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Agnes Andrea

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..It's Too Late To Stop Now...Vol. 2, 3, 4
..It's Too Late To Stop Now...Vol. 2, 3, 4
Price: £29.99

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brief overview of the 2016 reissues, 13 Jun. 2016
“..It’s too late to stop now…” (Vol. I) is the classic, original double album, newly remastered. It still uses the old 1974 mix though (as did all previous editions). That mix was rather good but had some limitations - i.e. being a tad thin - so this new remaster while being a slight improvement on the 2008 reissue is still stuck with the pros and (limited) cons of the original mix.

“..It’s too late to stop now…” (Vol. II, III and IV) is a different matter altogether. These are performances from the same tour but are all unissued and have been newly mixed for this release.
The improvement in sound here is substantial. This new mix obviously, and reasonably, maintains the 1974 mix as a reference (strings and piano on the left, horns and guitar on the right) but is richer dynamics wise, particularly bass and drums are more lively making for a punchier, more engaging sound. Minor quibble, the horns seem to be a bit more buried than on the 1974 mix, but as a whole the sound is superb.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 17, 2016 8:31 PM BST

NAD D 3020 Digital Amplfier / DAC
NAD D 3020 Digital Amplfier / DAC

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All you need to know about the NAD D 3020 (but they never told you), 13 Jan. 2016
Reading the various reviews on the web I was amazed to see how this amplifier is usually praised, or vilified, for all the wrong reasons.

It is usually praised for the sound (1), often described as warm and detailed; I read that even mp3 files would sound divinely on this NAD (2); that this amp seems to be much more powerful than its nominal 30W (3), and that "the higher the volume, the better it sounds" (4).
Criticisms usually concern the alleged difficulties to operate the remote due to "erratic" controls (5) - it wouldn’t function properly when shifting between audio sources or adjusting the volume (6). There are also complaints about the appearance of the remote, being the keys black, on a black button on a black background, it is virtually impossible to read it if not in full daylight (7).

In my experience, all of this is simply either not true, or not relevant.
As far as sound is concerned (1), it is essentially neutral, hardly ever aggressive or bright, on the other hand bass frequencies are not particularly warm. I think this NAD shoud be matched with “warm” speakers anyway (I have the Wharfedale Denton 80th) because the sound is after all a bit clinical and I do not think it would perform well with equally “dry” speakers. The level of detail of the sound is not what I expected, it is a rather tight, non musical presentation with a reduced soundstage, and this with every source I tried, not just mp3 but also audiophile CDs (2). You’ll easily find entry-level amplifiers sounding better than this, at half the price. As for the volume, your regular listening session in a medium sized living-room will require to adjust the volume to 2/3 (two/thirds) of the total scale; rising the volume further will indeed rattle your windows (3); but the amplifier will show the strain, the sound will get cranky and unfocused and you’ll clearly get the feel of an appliance pushed to its limits (4).

As for the functionality of the remote (5), I had no problems. The shift between audio sources is even. The volume keys are very gradual, so if you press briefly the variation is almost imperceptible. Just hold down a bit longer and the volume increases / decreases significantly. It's true that blacks keys on a black background are not clearly visible (7), but let's face it: the remote control has very few buttons and handles 3 functions 3: on/off, volume, and audio source. It’s six buttons in all. Anyone with a remote control knows that after a day of use, the location of the buttons, when they are so few, is easily memorized. You don’t have to actually LOOK at it every time you use the remote.

So essentially, and this is my experience, no problem with the functionality. But not great where sound is concerned. If you don’t care much for the sound, and all that matters to you is the digital connectivity, the streaming, the bluetooth functionality, this may satisfy you. But then again, if sound is not your main issue, you’re unlikely to spend £300 for an amplifier.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 17, 2016 3:23 PM GMT

No Beethoven: An Autobiography & Chronicle of Weather Report
No Beethoven: An Autobiography & Chronicle of Weather Report
by Peter Erskine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No Weather Report, 12 Jan. 2016
Mr. Erskine obviously can write. As a writer he has the same sense of rhythm he has as a drummer.
Problem is, referring to the caption under the title, this is an “autobiography” allright, but it certainly ain’t a “chronicle of Weather Report”.
So what do we get here?
In his not-strictly chronological account (and that is a good thing) we get a lot about his formative years and his early gigs with the Kenton and Ferguson big bands; an endless chapter (well, it’s only about twenty pages, but it did seem endless to me) about Mr. Erskine’s endorsement and/or association with drum brands and drum manufactures, which possibly might be of some interest if you’re a drummer (and even so, I’m not sure).
And there’s a lot about life-after-WR and the multitude of musicians and bands he played with, about his solo records, his personal life, his teaching at the University.

