RECORD CRACK: Audio Fidelity’s 2LP remaster of “Tron” soundtrack now available

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Kevin Gray’s new remaster of Disney’s soundtrack to the 1982 film Tron is now available. News about this record was posted during the spring, and was initially scheduled for release in June. The new 2-record set was released yesterday, and they’re now available through Amazon and other fine record retailers.

SOME STUFFS: Audio Fidelity remasters Butterfield Blues Band and Eric Clapton

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Two distinctive blues rock artists in their own right are being honored with brand new 24k gold remastered SACD’s from Audio Fidelity, both scheduled for a release in March.

  • Eric Clapton’s Behind The Sun was released by Warner Bros. Records in 1985 and was a part of the guitarists exposure to a then-young MTV audience, and it lead to him getting hits with the songs “Forever Man” and “See What Love Can Do”, both of which receive classic rock radio airplay almost 30 years later. Mastering for this one is by Steve Hoffman.
  • What can be said about East-West that hasn’t already been said? The 1966 was groundbreaking for many reasons, and with Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop as part of the Butterfield Blues Band back then, this was a stoner’s dream. Of course, you have Paul Butterfield himself and together they brought great songs such as “Two Trains Running”, “Get Out Of My Life Woman”, and the almighty title track. Kevin Gray handled the remastering for this new version of the Elektra Records gem.

    As with most of Audio Fidelity’s remastered discs, this is a hybrid SACD, which means it can be played on both compact disc and SACD players. I will provide Amazon pre-order links when they are made available.

  • SOME STUFFS: Scorpions’ “Love At First Sting” gets remastered via Audio Fidelity

    The Scorpions’ 1984 album Love At First Sting was not the first album by the band to get a boost in sales from the then-new MTV cable network (that honor was with Blackout and the video for “No One Like You”), but when it was released, the heavy rotation of “Rock You Like A Hurricane” turned the band from one of the great German metal bands of the 1970’s to a group who were now capable of having a bit of crossover pop success, made very clear with the release of “No One Like You”.

    As per the norm, other tracks on the album would be put into rotation on rock radio upon release, but “Big City Nights” would get a bit of a boost when a live version was released as a video for the 1985 album World Wide Live. Nonetheless, their success with Love At First Sting helped them majorly for the rest of the decade and has helped them through modern times.

    Kevin Gray and Momchil Zanev worked on the remaster for Audio Fidelity, and it can be pre-ordered below via Amazon before its October 2nd release.

    SOME STUFFS: Stevie Wonder to get audiophile treatment once again

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    Audio Fidelity‘s 24k gold CD remaster of Stevie Wonder‘s Talking Book (which I reviewed here) was not a one-time thing, as the label is scheduled to release a brand new remaster of an album that fans have called “part of the Stevie quadrant” or “the forgotten album” compared to what he would end up doing for the 1970’s.

    Music Of My Mind was not the first album Wonder released when be became “of age”, but would later be considered by some to he the first step towards a mature sound that became Wonder’s trademark that decade. While a success, it would be his next album, Talking Book, that was embraced more by pop audiences. Wonder would then begin to carve out the decade for himself with his next two albums, Innervisions and Fulfillingness’ First Finale, and then totally turn the world upside down with the massive Songs In The Key Of Life. However, one can go back to Music Of My Mind to hear not just the seeds of his genius, but simply plants in bloom. This is the album that features such classics as “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)”, “Happier Than the Morning Sun”, and “Keep on Running”, all of which are celebrated by Wonder and Motown fans. In the last 20 years, the album that became “forgotten” would soon be embraced by people who realized the importance of this essential piece to Wonder’s musical legacy.

    This new CD, remastered by Kevin Gray, will be released on Tuesday, October 19th.

    REVIEW: Stevie Wonder’s “Talking Book” (2010 Audio Fidelity Gold CD remaster)

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic Talking Book, depending on who you speak with, is either a part of Wonder’s golden era, a part of his holy trinity or quadrant (Music Of My Mind may not be as influential as his other albums in the 70’s, but many see it as a factor in the music he would create for the decade). It is an album known for its hits “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” and “Superstition,” both of which can be heard on pop radio to this day, but Wonder was branching out, especially in a genre of music that was always based on the maximum potential of the hit single. It was a time in music when artists were looking into creating music as events, and the full length album was the grandest way to do so. Entering his Talking Book was a need to want to know and hear more, and this album would help him become one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

