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The Misses. (Reissue roundup: to SACD or not).

The Misses: Some readers who are familiar with these recordings might find me a bit hard on them. In fact, I pondered whether or not I should even list the first two, as they are among my favorite rock artists of the Sixties. Suffice it to say that there is not enough of an improvement to the sound on these higher priced reissues to warrant spending the money for the upgrades to SACD if you already own the standard CD. As for the James Taylor reference, I concede here that I never considered him much of singer back in the early seventies, and I don't think time has helped him much. He's still, in my opinion, a weak performer -- despite the Grammy this recording brought him.

The Byrds: Greatest Hits, Sony CS 66230 - single layer stereo. As much as I had hoped that this release would provide me with improvements in sound quality that would have me doing flips, there's just not any more quality on the tapes for Bob Irwin to find. No, it's not as compressed as the recent SBM remaster, and "Mr. Tambourine Man" is a little clearer, but all things considered, I think the long out-of-print 20 Essential Tracks (CK 47884) collection that Irwin put together (from the Box set) represents this music better than anything short of first pressings of the original albums. Its single distinction is that it is the only SACD I know of to include monaural sound.

Bob Dylan: Blonde On Blonde, Sony CS 841 - single layer stereo. If there were one SACD recording that I wish was as gimmicked as the naysayers would have you believe it would be this one. Throughout my college years I had only heard this album in mono on a budget system. It sounded great to me then, but never has in the stereo versions I've since owned. Ok, ok, yes, it's a little clearer than the SBM gold CD in places, but it's still strident with diminished frequency response (compared to how I remember the mono LP). This recording requires a preamp with a mono switch and tone controls.

James Taylor: Hourglass, Sony CS 67912 - single layer with stereo and multi-channel segments. This is not a true DSD recording; it was converted to DSD from PCM, and sounds like it. I've already intimated my lack of respect for Taylor's music and song, but if this recording demonstrates anything to me, it is that the past 30 years have made him a bitter old man.

Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out, Sony CS 65122 - single layer stereo. What a difference a year makes. Last year I listed this one's HDCD version in my staff picks article; this year it's with the list of vagrants. There's nothing positive to say about this DSD transfer, and as I would expect most who would want to own this album already do, the only thing that needs to be said is that the earlier Sony remaster isn't much different from this one. Save your money.

Jacintha: Autumn Leaves, Groove Note GRV10063 - hybrid stereo. Sound on this one is excellent, though a little too forward for my taste; some will like Jacintha's naive approach to Mercer's masterpieces. But if you want to hear "Autumn Leaves" with feeling, see my brief review of the Eva Cassidy CD in this year's Staff Picks.

Rebecca Pidgeon: The Raven, Chesky SACD 205 - hybrid stereo. Rebecca's no Eva Cassidy either, as evidenced by the little that's here. This is mostly a collection of maudlin songs that might appeal to adolescents; sound is a little less direct than the Jacintha. The one song of interest is "Spanish Harlem" but I would suggest you get the Chesky sampler instead, as it's there along with more interesting music.

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3, Arcadi Volodos (p), James Levine, Berlin Philharmonic; Sony SS64384 - single layer stereo. I'm not sure who put whom to sleep here, but I was shocked to discover that this lackluster performance has gotten raves in the music press. There's just so much missing that I don't know where to begin; I'm sticking with the Wild/Horenstein for now. Adding insult to injury, Sony has merely done a conversion from PCM to DSD here, just as they did with Hourglass, so you might as well save yourself some money and buy the conventional CD if you need a lullaby to get you to sleep.

The audio components used to assess sound for this article include: Rogue Audio 66 Magnum preamp, Sony C333ES SACD/CD player, Quicksilver Audio MS-190 amp in triode mode, Rosinante Evolution Signature speakers, Velodyne ULD-12 subwoofers (pair). As always, I invite reader comments or questions by e-mail stevegbaird@home.com.

-SGB
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Publication:Sensible Sound
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Words:786
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