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Hi-Res Audio Reviews - Pop/Rock
September 2002 - Part 3 of 3
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Simple Minds, The Best Of - Virgin SACDV2953 Stereo SACD (2 discs):

This is a two-disc set of Simple Minds hits. I have fond memories of the group from my youth where I really found myself listening to an entire album and enjoying it tremendously. Certain cuts are flat, harsh, and almost distorted sounding-just how I remember the originals. Other cuts seem to offer higher fidelity in comparison with the original records. Many of the titles will be instantly recognizable to fans or non-fans alike. A couple of the songs like "This Is Your Land" could be used for demonstration material of the capabilities of the format, but of the tracks are nothing special sonically. I honestly don't know how the decision is made as to which titles should become SACD or not. But in many ways there seems to be no consideration made to the original fidelity of the recording. For the listener who doesn't already have a greatest hits record from Simple Minds, then you can be safe in your purchase even if it is only slightly better than the original CD. For those who already have a greatest hits CD, then you might want to think twice. Songs included are: Don't You (Forget About Me); Promised You A Miracle; Waterfront; Alive And Kicking; Glittering Prize; All The Things She Said; Sanctify Yourself; Someone Somewhere (In Summertime); Ghostdancing; Up On The Catwalk; Speed Your Love To Me; Theme For Great Cities; Love Song; The American; Sweat In Bullet; Life In A Day; I Travel; Let There Be Love; This Is Your Land; Kick It In; Let It All Come Down; See The Lights; Stand By Love; Real Life; She's A River; Hypnotis.  Purchase Here

- Brian Bloom

Toto ­ IV - Columbia CS 86544 Stereo/Multi-channel SACD (only):

Unfortunately, this is one of the titles that is SACD only and will not play in a conventional CD player. When I received this disc I was excited. I remember days when I used to play Toto records over and over till I thought I would wear them out! This disc is considered one of their best, and makes an excellent choice for a high-resolution transfer. Many of the original CDs were of impressive quality to begin with, and this disc improves on the fidelity even more. There is light use of the surround speakers in most cases with a majority of the sound coming from the front. Occasionally, harmonies and other percussive sounds would come from the back, but didn't distract from the performance as they tend to do on other discs I've heard. If you like Toto then you probably have this disc already, and upgrading to SACD is a no-brainer-just don't expect to play it anywhere besides your SACD player. Songs included are: Rosanna; Make Believe; I Won't Hold You Back; Good For You; It's A Feeling; Afraid Of Love; Lovers In The Night; We Made It; Waiting For Your Love; Africa.  Purchase Here

- Brian Bloom

Mofro ­ Blackwater - Hi-Res Music HRM 2002 Stereo DVD-A:

The music on this disc is a cross between rock, blues, and bluegrass, with a little funk mixed in for good measure. The band sounds like a cross between Blues Traveler, Stone Temple Pilots, and George Thorogood. All the tunes are upbeat and get your head bobbin'. They all tell funny or interesting stories, about things such as the good ole days of the band's roots, among other things. The audio mix is strictly two-channel and comes across very well. It sounds better than all but the highest quality CD recordings. The disc offers still pictures in the "Album Art" section, but the only thing you see while the music is playing is a static screen with the album title. There is also a "Tech Talk" section with information about the production and the recording process. With the Rotel RDV-1080 DVD-A player I was using I was unable to pause during the songs. However, on the computer I was able to pause and start again with no trouble. If you are into modern blues, with a little different flavor then you will enjoy Blackwater. This is one to kick back or get down and thoroughly enjoy. Songs included are: Blackwater, Ho Cake, Air, Jookhouse, Nare Sugar, Free, Florida, Cracka Break, Lazy Fo Acre, Santa Claus, True Love and Freedom Frog Giggin', Whitehouse, Brighter Days.  Purchase Here

- Brian Bloom

Dennis Brown ­ Money In My Pocket (Anthology) - Silverline 288068-9 DVD-A:

