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Frank Sinatra – Songs For Young Lovers (10-inch Vinyl RSD 2015 Review)

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Frank Sinatra – Songs For Young Lovers (10-inch Vinyl RSD 2015 Review)

Frank Sinatra had one of the most recognisable voices in recorded music history. He is the epitome of that ‘easy listening’ area, located within most music stores. Plus, when it comes time to turn down the lights, and enjoy a romantic evening with a significant other, there is no one quite like Sinatra to set the tone.

Songs For Young Lovers is Sinatra’s seventh album and is rather short with a running time of just over 21 minutes. Interestingly, there has been a trend over the last few years where albums are being released with a shorter runtime. Two that I can immediately think of are AC/DC’s Rock Or Bust (34:55) and Rob Zombie’s The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser (31:29). I was initially a little perturbed by this shortening of albums again, but it is growing on me and I find that a shorter runtime is keeping the album tight, with no filler to be seen. This is one reason why I adore Songs For Young Lovers as it plays like it should simply be a greatest hits release. In reflection, I feel the CD with its 74–80-minute runtime was just too long for an album. After listening to an album that maxes out of the capacity of CD, I find that I am often tired by the time it concludes. Whereas a 40-minute album, or less, encourages me to listen to the album again. It is an interesting conundrum, but I do hope with the resurgence of vinyl and the refocus on the song, via streaming services, that we will see less filler-filled albums; for a format need no longer be filled, just because it can be.

Anyway, at the time of Record Store Day 2015 ( RSD 15), my better half was in Europe looking for a gift to buy her beloved, that’s me (she doesn’t read my reviews, so I can pad my ego), to say she was thinking of me. She had asked me if there was anything in particular I would like. It was a shame that she wasn’t travelling to the United States as I would have got her to pick up Neil Young’s Pono music player, but I did make it clear that I wasn’t interested in the regular fridge magnet, fancy spoon, or other dust collecting knickknack. Yes, dear reader, I know what I want, and I’m not afraid to ask for it when questioned on the subject. Sure, I like surprises too, and I did get a couple of those, but as much as consumerism may be essential to modern society, I only want to have the goods and services that I will use. Hence, this is one reason why I generally only link to TIDAL Hi-Fi here at Subjective Sounds, despite most of the albums I discuss being available on other streaming platforms. I know some reviewers out there have numerous subscriptions, but I find that TIDAL’s catalogue is sufficient for my diverse interests. For the few albums that aren’t present on the service, I generally have those in my private collection anyway. Interestingly, the biggest holdout for TIDAL Hi-Fi is Metallica. Given that they supported Neil Young’s Pono, with a limited edition signatured edition, I’m quite surprised that they would not be present on a platform that not only pays a higher royalty, but also offers CD-quality streaming to a significant number of countries. Nevertheless, I have their catalogue on vinyl and CD, plus with the addition of iTunes Match for my own private collection, I have my bases covered.

Now will you look at that, I have written close to 500 words about everything other than Frank Sinatra’s album. Fingers crossed I can get back on track, but don’t quote me on it.

One of the things that intrigued me, when my significant other gifted me this album, was that it came as a 10–inch release. In-fact, it was the first 10–inch vinyl in my collection, so to me it was rather unique. It was also the first time that this album had been reissued on vinyl since the mid 80s and the version I have is the stereo release. The RSD reissue was not released in Mono, however, Vinylogy’s DOL label reissued a Mono release in 2015 that includes additional tracks. It is important to note that as Songs For Young Lovers is no longer in copyright in Europe, Vinylogy’s release is most likely cut from a digital source of unknown origin or mastering quality (possibly a CD). It is almost certain that the original tapes would not have been used. Perhaps a first, or second, generation duplication master tape if we’re lucky. That said, these ‘bootleg’ style pressings from DOL, WaxTime, Vinyl Lovers etc, that I have in my collection, all seem to have a pleasurable sound as well as being incredibly quiet with little to no noticeable noise between the tracks, or throughout the lower volume areas within songs. Even some of the highly regarded vinyl labels don’t achieve this. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are after a Mono release of the album, you should seriously consider the DOL release. Personally, the stereo edition is adequate as I’ve never quite got into Mono recordings. If anyone can suggest a Mono recording that I should check out, that you believe is superior to the stereo mix, please let me know and I will take a look.

While the RSD 15 edition of Songs For Young Lovers was limited to an odd print run of 2,575 copies, none of them are numbered. Yes, I know a number isn’t everything, but it is something to show off and my kids think it’s cool. When it comes to music appreciation, music loving parents really have to fight to have the music heard in the modern era. Yes, the technologies have been wonderful for music discovery, but let’s just say that YouTube et al has eroded more hours of my life than I care to admit.

