Big’n – DTS 25

5 out of 5

Label: Computer Students

Produced by: Carl Saff (remastered by / mastered by)

A big ol’ 25th anniversary vinyl remaster / reissue of Big’n’s Discipline Through Sound, with lots of bonuses.

Let me clear out some minor complaints, and then counter this with what makes this essential for Big’n fans, or those who may already own and love DTS: first, this is missing the phone call bonus after White Russian from the CD version. However, I don’t believe that was on the original vinyl release, so you could argue that that’s “accurate;” plus, you do get the bonus song that followed that – Cuss – which I also don’t think was on the vinyl, so: negative countered. With the inclusion of the Box Factory ep tracks, the whole intro to King of Mexico was left off, which is bizarre to me, since I feel like that’s some integral Big’n anti-rock, and it looks like there was enough time on the vinyl for its inclusion. However, considering this stuff wasn’t on vinyl before, maybe it evens out; and with the remainder of the extras, it definitely does.

Because we get some DTS demo tracks, and while I guess it could be said that they’re not radically different for the most part, excepting some interesting noise added to Dying Breed – that I kinda dig, and wish they’d kept in! – it’s also stunning to me how good these songs sounded in their raw, un-Albini produced form. Like, there is no doubt that this group was not made in a studio, if that was ever in question, but maybe more than that – that the studio was almost holding them back; there’s something unleashed about the demos that I’m not positive was captured on their full releases. So, no, they’re not alternate takes, but they are very much worth listening to, with Carl Saff’s remastering of them, despite some tape-hiccups, making them sound damned fantastic. The final two outtakes, one from a subsequent African Tape-released EP and one, I believe, unique to this release, are similarly great: the AT song is pretty album-accurate, but that unreleased song is – I’m sorry to say, for those on the fence about purchasing this – a fantastic track. It ranks with Angelus Occultation from the Box Factory tracks as being kind of an all-timer: somewhat unusual in its arrangement for the group, very post-rock, but definitely “them” all the same.

Circling back to Carl Saff’s remastering / mastering of this whole thing: that’s your final, and ultimate, “must buy” reason. I cannot believe how good he’s made this album sound, bringing the levels into a range that busts past the kind of distancing effect that was there before, while maintaining the brutal quality of it. I’m hearing the album anew, and properly blown away.

Stack on top of this Computer Student’s fun condom packaging, plus extensive liner notes and photos – the formerly absolutely worth a read, and including lyrics – and, again, if you’re a Big’n fan with an appreciation for vinyl, it’s very much worth picking up, regardless of which format you already own.