It's Done!!

All 4 titles (On The Beach, American Stars n' Bars, Hawks & Doves and Reactor)
have been remastered and repackaged.
All 4 titles are HDCD format - compatible with normal CD players but giving enhanced sound quality on HDCD players. Nice one.
Thanks Neil - I know you still don't like CD's - neither do we - but at least we can all stop worrying about it now?
And for proof - here's some scans of the OTB CD

See? It does exist!

My initial reaction to the remastered OTB:
Easily the best OTB I've heard on CD, last year I made a very hi-fi remaster myself last year with high end audio gear from mint German vinyl. I gather it has done the rounds on the internet trading lists, it wasn't bad but this remaster is SUCH an improvement on the transient dynamics and overall distortion levels as you'd expect, things that go 'thump' thump a little more clearly, if you follow me. Not a bad job at all. (even though I gather Neil still doesn't like them - probably never will) Overall background noise is pretty much the same as my vinyl transfer which could be for a number of reasons, not least the degradation of the 29 year old master tapes - the pressing I used was an original German quality pressing and it actually features just slightly LESS overall hiss but of course the titles have been remastered, so it's also possible that the new mix is different although I cannot tell any difference at all in the stereo mix.
The only serious points are:
1) the seemingly deliberate removal of certain clicks and glitches that I know to exist on the original recordings. I miss them already ;-)
2) the standard issue dynamic range compression that afflicts most commercial CD releases where the overall sound is raised in volume at the expense of various peak volumes that get squashed down so as not to distort or clip - (this is standard for CD and is not an error as such)
3) The original vinyl release had a slightly louder 'revolution blues' in comparison with all the other tracks and that is not the case on the new CD where the tracks are more or less the same in overall volume. These minor quibbles aside this is as good as it'll get on CD. I do not have access to HDCD to listen to it that way, maybe some kind soul can let me know if there is any vastly superior sound in the
HDCD replay.
As far as the other 3 titles are concerned I can only report initial listening tests (mine) show that they sound good to me. Reactor really chugs along in an agreeable way - but then I thought it did on vinyl too... ASAB is seemingly faultless and Hawks and Doves gets the same verdict.
They are as good as they'll get on standard CD
The artwork has been thoughtfully re-arranged on all titles to include almost everything that featured on the original LP sleeves and I thank Warner/Reprise for that. Well done folks.

And we can finally settle another issue that has been dogging collectors of this album on vinyl: This is bad news for UK and some German/EU fans of the vinyl - ALL UK copies regardless of vintage were mastered using a faulty cutting tape that played at the WRONG speed. The resulting LP played too fast. It really makes a difference to the sound of the songs so I suggest all UK pressing owners frame the damn thing and put it on the wall and listen to the CD. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
This also applies to later EU and German pressings that carry the 'strawberry' mastering stamp. Original 1st press copies from Germany are OK as are most other nationality pressings to my knowledge - but if it says K54014 or 'Strawberry' in the dead wax run-out area, it plays incorrect. ALL UK pressings are affected.
All US copies are OK.

(incidentally the original pattern that was inside the LP sleeve is reproduced on the inlay tray. The pieces-of-paper-in-the-sand inner bag images are included as part of the front cover which folds out to 6 times it's package size - nice work.

The Petition final count was 5,149
I would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart - we'll probably never know if it had any effect on Neil's decision - but that scarcely matters, what matters is that folks can now buy the album and decide for themselves if it was worth it.

And of course a big thank you to Neil Young himself for finally doing it. You had your reasons Neil, I guess but now that it's out, maybe everyone including Neil Young will stop worrying about it.

Tell me more?
This site has been on-line since mid June 2000,
it was set up as a petition to allow people to register their desire to see this wonderful album again - it was never released on CD until now and was deleted from the vinyl catalogue years back. That seems to be all over and what a relief it is for me.. now I can get on with my life ;-)

Here follows the original text of the front page:


On The Beach is not currently available on CD (or anything else).
I want to give old fans and new fans the opportunity to register their disappointment!
I got featured in MOJO magazine!: image
The original LP from 1974 was deleted years ago and On The Beach has never been released on CD.
It is one of six 'missing' albums in Neil's Reprise back catalogue (the others being: Journey Through The Past 1972, Time Fades away 1973, American Stars & Bars 1976, Hawks & Doves 1980, RE-ACT-OR 1981 - collectively known amongst Neil's fans as 'THE MISSING SIX')

The demand is there, even for bad bootlegs. 2nd hand vinyl copies of On the Beach fetch crazy prices
but they SELL and, as cherished vinyl copies wear out, the album has become the stuff of legend. I think that's a shame. Neil still has the tapes...go figure

So why is it not available?
Neil's label, Reprise are NOT to blame - the decision not to re-release rests with Neil Young.

Why does Neil not release OTB?
Only Neil knows for sure...
Some suggest Neil is punishing us all for not liking the material enough first time around. I don't believe that.
Neil might know...
Some suggest that Neil has bad memories of this period in his life
...maybe so. Only Neil knows.
more plausible explanation is that he simply hates CDs. He has said as much. He has hinted that it may come out on DVD-audio eventually... but who knows? Only Neil.
Maybe he is waiting for DVD audio to become standard before releasing any more of his back catalogue and won't consider releasing on CDs at all? Neil has previously remastered the tapes for CD release but he never actually sanctioned the releases. He is on record [sic] as saying CDs 'fool the mind but leave the heart sad.' CDs are flawed by their very nature. The sampling rate just isn't high enough to capture the deeper resonance of music. That much is true.
It is also true
that CD's are not as good as the record industry would have us believe but there is a BIG PROBLEM with Neil's position:
Most people have CD players now as their primary source of audio. It's not their fault, it's just the way things panned out.
People will use any method at their disposal to obtain the recordings, nothing will change that. CDs will be around for a long while yet. MP3 will be there too... Neil? People just want the tunes - don't hang on to them too long or they may perish, and I know as a musician you never intended that...

If it's about CD sound quality, well, no argument there - they suck but I'd still listen to OTB on CD, and so would many others, but most important of all, people would once again be able to enjoy it. They'd have the chance. When folks can afford to upgrade to DVD, then of course they will do so - but in the meantime CD fills the yawning gap.

I'm not just making this up:
I first heard On the Beach in a car, on tape, on a long drive across Europe. You can't get much less hi-fi than that, even so, the music tore through all the distractions and blew me away. Shouldn't the music be what it's all about?, not the fidelity of the presentation? Whaddaya say? Read some of the entries in the petition archives. Be in no doubt that people feel a lot for this album.
If it's the message or the Times surrounding OTB that's worrying you Neil then... well... that's up to you.
People have gotten to know and love this album so, Release it on CD, and we won't blame you for CD's being crap!

 You, the fans, can join this small appeal by signing the Petition in the guestbook.
You can hear tracks from the album on crap mp3, view the artwork, (including rare songbook pictures by Rick Griffin) and learn more about the album and Neil's other work by exploring the links. You can also read a transcription of an older interview with Neil where he put his views across on this issue, even if they are a bit hard to define! Check it out.

So, whatever you think about Neil's decision, whether it's right or wrong, it isn't up to anyone but him, the fact remains; On The Beach is an incredible album and a fans favourite. It has an audience just waiting to hear it again. That is beyond dispute.
I hope Neil sees this petition and it makes him reconsider. Take a moment to read some of the entries in the petition
A lot of younger fans have never even heard it.

But it's up to Neil

There's no harm in reminding him is there? HEY NEIL!

(and the other 5 too!)