What I particularly like about this reissue of Songs For Young Lovers, is Universal Records ensured that this release is as close to a replica of the original as possible. Yes, there are a couple of very minor alterations but original information is presented such as how to store the record and a word about high fidelity vinyl reproduction. From a collector’s point-of-view, I love this additional information as it is nostalgic, as well as informative, of the vinyl production, distribution, and playback processes employed in the 1950s. If only they would include this kind of information/marketing speak on modern releases. I love liner notes that give me something more than who sang and played what, along with the lyrics of the song and the random individuals the artist wishes to thank.

I’ve often read that Songs For Young Lovers is considered to be one of the first concept albums, whereby a theme or story arc continued throughout the entire album. While I’m in no position to disagree, I have always enjoyed a concept album and have held Alice Cooper’s concept releases, such as Welcome To My Nightmare, in the highest regard as they tell an overarching story across the entire album, rather than being random songs from the same genre, as Songs For Young Lovers is. That opinion shouldn’t be viewed as negative, just a different view as to what a concept album is.

Songs presented on this album include:

The lovely playful song My Funny Valentine. It immediately shows off Sinatra’s gorgeous vocal delivery. Honestly, the world has so many amazing vocalists, but as soon as I hear Sinatra, I find that I am just in awe and I honestly don’t believe he had, or has, any peers.

The Girl Next Door is a lovely easy-listening track. Perhaps what I love most is the mix of Sinatra’s vocal with the accompanying musical elements. In this case, as with most of Sinatra’s recordings, his vocal delivery takes pride of place and isn’t drowned out by the music; a very common problem I find with modern recordings.

A Foggy Day is a song that I truly enjoy. The song has a number of slow and fast elements that work perfectly together.

Like Someone In Love has that traditional classic tone that is common in recordings of that era. It isn’t my favourite song on the album, but I don’t think I have ever heard a bad Sinatra song.

I Get A Kick Out Of You is an absolute classic Sinatra song. If you’ve never heard the song before, just take a listen. It is one of the best songs Sinatra ever recorded and it would be in a playlist of my top songs of all time. I love how Sinatra holds onto the lyrics, before ending the specific word. It is unique and has a very jazzy feel.

Little Girl Blue is a letdown after I Get A Kick Out Of You, but it is a lovely relaxing song.

They Can’t Take That Away From Me has a very sultry late night jazz sound. I love it! It is a sing-a-long song that makes you move and smile throughout. The one thing that I find fascinating is how short this song is. That said, it is the perfect length at just under two minutes, but it feels like it should be considerably longer.

Violets For Your Furs isn’t my favourite Sinatra song, but as I eluded to earlier, there really isn’t a bad Sinatra song. It should also be noted that Sinatra sang other people’s songs. Hence, not all songs are equally appealing to his vocal style.

So how does the record sound? Absolutely gorgeous. Warm and smooth with no harshness to be seen. I have also listened to this album on TIDAL Hi-Fi and that edition is akin to a facsimile of the record. Not bad by any means, but just not as dynamically engaging as the record. Plus, the record adds an element of nostalgia to a recording that was released when vinyl reigned supreme. As I listen to the vinyl edition, it sounds like Sinatra is is my living room. Hence, as much as I love TIDAL Hi-Fi, if you can get a copy of this album on vinyl, don’t hesitate as it is significantly more appealing.

Overall, this is a great collection of songs that highlight some of Sinatra’s greatest recordings. If you’re looking to add a little romance to your relationship, you can't go wrong by spinning this album, while you share a glass of wine and a cheese platter with your significant other.

Songs For Young Lovers is available on Vinyl and TIDAL Hi-Fi.

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Abba – Waterloo (Numbered 40th Anniversary 7-inch 45rpm Vinyl Picture Disc Review)

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Abba – Waterloo (Numbered 40th Anniversary 7-inch 45rpm Vinyl Picture Disc Review)

I love anniversary releases. Yes, I know I’m often being taken for a ride by record companies, but I just can’t avoid the new and shiny release from some of my favourite artists. All they have to do is slap a limited edition sticker on the cover and I’m there demanding they take my money. It is an illness, but at least I can acknowledge I have a problem. Just as they will never cease to repackage and reissue products that I already own, with new and never before seen photographs et al, I will never stop buying these anniversary editions for my record collection.

Abba acknowledged their 40th Anniversary with a plethora of releases that included Live At Wembley Arena, a reissuing of their vinyl collection and an incredible 7-inch singles vinyl box set comprising of 40 singles released during their illustrious career. Yes, as a life-long Abba fan, I purchased all the 40th Anniversary releases. I just couldn’t help myself, they are Abbatastic!