    This CD was made for the audiophile market, so the cost of this 24k gold CD is higher than normal CD’s. Of course, the music on the disc is for everyone, but if you have always wanted to buy this album on CD and wanted to know which was the best pressing to have in your collection, I will say without hesitation that it is this Audio Fidelity. The remaster was created by Kevin Gray, who has worked on a number of remasters over the years, including Steely Dan’s Aja and a number of rock and jazz titles. The original plan was for Audio Fidelity to receive the master tape directly from Stevie Wonder himself, an admitted audiophile. This is how Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) obtained the master tape for Innervisions when the label licensed and released an incredible version of the album in the 1990’s. Audio Fidelity were that close when Universal stepped in and said no, so the only tape Gray was allowed to have was a secondary master, or a master dub from the actual master tape. Even the secondary tape is good, and for the most part this is probably the best you will ever hear this album.

    Hearing the 10 songs on this album from start to finish, you tend to want to focus on the instrumentation and recording techniques a bit more. There’s a certain crispness in what was captured on tape, and an airiness in the studio where you are able to feel the music a bit more, or at least the instruments sound vibrant, alive, almost as if they are breathing entities. When you hear the vocals in “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” come in, you can almost sense the anticipation of the couple singing to each other, then Wonder coming in to sing about being rescued into love. Ray Parker Jr.’s sweet guitar solo in “Maybe Your Baby,” mixed in with Wonder’s work on the ARP and his slightly sped up vocals, may move you to do the things Wonder sings about, and the Moog bass sounds so thick that it sounds as if they’re ready to spill out of your speakers. You also can’t think of “Tuesday Heartbreak” without singing along to the saxophone melody made by David Sanborn, and the way Wonder’s keyboard work pans back and forth in stereo sounds as fresh now as it did all those years ago.

    While Wonder loved collaborating with others (guitarist Jeff Beck played on”Lookin’ For Another Pure Love”), his love of studio technology allowed him to explore and expand the boundaries of his music. In songs like “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)” and “Big Brother,” what you’re hearing is Stevie backed by Stevie, who jams with Stevie, singing with Stevie. It was something that Paul McCartney had explored a year before Talking Book with his McCartney album, and something both Prince, Lenny Kravitz, and DâM-FunK would explore when they first started making their own sounds. That first spark of influence can be heard on this album. What was once considered groundbreaking has lead to it being celebrated as a sub-genre, as if being daring and bold are occupational risks. This new remaster of Talking Book is an example of music done without fear, and to hear it so close to the source is an incredible, mandatory experience. While audiophiles seem to be more focused on hearing rock, jazz, and classical, I do hope Gray and Audio Fidelity will be moved to cover more soul and funk albums. I think a remaster of D’Angelo’s Voodoo would be most welcome (hint hint).

    RECORD CRACK: Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses” to be reissued on vinyl, 30 years later

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    The Friday Music label, already responsible for a good number of vinyl and compact disc reissues, are about to start what is being called the Billy Joel 180 Gram Master Audiophile Series. The first release will be an all new pressing of the classic 1980 album Glass Houses.

    While Joel was popular in the late 70’s, it was the Glass Houses album that has stood the test of time and made him the artist he was in the 80’s. He became a superstar with that album, which featured hits like “Don’t Ask Me Why”, “You May Be Right”, “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me’, and “Sometimes A Fantasy”,which has never left the radio waves. For Columbia/CBS Records, Glass Houses was the start of an incredible decade for the label, who would go on to release REO Speedwagon‘s Hi Infidelity later in 1980, Journey‘s Escape in 1981, and of course Michael Jackson‘s Thriller. Joel’s Glass Houses was very much his Thriller.

    Glass Houses sold millions and can still be found at countless thrift stores, yard, and garage sales. This new pressing on Friday Music is newly remastered from the original analog master tapes by Joe Reagoso and Kevin Gray, so even if you’ve had multiple copies of the album throughout the years, it never sounded like this, and on audiophile quality vinyl to boot.

    This new pressing of Glass Houses will be released on March 16th, in time to celebrate the album’s 30th anniversary. What would have been a great bonus is if Friday Music had pressed up a special one-sided 12″ record with the 45 mix of “Sometime’s A Fantasy”, which unlike the album version has a proper ending. It is the way millions of fans heard the song in 1980, but has never been released in any other form than on the 7″ 45. No luck there, but maybe next time.

    You can pre-order your copy through Amazon.