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It was bound to happen. Classical labels in the grip of reissue fever are dredging up some past performances of stunningly limited interest. So why not the notorious Westminster Records Ring? Long considered the worst Ring ever made, it was recorded in Nuremberg in 1968 under conditions worthy of the Marx Brothers: no stars, no money, a seat-of-the-pants recording schedule, and an orchestra that started off Czech and wound up German, as homesick musicians slipped away daily over their Soviet-patrolled border. How dire is this thing? Well, it’s a mess, but not nearly the trainwreck some have made it out to be. Wince-inducing Valkyries aside, there are few outright disasters. In fact, the vivid Alberich and grim, saturnine Wotan are world-class and, compared with the current crop of Brunhildes, Nadezda Kniplova’s rock-solid Slavic sound, with its hints of Birgit Nilsson at the top and Brigitte Fassbaender at the bottom, seems a thing of wonder. Chief drawbacks are the sporadically insightful Hans Swarovsky—a conductor celebrated more as a teacher than an interpreter—and one-shot wonder Joseph McKee, who sings Siegmund with a sort of fakey-baritone heft, and Siegfried in a nasal, metallic blare. Though tolerable at rare moments of soft introspection, his overbearing personality dominates big chunks of the cycle. With its low price tag balanced against the lack of a libretto and wildly variable ersatz-stereo sound, this is an OK starter Ring for those allergic to the live, mono sonics of the radiant (and dirt cheap) ’53 Clemens Krauss/Bayreuth recording on Gala.—Joe Banno