Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Heart Private Audition/Passionworks cd

Heart were a female fronted rock band I grew up with during the mid 70's and early 1980's whose music was on the radio and to which I had on tapes  so hearing these albums and songs literally takes me back to that time which was one reason I bought this.
This much needed re-issue of the long deleted Private Audition album came out recently on BGO Records in England and includes on a separate cd the Passionworks album from 1983. It was mastered for this issue at Sound Performance by Andrew Thompson who does a great job in helpinng it to sound the best it can.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Duran Duran Rio

Rio has been a part of my life ever since May of 1982 owning it on UK record, cassette, US cassette and 8 track plus a couple of European cds so you could say it's a obsession of mine.
We lived and breathed this album and the band back in high school catching them on Top of the Pops taking in a episode of Fame afterwards, talking about it the next day and spending the weekend spending our allowances on magazines and pictures. Come Monday morning we were exchanging the gossip!
Let's start off by saying thanks to the people responsible for the packaging. If you want people to buy physical product it makes sense to major on it and they've done that here.
It comes in the form of a book with textured card, many photographs complete with a excellent essay by Daryll Easlea who writes for Blues & Soul and Record Collector magazine setting the context of the album with accounts from band members about the making of it.
The two discs are in packets at the front and back. If you're not going to store them separately it makes sense to line with mylar sleeves as they come without any!
To the music. The standard cd version of Rio was 'band approved' in 1985 and roughly follows the UK mixes but with a few changes here and there having had two worldwide masterings (1985 and the 2001 ECD remaster).
This release marks the debut of the full UK album master and was freshly transferred at Abbey Road this year with full mastering credits to Steve Rooke.
Abbey Road has gotten a rough press in the recent past but like with those MopTops discs I was pleasantly surprised by this one.
If you're the kind of person who likes a full sound that allows the vocals to come through not so keen on the boom and tizz (smiley face) sound you'll love this.
I was able to play this quite loud without getting the urge to turn it down. When looking at the peak meters while dubbing to MD, I noticed there was quite a bit more movement in the peaks throughout the program than many contemporary releases. This hasn't been brickwalled.
I was not a fan of the ECD remaster finding it a bit bright and of two other pressings on CD I have I usually play the WG PolyGram for EMI European as it's easier on the ear.
It also was the first Cd I ever brought!

Tracks 10-14 (the Kershenbaum US album mixes) sounded as good as you can expect - on vinyl they never sounded great and compared favourably with my XDR cassette of the US album with the obvious benefits of the cd medium at the frequency extremes. A good job was made of transferring the program and I'm sure this will be appreciated by those brought up on this radically different version of Rio.
Disc two is interesting and here I will say to my ears the non album singles and extended versions do sound appreciably better than transfers for the 81-85 Singles box. Like An Angel has always been a favourite of mine and here it sounds less 'loud'.

Overall I'd say it doesn't replace the 'regular' cd version of Rio - I wouldn't bin that - but is well worth getting either for the bonus tracks or for anyone wishing to explore this album for the first time. It was certainly a great modern mastering.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Violin recording favourites featuring My recordings by Anne Sophie Mutter

It may surprise some folk but I do really love the sound of bowed catgut.
It many of the schools I attended we did listen to a lot of non electrical instruments both as recordings and also in live performances and by the age of 8 I'd gotten the catgut music bug having fallen in love with the solo violin part of Scheherazade and even bought a record of it with my allowance. I feel there is something very emotionally compelling in the way it is played that really tugs at your heart strings.

I had a home made stereo record player that while being not as good as my current stereo equipment did enable me to hear the notes reasonable well.
I like the Philharmonia Orchestra recording on Classics for Pleasure (EMI) with Hugh Bean on violin from the early 1960's for the playing and how the orchestral sound isn't manipulated which means it's sounds like you're sat about a third of the way of the front stalls.

If there is one contemporary violinist whose work I follow with interest, it is the German Annie-Sophie Mutter who I first encountered in the early 1980's and to whom I own a good many recordings of including her new recording of the Brahms Violin Sonatas.
I've always had a soft spot for this German female violinist and here is a list of her records that i own and to which I'll add to in time:

The Great Concertos Various 1986 DG box
(Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Bruch,Brahms)
Bach Violin Concertos EMI
Beethoven: Triple Concerto DG 1980 (1985 CD)
Berg Violin Concerto DG
Brahms Violin and Double Concerto DG (82/3)
Mozart Violin Concertos 3&5 (1978) DG
Vivaldi The Four Seasons 

Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos DG

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Introducing the Philips 3310/05

Just bought this DVD player from Philips for my Hi-Vi requirements that can be made multi-regional at the press of a few buttons on the handset.
1. Open the tray
2. Press "9879", followed by the desired region code ("0" for all regions/region-free/multi-region)
3. Press "OK"
It has progressive scan on the component outputs and a co-axial audio digital output for PCM or multichannel usage.The images are pin sharp with finely detailed colours.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Cardcaptor Sakura

I am currently enjoying this anime first show in a heavily westernized from as Cardcaptors on Children's ITV in 2002.
Sakura Kinomoto was an ordinary 4th grader until the day she opened a strange book and let dozens of powerful magic cards loose on the world. Keroberos, the Guardian of the Clow Cards, informs Sakura that it is now her responsibility to find and capture the freed cards. However, much to the reluctant Sakura's dismay, things aren't going to be easy for her; simply saying magic words and waving her wand around isn't good enough. Each card is a living, thinking, extremely powerful being. She'll have to learn to cope with her new responsibilities, as well as ordinary troubles like love, school, family, and friends. With the support of her friend Tomoyo and a young boy with powers of his own, she must learn how to use her newly awakened magical abilities to collect each card and prevent the disaster that will befall the world if she doesn't.

I was able to get this pack of two DVD's from Taiwan that has all 70 episodes on a total of 8 discs packaged in a fold out book manner with protective slip case. Although it has 8 or 9 episodes per disc the coding quality is actually very good - a par with many digital TV services - and has a excellent menu structure.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

At last here they are the Beatles re-mastered!

Finally after 22 years they are here.
I bought that Beatles in Mono box pictured above - the best part of GBP 199.98 - because it seemed to the only box of the two (there was a Stereo Box) that offered anything really essential and not otherwise available.

To start with the cds are all mono - the way many in the 1960's first heard them - and also the priority for mixing the separate tracks together by the record studios as most people bought mono records back then. Often the stereo versions had much less time spent on them so bits of the original mono mix just didn't make it into the stereo.
Most of these have been unavailable since the early 1980's (and then for a very limited time).

Then there's the packaging.
These cds have all been made in Japan with what is called a 'mini lp' form. That's to say they are made to resemble a miniature lp record sleeve using high quality card reproducing exactly the front and rear covers of the originals. There are replica inner sleeves with the designs used for each lp with the actual cd in a mylar wallet to keep it from getting scratched.
The individual cds have original period Parlophone, Capitol and Apple label designs featured for the centre labels of the lps.
The whole cd is then packed in archive quality acid free resealable see through envelope to protect it.

The box has been carefully designed to store the discs with a slide in disc storage compartment to make getting them out to play easy.

The Discs:
Please Please Me
With The Beatles
A Hard Day's Night
Beatles For Sale
Help! *
Rubber Soul *
Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles (Also known as the "White Album" )
Mono Masters - a compilation of singles and EP tracks issued in mono that were not on any UK studio album.

* = These have the original stereo versions also on the same disc NOT the remixes done for cd.
The transfer to cd is extremely good - something that was a problem with the original cds issued in 1987.

Stereo cds:
I mentioned the stereo box earlier on but all that gave you was a box and a DVD of mini Documentaries than were added on the CD's to play on your computer.
As it was cheaper to buy the discs separately I passed on that.
I bought the following titles
Please Please Me
With The Beatles

A Hard Day's Night
Beatles For Sale
Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heats Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles (aka "White Album")
Abbey Road
Let It Be
Past Masters - a compilation of mainly stereo mixes of tracks issued on 45's and EP's that didn't make the UK studio albums

The sound on these discs are much better than the previous (1987/8) editions with greater presence and low bass. This is help me renew my appreciation of John, Paul,George and Ringo.

These come in a folding cardboard package with a booklet about the album and pictures Unfortunately the discs aren't protected from the cardboard (grrr) but you can put them in mylar rounded bottom sleeves as they will fit in the slots where the discs are meant to go.