tape Poll Isley Brothers: Live It Up [SQ/Q8]

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Rate "Live It Up"

  • 9

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 6

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  • 5: So-So

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  • 4

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  • 3

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  • 2

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  • 1: Suckdom Central

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  • Total voters
    5

EMB

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T-Neck PZQ/ZAQ 33070 from 1974.

Side 1:

Live It Up (Part 1 & 2)
Brown Eyed Girl
Need a Little Taste of Love
Lover's Eye

Side 2:

Midnight Sky (Part 1 & 2)
Hello It's Me
Ain't I Been Good to You (Part 1 & 2)

On the Q8, "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Hello It's Me" are swapped to even out the program timings.


ED :)
 

EMB

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Ah, what the memory jogs...;) Fact is, this album is very curious for its mix, which is not always discrete quad (though it sometimes is) but not a 'double stereo' or 'fake quad' job, either. And that has always been curious, indeed, for a non-classical album from Columbia.

So, what is the result? Well, at times, kind of like Dolby Surround, which had wide stereo in the front (often with the usual 'phantom' center channel') to give the illusion of L-C-R front separation) but different, out-of-phase effects and sundry in the rears, which were usually essentially monaural in orientation, but depending on mix and phasing, could offer certain separated sounds, but the quality was inferior to what was happening up front in the main mix.

This album is like that, though there are moments where the rears are properly separated, but even then, there is no consistency to the rears; some songs begin separated to a degree, but then degrade to almost-mono; others are almost-mono in the back speakers anyway. Yet it is not an unsatisfying experience for that; there is ambience at times, but also discrete separation that sometimes stands out but not often enough.

The question is, of course, whether there was an error in mastering, or some strangeness due to the remix itself. Impossible to say, but compared to the original stereo vinyl, it was never quite the same; it's an obvious remix from multi-track sources, but not the 'full quad' one would expect, and certainly not the usual Columbia discrete Q8 sound. The music's good enough to overcome some of the anomalies, but not all.

ED :)
 

Simon A

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The question is, of course, whether there was an error in mastering, or some strangeness due to the remix itself. Impossible to say, but compared to the original stereo vinyl, it was never quite the same; it's an obvious remix from multi-track sources, but not the 'full quad' one would expect, and certainly not the usual Columbia discrete Q8 sound. The music's good enough to overcome some of the anomalies, but not all.
Ed, I wonder if perhaps the strangeness of the mix is only found on the Q8 or if the LP also sounds the same. Perhaps someone can chime in about this.
 

fredblue

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Ed, I wonder if perhaps the strangeness of the mix is only found on the Q8 or if the LP also sounds the same. Perhaps someone can chime in about this.
Uh oh.. once the genie's out of the bottle Simon, we're never gonna squeeze him back in..!! :yikes

Here we go, one can of worms coming up..! :eek:
 

fredblue

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For starters, this is an odd beast and nothing like the spectacular 3+3 Quad mix.

There's no remix credit on the SQ LP of Live It Up, which in and of itself might mean something - it might mean nothing.. there are quite a few SQ's from Columbia and assoc. labels with no remix engineer credit, like Poco - Seven (which is a stunning, very active Quad mix).. or the Tower Of Power Quad which is a real "clobber you over the head" 4-corner job (unusually so being a 4-corner mix in '76) so that's almost a dead end and indication of as I said possibly nothing! :D

In another conversation, Darrin (QQ member Q-Eight) who has the Rare Q8 of this and has lived with it for some not inconsiderable length of time, suggested this Quad may have used "work tapes" or something and I think he is spot on.

There are two tracks that have pretty significantly different vocals and other elements from the stereo, they have a rough and ready feel about them.. which actually works for this at times kick ass raucous funky little album!

Yet.. at the same time drums sound terrific for the most part, more polished and with more body and presence than the stereo (the drums on the title track are propulsive in a way I've never heard before - the detail in parts of the drum kit you can actually pick out the various toms and cymbals that have been mic'd up whereas in the stereo the drums just sort of "hang" there, you know?
(and I've heard this record every which way, I ADORE this album and have every version released of it... and several of the tracks lifted from it in various compilation guises, etc).. its also worth mentioning that lead guitar parts have had some processing and reverb added to them on the Quad, which also adds to the feeling of space and 3-dimensional quality... if you go back to the stereo it sounds pretty flat and uninteresting by comparison to the Quad.


