Tomorrow, your local indie record store may just be the place to hang out. That’s because independent music stores across the country will be providing some very exclusive audio for sale on “Black Friday.” Some of these items are limited and are sure to sell out quickly. George Harrison album All Things Must Pass has reportedly been re-mastered from the original analog tapes and will be available in a numbered limited edition 3 LP collection commemorating the album’s 40th Anniversary. It’s also available as a high-res download and is sure to sound better than the last digital mastering.

Many of these collectible audio delights will only be available at Record Store Day participating independent music retailers. These small record stores are a welcome change from the faceless dispensers of mass consumerism. You’ll also have a nice feeling of supporting your local independently owned business during the holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Photographer: Barry Feinstein)

Update 11/26/10: OK, I just compared five masterings of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass on vinyl (all NM, cleaned on a VPI 16.5, and played on a Rega P9).

These comments apply to the track “What is Life” and Side 2:

2010 Apple STCH 639 #3018: This pressing needs to be turned up, as it is a bit lacking in dynamics at lower volumes. My copy appears to be very quiet so this was never a problem. With that done, the LP has a very warm and balanced presentation. On the plus side, the treble is smooth and extended, never harsh or spitty. On the negative side, the bass is a bit diffuse and the presentation lacks the “air” and soundstage depth of the best pressings. Although vocals are a bit recessed compared to the best masterings, they are very natural sounding. In the final analysis, this LP sounds just a bit constricted. Still it is better sounding than any Redbook CD including the original Japanese CP28 (considered to be the best sounding digital mastering). The vinyl I received was dusty and had some minor scuffs, but you could do much worse, both in appearance and sound.

UK Apple STCH 639 (-1U): This original British analog mastering remains the best sounding in my opinion. It has the most natural and sweetest vocals, deepest soundstage, greatest transparency, richest midrange and best dynamics. The background vocals are well separated, there is lots of “air” around instruments and the drums sound the most realistic. The treble can be a bit hard at times, but it “boogies” like no other. The bass is tight, the guitars have lots of bite, and there are oodles of depth and layering.

US Apple STCH 639 (-2-1): This first US pressing is close to the UK in tonality but just a tiny bit veiled and a trace harder. Still, it has the same top end “air” and tight bass as the English pressing. Verdict: the original US Apple LP will give you all you need, unless you feel the need for the UK vinyl.

Japanese EAS 67107-9 (1S): This Japanese EAS LP does not suffer from the brightness that plagues other EAS-series pressings. It has a smooth tonality with everything in its own space. The guitar tone is great and there is a wide soundstage, but it’s not quite as deep as on the UK, and there is less “air” on top. The JPN LP has the most polite presentation of all, yet it is does not have the ultimate “presence.” Still, this one could sound best on a different system.

German IC 192-04707/8/9 (no matrix): This LP sounds a bit veiled and congested compared to the others, as if a copy tape was used. It’s has better depth but is a bit deficient in treble and bass compared to the original Japanese CD (CP28-5459-60), otherwise it’s similar.

All shoot outs like this are subjective and system/room/preference dependent of course. What’s interesting to me is how well the new remaster performed. It’s not my favorite, but it could be yours, especially if you only have the available CDs to listen to.

See Randy’s Audio/Music Evaluation System Here.