Osmium/Rhenium/First Thangs

So, pardon if this post is kind of pedantic, but I wanted to share/ hear opinions on which Osmium release is preferred (be it Rhenium or First Thangs or even a specific label or something).

I know Motherpage talked about this to some degree, but that was before the newest version of Osmium was released and he also didn’t have Osmium IIRC. Anyways, a while back, I got rips of Rhenium, First Thangs, and the new bonus track release of Osmium. I threw them all into Audacity and what I found is kind of odd:

Firstly, new Osmium has identical tracks to First Thangs with the addition of Breakdown [mono single edit]. But Rhenium is the oddball.

On Rhenium: Red Hot Momma is an alternate take and mono. Come In Out Of the Rain is approx 2.5% faster and mono. Breakdown is the mono single edit. The entire rest of the album’s stereo channels are flipped except for the last track, The Silent Boatman. Utter nonsense.

Now, Motherpage mentioned First Thangs as having a bad transfer or something, however, I haven’t noticed that at all. Much better sound quality than the first two Funkadelic albums (I know Osmium is Parliament). In my opinion FT is the one to get. I would say new Osmium bc of the additional edit of Breakdown but the mastering is just… ugh. I’ll include a picture of the Fantasy Is Reality from both for comparison. The top is FT and bottom is new Osmium, like what is that? Anyways I’d like to hear any and all of your opinions.

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I have always preferred First Thangs. But I have not analyzed these records as closely as you have.

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I love these type of in depth analyses.

Damn that seems really crazy. I got to check that on my releases when I get home! I have Rhenium on vinyl and the compilation The Early Years which is a re-release of First Thangs, so I will compare these two.

The waveform from the new Osmium seems to be clipped (a wave that’s cut off). That happens when the recording volume is set to loud, and could lead to sound distortion. So the question is if the clipping happened when they mastered it or if it was done by the person ripping it?

It’s easier to see the clipping if you zoom in. Maybe you know all that :slight_smile:. But for anybody who don’t, here’s some images of clipped and unclipped waveforms. In Audacity you can also select View > Show Clipping to detect them.

unclipped waveform


clipped waveform


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There’s also the singles from the Holland Dozier Holland box to consider. Let’s not forget the monstrosities on Tamirillnus or whatever it’s called. Btw I prefer First Thangs.

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Yeah the whole “loudness war” stuff and clipping kind of go hand-in-hand. My main point of the picture was to illustrate how much it was clipping. I guess I kinda just assumed most people here would know what clipping is, thanks for picking up my slack haha.

Comparing any of your alternate releases of it would be great. That would be cool if we (anyone on the forum) could collectively compare as many of the Osmium releases as we could.

Good point. I know nothing about either of those

Just checked that Holland-Dozier-Holland box, damn that’s a monster box. Would love to read the booklet that comes with it, maybe there’s some p related stuff in there.

Yeah Tamurinillis is a strange release, with new mixes and the hiphop stuff. But the cover is pretty cool. And then we also have George Clinton With Parliament, but that one is kinda redundant.

Anyways, I compared my two releases and got the same result regarding Rhenium. So here’s a recap:
(mostly what @Phunklord_Siege already said :grin: )

  • Come In Out Of the Rain. In mono and at a faster speed. No part is missing, just faster.
  • Breakdown. In mono and shorter. For example, the Rhenium version excludes a drum/bass break in the middle.
  • Red Hot Mama. In mono and shorter. I like the First Thangs version better, GC goes crazy with the “I gotta gotta gotta gotta have her”.
  • The rest has flipped stereo channels (besides The Silent Boatman).

By looking at discogs, the length of these shorter mono tracks from Rhenium seems to match the time printed on the 7" singles. I got Breakdown and Red Hot Mama on 7", so I will dig them up and double check. Does anybody have the Come In Out Of The Rain 7"? Or else we can maybe find it on yt.

As a side note. On Rhenium it says that I Call My Baby Pussycat is 3:50, but I timed it to a round 4:15 which seems more in line with the time printed on First Thangs.

Btw, welcome to the forum @Crawdad!

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Parliaments Discogs Page
Thanks,There’s five Parliament songs on the HDH box
Come In Out Of the Rain and Little Ole Country Boy correspond with First Thangs. But the label on Discog seems to suggest the Rhenium version was used for the single version of Come In Out of the Rain
Red Hot Mama corresponds with Rhenium
I Call My Baby Pussycat Is edited. The intro is cut and the coda is much shorter. They chop a whole minute off.
Breakdown is 2:24. i looked on Discogs and the label shows 2:29 My Rhenium copy is 3:28 and First Thangs is 3:53

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Do you have Audacity set to show clipping?

So I listened to the 7" singles and can confirm that the short mono versions of Breakdown and Red Hot Mama found on Rhenium are the 7" versions.

Yeah, I have Show Clipping turned on. But I never notice it, since I always set the recording levels so I won’t get any clipping. And afterwards I usually normalize it.

edit: My statement above about Breakdown was wrong, the 7" and Rhenium versions are not the same. (see this post)

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So I guess they re-recorded (or just used a shorter take of) Red Hot Momma for the single and then used the single version for Rhenium?

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Like I said the HDH box version of Breakdown is 2:24. the Rhenium version is over a minute longer, How can that be the single?

Crawdad: That means there are 3 different edits then. The First Thangs 3:53, Rhenium 3:24, and HDH 2:24. Maybe the Rhenium is the single version and they made an even shorter edit for the HDH box for some reason?

Damn, @Crawdad is absolutely right! I must have been totally blind (or deaf) when I listened to the single. Sorry bout that!

As you said, the 7" version of Breakdown is about a minute shorter (compared to the Rhenium version). It’s missing a part in the middle (about 27 seconds) and gets faded out earlier. I added both of them to Audacity and rearranged the 7", so you could see the missing part and where it fades out.

So yes, it appears we have three different edits of Breakdown. The single/HDH box version, the Rhenium version and the The First Thangs version.

The version of Red Hot Mama on Rhenium is however the same as on the 7". :slight_smile: