Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Gold Standard Duran Duran cds?

This piece is here because of a blazing row on Amazon between folk over the recent box sets and discussion at Imwan about what the participants were using as their reference aka a "gold standard".
I intend to set out my store as an ancient Duranie here on what I feel is the Gold Standard of Duran Durans Cds.:
In my opinion there is not one single cd of this title that ticks all the boxes for completeness best sources or mastering.
This album has a lot of high frequency energy that needs to mastered with care to keep the detail while avoiding shrillness at high volumes.
The original cd issues of this came out in 1985 and used the US tracklisting that removed To The Shore and added Is There Something I Should Know. Also most of these were pressed in Japan.
It has a very wide dynamic range and sounds very clear however Is There something I Should Know is mastered at a higher level (about 1/1/2 db higher) than the reminder of the program so you do need to turn down the volume slightly or if you using digital distribution of your music modify the setting of replay gain to equalize it..
It's a good mastering and being prepared to use the volume control I'm very happy with that disc as I don't miss To The Shore that much.

There was 1995 issue pressed in the EU - most of which were Dutch - that takes the previous 9 track selection but restores To The Shore at the End (Track 10).
This is still available from Amazon.UK as a cd and also as a download.
The high frequencies are slightly toned down on this release and the level difference I referred to in the original issues was removed.
If gold standard means to you a disc that sounds really good as is together with having the whole of the UK track order on it then I would say it's as close as it is. It is the one I'd take on a desert island with me.

2003 Digipak remaster. This one has had it's peaks chopped off resulting in clear distortion on Girls On Film (if you examine the waveforms visually you can see it!) and suffers from a nasally vocal sound. Not recommended.

2010 box.
Having listened to it several times I would say it does sound better than the 2003 but remains in the 'acceptable' camp for the main album and yes it has a false start on Girls On Film. It doesn't equal the sound of either of the earlier cds (the 1995 being the best all round alternative) however I'd get this is is for the bonus tracks like the Air and Manchester Square studio sessions which are worth having and the DVD.

Two versions:
The first was pressed with some mastering differences in 1985 in Japan, West Germany and later on around the world using a set of mixes that Duran Duran approved (The Rio sessions have numerous mixes!!) that do depart from the original UK lp. The US lp was very different too.
To be honest I feel this version remains the cleanest sounding of the lot and it is worth picking up a copy of you didn't get a copy at the time.
It's my Gold Standard.
There was a remaster of this mix done in 2001 with 2 videos for playing on your PC that I found had a reduced dynamic range and some messing to the original equalization.
I wouldn't bother with that issue at all.
2009 re-master: This one uses the UK album master so restores all the original mixes and added the US Rio album mixes and a bonus disc.
Done by Steve Rooke it does sound really good equalling the UK lp's sound which wasn't quite as open as the first cd.
I'd recommend this for the original mixes and bonus material or for someone who just wants to done with a good sounding cd of Rio such as a casual fan.

Seven and The Ragged Tiger:
This was a very early cd and like most was initially made in Japan for the UK and North America.
I have not heard a cd of this album sound any better, period as this sounds the same as the lp and XDR tape issues so that is my gold standard
It was re-mastered twice. first in 2003 that added a Digipak gatefold sleeve but suffers from lumpy bass, grainy vocals and obvious limiting. Not good.
The second sadly is the 2010 box set which is very screechy - see the main review (March 2010 Daytime Office Girl Crisis) - and cannot be recommended at all for the music although you may well love as I did the DVD portion.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Duran Duran S/T and 7 and the Ragged Tiger reissues

These came out late last week and arrived on my door over the weekend. Heck, more Nick Heyward references, eh? I've several copies on cd plus UK/US tapes and UK/JPN vinyl so I think I know how they're meant to sound.

For a comparison with all older issues and my 'Gold Standard' references see March 2010 Gold Standard entry.

S/T Review: Original release July 1981 (UK)
This comes in a box with program insert, fold out poster five card pictures of the band plus three discs in card sleeves.
Your first move should be to take your bag of inner sleeves and apply one to each to protect them. Annoying when they got everything else right. 😒
First thing I mention is there is a fade in with tiny pause start about 3 seconds or so on Planet Earth rather than the cold start that graced previous cd versions. This scrappy start only sets the scene for loud harsh mastering throughout this disc.
To me it's disappointing it should just be mediocre compared to all the older cd and vinyl editions.
If you're a hard core fan you might wanna keep your Japan Black Triangle or JPN for UK issue for the running order that takes out 'To The Shore' and adds Is There Something I Should Know we've become accustomed to for twenty five or so years.

Bonus tracks. These are a great improvement on the original 81-85 single box so you ignore that box for the 12" versions and B sides although Late Bar - always a bit thin sounding - might benefit from a touch of D.I.Y. equalizing on your pc if you're that way inclined.
The Extended Night Version of Planet Earth is the same on the Strange Behaviour set.
Conclusion: Recommended for the bonuses.