The Isley Quads are a strange bunch in general though, the last one for example, "Go For Your Guns" (credited to Larry Keyes) while not a mega 4-corner job, is, for a 1977 Quad, rather more active than this one, which you'd expect to be all bells and whistles and balls to the wall in '74 and its not, its restrained and refined.

Its all slightly bizarre.. I have now had a chance to compare the Q8 to the SQ a couple of times and - controversially perhaps and unusually so but its how I feel in this particular instance - I actually prefer the SQ thru the Surround Master... I think that little box is actually improving/enhancing the separation in the original mix as presented discretely on the Q8 (better separation of a Quad on SQ than a Q8? Surely not..!? ;) ..this is a strange beast in Quad indeed which I will continue to look at in more detail in the days/weeks ahead.
 

fredblue

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Here is a v.short clip from Track 1 (Live It Up Pts 1&2) from the SQ LP in 4-ch decoded by Surround Master:

h**ps://www.dropbox.com/s/p8pifff9pxgn311/ISLEY%20LIVE%20IT%20UP%20QUAD%20MIX%20DIFFERENCES% 20-%20RUDOLPH.flac?dl=0

This shows you exactly the kind of mix differences in the Quad that I was referring to.

Here you can hear Ronald's lead vocals continuing over Ernie's guitar parts (this is very different from the Stereo) and in this clip if you crank it you can hear one of the Isley Brothers talking to/addressing the other saying something that is largely intelligible followed by a clear "Rudolph"..! As we know Rudy is one of the Brothers doing the backing vocals, so I guess it was some kind of instruction/call to arms almost to "Live! Gotta live.. LIVE IT UP..!!"

(God I love this album :eek: )

This kind of stuff is not in the Stereo, so I do think this old Quad is at least in part a remix from multi's... but there are other elements that smack of upmix/fakery... see, I told you this was a strange beast! :D
 

fredblue

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..and here is a small extract from Track 3 (Need A Little Taste Of Love) from the SQ LP in 4-ch decoded by the Surround Master:

h**ps://www.dropbox.com/s/it8v9452uu33wup/ISLEY%20LIVE%20IT%20UP%20QUAD%20MIX%20DIFFERENCES% 20-%20NEED%20A%20LITTLE%20TASTE%20OF%20LOVE%20-%20MISTER.flac?dl=0

This to me is another indication that the Quad mix of this album is, in part at least, a genuine remix and not entirely a faked upmix or whatever from the stereo, since the lead vocal here is different, including the v.subtle - blink and you'd miss it - changed lyric "if you wanna be loved" / "if you wanna make love"... and there's another little thing where he says just before going into a chorus "mister.." and then sings "if you wanna make love then let somebody hear it..". which is not in the Stereo.

I don't know what to make of this old Quad.. you can hear there is some processing and reverb added to guitar work compared to the stereo - a similar effect to that used on their later "Harvest For The World" Quad from '76, which also opens that album up for the stereo and in SQ LP form sounds absolutely terrific imho.. I also suspect their Harvest Quad is in part at least upmixed/faked but also with genuine mixes from the multi's too.. but that's for another day and another thread here at QQ.

Tea break! :p
 

sjcorne

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Going with an 8 on this one. I really like the album (the last few minutes of "Ain't I Been Good To You" are particularly epic), but I found the quad mix to be a bit underwhelming. There are definitely discrete elements in the rears - usually backing vocals, along with the occasional keyboard or guitar part - but it strikes me as something of a missed opportunity to have all the awesome phased/distorted guitar solos locked to the center front position. Having that lead guitar pop up in the rears or even fly around-the-room at key moments might've really livened things up.

I would agree with the notion that the Q8 features some kind of matrix decode rather than the discrete quad mix (see discussion here). The SQ LP through a Tate features slightly better separation to my ears, but the different isn't night-and-day. Hopefully, a truly discrete version will become available someday (D-V?).

