SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

* Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here – EMI/Analogue Productions

********* MULTICHANNEL DISC OF THE MONTH *********

 May be the best rock album ever in surround.

Published on April 14, 2012

* Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here – [TrackList follows] EMI/Analogue Productions multichannel SACD 5099952243325, 44.1 min. (Distr. by Harmonia mundi) *****:

Wow! This landmark disc beats out the earlier SACD of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Rolling Stone rated the stereo version one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, but in gorgeous  5.1-channel remastered surround made from the original quad master tapes by the Floyd’s Producer-Engineer James Guthrie, it becomes an unbelievable blockbuster. Pink Floyd pioneered the creative use of surround sound in their concert performances, but they didn’t get any of their quad mixes distributed  on disc, DTS CD or tape as did The Moody Blues. Now technology has caught up with them and we can hear the entire amazing potential of this monumental album.

We’re reviewed a lot of the recent series of lavish Pink Floyd reissues: Here, here, here, here and here. But none of them have been hi-res surround, and even the so-called Immersion box set of Wish You Were Here—with 5 CDs—had no surround SACD disc. This is its first multichannel presentation.

When originally released in 1975 Wish You Were Here topped the charts in both the U.S. and UK. It was their ninth album, and made much use of various studio effects at Abbey Road Studios, where it was recorded. It is full of amazing winding spatial soundscapes that seem designed for multichannel SACD reproduction. The variety of guitar and electronic keyboard sounds on the first half of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” coming before the lyrics, are something to be experienced in surround on a good system.  This is a spectacular instrumental album in which the lyrics often take a back seat. The various machine sounds which introduce and accompany “Welcome to the Machine” are perfectly spatialized and sometimes spun over one’s head. Guthrie did a terrific job in remastering the huge scale and wide bandwidth of the original quad tapes for 5.1 SACD. He made extremely effective use of both the center and surround channels. Though quad didn’t have a separate subwoofer channel, you can be sure there is now plenty of signal going to the .1 channel in his mix.

As Floyd fans are aware, the two-section “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” which bookends the other three tracks, was a touching tribute to their errant founder and ex-member Syd Barrett. At the end of its closing section there are some wild melodic improvisations that had me thinking it was going to slide into Ravel’s Bolero any minute. Roger Waters’ “Have a Cigar” is an angry blast at the hypocrisy of the music business, and the title tune—in which he collaborated with David Gilmour—continues the downer but touching and intelligent lyrics Pink Floyd is known for. I vote for this as the most mind-blowing pop surround album of the year! [Gee, EMI has a huge catalog of multichannel pop and classical—why don’t they release anything else from it as multichannel SACDs?...Ed.]

It comes bound in a hardcover book form, with an insert containing a half dozen postcards with typical Floyd artwork, and the case has various photos of the famous Mono Lake landscape with the diver.

Features:

• Special 6 1/4″ x 5 1/2″ Book-Style Packaging
• 8-Page Full Color Attached Booklet with Full Lyrics
• 6 Postcards “Burning Man”, “Man in the Desert”, “Cover Sticker”, “The Veil”, “The Diver” & “The Swimmer” Housed in Special Pocket.
• 5.1 surround mix by James Guthrie
• Mastered by James Guthrie and Joel Plante
• Mixed and mastered at das boot recording
• DSD authoring for SACD by Gus Skinas
• High Resolution 5.1 Surround Mix, High Resolution Stereo Mix and Standard Stereo Original Mix versions

Musicians:
David Gilmour, guitars, vocals
Nick Mason, drums
Roger Waters, bass guitar, vocals
Richard Wright, keyboards, piano, vocals

Additional Musicians:
Dick Parry, sax (1, 5)
Roy Harper, vocals (3)
Venetta Fields, Carlena Williams, backing vocals

TrackList:
1. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part One) (1-5)
2. Welcome To The Machine
3. Have A Cigar
4. Wish You Were Here
5. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part Two) (6-9)

—John Henry




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