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One of the releases, also released as part of Record Store Day 2014, was Abba’s Waterloo 7-inch 45rpm Vinyl Picture Disc. I have number 4018 of 7000. As you can tell by the photographs, it is simply gorgeous with the band featured on Side A and their logo and 40th Anniversary logo featured on Side B.

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Side A features the Swedish version of Waterloo, with Side B containing the English version. I have always found these variations in language to be interesting. While I speak no other language than English, I still enjoy Abba’s music when recorded in foreign tongue. Although, because Abba’s music encourages one to sing-a-long, they become a little bit of a humorous tongue twister during karaoke nights.

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What isn’t twisted is the sonic quality of this release. Vinyl picture discs are often ridiculed for the sonic inferiority and while my Iron Maiden Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son picture vinyl is hideous, all Universal Music picture discs in my collection, including this Abba release have been superb when it comes to sound quality. Yes, you still experience the whirring sound that is associated with picture disc vinyl, but it is certainly not intrusive to the music or the listening process. I honestly only notice it on the run in and out tracks. Let’s just say, I’m not one of the individuals that believes picture disc vinyl shouldn’t be played; unless it is etched of course. Hence, I accept the shortcomings and simply enjoy the record as a musicphile, rather than an audiophile.

The mastering on this single is also one of the best I have ever heard for the song Waterloo. Abba has a unique sound and some may argue with me, but I believe that the audiophile mind has to be switched off when listening to Abba. Their music is enjoyable, but it isn’t necessarily a sonic masterpiece. After all, it was aimed and marketed for radio playback, so just as the ‘loudness wars’ is creating a distinct sound, I believe Abba represents a similar style of sound that is very much lodged in the late 70s and early 80s. That isn’t to say it is bad, just that when referring to the quality of the mastering, the difference must be acknowledged.

Waterloo itself is a fun song, as most Abba tunes are; especially in their early career. Waterloo is a love song that uses the 1815 Battle of Waterloo as a metaphor for submitting to love, just as Napoleon submitted to defeat. The single itself came from Abba’s similarly titled second album Waterloo, and resulted in the band winning the highly coveted Eurovision Song Contest in 1974.

Depending on where you are in the world, this limited edition is likely only available on the second hand market. That said, thanks to the Internet Audiophile Reference Recordings and Utopia Records still have stock. You can of course listen to Waterloo (Swedish Version) and Waterloo (English Version) on TIDAL Hi-Fi.

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AFI – Burials (Vinyl) Review

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AFI – Burials (Vinyl) Review

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at AFI’s evolving sound with Sing The Sorrow. While the band has released the incredible Decemberunderground and Crash Love in the interim years, I wanted to take a look at their latest album, released a decade after Sing The Sorrow, to see just how far the band’s sound had developed. I also couldn’t wait to take the wrapping off this album as I was able to source a reasonably priced vinyl copy of Burials from Sydney’s iconic Red Eye Records.

The vinyl edition comes with the standard lossy MP3 download code for the album, although it did not include the complete album. The songs missing are the two final tracks Anxious and The Face Beneath The Waves. What is bizarre is these songs are not bonus tracks and therefore should have been included in the download. This isn’t necessarily uncommon as I have come across variations in downloaded albums that have been supplied with records in the past. Usually it comes down to licensing agreements, or region specific bonus tracks. Truth be told, with my ever increasing use of TIDAL Hi-Fi, the lossy MP3 codes are of little value to me personally, plus I can always do a higher quality needle drop with my Pro-ject Debut Carbon turntable. Hence, I think in future I may just give away, via Subjective Sounds, the MP3 download codes to readers. Regardless, I would much prefer the record labels give consumers the option to download either the MP3, or a higher quality FLAC or ALAC 16/44 copy that matches the quality of CD. Some record labels do this, but I’m sure most consider the addition of a download code, or CD, to be nothing but a loss leader to encourage the purchase of the record.

Speaking of the record, rather than being presented in a gatefold release, this double album is presented in a slipcase that accommodates both records. While I don’t mind either design decision, gatefolds are just awesome. However, they can be challenging to slip the record in and out at times. Tri-folds are worse, but that is a story for another day. There is also no additional inner liner notes as the record sleeves double as the liner notes. I have mixed feelings on this. Most of the time I prefer archival sleeves and in many cases I purchase them when they are not included. As a result, I can ensure the liner sleeves remain in pristine condition, free of ring wear, seam splits, and additional dust in those precious grooves. Personally, I would recommend all record buyers spend the extra money to get archival sleeves. There are a number of different brands available, but I have always found Mobile Fidelity sleeves to be of the very highest quality. I get mine from Goldmine Records. The reason why I raise this issue, is the record arrived with small seam splits and I need to change out the inner sleeves to prevent further deterioration. It wasn’t the fault of the record label, or Red Eye Records, as it was packed impeccably. It was most likely caused by my reckless mailman who believes it is appropriate to Frisbee throw my records onto the front porch from two meters away. Plus, when the better half works for the postal service, you hear so many horror stories that it is a wonder more parcels are not damaged by Australia Post.  