"Ain't I Been Good To You" (Tate SQ):
isley_live_sq.jpg


"Ain't I Been Good To You" (Q8):
isley_live_q8.jpg
 

Q-Eight

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borrowed the quote from the other thread.....

I still haven't seen anything to persuade me otherwise - every Q8 copy of Live it Up I've seen (which is somewhere between 6 and 12, including one that's currently on eBay) has been in the "final" style Columbia cartridge, the one with the bulky/square back end, which they didn't start using until either the very end of 1975 or the beginning of 1976. To me that suggests that the album wasn't released on Q8 until then (the SQ LP was definitely released in late '74, there's an entry in the catalog of phonographic coyprights for it), and when they went to find the discrete 4-channel master it was (for whatever reason) missing or unavailable, so the Q8 seems to be some kind of SQ decode of the encoded master tape used for the LP. I don't think it was a Tate decode since it didn't come to market until 1976 I think, but it's probably a Sony SQD-2020 (or whatever their top of the line studio equivalent was) and being from the master tape rather than a decode of an LP, it fares pretty decently, and is definitely very directional in places.

I've still got the files of the Q8 recording I did and I'm listening to them now. *IF* this is a matrix recording put to a Q8, it's probably one of the most convincing ever. Lightyears ahead of Dark Side of the Moon. Picking the mix apart, it's not that hard to eliminate centered vocals. The mix really eliminates all traces of lead vocal from the rear channels. But it does leave some nice echo of the lead vocals in the rear. Again, that's not hard to do and I've done that myself using the "Vocal Remove" setting in Adobe Audition. If a mono vocal is recorded with a stereo echo then mixed together, with some simple phase shifting the dry lead can be eliminated and the stereo echo retained.

The other thing that also makes me think it's an SQ decode is that anything that appears in Front Right or Front Left also appears at a reduced volume in back center. Conversely, whatever appears in Back Left or Back Right appears in front center again, at a reduced volume. I think there may even be a delay between Back Left and Back right which helps increase the perceived separation between channels. Probably twiddled some EQ knobs too as the vocals that appear in the rear are trebly on the left and kind of bassy on the right. It seems that they may have pulled out all the stops here to make a convincing discrete mix.

OR

Could this mix initially have been slated for an SQ-disc Only?? That wouldn't be unheard of. When somebody made the decision to release a Q8, an SQ-encoded, 2-channel master may have been all that existed or all that could have been located? Hasn't it been said before that the early mixes (1970 through 1972) had discrete masters created and then THOSE tapes were SQ-encoded to create the disc master? Then later releases had dedicated mixes made at the same time? If this title had never initially been slated for a Q8 release, then only an SQ-master would have been made! Or is my logic out-to-lunch on this one?
 

humprof

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Workmanlike mix--I'll let others debate the ins and outs--and pretty good program, even they haven't quite perfected their mid-70s sound that I love. "7"
 

steelydave

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IMO if this mix existed in truly discrete form, it'd basically be identical to the 3 + 3 mix. The middling SQ decoding really dulls the excitement of the rear-panned instruments - instead of popping out of the soundfield, they kinda sit there. If you really concentrate you can discern that they are primarily coming from the rear, but contrast that with the backing vox on 3 + 3 which pop out in a way that often makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Given that this SQ decode was done in 1974, it happened more than 2 years before the Fosgate Tate finally ushered in half-decent SQ decoding, so it was probably done with a SQD-2020 (or CBS Labs studio equivalent) and wouldn't yield much more than 12dB of separation. While a Tate decode from the SQ master might not be revelatory in the way a discrete master tape might be, it would still be leagues better than what we've heard up until now.
 

fredblue

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SQ's a dry old beast that basically eats reverb for breakfast! if you compare the SQ decode of any CBS mix that has a hint of wetness to its discrete counterpart, you'll be surprised how much drier the SQ decode is.

