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When “Vapor Trails” was  initially  released, way back in 2002, it was time for Rush fans to rejoice.  However, when  the album came out, though the songs were amazing, and such a  heavy comeback,  the sound left much to be desired. The drums were muddy and  messy, and the  instruments didn’t really come through very clear. The mix was,  in short,  terrible. Sure, I played the hell out of the album, as I love the  songs, but the  volume could never be cranked up to eleven. It just didn’t sound  good at a  respectable volume.
 
Finally, “Vapor Trails” got  some  much needed tweaking, and Rush fans are treated to what is very much like  a  brand new album altogether. 
 
“One Little Victory” is  superior,  even over the recent “Retrospective 3” remix. It sounds fresh, and
punches, and  there’s even a bit of a guitar solo. The bass guitar really shines on this mix. Geddy is doing some very cool things here, and it’s so great to finally hear them all.
 
“Ceiling Unlimited”, one of my all time favorite Rush songs is phenomenal. Geddy sounds amazing, Neil is far less muddy, and once again, we get a new solo from Alex. Just incredible. 
 
Vocally, “Ghost Rider” really  shines, finally. This was always such a powerful song, but like the rest of the 
album, it fell to terrible production. Geddy’s vocals are so amazing with some  effects, and even the harmonies come through in a much clearer light. Musically this song finally gets the attention it really deserves. The guitars shine through, and the drums are so clear and distinct.
 
“Peaceable Kingdom”, such a powerful song, was so  very difficult to listen to before. It was almost as if
everything was just  thrown into a pot and had mud poured all over them. This new mix is nothing  short of breathtaking. Each instrument so clear and finally separated. A million  little nuances finally rear their heads, and turns this song into something much  more than it could have ever been in the previous version. 
 
“The Stars Look Down” has the sad  distinction of being the only bit of Rush material I never really cared
for.  Overall, the song was a good one, but I didn’t care for the chorus. The remix  doesn’t really change the chorus for me, but the rest of the song is a huge  improvement. This is another scorching tune, and the additional sounds during  the verses are very cool. Alex is doing some really cool work here, that
never  showed up in the original mix. Also of note is the drum bit at the end. Neil  kills it, and it sounds great here!
 
“How It Is” is the point in the  album where we really take a breather, and I never thought it sounded too
bad  when compared to much of the rest of the album. But this remix really pops. As  with the rest of the remixes, the sound of each instrument comes through much  clearer. Just love the instrumental break down and how it is presented here.  Such a beautiful section of music.
 
The title track (of sorts), “Vapor Trail”, was one of my favorite Rush songs from the moment I first heard 
it. Such a cool song, but once again, the sound never did it justice. This new version breathes some much needed life into what may be one of the ten greatest songs that Rush have ever written. The bass guitar works so well with the instruments in this remix, whereas, it was sort of buried and hurt the tune 
before. And the vocal effects, once again, really make this song shine. And the guitars? Amazing! Alex how such a cool tone, and it really plays through in this version. Finally, this song gets the respect a “title track” deserves!
 
“Secret Touch” is another rockers, which means that the original mix was doing it absolutely no favors. 
This remix pulls all of the instruments together, and brings up some things that weren’t distinguishable before. Once again, I think it was the bass guitar that really took the hit before. Not so with this version. Ged sounds amazing! So many cool things going on in this song, that you could never really appreciate 
before. Of note is Neil’s performance on this song. The drums were a bit messy before, but here, you can hear everything that the Professor is putting out there. This certainly made a great Rush song even better. 
 
“Earthshine” is the song that,  in  my opinion, suffered the worst of the production errors on the original mix. It  was just barely listenable at anything above a whisper level. The remix on  the  “Retrospective” set helped, and this sounds even better to my ears. This tune  has been given a new life, and it truly needed it. This song is such a beautiful  tune, but it kicks too! With complete separation for all of the instruments, you  can hear everything crystal clear. Even the bass guitar soars like it never did  before. Once again, some very cool guitar work has been uncovered here, and I  love it!
 
“Sweet Miracle” is the slower tune in the bunch, and didn’t really sound so bad the first time around. Other 
than, of course, the bass guitar. Sounds much better here (I’m noticing a pattern). The bass actually seems to work with the instruments and vocals, rather than against them. This tune was never one of my favorites, but with some of the guitar work I didn’t really hear before, I can see this song rising up at  least a few notches on my Rush list. A definite improvement. 
 