Raggedy Tiger review Original Release November 1983
This has a program insert, postcards poster and finally three discs which in time honoured style haven't been lined so off we go again to line them 💢
Album (CD1): I have a problem with how it sounds. In essence there are three issues namely EQ, limiting and what I can best describe as a deadness affecting the transients.
The EQ: It sounds to me that to spruce up what was a originally a less than bright mix we've gone for some low end boost, vacuumed the presence region and really pushed up 4-8Khz.
It sounds awful with splashy sibilance!
This takes us to the limiting and it just sounds as if it's at one sound pressure level for much of the time, failing to expand.
On CD I would stick to either the JPN for UK or a 'Black triangle' to listen to the main album that sounds much smoother compared to this or the 2003 re-issue that had a bass bump and grainy vocal sound.
Please don't waste your money buying the 180 gram re-issue vinyl as it will be from the same mastering.
Bonuses (CD2): Tracks 1 thru 7 (Is There Something I Should Know thru' Make Me Smile) have the same problem. Best skipped. 😒
Tracks 8&9 (New Religion & Reflex live LA Forum 2/84) while' loud' are better sounding and otherwise not available on compact disc being originally from the Capitol Reflex 12".Very Handy.
10-13 are the 12" mixes of ITSISK thru Reflex" about loud but tolerable.
Apart from 8&9 there are better sources on cd for these tracks:
ITSISK, Reflex (Single version) - Decade
Faith In This Colour, Secret Oktober & Make Me Smile. -Singles box 81-85 (That box is not perfect but better)
ITSISK thru' Reflex 12" mixes featuring Tiger Tiger (Ian Little Remix) - Japan "Decade" 1991 mini lp on 2 cd set.

DVD Disc 3 Fine and R0 NTSC.
I was delighted As The Lights Go Down was included as my off air billy betamax copy died many years ago.A nice touch is they have the Top of the Pops performances of Reflex and ITSISK included that I saw live back then! Not having on DVD "The Greatest" it was nice to have all this eras promotional videos together.

To conclude: I was disappointed with the sound for much of the audio program but would recommend for the video content and the two previously unissued on cd tracks. I'd gladly of paid what I did for this set on a standalone DVD but suggest you just don't pay too much for a copy.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Everything and Nothing

I was very lucky to get this double retrospective of David Sylvian (the former Japan vocalist) as an inexpensive download from 7Digital.
John, Roy and Ali (Alison) at high school got me into Japan and David's career is one I've followed ever since.
Released originally on double CD/MD and tape in 2000, it gathers up all his solo work including collaborations such as those as with Robert Fripp and adds three reworked tracks from Japan including Ghosts. Recommended to anyone liking thoughtful eclectic music.

Saturday, 13 March 2010


Well I haven't god forbid gone all monkey on you but I bought this new album last week after hearing samples on Amazon.
In shocking move I even got it as an 'album download' unheard of for me for anything new just because it was more convenient for me to listen to on the PC or via my MiniDisc unit on the commute.
Let me say if you like Eclectic and don't have a big issue with rap as style of delivery you'll love this as it seamlessly meanders through classical, soul to rock.
It is well recorded with -gasp - real dynamics for once that will be appreciated by those who are waiting for the vinyl edition to come out.
I blame Pug for getting me into it! xD!!

While I was at it and as 7Digital had it on special offer for £4.49 I downloaded this the 2005 release that features Feel Good Inc.

As well I picked up this, the first Gorillaz album that started it all with the smash hit Clint Eastwood on it.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Thank you!

Not entirely unconnected with the last post, it did happen to be my birthday a few days ago and I would like to thank every at CK Forums and the 'Angelic place' for their birthday wishes.
I had paper money, a Amazon voucher and a dvd which I hope to review soon.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Cheap Trick

Currently I'm getting a number of albums on CD by this US Hard Rock band that I've liked from the late 70's.
In Color: Those who know me may recall I used to play this one at high school recess on the music centre from a pre-recorded cassette I had at the time. If anything this really showed how they could take Hard Rock and at the same time add to it poppy choruses you could sing along to together with much melodic playing.
The album features the hit 45 "I Want You To Want Me" as well as "You're All Talk" and "Oh Caroline". I have the first American made cd of this title which sounds pretty good.
Heaven Tonight: It's an album where they get a tad more adventurous with longer numbers such as the Title track and has the 45 "Surrender" and a spirited cover of the Move's "California Man"
I have the last of the European cds before some (but not all) of their albums were re-mastered in 2006 and this isn't as good as my UK lp more kind of acceptable (a bit thin sounding). I might get a cheap 5Disc set that has the album included from the re-masters.
Dream Police: This masterpiece came out in 1979 and easily is one the best albums they ever did with the epic "Gonna Raise hell" and the hit 45 "Voices".
I got the 2006 re-master of it on Epic/Legacy and it's really worth going with that cd not just for the excellent sound but the many bonus tracks included.
At Budokan is a legendary concert issued original as a single lp in Japan in 1979 but rush released in the states and reissued briefly on cd in a two cd complete concert form.
I recently got the 2006 remastered US single cd of this and while not being exactly audiophile it matches the original yellow vinyl lp.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A Curious Thing

Just out next Monday, this is the much anticipated follow up to "This Is The Life" by the Glaswegian singer songwriter Amy McDonald is out now and includes the lead of single "Don't Tell Me That It's Over".Personal favourites include the slow atmospheric number "My Only One", "No Roots" and the album closer "What happiness Means to Me"
Available on enhanced cd and Mp3 download at Amazon.