we know a number of CBS Quad mixes are drier than the Stereo even in discrete form anyway (several Larry Keyes and Don Young mixes stick out, such as "Eargasm", "Crazy Eyes", "All American Boy") and i feel SQ is the culprit/influence, CBS' in-house engineers had an SQ mixing rule book and mixed these records so that they would decode as best as they could within SQ's limitations. "Live It Up" (and I suspect the Heat Is On & HFTW Quads) was probably mixed by an engineer at The Record Plant rather than one of CBS' own guys, who may have either been unaware of mixing to account for SQ's strengths and weaknesses or just not cared!

tbh i feel there is more reverb in this mix than is evident in any version we have heard to date and i'm sure some of the guitar work in the title track is supposed to have more reverb and even trail off into the Rears, it just about does it at a couple of points but not convincingly, plus now the discrete of HFTW is out there and from how GFYG pans out in SQ compared to the discrete also, it is not unreasonable to deduce those pounding drums in the title track are probably supposed to be all upfront only rather than all-round.

there are lots of little instances in "Live It Up" where SQ does its thing quite well, putting things toward the Rears such as backing vocals and call/refrain type things, its just a shame there's so much else lumped in there and in the Q8 version some cancellation artefacts back there as well, possibly the result as has been speculated by others here of whatever decoding method CBS may have used back in the 70's.

if you decode the "Live It Up" SQ LP through your Surround Masters and record the results in to your DAW, then sum the Rears to Mono and only play that back in isolation, i reckon you'll be shocked how much stuff cancels out and how little stuff is seemingly only supposed to be in the Rears in this mix rather than whats on the Q8! try it, live it up a little! :LOL: :rocks
 

Q-Eight

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I'm almost ashamed to admit, that on my personal copy of "Live It Up", I used the center channel extractor tool in reverse on the rear channels to increase separation and then added a bit of echo and a smidge of delay to really fatten the mix up.

Just for giggles, anybody know the mixing credits for "Live it Up", "Go for your Guns" and "Harvest for the World"? They're all mixed pretty similar and like Freddo suggests, were probably all mixed off-site by someone not too hip to what Quad is or how SQ works. It's just very obvious they weren't done by anybody in-house at Columbia.
 

sjcorne

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Just for giggles, anybody know the mixing credits for "Live it Up", "Go for your Guns" and "Harvest for the World"? They're all mixed pretty similar and like Freddo suggests, were probably all mixed off-site by someone not too hip to what Quad is or how SQ works. It's just very obvious they weren't done by anybody in-house at Columbia.
Larry Keyes did Go For Your Guns, but the other two are uncredited.
 

Q-Eight

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Larry Keyes did Go For Your Guns, but the other two are uncredited.
My Mistake. Re-playing "Go for your Guns" right now. Yeah..... that's a Larry Keyes mix all right. Clav's in the corners and a semi-stereo handclap in the rears and NOTHING else on "The Pride". Some whisper vocals break through as the song goes forward. Definitely his mixing style.
 

fredblue

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My Mistake. Re-playing "Go for your Guns" right now. Yeah..... that's a Larry Keyes mix all right. Clav's in the corners and a semi-stereo handclap in the rears and NOTHING else on "The Pride". Some whisper vocals break through as the song goes forward. Definitely his mixing style.
"Voyage To Atlantis" is the technical marvel on the GFYG Quad, it cleverly uses panning and delay (aka "Larry's voodoo"! *) that circumnavigates an SQ-No-No by effectively creating a sense of copious reverb in the Rears of CF content (lead vocals) that somehow doesn't foul the SQ system! quite fiendish and the result is absolutely brilliant!

(* when he was on good form, for me he was Scheiner levels of good. Exhibit A = "Energy To Burn", which does the same "4-corners that still stick together like superglue" trick that Scheiner did so spectacularly in "Winelight", when each channel is doing something uniquely different in each corner but you can't tell and the whole thing just gels, that's the Surround music secret formula!)
 

Q-Eight

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when each channel is doing something uniquely different in each corner but you can't tell and the whole thing just gels, that's the Surround music secret formula!)
That's exactly how I like to mix. Now granted I'm no pro by any stretch, but there's been a few times when, exactly like you say, I've got something going on in each speaker and it all comes together and you almost don't even notice that it's surround, or Quad anymore because it's just so tight.
 
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