Sound engineer John Stewart has never fallen out of love with DJ Danger Mouse's genius 2004 Grey Album, a mashup of the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album (and neither have I). He's got a golden ear, and over the years, the little audio infelicities in his copy have been niggling at him, so he undertook a complete, crisp, and beautiful remaster of the album. You can download the tracked-out album from MediaFire, or listen on SoundCloud.
It’s got plenty of advantages too: Revisiting The Grey Album with an expert ear gave Stewart the ability to pinpoint its audio flaws, and his professional experience gave him the agency to do something about it. Stewart says he first got the idea to remaster The Grey Album on Wednesday, Nov. 21, but it didn’t really click until that Saturday. On Sunday he set out to improve the album’s audio, tinkering with various faders in ProTools until he achieved the desired effect: “I just kind of put the sonics on steroids,” he says. Stewart knocked out the entire project that day and uploaded The Grey Album (Remastered) to SoundCloud and MediaFire on Monday. In the few passing days since releasing the updated version of The Grey Album it’s been covered by sites such as The Source and FACT Magazine, and a swarm of fans have reached out to Stewart to thank him. “A lot of people have thought that it needed to be remastered,” he says. “So it worked out.”
Stewart says he’s seen people from around the world flock to him—he said his website received about 200 hits from Hungary on Tuesday alone—though personal fame wasn’t the goal. “I wasn’t putting it out to be discovered,” Stewart says. The digital artwork for The Grey Album (Remastered) does include his name on the back cover (“I’ve always enjoyed seeing my name in credits,” he says), but that’s also part of what he considers a pragmatic move. “I wanted people to be aware it was something different,” he says. Among the subtle changes Stewart made to the artwork is a bold border, which also covers up the lower half of his name. It’s more or less a reminder that this is Danger Mouse’s original product, just with a new polish.
EMI mercilessly censored the original release, chasing down people all over the world for having the audacity to share what Danger Mouse had freely given, and which Paul McCartney and Jay-Z had endorsed. I wonder if they'll do it again?