An interesting side note: When I order CDs online, if I order them from Australian companies then they always turn up with a cracked case. Yet, if I import them from the US or UK, they always turn up perfect. It drives me insane, but what can you do?

Despite the above mentioned issues, I am very happy with the vinyl release and The Sinking Night sets the tone for the album with what has almost become a signature introduction style for AFI, where methodical, rhythmic, and atmospheric sounds are mixed with a ballad-styled vocal delivery. It is exceptional!

I Hope You Suffer has such a demonically evil beat. It is moody, broody, but perfect for when you’re angered by the actions of someone of the events of a particular day. I don’t know about you, but I certainly use this style of music to deal with feelings of anger and frustration.   

A Deep Slow Panic is almost pop-punk. This evaluation is neither good or bad, but I feel that this song doesn’t present AFI at their best. The magic is lacking and it feels like filler. While I can enjoy the song in the album tracking, I would likely skip over it when listening on TIDAL Hi-Fi.

No Resurrection has magical guitar riffs that simply highlight the song and makes you want to hear more of that incredible twang. It is air guitar worthy, despite the song being a slow rock tune. It is strange to hear AFI slow down this much, especially with their punk background, but it certainly suits their sound and they have been able to capture their origins while also breaking new ground.

17 Crimes is a song that exists for the chorus. Throughout the versus, you just can’t wait to get to that chorus. I’ve experienced this a number of times in the past, but I must say that recently it is the exception, rather than the rule. Maybe it's because a significant amount of modern music is all chorus and the poor verse is minimised. Song writing is arguably not what it used to be. Anyway, 17 Crimes is an excellent song that suits the album and the band’s style.

The Conductor is my favourite track on the album, and it may even be my favourite of all AFI tracks. While No Resurrection had magical guitar riffs, The Conductor takes that statement to a completely new level. The guitar has a rhythm, a soul, and its own chorus. I just love the tuning of it, it is the epitome of an epic rock and roll song. I can only imagine how awesome this song would be when performed live.

Heart Stops begins intriguingly and beautifully, but as it reaches the chorus it is too reminiscent of other alternative music that has come before. This song is really for those of you who enjoy the verse as the chorus reminds me of any number of bad teenage movie soundtracks. AFI can do better than this. It had potential, but the chorus let it down.

Rewind isn’t one of my favourite songs. It is too whiny in vocal delivery for my liking.  

The Embrace has a unique bass track, but I would have loved to have heard it with a little more dynamic range as the bass becomes hidden very quickly once the rest of the band kicks into action. The Embrace is also the type of song that slows down during the verse and speeds up during the chorus. It works, but it really is a B-side, or in this case a C side. In fact, all three songs on side C could probably have been left off the album.

Wild is the final song on side C and therefore is included in my previous statement, but I do like elements of this song. The electronic elements present a sonic signature that is reminiscent of a video game soundtrack. Every time I listen to the song, I think it would have made a perfect addition to Adam Sandler’s Pixels film. Bottom line: it is a fun song.

Greater Than 84 has horrid dynamic range. Listen to the symbols and high-hats. They are compressed to hell and back again. When you listen to the introduction you think that this could be as bold in instrumentation as any Dire Straits album, but the ‘loudness wars’ has killed that hope. It is a shame because it is a solid song, but I just don’t enjoy the over compressed sonic quality. I know it is the ‘modern’ sound, but it is exhausting to listen to.

Anxious pays homage to AFI’s origins, especially in vocal style. It is a solid song, but nothing to write home about.

The Face Beneath The Waves closes the album out with a song that is enjoyable but again lacking in dynamic range. It truly could have been an epic end to the album, but compression in the studio just makes you want to put the album away after this song, rather than play the album again. Such a shame!

Overall, Burials is an excellent album and I am incredibly happy that it is part of my collection as the vinyl pressing is superb. That said, the dynamic range is lacklustre at best and destroys the hard work that the band has put in behind the scenes. If I can’t clearly hear the separation between drum beats, guitar licks, bass tracks, and vocals, then something is wrong and I know it isn’t my playback equipment or my ears. I would love nothing more than for AFI and all other bands who have accepted the industry practice of brick walling to turn around and re-issue the full studio originals. Not remaster, just the original master. If what I’m hearing is the original master, then maybe they should just go back and record the album again. 