“Nocturne” is a very cool tune.  So many cool things were going on in the original mix, and this remix
improves  even on that. The bass and the drums finally pop on this version. This is one of  the coolest tunes from Rush (up there with “Double Agent”). Some cool vocal  effects on the remix, and all of the instruments shine through loud and clear.  Love how much better the vocals sound. Every note that Ged sings can
finally be  heard clearly, at any volume. Neil is doing some great work in this song, and  it’s so cool to finally hear everything that he is doing. He definitely shines  on this song.
 
“Freeze (Part IV of ‘Fear’)”  was  a huge surprise for Rush fans. I remember when the track list was released, thinking this was a hoax. To my delight, it was not. However, the sound on this song was only better than “Earthshine”, otherwise, it was the worst sounding song on the album. Again, it was something you couldn’t even listen to at a decent volume. Very pleased to say that this is the biggest improvement on this remix album. Vocally, there are effect in place, and Geddy sounds just amazing.  Musically, this song really steps forward in this mix. After hearing this, it may just move up to my top twenty Rush songs. The remix sounds that damned good. Everything is just so clear, and it punches, without maxing out the volume 
levels. Such an amazing piece of music, made, once again, even better. And might   I also add… I love what Alex is doing during the verses. Such a cool tone, and sound. 
 
“Out of the Cradle” is an amazing  song, and it sounded okay in the original mix, but from the first
seconds of  this remix, I knew it was going to sound phenomenal. Each instrument is  separated perfectly, nothing muddles into another sound, and the bass guitar sounds incredible. Geddy is doing things in this song I have never heard him do before. And there are guitar parts I’ve never heard before. Such an amazing album closer, and this version makes it leagues better. This is one of those songs that I’ve always thought the band should pay more attention to. With this remix, I’m thinking it will be something that, at the very least, the fans will pay more attention to.
 
The verdict is in for the “Vapor  Trails –Remixed” album, and it is damned good. David Bottrill did such
an  amazing job at taking the muddied, barely listenable, return of Rush, and turned  it into the album it should have been all of those years ago, a masterpiece!


 


Comments

Niels
10/12/2013 2:56am

Thank you for your detailed review, sounds very promising (like most reviews I've read) and I'm waiting for my copy to arrive, in the Netherlands where I live.
One thing I kind of worry about are two reviews (one Canadian and one UK, so it seems to concern both CD pressings), it seems there is a problem with missing silent frames in each track prior to the first note, causing problems w/ playback

Reply
Niels
10/12/2013 3:07am

PS
Did you not encounter this? It's said to be noticable with shuffle play.
Here are links to those reviews, please let me know what you think (and replay your CD to check?) thanks in advance.

http://www.amazon.ca/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A24Z7A3E4B1R50/ref=cm_cr_pr_auth_rev?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview


http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/RI6STH5GVKO9W/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00E9P959O&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag=

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Nivek2112
10/19/2013 8:57am

I personally have experienced these. There is most definitely a split second section of 'One Little Victory' that when listening seems to be missing. I rewound and played the thing a dozen times to make sure I wasn't going crazy. Since I listened in my car, I didn't notice the rest of the tracks being clipped off at the front. I'll throw it on shuffle and see if I can spot the cut sections.

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jeffran
10/13/2013 6:06pm

Thanks for the review! I'm listening right now and it sounds terrific. For me, it's like a different album.

