I was wondering this. A friend said the 30th anniversary DSOTM had nothing on the original '70's pressing. Is this remaster thing just a gimmick to sell us more music? I'm fine with the originals recorded by the band as it was intended.
I doubt the 1975 Aja album I have could be improved upon but that's why I'm asking. When they remaster, what exactly does that mean?
I think that a lot of albums that were re-released on CD in the 80's were transferred to digital without properly compensating for RIAA equalization that was applied to the original master. This resulted in many CDs sounding overly bright and lacking in bass (I have always thought Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly" was a victim of this). Remastering these "old" CD's is pretty much mandatory to make them listenable IMO.
And then, I think, there are other recordings that get remastered to "breathe new life" into sales. For example, "25th Anniversary" editions, or when a new label obtains the rights (Rhino, for example). I also think recordings made during the early days of digital were "tweaked" by the studios to sound crisp and dynamic so as to differentiate them from LP's. We all fell for the "digital sound" back then but now we hear it for what it is - a screechy mess.
I also think that tastes change over the years. Kind of like fads, I believe we as consumers tend to shift our preferences in sound, just like we do with fashion and music in general. Just look at how cinematography has evolved over the years, or how old classical performances tended to be faster than new ones.
Finally, I think sometimes the artists themselves took a page from George Lucas' playbook and want to go back and do it "how they always wanted to." Alan Parsons and Mike Oldfield are two examples that come to mind - not only remastering old albums but removing old tracks and dubbing in new performances/instruments.
Those are my opinions anyways...
That would explain my 6 versions of I Robot....