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Customer Review

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A praiseworthy effort spoiled by disappointing sound quality and liner notes, 1 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Disco Recharge - Fly Away [Special Edition] (Audio CD)
Voyage's "Fly Away" is my favorite disco album of all time - in fact, it's one of my favorite albums from any genre, period. The musicianship is stellar, the album full of lush and breathtaking arrangements. The opening track "Souvenirs" is considered by many as THE best disco song ever. The entire album, as a sonic travelogue, is absolutely transportive.

"Fly Away" was reissued once on CD legitimately on the Hot Productions label in 1993, adding "Let's" to the album title and botching the album cover art. Fortunately, the sound quality was okay, but I felt it could be better. In recent years "Fly Away" - along with Voyage's self-titled debut - was reissued again on CD in Russia. Both discs seemed to be of questionable origin, but the original album cover designs were intact and the sound quality was markedly better, sounding closer to the vinyl LPs but with a little too much of a treble boost. (It's hard to tell what sources were used, but I suspect these were taken from vinyl and cleaned up very carefully.) Again, I felt "Fly Away" could sound better.

I was looking forward to this Disco Recharge Special Edition of "Fly Away" because judging from the plethora of bonus tracks and the up-to-the-minute posts on Disco Recharge's Facebook, this - along with the Disco Recharge Special Edition of Voyage's self-titled debut album - was clearly a labor of love.

Disco Recharge did a wonderful job unearthing jewels of bonus tracks. (I never knew there was a 7" mix of "Tahiti, Tahiti", with more echo!) The packaging of this and the previous album are first-rate, with photos of record labels and sleeves complementing the original album cover. Well done!

However, after hearing the Disco Recharge Special Edition of the first Voyage album, I got worried. Though the original tapes were used, the mastering sounded too loud and too compressed with the high ends shaved off. The crisp and CLEAN sound of the original album was gone. How could this be? I daren't point the finger at anyone, but when the CD sounds too different from the original vinyl album AND previous CD editions, something is amiss.

I got the Special Edition of "Fly Away" two days ago. Unfortunately, the original album's seven tracks also got the same compressed treatment. To add insult to injury, the segues between "Souvenirs," "Kechak Fantasy" and "Eastern Trip" are, for the first time ever, jerky and not smooth, interrupting the flow. Obviously flaws in mastering. What's up with that?!

The bonus tracks are of varying quality, but that's to be expected. What is also expected is the original album to sound as good as it always has, but unfortunately that's not the case here.

Also, "Fly Away"'s liner notes are more about backup singer Stephanie De Sykes' disco career than Voyage itself. It's great that De Sykes was interviewed specifically for this reissue, but a backup singer? Really? What about Voyage itself? I'm sure lead singer Sylvia Mason (now Mason-James) was just as available to lend her insights. What about Marc Chantereau? Slim Pezin? Pierre-Alain Dahan? Roger Tokarz? It would have been a treat to hear how these fantastic studio musicians created the magic heard on these albums.

I may sound overly critical here, but I have loved this album ever since I bought the original LP in 1978. I know the album very well, and I expect it to sound as good on CD as it did on vinyl. I am not an audiophile by any stretch, but it doesn't take one to notice how compressed this CD sounds. I am not alone in my criticism; take note of the reviews of the Disco Recharge Special Edition of the first Voyage album here at amazon.co.uk.

Don't get me wrong - I wholeheartedly applaud Disco Recharge's efforts in reissuing gems like these Voyage albums with primo bonus material, especially in this day and age. But why don't they sound as good as they look?
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Sep 2012, 22:38:26 BST
Last edited by the author on 12 Sep 2012, 03:38:38 BST
James Jay says:
Completely agree, such a travesty. It's a mastering fault and the high frequencies have been clipped due to the mastering being 'hot'. In my opinion the remastering needs to be done again from the master tape flat transfers, which would also require a CD repress. The same with the MP3 releases which have the same fault.

It would be worthwhile sending feedback to Demon Music Group using their online form, and writing/telephoning direct to:

Harmless Records,
36-38 Caxton Way,
Watford,
Herts,
WD1 8UF
United Kingdom

Posted on 12 Sep 2012, 03:39:50 BST
Last edited by the author on 22 Sep 2012, 13:02:31 BST
James Jay says:
Update. It's not a problem due to mastering at Harmless. Notification received that the licensor Squarepeg who owns the master rights, and licensed the transfers made by Tele Music in France, provided them, and that the mastering engineer hired by Harmless hardly touched them. The levels were therefore altered before they reached licensee Harmless, which of course should usually be left to the licensee and their mastering engineer to decide how they want the recordings to sound. Sadly this also means the same altered transfers may be used by the master rights owner on compilations in future if kept as reference copies rather than the expense of transferring tapes again

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Sep 2012, 18:35:19 BST
pixeleen says:
Wow, that is truly awful. Sad.

My question is: couldn't Harmless Records tell something was wrong with the sound of the "masters" they were given? I wish those who actually LIKE the sound of this CD set would just sit down and listen to the vinyl album and then this CD to hear what you and I are hearing, James. One doesn't even need a hi-fi setup to hear the difference!

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Sep 2012, 13:00:32 BST
Last edited by the author on 22 Sep 2012, 13:02:00 BST
James Jay says:
It might have meant Squarepeg having to pay a lot of expense having the tapes transferred in France again. Especially if a transfer engineer didn't keep a copy of the flat transfers after they were 'fiddled' with. But then again the flat transfers might still exist on an engineers hard drive.

Someone has gone beyond their remit by 'fiddling' with the sound levels as part of the music industry 'loudness war' and Tele Music & Squarepeg should provide flat transfers to Harmless free of charge.
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