So is there anything here about WR?
Yes, interspersed across the book there are the inevitable tales from the various tours, quite a few anecdotes about Joe Zawinul (each and every one of them just reiterating the cliché of the genius disguised as a megalomaniac macho), some moving portraits of Jaco Pastorius. Wayne Shorter is mentioned about three times in the whole book. There’s a two-page chapter devoted to Mr. Shorter (yes, two pages) – which ends up talking about Zawinul anyway.
Wayne Shorter is indeed Mr. Gone in this book.

There’s hardly anything at all about the musical process, about how WR operated as a band, in the studio and on stage. In this respect we get more information from Mr. Erskine’s 16-page booklet accompanying the recent (and recommended) 4-CD box “The Legendary Tapes” (same cover picture by the way).

The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981
The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981
Price: £21.80

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great live recordings from WR's classic line-up, 20 Nov. 2015
These 4 CDs collect live recordings from the Zawinul-Shorter-Pastorius-Erskine line-up (1978, 2 CDs), later augmented by percussionist Robert Thomas, Jr. (1980-1981, 2 CDs). These are wonderful performances, selected by drummer Peter Erskine, and mainly drawn from their dates in Osaka, Tokyo, London's Hammersmith Odeon, plus other venues.

In his essay that stretches across the 16-page booklet, Peter Erskine explains that, although WR usually didn’t make professional recordings of their live shows, either Erskine himself or live engineer Brian Risner would occasionally record some of the shows on a high quality cassette recorder. These soundboard recordings, which Erskine has preserved all these years and has now decided to share, represent the bulk of the set. The sound is good, possibly not audiophile of course dynamics-wise, and there’s some hiss here and there, but very good nonetheless. There are also a couple of recordings made by “someone in the audience”, which are included because unusual in the WR canon, or of particular interest anyhow. The audio quality here is slightly inferior, but not to the extent of detracting from the performance.
Mr. Erskine provides a track-by-track discussion, plus insight about WR’s rehearsal and recording process, as well as their approach to the live sets. His essay is a wonderful reading.

This release comes through as a labour of love from Mr. Erskine and Tony Zawinul (Joe’s son), who curated and produced the set.
From Erskine’s words you can clearly detect the fondness and the affection for his old band and his old bandmates.
The set is also a testament to the work of engineer Brian Risner, “the person who enjoyed the longest association in the band outside of Joe & Wayne”.
Great recordings.

Loaded: Reloaded 45th Anniversary Edition
Loaded: Reloaded 45th Anniversary Edition
Price: £34.99

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The good (studio recordings) and bad (live recordings) about the 45th Anniversary Edition, 3 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is about the 5CD/1DVD-A - 45th Anniversary Edition.
The "live at Max's Kansas City" is still its underwhelming self, a poorly sounding bootleg, maybe a bit polished by the remastering. But it's an audiophile's dream compared to the "Second Fret" live disc. Consider that the bass and the vocals here are virtually inaudible: what you hear is the sound of two (badly recorded) guitars - no drummer on this set - strumming what might be the chords to Velvet Underground songs. Occasionally, you get the impression that someone is actually singing… far, far away in the background. Listening to the "Second Fret" disc made me realize that labels won't stop at nothing. If they have released this, they will go on releasing anything, no matter how wretched and pointless and useless.

On the other hand, the original album is beautifully remastered, and the “promotional mono” version is really engaging, possibly even better and punchier than the stereo one, a truly welcome addition.
The demos&extra tracks is equally great: these are actual studio recordings, excellent and brilliantly recorded, but most of them have already been released so if you own the 1997 “Fully Loaded” 2-CD edition you already have most of these.
There’s also an audio-only DVD with 5.1 mixes, which may be of great interest to many - not to me so I won’t comment on this.

The book is extremely well done and interesting, as customary for these VU super deluxe edition.

Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart
Price: £16.99

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Same as the 2002 remaster, minus the non-album tracks, 25 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Rod Stewart (Audio CD)
Review of the CD box.
Rod's first 5 studio albums, in cardboard sleeves. Terrific music.

Now the bad news.
No booklet, not even an insert with the credits.
The remaster is exactly the same as 2002's 3-CD box "Reason to believe: the complete Mercury recordings" (I've compared them). Not bad, by any means, but certainly it might have been improved with the technology of the last thirteen years.
Moreover *that* 3-CD set featured (beside a 24-page booklet), ALL the studio recordings for Mercury, including singles and tracks previously released only on a UK anthology (8 extra tracks in all).

In this new box you only get the 5 studio albums, individually packaged, no extra tracks. My personal suggestion, if you can find the 2002 anthology cheap, grab that one.

Tomb Of Memories: The CBS Years (1982-1994) [Remastered]
Tomb Of Memories: The CBS Years (1982-1994) [Remastered]
Price: £19.29

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine box set, with good sound, for a great artist, 15 Sept. 2015
During the ‘80s Paul Young was very much rooted in the spirit of the times, and yet his blue-eyed-soul-pop has always been something very original, his musical choices and his arrangements always surprising. Perhaps that’s why his music is still so fresh and enjoyable today… unlike so much music from his contemporaries.
I think that the best thing I can say about this box is, not a single track sounds dated. I guess there are not that many ‘80s artists you can say that about.