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Iron Maiden – Purgatory (7-inch 45RPM Single)

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Iron Maiden – Purgatory (7-inch 45RPM Single)

As I’ve likely mentioned before, the artwork that Iron Maiden uses for their albums and singles are nothing short of spectacular. Seriously, just look at it for a minute. Eddie, their infamous mascot, has lost his face to the devil within as Eddie remains in Purgatory, never to be reconnected with his beloved, as shown on the 7-inch Twilight Zone cover.

The additional story that is told through art is incredible. Derek Riggs is one of the most iconic contemporary artists as a result of his life-long work with Iron Maiden, among many others. I’ve always wondered what was in the twisted mind of Stephen King, but Derek Riggs has some serious cool stuff in that brain of his. The man needs to be entered into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Although, Maiden should be added first, but that is an argument for another day.

Speaking of artwork, I have only just noticed that the centre spindle on these 7-inch releases acts as a street light thereby illuminating Eddie as a creature of the night. It’s these small elements that streaming services just can’t offer. While I love my TIDAL Hi-Fi subscription, they’ve yet to figure out how to present artwork, beyond the cover art, in the digital era. Isn’t the technological era supposed to make everything easier and give us access to content that surpasses the analogue version? Apple had a novel idea with iTunes LP, but they dropped the ball as it was only ever functional within iTunes on a Mac or PC. Yes, iTunes is a lossy source, but as a collector I would buy the iTunes LP version as well because the artwork is often animated and uniquely different to all other releases. Even videos such as the making of the album and interviews were included in this iTunes LP format. Admittedly, the artist/record label would need to fund this additional content development, but I still declare that if Apple had allowed iTunes LP to merge to iPhone/iPad/Apple TV, then it could have been a major success. I’d pay twice as much for TIDAL if they could provide me with an exact replica of the liner notes for all albums. They do offer the basics, but it is nothing more than a listing of the production personnel and a short bio.

While no streaming service offers the kind of granularity I’m after, Roon comes close with TIDAL Hi-Fi support built directly into the application, thereby allowing your own music and your streamed music to live in perfect synchronisation. Check out John H. Darko’s exceptional Roon Reviews Part 1, Part 1b, Part 2, and Part 2b.

Getting back to the music, Purgatory was the final single released from the 1981 Killers album. Despite being a sonic wonderland, with an amazing mix of lead and rhythm guitars, the single failed to break the top 50 in the UK upon release. How is that even possible? Okay, UK friends, what were you listening to in June 1981?

For what it’s worth, I believe Purgatory is stronger song than their previous single, Twilight Zone. Purgatory just has that special signature Maiden sound. As much as I enjoy Twilight Zone, it just isn’t in the same league as Purgatory.

Genghis Khan is the B-side and one of the most exceptional instrumental tracks in heavy metal history. Honesty, I can play this song on repeat for hours and never tire of it (after a half dozen times on the turntable, I turn to TIDAL Hi-Fi. Playing 7-inch 45rpm vinyl is fun, but it is also a lot of work). I have often wondered what would have happened if Maiden released this song as a single? That has me thinking, has there ever been an instrumental track reach the number 1 position on the charts? According to the ‘always reliable’ Wikipedia, there have been quite a few in the UK, but they are few and far between. During the decades spanning the 50s, 60s, and early 70s there had been quite a few instrumental number ones, but in the past four decades only three instrumental songs have reached that highly sought-after position. As someone who doesn’t tend to listen to lyrics, I find this shift fascinating. Now I just need to see if the recording of instrumental music has also decreased following the 70s.

You simply can’t go wrong with Purgatory. Featuring two of the best tracks from Killers, my advice is to pick up a copy of the limited edition 7-inch release while it is still available. The mastering is incredible and the artwork…seriously, just get it for the artwork.

If you would prefer to access the songs on the Killers album, they are available on post 1998 CD and Vinyl editions. Killers is also available on TIDAL Hi-Fi for those of you who prefer to stream.

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Aerosmith – Get Your Wings (Record Store Day 2013 Vinyl)

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Aerosmith – Get Your Wings (Record Store Day 2013 Vinyl)

Get Your Wings was Aerosmith’s second album and it took the rawness of their self titled debut album and polished the edges. Gone are Steven Tyler’s faux vocals, in favour of his natural voice. While I didn’t dislike his style on Aerosmith’s debut, I certainly appreciate his lyrical style on Get Your Wings as it helped create the band’s unique sound.

