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Alessi Brothers Savin' The Day CDs Review

 By Paul Rudoff on Aug. 19, 2019 at 12:00 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters 1, Music
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If you listened to the new Ghostbusters fan commentary on the Ghostbusters 1&2 4K UHD & Blu-Ray 5-disc set that was released back in June, you may have heard one of the participants mention that Alessi released an album called Every Version There Is... Or Ever Was containing a variety of edits of their hit "Savin' the Day". That album, which is available on the official Alessi Brothers website, was released around June 11, 2016 (as per this Proton Charging Twitter post). I just found out about it from the commentary, and bought myself a copy. If you'd like to know what it's all about, read on...

I'll be honest with all of you, I never noticed that the version of "Savin' The Day" used in the movie - when the guys get their escort to the Shandor Building - is different from the version released on the soundtrack album. Alex Newborn and his friend Ronnie did. They noticed that "there's like, a cool horn fanfare in the song that is not on the album version. Also, there's some 'doot-doo-doo's and some guitar pickings in the movie version. You can hear the horn fanfare in the movie scene RIGHT when Ecto-1 screeches to a stop, before Bill Murray says 'Hello New York', and again in the credits, before it fades to the next song." He asked the brothers about it, and Bobby Alessi gave him this reply:
You guys should be musicologists. The reason for the variations between the soundtrack version and the movie version is that when we gave Ivan Reitman, (the director) the song which he loved right away, as he was putting the movie together he'd call us and say, "I need a 20 second piece with the opening groove of the song so when we recorded it, it seemed like we needed to add something more to keep it interesting, Thus the horn section. We also extended the intro with the guitar to add suspense. Then Ivan would come back to us and say "I need it to break down for 11 seconds and then come back bigger and more exciting than before which drove us to making all those subtle changes you hear. So if I could find the original film score sections without the dialogue it would be in separate sections. There were 4 versions of "Savin' The Day" that were recorded for "Ghostbusters". We really appreciate your interest in our song. I have a program that can dial out vocals, I'll see if it'll work for the film's dialogue.
Eventually, Billy and Bobby Alessi found their master tapes of these other versions of the song, which lead to the creation of the Every Version There Is... Or Ever Was CD. If you click to the website, you'll see a little note from the brothers about it:
We did this for all the fans that have been asking over and over again.."where's the other versions of Savin The Day? We did do a bunch for the movie and low and behold..we found the 15 IPS tapes of the mixes from over 30 years back. We brought them to Cove City Sound and had them baked in order to retrieve the audio and transfer it to digital so you guys could finally get a hold of these tracks. We did it for you. Also special thanks to Richie Cannada and Cove City Sound.
Notice when they said, "We had them baked in order to retrieve the audio..." They mean that literally. Baked... in an oven. Alex found a December 9, 2015 article from The Atlantic that talks more about the 'baking' process, with regards to movie sound effects. It talks about the degradation of old magnetic tapes, or "sticktion", and how raising their temperature in an oven can "reactivate magnetic bindings and reduce moisture so they'll play again." It's a very risky process. There's a Star Wars documentary where even audio wizard Ben Burtt holds up a reel he accidentally melted and says, "You have to learn to bake them correctly. If they're left in too long, you end up with this interesting piece of art which used to be sound."

So, as you read the rest of this review, you need to appreciate the risks that the Alessi Brothers ran in bringing these tracks back to life for us. They could have been lost forever. It's with that in mind that I'm going to review these CDs more leniently than as I would something mass produced by a big corporation. The other thing to remember is that these are neither official (coming from Sony) nor fan-produced (bootleg). They fall somewhere in the middle. They're home-produced CDs sold by the original artists. The important thing to remember is that although the Alessi brothers are famous musicians, they are not on the same level as Mick Jagger, nor do they have his bank account. These are Manufacture-On-Demand CD-Rs, but please do not expect Amazon MOD level of quality. The brothers have put together nice little CDs with decent quality artwork printed on photo paper. I'm judging these accordingly, and not on the level as something from Amazon or a major music label.

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The main CD is Every Version There Is... Or Ever Was, which is currently priced at $20, plus $4.95 U.S. shipping ($14.00 to ship to anywhere outside the U.S.). It comes in a standard CD jewel case, featuring the cover art of Bobby and Billy with their fine feathered hair. Hey, it was the '80s! The brothers autographed my cover, which has been added to My Ghostbusters Autograph Collection page. The total runtime of the disc is 24:09 and it contains the following nine tracks:

1.  -  5:00  -  Savin' The Day (Extended Version with Horns)
2.  -  4:35  -  Savin' The Day (Live at the Boulton Version)
3.  -  3:22  -  Savin' The Day (Soundtrack Version)
4.  -  0:57  -  Savin' The Day (Crawling Up from the Hole)
5.  -  2:47  -  Savin' The Day (Climbing Out of the Hole)
6.  -  2:36  -  Savin' The Day (Out to Work)
7.  -  1:14  -  Savin' The Day (Movie Edit :60)
8.  -  3:10  -  Savin' The Day (Movie Edit 1:45)
9.  -  0:28  -  Savin' The Day (Wild Cue)

Well, I'm not sure what to say about eight versions of the same song. (The "Wild Cue" is something different from all of the rest.) I certainly heard differences between them, but honestly, after a while, they all started to sound the same :-) That's not to say that I didn't like it. If anything, it reminded me of the old "maxi CD single" days. For those of you too young to know what that is, it was a CD that was sold for a few bucks in a record/music store containing the latest hit single, along with some remixes of it and/or some random other track from that artist that may or may not appear on the full album. They had them for cassettes, too - and before that, record "45's". All of these were the only way to own the latest hit song in the years before you could buy and download it digitally.

