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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 2:55 pm 
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Rhino issued this a long time ago and it's still in-print. Entertainment Weekly apparently called it one of the 100 greatest CD's of all-time in a list published in 1994, for what it's worth.

It's a mid-priced disc, retails for $11.99. I just got a used copy. Skimpy track info and no liner notes, the credits don't list the compiler or compilation producer, but it credits Bob Fisher and Dan Hersch at DigiPrep as the mastering engineers.

Typical early Rhino sound, there's a definite top end boost, +3 at 10k and +2 at 6k, most likely. The bass cloud doesn't seem thinned out (either that or there was A LOT of bass cloud to begin with), possibly because it's a rap collection, but definitely needs the top reduced.

Having said that, this is a nice collection to burn if you can EQ it. They used the extended mixes for 8 of 10 tracks, including a now-hard-to-find extended mix of Run DMC's "It's Like That." As a result, even though the disc is ten tracks long, it runs over 69 minutes.

The two exceptions: the Sugarhill Gang cuts, "8th Wonder" and "Rapper's Delight," both of which NEED to be heard in the original 12" mixes, especially "Rapper's Delight," because heard in the edited 6 to 7 minute version included here, it's neutered. They took out the cool piano intro (a Chic sample, I think), and many of the verses. Those two are available on THE BEST OF THE SUGARHILL GANG which Rhino released in the 90's. That also has a treble boost, possibly a touch of compression, but it's the only single disc comp I can think of that's not hard to find and that's still in-print.

I also checked out a single-disc 'distillation' of Rhino's Sugar Hill Records box set. Titled THE BEST OF SUGAR HILL RECORDS (not very imaginative titles, are they?), It's not actually a sampler of that set because they used short versions of some songs that were issued on the box set in their full-length, 12" versions. Definitely a touch of compression, a treble boost...it's kind of disappointing musically because if you have Grandmaster Flash and Sugarhill Gang on CD, the remaining cuts on this disc are hit-or-miss - not a good sign for the box set if a single CD compilation of the same label/material can't stay consistent. "Funk You Up" is already on the HIP HOP GREATS: CLASSIC RAPS compilation...of the remaining cuts, there's two that hold up: "That's the Joint" by Funky 4 + 1 and "Whip It" (no relation to the Devo song) by Treacherous Three. The rest suck - curiousities at best, but you get a failed early experiment in techno ("Break Dancin'" is a weak DJ mix with a weak use of the vocoder) and crappy raps by crappy, early-but-not-groundbreaking artists like "All Night Long" and "On The Radio."

"Whip It" is the full-length version, but "That's the Joint" is actually an edit at 6:12 - the full-length version is 9 1/2 minutes, and is included on the Sugar Hill box set Rhino released.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 1:13 pm 
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I've had Hip Hop Greats for years and I still think it's the best collection of early hip hop ever released. I honestly don't think the top end sounds boosted, though. I grew up with this stuff and I think the Rhino mastering matches the way that most of the tracks have always sounded.

Rhino's Grandmaster Flash comp from the 90's is another story entirely, though. I don't know what went wrong with that one, but the sound quality is atrocious. Every track sounds considerably better on the Sugar Hill box set. The box is tough to listen to straight through because of the sheer amount of filler, but you can use it to make a killer 2-disc comp.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 7:26 pm 
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I agree, a lot of comps cover the same territory, but most of them do a really lousy job of it - maybe it's the licensing, I don't know, but the Rhino disc does the best job.

I didn't know most of this stuff 'til much later, and I never heard the original vinyl, but going by tonality, it sounds to me like there's a lot up there. Maybe that's how the vinyl sounds, or maybe that's on the tapes, but try taking out 3 db at 10k and 2 db at 6k, to me, it sounds better.

That Grandmaster Flash comp, was that late 90's? That might've been the same time Rhino started smooshing every other release.

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