This disc is a great collection of Dennis Brown tunes showing his talent as a solid, soulful reggae artist. The disc includes still pictures and track titles while the music plays. The disc includes a DD track so you can listen even if you don't have a DVD-A compatible player. The music was recorded in four-channel and utilizes the left, right, and surround speakers. Fidelity on some tracks is poor-congested midrange and overly heavy bass that give it a lo-fi sound. The good thing is that this type of sound, including the echo and reverberation, often contributed to the feeling that I was at Venice Beach, or some other live venue enjoying the sound in a large open space. I think most fans of reggae are used to listening to marginal recordings so the big draw is the wonderful music. If you are into reggae then you will not be disappointed. The songs included are: Baby Don't Do It; Lips of Wine; Westbound Train; Cassandra; I Am The Conqueror; Black Magic Woman; The Closer I Get To You; On The Dock Of The Bay; Let Love In; Whip Them Jah Jah; Tribulation; Yagga Yagga; No More Will I Roam; Here I Come; Wolf And Leopard; Money In My Pocket; Ain't That Loving You; Equal Rights; Rainbow.  Purchase Here

- Brian Bloom

Bobby Womack ­ Soul Sensation Live - Silverline 288066-9 DVD-A:

It is a little strange to put on a live concert on DVD and not actually watch it! What you will see is a still picture that changes on every song as well as the song title. But from the beginning, you can tell that this concert is going to be high energy, and surely won't be a disappointment for Womack fans. The music, if you are unfamiliar, is a blend of funk and soul and rhythm and blues. Womack is a somewhat of an urban preacher-singing about the ails of society and looking for the good in humankind. Fidelity on this disc is okay, but not great, and, much of the sound was coming out of the center channel. The surrounds were mainly reserved for crowd noise and echo/reverberation. If you don't have DVD-A capable player, the disc supports DD 5.1. The songs included are: Intro: Womack's Groove; Baby I'm Back; Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out; Daylight; Woman's Gotta Have It; That's The Way I Feel About Cha; Inherit The Wind; If You Think You're Lonely Now; A World Where No One Cries; Ain't Nothing Like The Loving We Got; Trying To Get Over You; I Wanna Make Love To You; It's All Over Now (blues version); When The Weekend Comes; No Matter How High I get (finale); How Can It Be (encore).  Purchase Here

