So, here are two differently mastered versions of the same cut of Grease. One huge, with absolutely slamming drums, and sounding a few generations old, the other a clean as a whistle but a bit thin and with no power at all.
You can see what I mean with these youtube clips. Here's the awesome version (a bit of lossy compression going on as usual, but you can get the idea): Frankie Valli - Grease (1978 Clip) - YouTube
And here's the anemic version: Frankie Valli- Grease - YouTube
The first one is played back slightly faster than the second, but otherwise they're the same basic cut. I've checked this in Protools by speed matching them and I get combing happening.
So the question arises - how in hell do you make something that big from such humble beginnings? No combination of eq and dynamics that I applied comes close to the thickness and punch those drums have.
It's easy to squash the drums in sample 2 down to the same dynamic range as sample 1, or to wind in some bass, but it just sounds like standard-issue compression and eq. Where does the magic come from?
The hats in particular have some crunchy fizz on them that sounds like cassette tape or the result of a broadcast process of some sort...
I'd love to hear from anyone who knows how this feat of engineering was likely performed. Because I will then sell the secret to the highest bidder over at the hip-hop forum