Differences between Japanese and US/UK releases of "Liars"
A Todd-fanatic friend and I got together to have our own little listening party to the Japanese import that I'd just received. Coincidentally, we had also obtained a US copy the same day, so we could compare the covers and so on.
We decided to listen to the Japanese import, just because it came out first, Japanese pressings are always rumored to sound better (which in reality isn't always the case) and so on. When I put the disc in, it showed the total time as 73:35 , a nice long album.
We listened to it, stopping track-by-track to review each song. The overall feeling after it was over: a masterpiece, combine today's technology and modern sound with the chord changes, melodies and background vocals of old Todd. It is truly a Todd solo album and I even wish he hadn't brought in the two extra players on two songs. Todd couldn't have ripped out a nice guitar solo on "Anniversary" himself instead of having a guest slide player? That in general was the only VERY slight disappointment: the lack of any real killer Todd guitar solos. I'm sure they'll be there in concert, and hopefully a live CD/DVD will be in the works for this upcoming tour...
Anyway, after my friend left, I decided to pop in the US version just to compare the sound and was stunned when the time counter showed the disc as being 74:20 in length, :45 seconds LONGER than the Japanese version! What on earth could account for this large a discrepancy? My first guess was that maybe one track faded out a lot longer. I had noticed as we listened to the Japanese version that a number of the songs had rather abrupt fades...so, I decided to go through each disc and jot down the times to each song and was again stunned to discover that the individual song times did not match up on a SINGLE song, and that on the US version eight songs were longer, the most striking being the twenty-four second difference of "Past" at 5:55 on the Japanese CD vs. 6:19 on the US.
So, I began listening to the US version and here is the difference in a nutshell: On the Japanese CD, the songs are all individual. They fade out to silence and then the following song starts clean after a second or two. On the US edition, the album flows a la No World Order or A Wizard, A True Star, with the songs either directly connected or cross-fading into one another.
Here then is a track-by-track comparison of the albums and what you'll hear if you select a single track to play:
|1. Truth (Japan 5:12/US 5:13)||Fades to total silence||Continues full-volume to final chord synth wash, and as the final chord fades, the 2nd song begins|
|2. Sweet (Japan 5:52/US 5:53)||Clean intro starts on first chord, lacking hits on the bongos. Long fade-out to silence at end.||As end of track 1 rings out, a few hits on the bongos start song that are not present on the Japanese edition. The song does not fade at all at the end, instead continuing right up to the start of the synth-bass start of track 3.|
|3. Happy Anniversary (Japan 4:24/US 4:21)||Clean intro, final chord rings to total silence for a second or two before "audience" intro to cut 4 starts.||Last note of track two blends in to first note of this track's intro. Final chord of song is actually indexed as the first chord to track 4. So, if you program your player for just track three by itself, it'll cut off right before the final chord ends the song. Likewise, if you want to play just track 4, it starts with the final chord of track three. I honestly believe this to be an index mastering mistake by either Todd or Sanctuary. Anyway, as this final chord is ringing out, the audience for "Soul Brother" fades in.|
|4. Soul Brother (Japan 4:15/US 4:21)||Clean fade-in of audience noise and drum intro. Ten-second fade to silence at the end as the chorus is repeating and Todd is vocally riffing ("Can I get a witness"? "Somebody tell me now..." etc.)||Opens with final chord of track three, with crowd noises heard as chord rings out. No fade-out. Band stops at 4:18 as drums continue and then they fade over intro to track five.|
|5. Stood Up (Japan 4:42/Japan 4:45)||Clean intro of the keyboard riff. Fade out to silence at end.||Intro riff has drums from previous track still fading over first two measures. No fade at end; Connects right to track 6.|
|6. Mammon (Japan 4:53/US 4:46)||Clean intro, end of song crashes final chord and has a long cymbal fade-out to silence.||Clean intro, although connected to previous song. At the end, track 7 starts quickly after the final chord as the final cymbal crash is just starting to ring out, which is why the Japanese version is longer.|
|7. Future (Japan 6:05/US 6:22)||Clean intro of synth chord, fades out at end with "The future is now" chorus.||Synth chord at beginning has cymbal still ringing out from previous song. Song stops cold at 6:04 and then the two lush synth intro chords repeat four times leading directly into start of track 8.|
|8. Past (Japan 5:55/US 6:19)||Clean intro, twelve-second fade at end with Todd vocal riffing.||Clean intro, although directly connected to previous track. Song basically stops at 6:04, but then an acoustic guitar (or more likely a keyboard) plays this staccato riff you can hear in the background during the intro, but here it's by itself and plays for about fifteen seconds before the keyboard bass riff intro to the next song starts on top of it.|
|9. The Wondering (Japan 5:12/US 5:05)||Clean start of the keyboard bass riff. Fade-out at end.||Keyboard bass riff intro has previous song still fading during first seven seconds. Song just starts to fade at 5:02 and then the next song starts right on top of the fade.|
|10. Flaw (Japan 4:42/US 4:57)||Clean intro, fade during chorus at end.||Starts with previous song still fading during first few seconds. At end, music continues on (beyond point where Japanese version fades) but without vocals and no fade, right up to start of next track.|
|11. Afterlife (Japan 3:57/US 3:54)||Clean intro, end fades during chorus.||Clean intro, although attached to previous song. No fade at end; instead, ends cold with final chord like the track 3 & 4 situation, where the final chord is actually indexed as the start of track 12. The synth-wash ring-out of track 11 is over the start of track 12 after the final chord crashes.|
|12. Living (Japan 5:37/US 5:36)||Clean synth-riff intro. Ten-second fade out during the majestic guitar solo.||Starts with the crash of the final chord of the song before it. No fade at end; instead, song stops and Todd slides down on the guitar string after the final lead solo note as synth-wash and tropical jungle noises for the next song start.|
|13. Godsaid (Japan: 7:41/US 7:36)||Clean start of synth-wash/tropical jungle noises. End has rather abrupt-sounding five-second fade during chorus.||Starts rather awkwardly with the final guitar note and a bit of rhythm track to the previous song over the lush intro of this song. This song ends with easily the worst indexing choice- or mistake - on the whole record, cutting off in full mid-chorus with the last "get over, get over yourself" over a drum roll lasting a full five beats being indexed as part of track 14. So, if you play just track 13, it'll abruptly end in the middle of a line. If you want to play just track 14, you get a full line of 13's chorus before 14 actually starts.|
|14. Liar (Japan 5:08/US 5:12)||Starts clean with the opening ominous chord. Ends with cold stop and cymbal ring-out.||Time difference is due to previous-explained annoying indexing of end of "Godsaid" starting out this track. Same end.|
What baffles me is why the US version wasn't given the separated track edition. This version as released in this form will severely hamper radio airplay chances for many of the tracks because - and this comes from a former DJ myself - DJs hate dealing with crossfaded intros and outros. You want a clean start and finish to the track. You don't want to push the "play" button and hear the tail end of the previous track!
If Sanctuary is smart, they will service a promo of the separated-song edition to US radio.
The biggest question of all: why was this done in the first place? Was one of these pressings a mistake? I certainly think the US edition has some indexing mistakes on tracks 4 and 14, but the album definitely flows better as a seamless masterpiece. Only Todd, his management or Sanctuary can answer this one...