- Brian Bloom

~~~  SIX DTS-DVD MUSIC DISCS ~~~   

Since DTS has begun releasing all music discs with both DTS and DVD-Audio, I felt we should cover our remaining unreviewed discs in this format this month and next. They're not as hi-res as the two new formats of course, but for pop music they can be very enjoyable and if you don't plan to get into DVD-Audio soon it's a fine way to have fun with SSfM [Surround Sound for Music] since nearly all players and HT receivers now feature DTS decoding.

Don Henley - The End of the Innocence- DVD International - DTS DVD only - 69286-01062-2-2:

This is a DTS DVD multi-channel of a very good 1989 Don Henley album. Many audiophiles might find this multi-channel mix to be very gimmicky. I thought it was kind of fun. The performance had very good energy, which was well conveyed by the recording. The songs are very strong. There are two hit songs on the album (The End of the Innocence and New York Minute), but whole album is has good songs. This is unusual for a pop album. Don Henley's voice stays well placed, in between the front speakers, and has good sense of presence. Instruments and backup vocals are mixed into all five channels. They are well defined and crisp sounding. There is a crude cut, at the end of band six, that may make you think that your stereo just dyed. They just all of a sudden turn the music off, with no fade out. The album is 53 minutes long, which is good length for a pop album. Sound A- Music B+ Performance B+

- Clay Swartz

Sting - Ten Summoner's Tales - DTS International - DTS DVD only - 71021-51052-2-2:

This is another DTS DVD multichannel disc from DTS International. The surround mix is maybe a little less gimmicky than the Don Henley disc. The energy of the performance is low key. Sting's voice is placed is placed between the front two channels. His voice could use more sense of presence. The songs are pleasant but not as strong as the Don Henley disc. I really like the song "Fields of Gold". I do prefer the Eva Cassidy version. "It's Probably Me" is also a good song. As with the Henley disc, instruments and backup singers are placed in all five channels. The sound is softer and images not as well placed as the Henley disc. The album is 43 minutes long. Sound B- Music B- Performance B-

- Clay Swartz

Eric Clapton -461 Ocean Boulevard - DTS International - DTS DVD only - 71021-54419-2-4:

Another DTS DVD from DTS International disc from a 1974 Clapton album. The sound here is very similar to the Sting album. Both sound and performance are low key as represented on this disc. There is however some variability in the sound on the various tracks. Some tracks have more life than other tracks. One good thing this disc does is keep backup singers, in front channels behind Clapton. The backup singers are especially good on bands 8 and 10. The music is however stronger on this disc. The songs on the album are all enjoyable to listen to. I think this is a very good album and I enjoyed listen to it very much. The album is 39 minutes long. Sound B Music B+ Performance B

- Clay Swartz

Vince Gill - High Lonesome Highway - DTS - DTS DVD only 71021-51009-2-0:

This disc is from Vince Gill's 1996 album. It is definitely the most natural sounding multi-channel presentation of the five DTS disc in this review. It is the only one where on most of the cuts it sounds like a concert going on in front of you. All instruments and singers are on the stage in front of you. The surround treatment is tastefully done and adds ambience to the sound. The exceptions, to this, are cuts 2 and 7, which are the usual DTS surround. The title song is done twice. The first time in a standard country style. The second was done in a bluegrass style, with the help of Alison Krauss and Union Station. Gill shows various styles of singing including mainstream country, ballads, rockabilly, blues, and bluegrass. The most popular song is "Pretty Little Adriana". My favorite is a ballad "You and You Alone". The front stage has fairly good imaging. The performance is laid back and introspective. This fits the song's on the album's mood. The songs are all pleasant. 43 minutes long. Sound B Music B+ Performance B

- Clay Swartz

Boyz II Men - Boyz to Men - DTS Inernational - DTS DVD only - 71021-51001-2-8:

First let me say that I am not a Boyz II Men fan, so I will mainly comment on the technical side of this disc. This disc is an example of surround sound gone very wrong. From what I know of the group, harmony is suppose to be their big thing. Because the artists are all around you, it is hard to get a sense of harmony. Some cuts have almost no front image at all. Many times the best image is in the rear channels. Many cuts have 50's popcorn sound in the different channels. Cut 1 is especially this way. There are a few cuts that do have a decent front image. At times there is decent sound quality. The cut varies greatly in sound quality. Listening to this disc is sort of like being in the middle of a room at a party and trying to listen to various conversations all around you at the same time. 58 minutes long. Sound: C No comment on the rest.

- Clay Swartz

Ohio Players ­ Honey; DTS Entertainment 71021-54404-2-2 DTS (only) CD:

There isn't much I can say about this Ohio Player's album that probably hasn't been said many times since its introduction in 1975. It is clearly one of their best albums, although there were a few good ones even before this record was released. It's possible that this album was sourced from a quadraphonic recording, but I did not have any information on this, nor was there any inside the jacket. Both voices and instrumentation come front the front and back alike. In some cases, this is clearly a distraction, but with the nice blend of funk and R&B on this album, I thought it was very complementary. The recording quality is very good, and this would easily make a good demo disc if you like this type of music. This is definitely an album that you can groove to. "Sweet Sticky Thing" just picks you up and drops you right back down into the 70s with the tight beat, sensuous saxophones, and smooth vocals. This is one to kick back or get down and thoroughly enjoy. Songs included are: Honey, Fopp, Love Rollercoaster, Ain't Givin' Up No Ground, Sweet Sticky Thing, Let's Do It (Interpolated With Let's Love), Alone.

- Brian Bloom

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