4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, but should have been stupifying,
This review is from: Wind and Wuthering [Hybrid SACD + DVD] (Audio CD)
I've read so many reviews on the net regarding these discs I just had to add my two penneth worth.
Firstly, to anyone who cannot hear the stifling compression on these new remasters, there is a very simple test which I assure you will prove it to anybody, be they I-Pod philistine or just plain hard of hearing. If you play the definitive re-mastered CD version of Eleventh Earl of Marl and listen out in the second verse for the line starting "backwards and forwards", you can hear Phil spit this line out with a very clear expulsion of air from his lungs. If you then play the same from the SACD version (you'll need to adjust the volume down to compensate), that bite of the first syllable has completely evaporated, along with the added emotional weight of course. It's night and day, and nothing less than vandalism.
What you get instead when listening to that line, is perfect clarity and enunciation. And that is generally the trade off in all other respects as well. These discs are hugely superior; they have a much more expansive soundstage, startling clarity, and bigger, smoother bass. The crime is that without the compression they could have been monumental. I will continue to play the SACDs, but I'm always going to be thinking of how they should have sounded.
Turning to the other tracks; "One for the Vine" has great bass wallop at the first "Follow me" chorus, although the drums appear a little drowned out at this point. Also, the piano during the development section and the end is occasionally accompanied by a strange "thumping", which I presume is either a sticky key or the sustain pedals in use, if that is indeed what it is, it speaks volumes for the clarity of SACD.
The weakest track in my view is certainly "Your Own Special Way". Genesis' first true "pop" song, it is extremely bland with rather childish lyrics about someone having their hand held (a six year old?). there is also a little electric piano interlude towards the end to help it sound like 10cc. Still, a lot of other people love this song.
"Mouses Night" is often dismissed by many fans, I presume because of the subject matter; a mouse escaping a cat (isn't this a perfect theme for a Genesis song?). I've always thought of this as a highlight and possibly my favourite song on the album. I love Collin's use of bass drum on this track, and there's a beautiful Hackett guitar solo towards the end as well.
"Blood on the Rooftops" movingly explores the lives of an elderly couple who have wasted year after year in front of the TV; a brilliant and unusual subject I have always thought. The original CD releases displayed some pretty ragged and distorted bass pedals, this has now been completely rectified. In fact, this edition's rendering is almost perfect in most respects. It also suffers the least from "compression damage" as well.
All of the instrumentals sound superb, "Wot Gorilla" has wonderful shimmering Crotales, pretty amazing in the 5.1 mixes actually, and "Slumbers...Quiet Earth" has some really evil sounding synth sounds that grip the listener right in the pit of the stomach.
I've always found the fans favourite "Afterglow" a little bit of a dirge; it slowly builds up from an arpeggio guitar theme without a chorus, middle eight or development section to keep interest. It reminds me a lot of the closing section to the "Musical Box" - should be good then? well, I think it's OK, but the more I hear it the less I like it.
To conclude, these discs are the best releases soundwise of these great albums, but it's a travesty knowing what could of been. I should also add that although I have heard the DTS 5.1, my comments are regarding the SACD stereo mix. I understand the purpose of multi-channel sound in respect to moving pictures, but I'm not too sure about it as far as music goes; I can't make my mind up on where I'm supposed to be sitting.
BTW, I would ignore the murmurings from some quarters that the brilliant defintive edition CDs are to be pulled leaving only the SACD hybrids on sale, the two big retailers I visited in Milton Keynes only had two of the new Genesis discs between them, and had no interest in restocking these or any other SACD/DVD-A.
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Initial post: 17 Jun 2013 07:46:36 BDT
Mark A. Harwood says:
Now there's a thoughtful and helpful review. Cheers.
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