I often wonder why I still buy vinyl with all the much easier to handle and manageable digital formats available. Examples of the problems still facing the vinyl user today are:
- More care needed on storage conditions (e.g. store upright)
- Difficult to get a perfectly flat record needed to optimise sound quality even with new 180 to 200g records.
- Normally 2 to 3 times more expensive than CDs
- Have to keep vinyl clean by using complicated liquids and/or vacuum cleaning machines, blushes, special cloths etc.
- Static a constant problem. Need to invest in antistatic treatment of some kind.
- Surface noise, pops & crackles even with virgin vinyl.
- Etc etc etc:
Then I come across this vinyl release and I know why it is still for me my preferred music format even with all the hassle mentioned above.
Double gatefold with reinforced hinge and cover to take the heavy weight vinyl record (this copy 198g). Ok normal issue with thin paper inner sleeves which go straight into the recycle bin and out come the thick, antistatic, plastic coated heavier duty paper sleeves. The record is flat with minimal surface noise.
The sound is audiophile quality and will impress on whatever level of HiFi system it is being played. No need to ramp up the amp to get a decent volume level as with many sonic compressed vinyl releases put out these days. It is extremely well recorded. On top of this you get one the best guitar players in the world plus a host of exceptional talented musicians to support. What a package.
In my view Jeff has managed to perfectly blend electric guitar with orchestral pieces giving an impressive pinpoint, sharp, clear sound. In addition, the three vocal tracks are expertly mixed producing a very balanced, enjoyable listening experience. This release manages to be one of the few rock albums I have come across that combines modern recording techniques perfectly on vinyl without compressing the high frequency end. The sound fills the full area in front of the listener without giving the impression it is coming from only two speakers. My only issue is that the album is rather short and I think another track or two would not have gone a miss.
A few of the many highlights:
` I Put a Spell On You & There's No Other Me' with Joss Stone: There is a great musical chemistry between Joss Stone and Jeff, which is highlighted perfectly on these two tracks. Her voice is for me always truly amazing.
`Hamerhead' : A change in pace from the first intro track with full driving lead guitar, bass and percussion. Wakes up the listener.
`Nessun Dorma': A great test of the capability of the record deck cartridge/arm tracking ability being the last track with very intense high frequency guitar and orchestral pieces.
`Lilac Wine': Intense, detailed vocals from Imelda May with guitar and orchestra perfectly blended. It gives a very warm feeling sound.
Plus many more:
In conclusion, the perfect combination of audiophile, sound quality and great music. Highly recommended on vinyl.