Perhaps this sound can be somewhat attributed to the influence Jack Douglas brought to the band in his role as producer. Douglas would go on to produce Aerosmith throughout most of the 70s, only being removed by Columbia Records when it came time to record Night In The Ruts. The collaboration of Douglas and Aerosmith was nothing short of successful, despite sales in later years indicating different results. For a moment, let’s be honest, sales don’t depict quality. Yes, it provides success and the ability to go on to do greater things, but music needs to be seen as something more than a popularity contest. It’s about art, emotion, and it is subjective. I often reflect on jazz, especially live performances, and ponder if that style of music is the purity of subjectivity, emotion, and art. After all, much of it improvised and unless you’re an artist that can bridge traditional jazz with a mainstream audience, sales are going to be low while the quality of the creativity is high. That said, it is my belief that the producer should always be chosen by the artist, not the record label. Yes, the record label is funding the album, in the traditional sense, but there are many cases where artists, when forced to work with a certain producer, will release substandard work because the process is no longer organic, but contrived.  

I have two editions of Get Your Wings. The first is the 1993 CD [cat no: CK 57361] that was remastered by Vic Anesini. The mastering is treated respectfully and as it was done prior to the ‘loudness wars’ the dynamic range is in the vicinity of 12 out of 20. TIDAL Hi-Fi offers the same mastered edition as the CD but whatever you do, don’t touch the 2012 remastering that is available on HD Tracks. Despite being released in Audiophile 96kHz/24bit, it has an average dynamic range of 09. Seriously, I’m all for audiophile releases, but low dynamic range isn’t fit for anyone, let alone an audiophile consumer. In this case the only benefit you get is a larger file size and an increased bitrate that does nothing to improve the sonic qualities of the album. There is little doubt that the 1993 remastered CD is the pinnacle for Get Your Wings when obtaining a digital copy.

The other edition I own is the RSD 13 (Record Store Day 2013) vinyl [cat no: KC 32847/ 88765486151] that was mastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound. The mastering on this record is amazing. While it is noticeably better than the 1993 CD it isn’t a radical shift. The vinyl pays homage to the ‘93 mastering while remaining true to the music that was available on the original tapes. While I much prefer the vinyl release due to its instrument separation and depth, especially in the low end, you would honestly be pleased with either release; just not the HD Tracks version. HD Tracks isn’t at fault, as they have been supplied with the terrible mastering, but the sale of such an inferior product does little to help the Hi-Res audio debate.

I should also note the vinyl release I have is a limited numbered release. I have number 4839 of (I believe) 5000. The remasters that were made specifically for the RSD release, are still available, they are just no longer numbered and come with a different sticker on the outer seal.

Same Old Song And Dance has a great beat and rhythm to it, but I have always felt that the drum track is lacking in this song. The kick drum just doesn’t sound right. I’m not sure how else to describe it, but I feel It lacks depth. It is almost like the skin tension was off on the drum thereby resulting in a sound that is slightly off key. Similarly, the cymbals sound a little squashed. I should note that these issues are heard across all the above mentioned formats, so it isn’t a factor of the remastering process.

As Lord Of The Thighs begins, the drum track is noticeably better and remains this way throughout the rest of the album. Lord Of The Thighs is an exceptional song that has a true blues influence throughout.

Spaced starts with low audible atmospheric sounds. I love it when rock and roll songs start this way. It sets the scene for a more mellow track, but there is so much complexity to the song that I never tire of it. The percussion elements are perfectly added for impact, not just because they are available. This musical self-control has been an Aerosmith trademark since their inception. It would be nice to see more artists follow this direction.

Woman Of The World starts with a lonely drum beat that reminds me of a drummer’s click track that ensures speed throughout the song remains constant. In a similar way, this beat ensures your toe tapping doesn’t miss a beat either.

S.O.S. (Too Bad) has nothing to do with save our souls, although that may have seemed appropriate for the band as they were always on the precipice of destruction. It in-fact stands for Same Old Shit and that is an adage that I’m sure we can all get behind. S.O.S. (Too Bad) is simply a fantastic bluesy rock and roll song that has a beautiful intermingling of bass and guitar with a drum beat that holds the song together.

Train Kept A Rollin’ is arguably the most successful song from the album. While it was released as a single, it did not chart at the time. However, The Yardbirds cover would become an Aerosmith staple as they often include this legendary song in their live set list. The song has been covered by a who’s who of the music industry, but I still declare that Aerosmith owns this song. They may not have written it, or performed it initially, but they mastered it. It has also appeared on most of their live album releases and an exceptional live performance, with Johnny Depp, was included on the DVD that accompanied the deluxe edition of Music From Another Dimension!

Seasons Of Wither begins with almost a minute of wind sounds in an attempt to set the seasonal stage. While it sets the scene, the song stands on its own with some absolutely gorgeous guitar work. I love songs where the subtle aspects of the guitar are present, but don’t overshadow the rest of the performance. This song proves that a great song can include elements from the entire band.  