This 4-CD set is a compilation of album tracks, singles, outtakes, alternate takes, alternate mixes, singles remixes, unreleased mixes, demos, live tracks… I’m usually not very keen on mixed bags like these, but I must say the tracks flow seamlessly and beautifully. The material is very consistent and there’s hardly ever a drop in quality. Even the demos sound like fleshed out, well crafted versions that could easily be on any album. Still, I have to quibble that it would have been nice to have at least the first three albums presented in their entirety since they have never been given a proper remaster. First album “No Parlez” has never been released on CD in its original form, fostering rumours that the master tapes for some of its tracks might have been lost (a rumour not denied by the compilers of this collection). Oh, and awkward as it may seem, you won’t find Young's cover of “Love will take us apart” anywhere on this set.

The sound is superb. Maybe a bit bright, but gorgeous and with great dynamics throughout. We’re not given any information about the source used for the remastering, but I would assume that the original tapes were used for many/most of the tracks, or a very good transfer anyway. Well, the box/booklet has a few pictures of the boxes for the master tapes so we can assume the bulk of the music comes from there.

The booklet has a nice foreword by Paul Young, who has been involved in the process and in the choice of the tracks, and a fine essay on the artist’s career. Alas, apart from the tracklist there are no credits regarding the recordings, the production and the musicians involved. It’s a bit of a pity actually, since so many fine artists played on these recordings, from Pino Palladino to Big Jim Patterson to vocal trio Chandler Chambers and Jackson.

All considered, it’s not perfect, it could have been compiled better, but it’s still a great set which puts this artist into the perspective he deserves. A must for any Paul Young fan, or for anyone who loves beautifully crafted pop music. And at £20, absolute value for money.

1970-1975: You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything...
1970-1975: You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything...
Price: £27.65

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful remasters for the Faces studio albums, 2 Sept. 2015
Yes, as other reviewers have pointed out, the packaging for this 5-CD box set is rather skimpy and cheapish; there's no booklet - just a three-fold insert with the credits. But in an age of poor remasters from dubious sources, all I really care for is the music. The remastering here is spectacular, and it really benefits the albums.
I already know pretty much all I need to know about the Faces, and if there's anything I want to look up there's always the web, or the books and the magazines piling up on my shelves.
Maybe it's just me getting old here, but I don't feel anymore I need lengthy, sometimes irritating (*) liners notes, or pictures of memorabilia, to keep me amused. Just give me great music with a great sound. This set does it. Five stars.

(*) I'm still thinking of the shabby, poorly written liner notes from Ronnie Lane's Island "Ooh La La" Anthology, which made me think I could have done it better in my sleep, while in the same days Pat Gilbert's well researched, heartfelt essay on Ronnie was published on Mojo. Really, who needs most of the booklets that are being released nowadays?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2015 10:05 AM BST

Capitol Rarities 1968-1977 (Remastered)
Capitol Rarities 1968-1977 (Remastered)
Price: £11.99

1.0 out of 5 stars No rarities indeed, 22 May 2015
I totally agree with the previous reviewer. These "rarities" have all been released on the Band's reissues from 2000/2001, so if you own those, there's absolutely nothing new here, It's just a cash-in

1979 - 1999 (Box Set)
1979 - 1999 (Box Set)
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £74.00

34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity for the definitive Pretenders box, 16 Feb. 2015
This review is from: 1979 - 1999 (Box Set) (Audio CD)
I've been listening to this box for a few days now, and I must say I'm a tad disappointed.
The sound (mastered by Phil Kinrade at Alchemy) seems a backward step if compared to the excellent 2006/2007 WEA/Rhino reissues by Bill Inglot and Dan Hersch.
This reissue sounds a bit shrill, with rather poor dynamics. In some cases this is particularly striking - "Pretenders II" completely lacks its bottom end, you hardly can tell there's a bass player somewhere.

Too bad, as the albums come with a wealth of B-sides, alternates, live versions, soundtrack songs (even if most of the extras to the first 4 albums have already been released on the Wea/Rhino reissues, and the box does not contain "everything" released by the Pretenders in the 1979-1999 span).

With regard to the (Region free) DVDs, the material is mostly Promo Videos and BBC Sessions, and it's quite good overall, but with the occasional major tumble, like the awful audio to the Isle of View DVD, with the signal on the left channel going off and on, a problem which doesn't plague my old Warner copy.
So after all, considering the expectations (and the price), and if you consider that this might be the last chance we ever get to have the Pretenders' complete catalogue released on CD, it does seem a bit of a missed opportunity.
Comment Comments (19) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 28, 2015 8:23 PM GMT

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