Buyer Beware: Camille Album (Purple Gold Archive edition)
Rules read and acknowledged:
NO SOLICITING FOR BOOTLEGS! Discussion is fine, so long as the bootleg is not being promoted e.g. pre-release; requests/offers to share or copy, and links to download or bootleg sites are not.
So, before I fall foul of the Japanese mafia (or whoever is behind the PGA albums) I do have to say, I am rather fond of this particular series of bootlegs. I haven't bought many, but I admire the presentation and overall quality of the CDs, the artwork looks great with nice clean spines, the track selections are usually pretty interesting. In short, there are worse ways to collect and enjoy out-takes, demos and remixes etc. A bit expensive to collect since there are so many, but I kind of like them.
However, the reason I took the plunge and bought one for myself (The Camille Album) was because of the claim on the back of the case which read ‘The Album Masters From Original Testpress’. So I assumed that the source for the Camille tracks would either be taken directly from the master tape that created the Camille test press, or it was a recording of the test press itself.
I think I can confirm with 98% certainty that this is not the case.
The main reason I wanted this was because I assumed that there would never be a better version of Rebirth of Flesh, outside of the Prince Estate releasing it officially themselves.To be fair, this is certainly a decent quality version… but this wasn’t taken from a master tape or an official testpress. It sounds like a decent quality leak similar to what we’ve heard in the past. It may have had a few digital enhancements to boot, but it’s by no means perfect.
To my knowledge, all circulating versions of Rebirth have subtle sound quality issues within the first minute, with slight sound distortions and a little background hiss, and this version is no different in that regard. In contrast the other 7 tracks (the ones that have all been released officially) sound as clear as crystal. There was no distinct background hiss in any track outside of Rebirth. No surface noise, pops, or other signs that I was listening to a test press.
To make doubly sure I wasn’t imagining it I tried to find some give away that this wasn’t all taken from the same source, and I think I found it. If you listen to the end of Strange Relationship with the volume up deafeningly high, you can hear an extremely faint background noise as the song fades out. As the track changes to Feel U Up, in the slight pause between the track number ticking over and the song starting, the background noise cuts out completely and goes dead silent for half a second. If this was all taken from the same master, I’m certain such a cut wouldn’t exist.
Am I saying that this is a bad copy of the Camille album? No. As far as fan made compilations go this is pretty decent overall. But is it made from a master like it claims to be? I highly doubt it.
I’m convinced I’ve heard a better quality version of Rebirth out in the wild. I don’t have it myself, but I assumed that this is the bootleg it would have been on. Maybe I was duped by a better fan made remaster, but I’m sure I’ve heard a near perfect version in the past. If it exists, it still eludes me for the moment.
As far as the other tracks on this CD are concerned, like I say, it’s not bad for the most part. I could nit pick at little details, for exampleWitness 4 The Prosecution and Joy In Repetition are cut with other tracks seguing into them, and I’ve heard a clearer version of Wally on another set.
Overall I am disappointed that this album wasn’t what it claimed to be.I thought I’d better share my experience just in case anyone else was thinking of picking it up on the basis that it was a proper master. It is a nifty little compilation if you don’t already own a lot of these out-takes, but if you’re looking for quality upgrades then please don’t get your fingers burnt.