I would like to see Pandora’s Box re-tracked to appear before Seasons Of Wither. It isn’t a bad song; it just doesn’t flow well after the soothing Seasons Of Wither. The long held guitar riff and drum outro on Seasons Of Wither are a perfect end to the album. Although, I guess when tracking the album, the decision was made to close on a song that depicts the mainstream sound Aerosmith was aiming for. Pandora’s Box certainly is that song.

Get Your Wings is a must own for any fan of Aerosmith or 70s rock and roll. It is one of those albums that I listen to and just can’t believe that it was made before I was even born in ’79. It is exceptional and has stood the test of time. The two common remasters showcase the album with a faithful sound that will be appreciated for generations to come.

Now that I have the vinyl release, I think I will give the CD to my son so that he can get his wings!

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The Transformers: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

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The Transformers: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

As a child of the 80s, The Transformers was one of the most amazing franchises that a young boy could be exposed to. In a classic good versus evil story arc, The Transformers transformed our minds and defined what was possible with animation techniques in the early to mid 80s.

I remember as a child receiving an Optimus Prime action figure, complete with his transforming trailer. I was in heaven and despite the toy being primitive by today’s standards, it was truly revolutionary at the time.

Also during that time, the original television series of The Transformers began to air and a couple of years later, Transformers The Movie would be released. I remember being captivated by the film, although I wouldn’t see it until it received commercial television rights in Australia some years later. Interestingly, I don’t recall the soundtrack from the film, but when I saw that Music on Vinyl was getting set to re-issue a limited edition pressing on vinyl, I ordered the soundtrack without being aware of the track listing. It was the collector in me. The artwork is exquisite and being a numbered collectable, well I just had to have that for my collection. Music on Vinyl pressed 1000 numbered editions on transparent blue vinyl. I have number 899 and I believe the other numbered editions are now sold out, although you can still get the re-issue on standard black vinyl.

Streamers will be happy to know the soundtrack is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi. It also contains four additional tracks, although one is not currently licensed for streaming. The licensing is such a major problem for soundtracks when they are added to streaming services. The music industry really needs to work on a solution to this problem. All you have to do is look how many songs are missing from Pulp Fiction, to see what the problem is. Seriously, if you can’t put all the tracks on, then perhaps it is best to not release the album on streaming services until agreements are made. Interestingly, in the case of Pulp Fiction, all songs are still permitted for vinyl and CD replication worldwide. Similarly, all tracks are available for sale on iTunes. As a music fan, it is simply frustrating. I wonder if the music executives know that you can stream all the songs, from the soundtrack, on YouTube for free. That’s an argument for another day, but at least in the case of The Transformers soundtrack, all of the songs bar one are included in the streaming option.

I must admit that I love writing these posts, but it is costing me an arm and a leg. In doing some background research I just found that the soundtrack was also re-released for Black Friday – Record Store Day 2015 on a new coloured, and etched, vinyl release that is limited to 5,000 pressings. If I wasn’t such a huge Transformers fan, I might overlook this release, but I must have it. Yes, I’ve already emailed Ben at Goldmine Records to see if he can get it for me. He is ordering a few copies, so get in touch with him If you want a copy.

Over the last couple of years my son has become equally engrossed in The Transformers. Perhaps this is a result of my influence, but it could also be attributed to the release of new films and the exceptional Transformers Prime animated series. It is wonderful to be able to share this passion with him and when the record arrived he was as blown away as I was. As much as I enjoy the album, I think he enjoys it more. We will often sit down in front of the stereo and build Lego together while the album is spinning. It is a father/son moment to be cherished.

The vinyl pressing is exceptional, as are all Music on Vinyl releases. I’ve yet to acquire one that I’m disappointed in. From the outer sleeve to the record itself, it is truly representative of quality and the sonic aspect of the album is exceptional. Similarly, TIDAL Hi-Fi’s edition sounds full and complete while matching the mastering found on the vinyl release. Hence, you simply can’t go wrong with this album. That is unless you’re not an 80s hair metal fan.

Yes, the soundtrack is primarily infused with hairspray and gel, but there is a small part of my heart that loves the 80s hair metal scene. Many of you will likely feel it is corny, and perhaps it is, but the power ballad is a sing-a-long marvel that permits usage of the air guitar. How can that be a bad thing?

Now you may recall, before my ramblings got out of control, that when I ordered the album I had no idea what type of music was on it. I purchased it for the franchise and for the cover artwork. I know many collectors who do the same thing. The artwork looks cool, so I’ll buy it. I must admit I haven’t done that for a while, but surprisingly you tend to become interested in the music if you like the artwork.

The first song The Touch is performed by Stan Bush. It isn’t a bad rock song, but it is just a little too ‘campy’ for my liking.

