I own a CD of this album, probably its first release on CD (bought it early or mid 90s).
The sound quality is... well, it has an overall nice warm quality; but it also has some really horrible aspects/defects (see below for details on the audio quality shortcomings).
There is an Original Master Recording CD release from MFSL; however, the "defects" in the audio quality sound to me like analog defects, in which case they would be present in the original analog recording.
Question: is the sound quality of the MFSL Original Master Recording better than that of the CD release I have? Is it free of the defects shown in the fragments below?
In some chunks, Winwood's voice sounds distorted (a distortion that my ear thinks is clipping/saturation — I would imagine that this could have only happened during the original recording, and never during transfer to digital or subsequent processing). Listen to this short fragment:
https://cal-linux.com/tmp/traffic--voice-distortion.flac (track 2, fragment starting approx. 2:47)
Some drum beats sound clearly distorted; and although my ear cannot really identify a culprit, it does sound like an analog artifact — either mechanical distortion (like the drumbeat made something rattle), or some electronic artifact that I'm not sure what could be. In any case, this fragment shows an example:
https://cal-linux.com/tmp/traffic--drums-distortion.flac (track 2, fragment starting approx. 2:35)
Lastly, an example that suggests they perhaps tried to compress the dynamic range and did an outstandingly poor job at it.... Notice that at the beginning of this fragment (near the end of the song, track 2, starting approx. 10:42) the sound is clean; yet, around 7~8 seconds into the fragment, when it gets loud, it looks like they're messing with the dynamic range; then we can hear drumbeats badly distorted as well; around 12 seconds into the fragment, the sound is just plain crappy; and around 20~22 seconds into the fragment, it's just plain horrific. Anyway, this is the fragment:
Looking at the envelope of the sound: although I had always assumed the release would be loudness-war-free, maybe the sharpness and geometric cleanness of the envelope is a bit fishy (e.g., see the lower side between 2:00 and 3:00, or between 4:30 and 5:15), so who knows whether they screwed up while processing:
Secondary question/request: if someone reading/answering this owns the MFSL release (or some other release that you can tell has better sound quality and does not exhibit these defects), could you post the same(-ish) fragments I posted, and/or a snapshot of the envelope so that I can compare? (notice that "Fair Use" exception to copyright protection should apply in virtually all jurisdictions: we are talking about small excerpts from a copyrighted work for the purpose of study/analysis and commentary in a non-commercial/non-profit context)