I can remember very clearly when I first heard of Flotsam and Jetsam. As a young hesher growing up outside of Vancouver, Canada in 1986, some bands were on my radar and some were not. Flotsam and Jetsam were the latter. Until the end of that year, when I heard that their bassist, a certain Mr. Jason Newsted had left the band to join a certain other - Metallica.
Having been then (and still now) a huge Metallica fan, I immediately went out and found their debut album Doomsday For The Deceiver to check out this young upstart who had gotten the gig of a lifetime. It didn't get a whole lot of spins on the turntable/cassette deck (kids, check the sub—urban dictionary for definitions), but the band stayed in and out of my conscious/subconscious.
In May of 1988, the band's sophomore release came out, and not having any clear (or at least clearly remembered) expectations at the time I brought it home, gave it a listen and was promptly and forcefully knocked on my ass.
Light years ahead of their debut album, No Place For Disgrace became an under sung masterpiece of the genre that only us cool kids* knew about. New bassist Troy Gregory became one of my favorites in no time - his work on tracks like "Misguided Fortune" and "I Live You Die" a new watermark for my air-bass guitar sessions.
Smash cut to 2014. With many calls to remaster the album (calls I had not joined but didn't altogether disagree with), the band set to planning a remastered reissue of the album.
Here's the thing that may not be widely known: to remaster an album you need to have the original master tapes, which sadly the band was unable to obtain.
So the band found themselves at the intersection of quandary street and conundrum avenue. In other words, do what they could without the masters, do nothing, or re-record the album.
Now, I am not a music snob, nor am I purist, nor do I consider myself to have skilled and attentive enough aural abilities to consider myself an audiophile.
I can only speak as a fan (albeit a fan who happens to write his opinions on a website) and as a fan, I have never seen the point or purpose to re-recording an album.
That's not to say I don't see the reasoning behind it. The most common reason appears to be (in this case as well), that the band wishes to utilize modern recording tools and techniques they didn't have at the time. I get it, I really do, but unless we're talking about drastically altering arrangements and reimagining each song, I've yet to find an example of re-recording being necessary, let alone holding a candle to the original. No Place For Disgrace 2014 can be included in this assessment. Now, I feel I must reiterate - I don't disagree with Flotsam and Jetsam or any band doing this. It's their music. If they want to release a klezmer version of the album that's 100% their prerogative.
If you're somehow new to this band and want to pick this album up, you'll be satisfied with either. If you love the original and are wondering if the 2014 version is worth picking up to see if it's better? It isn't.
The term "classic album" by definition is no longer a classic when it's redone - regardless of intent. But if, like me, you are a fan and want to pick it up to compare the two? Yes, do it. Leave comments in the section below and let me know. I'll wait.
*cool kids - long haired teenage outcasts with exquisite taste.
**please note: the rating included reflects this reissue only. The original is a solid 8.2 slice of fried gold