Patreon-Exclusive Bonus Feature - Listen to the "Wild Cue" in its entirety.

I can tell you this, I was quite surprised by how good the audio quality was considering the age of the material and the need to bake them in order to get that audio off of the old tapes. That's not to say that there weren't a couple of anomalies. This first one might have been due to the source material.

Track 1 has a weird stereo anomaly where a couple of times the vocals move to the background, as if the brothers were standing next to you, then moved to the other side of the room, then walked right back next to you. I don't know if this is a purposeful part of the song mix or if it's a result of the source material being old. It doesn't really take away from the enjoyment of the tracks, but I felt that I should note it.

As you can see, the "Movie Edits" are longer than the times listed in their titles. I have to wonder about the naming. There is one other anomaly of note. "Movie Edit 1:45" has a silence break from the 25 to 27 second marks. I'm not sure why. I opened the song in my audio editor and removed the silence break, and the song flows perfectly, so I don't think it's supposed to be there.

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The "Live at the Boulton Version" was recorded live at the Boulton Center in Bay Shore, New York on June 4, 2011 with Barnaby Bye (the Alessi's other band). The date of the performance is not included in the album liner notes. Ghostbusters movie clips were shown during the performance, and part of Elmer Bernstein's score can be heard before they start performing. I think the audio on the CD came from the audio track of the video embedded below of the performance, as it sounds exactly the same. (The image above came from the Barnaby Bye website.)


Finally, a brief note about the packaging. As previously stated, it comes in a standard CD jewel case with a dual-sided four-page/folded insert. Front cover of the two brothers in jumpsuits as seen above, inside is the song lyrics on the left and the track list and credits on the right, and the back of the insert is a different photo from the Boulton performance. The back of the case has the track list and credits over the No Ghost logo, as also seen above. The disc artwork is the No Ghost logo in a tire. Below are some of the original artwork files I downloaded off of the Alessi brothers website showing both sides of the insert and the disc, along with my own scan of the back cover. It should be noted that due to the printers used, the artwork won't look quite as good as these images. There will be noticeable horizontal lines in the black areas, and the red on the disc face won't be quite as red. I have included my scan of the disc face for comparison, and my scan of the back cover shows the lines I was referring to. Again, I tell you all of this because that's what a proper reviewer does. I'm not judging the print quality against the product because this is a home-produced product.

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Disc Image (click to enlarge)
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Disc Scan (click to enlarge)

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As noted on the Alessi Brothers website, if you buy the Every Version There Is... Or Ever Was CD, for an extra $10 more, you can get the "Savin' The Day" Karaoke CD with two more versions of the song. (On the website, it looks like there's a separate PayPal "Buy Now" button for it, but that's actually for the "Two Of Us" CD below it. If you want the Karaoke version, you'll need to let Bobby know and send him an extra $10. He'll add it on to your order of the other CD.)

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The Savin' The Day: Karaoke CD comes in a standard CD SLIM jewel case with only front artwork (because slim cases don't have a back artwork panel). The total runtime of the disc is 7:23 and it contains the following two tracks:

1.  -  3:18  -  Savin' The Day (Instrumental with Background Vocals)
2.  -  4:05  -  Savin' The Day (Instrumental without Background Vocals)

Okay, your first thought is probably, "If the Every Version There Is... Or Ever Was CD is supposed to contain EVERY version, why are these versions being sold separately?" That's a good question. I asked Bobby about it, and the short answer is that these are new versions they decided to create recently, whereas the tracks on the other CD are older.

Your second thought is likely, "Well, is this CD worth an extra $10?" That's where things get a little more complicated. Track #1 is definitely good and worth having, though I wish it were included on the other CD; it would give that disc a nice round 10 tracks. Track #2 is a huge letdown, as it's simply Track #1 with the background vocals very clumsily edited out. If you listen carefully, you can hear split seconds of them. A small sample is below. So, it's not a 100% pure background vocal-free track, but it's close to it.


Finally, a brief note about the packaging. As previously stated, it comes in a standard CD SLIM jewel case with only front artwork. Front cover is of the No Ghost logo as seen above, inside are the song lyrics. The disc artwork is the No Ghost logo in a tire. Below are some packaging scans I did. As you can see, due to the printers used, there are noticeable horizontal lines in the black areas, and the red on the disc face won't be quite as red as it should be. I'm not judging the print quality against the product because this is a home-produced product.

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By purchasing these CDs, you are directly supporting the artists, who are working musicians that went through great trouble and personal expense to save these recordings from the ravages of time. That's why I think the price they're charging for the Every Version There Is... Or Ever Was CD is quite fair for such a small amount of tracks. As for the Karaoke CD, I would have preferred if the first track was on the other CD, and I could do without Track #2...but maybe that's just me. If you plan to use it for actual Karaoke singing, then your mileage may vary.

1 comment

Comment from: bobby alessi [Visitor]

Thanks Paul, we really appreciate your kind words. BTW...those background "ahhhs" were floating around on purpose, we did it to emulate the gosts floating around the room.
Thanks again!
~bobby

Aug. 20, 2019 @ 07:38

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