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Andrew
10/16/2013 1:15pm

I have to say that I mostly agree with your in-depth Vapor Trails analysis, as it is probably one of my favorite Rush albums, and with the remix, possibly my favorite. Thanks again for the analysis. I'd like to add that "How It Is" changed substantially, and it's apparent at the beginning where we hear Alex really come through with the acoustic arpeggios brought out more clearly. Geddy also has clearer vocals with what sounds like some added reverb before the song takes off. Huge improvement on "How It Is." This is definitely a Rush fan's dream come true with a remixed album: I heard Geddy and Alex talk about remixing it in interviews and how they wanted to redo it. I have to say that I disagree with "The Stars Look Down," where I personally like the chorus and the song itself, but listening to the original mix was harsh on the ears. Now, without sacrificing the power and rockibility of the song, we hear everything so well, especially the vocals and the arpeggios which get cleaned up well. "Earthshine" is such a beautiful, inspiring, high-power song and the remix is awesome, and the lead is great and we get new work. "Freeze" is such an underratted Rush song as well. I always wished they had played this live. I also feel that way about "You Bet Your Life" off of Roll the Bones, and "Alien Shore" off of counterparts... so amazing, yet never played. The bass power chords fit in really well, All three of them show off. I love it when it builds up to Geddy's high-register full voice where he belts out "Sometimes I freeze and sometimes I fly.." while the other instruments just go through with it. Did I die and go to Rush paradise?! Couldn't agree with more on so many of these songs. I also love this as a great workout album when I run and lift at the gym and workout. I'm preaching to the choir here, but Rush is simply phenomenal, all of them are amazing, talented musicians and just cool, down to earth guys. We need some more Rush reviewers! I'd love to hear more people's thoughts on this!

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samuel fuzati
10/17/2013 8:57pm

Thanks for that but I need to ask you, how is it possible to create a top twenty Rush songs? It's really hard.

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10/22/2013 12:13am

I just bought this album on Vinyl! LOVE LOVE LOVE. I always liked this album but the remix on Vinyl simply takes it to another level.

After spinning the Vinyl I ran to hdtracks.com and bought the 24 bit download so I can have a top notch digital copy as well. This is simply a landmark rock album and it now has the sound to go with it.

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Niels
11/02/2013 4:38am


I now have listened to the Remix a couple of times and must say the drums, the snare specifically, sound (quite) a bit flat to me and too far back in the mix, it misses punch and they are overwashed by the rest of the instruments, which have improved in clarity and separation (as have the drums).

Seems like a minor thing to another person maybe but I'm quite disappointing by this balance in sound and I'm not even a drummer. Probably if Neil had been involved it would have turned out differently but he did not for well known reasons and I completely respect those.

For now I don't know which is "my" definitive version of VT but I tend to stick with the original, with all its problems...

I love, totally love Rush so this was not easy to say.

Reply
Jackal
12/25/2013 2:25pm

Agree fully. For me, although it's now 33 years old, Peart's drums have never sounded better than they did on 'Moving Pictures'.

Just go to show, time and technology may march on, but not necessarily people's idea of sound quality in recording and mixing.

Reply
Niels
11/02/2013 4:39am


I now have listened to the Remix a couple of times and must say the drums, the snare specifically, sound (quite) a bit flat to me and too far back in the mix, it misses punch and they are overwashed by the rest of the instruments, which have improved in clarity and separation (as have the drums).

Seems like a minor thing to another person maybe but I'm quite disappointing by this balance in sound and I'm not even a drummer. Probably if Neil had been involved it would have turned out differently but he did not for well known reasons and I completely respect those.

For now I don't know which is "my" definitive version of VT but I tend to stick with the original, with all its problems...

I love, totally love Rush so this was not easy to say.

Reply
Niels
11/02/2013 4:44am

PS apologies for posting twice by accident.

Reply
Carlos
11/06/2013 9:01pm

I agree with the last review. I am disappointed with the mix of the drums. After a first listening of the remixed album, at this time I am sticking with the original 2002 mix.

Reply
geddeeee
11/17/2013 11:20am

Maybe David Bottrill could go back and remix the audio for the Exit... Stage Left 5.1 DVD. Alex Lifeson and the other guy really screwed that one up!!! One of the worst sounding things I've ever heard.

Too much sub bass. The drums sound like they are in another room. Geddy's phenomenal Rickenbacker tone is totally destroyed.

How about the original Terry Brown mix in 5.1. that would be awesome....

Reply
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Paul
04/17/2014 2:12pm

I just started listening to the new version, and was shocked to hear a whole guitar part for most of the last minute of One Little Victory that I never even noticed before. I listened to the old version, and it's pretty much drowned out in a mess of noise. There are a bunch of songs on this album that I love, and am glad to have a version that doesn't make my ears tired after fifteen minutes.

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06/29/2014 4:11pm

After careful listening, and after seeing the opening showif this tour, I'd say the remix fixes 40%, 40% stays the same and 20% was better the first time. Ergo: you need both

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