Instruments Of Destruction is grungy, without being grunge in style. It has a magnificent beat and the guitar elements are exceptionally controlled despite being the type of song where the guitar solo could easily become paramount. However, I love N.R.G.’s vocalist, Les Brown, and the range he has on his voice. He reminds me of Ronnie James Dio.

Death Of Optimus Prime is a somber and classically infused instrumental track that is simply beautiful. While remaining classical, it doesn’t feel out of place on the album. There are certainly symphonic elements that reflect the overall feel of the album thereby encouraging flow.

Dare is another song by Stan Bush. It is thoroughly enjoyable, with a fast beat, but I think Stan Bush has to be the king of ‘campy’ songs.

Nothing’s Gonna Stand In Our Way by Spectre General is an enjoyable song throughout the versus, but the chorus is just too repetitive. That said, it suits the film and franchise perfectly.

The Transformers Theme ROCKS!

Escape is another instrumental track, by Vince DiCola, that despite starting slowly picks up pace with the rest of the album and is the musical equivalent of watching the action depicted in the film.

Hunger is another track from Spectre General and has some killer guitar riffs and guttural vocal tones.

Autobot/Decepticon Battle is self explanatory. It is of course instrumental and works exceptionally well with the album tracking and the film.

The final track on the album is by Weird Al Yankovic and is titled Dare To Be Stupid. I must admit that it took me a few listens to get used to, and enjoy, this track. Nevertheless, if you hear a song often enough, it has the ability to grow on you. This one certainly has! It is a fun track, albeit a little different to the other songs on the album, but not so different that it detracts from the album experience.

While that is the entire track listing on the vinyl re-issue, the TIDAL Hi-Fi version has three additional instrumental tracks. All are relevant to the film, but I am glad they weren’t included on the vinyl re-issue as they would have been out of place with the selection chosen. That said, they are enjoyable to listen to via streaming.

I’d recommend this soundtrack to anyone who enjoys the transformers franchise, or the 80s hair metal rock and roll era. As a compilation it works surprisingly well, with no track that is so lacklustre it prevents enjoyment. 

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Iron Maiden – Twilight Zone/Wrathchild (7-inch 45rpm Single)

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Iron Maiden – Twilight Zone/Wrathchild (7-inch 45rpm Single)

Following Women In Uniform, Iron Maiden would release their fourth single, but it would take the form of a Double A-Side. For those unaware of the concept, a Double A-Side is where an artist will release a single that contains two album based songs, rather than a B-side which is often a live performance or song that didn’t make the album cut. It is a practice that has sadly died out over the last couple of decades and while not all B-sides are great, I feel we are missing out on some hidden treasures.

In this case however, Twilight Zone was initially a non-album single in the UK, although it was released on the US edition of Killers in 1981, and would be added to world-wide distribution of the album when the enhanced re-issue edition of Killers was released in 1998. That said, not all post 1998 editions have the song. Most notably the 2014 vinyl re-issues and the 2015 Mastered for iTunes release omit this classic song, amongst other editions.  

The subsequent cover of the 7-inch release targeted the song Twilight Zone for inspiration as it showed Eddie, Maiden’s mascot, returning to his beloved girlfriend. Twilight Zone is in-fact a love song from beyond the grave as it appears that England’s then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, did revoke Eddie’s license to live, as insinuated on the cover of Women In Uniform.

Speaking of covers, Iron Maiden would once again be criticized in the media for having a cover that depicted sexism and the stalking of a young girl. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see either of those elements. Anyone who read the lyrics, or listened to the song, would understand that the artwork is a representation of the song as it depicts Eddie’s attempt to reach his beloved from his imprisonment in the Twilight Zone. Eddie’s photo is even presented on the dresser, thereby indicating a connection to the ghostly figure.

All I can say is sometimes ‘political correctness’ goes a little too far. While I don’t condone gratuitous sex or violence, within art and music, a little common sense and research goes a long way. That said, I acknowledge cultural perceptions in 1981 were quite different to how we perceive this cover today.

With this in mind, I can’t help but wonder what kafuffle was made of the original Guns N’ Roses Appetite For Destruction cover. While that artwork is still included in the liner notes, retailers refused to stock it with the original cover, hence it was restricted in most regions and I believe on all formats other than vinyl.

As we take a look beyond the artwork, it is immediately clear that Twilight Zone and Wrathchild are both very much A-Side tracks. I absolutely love the guitar and bass introduction of Wrathchild. It is hard hitting and I feel is one of the first times we see Iron Maiden as not just a heavy metal band, but a band which can turn their music into a theatrical rock opera.

Similarly, Twilight Zone also fits into the style I have mentioned above. The initial guitar riff and drum beats set the tone, but I find I actually care more for the lyrical component of Twilight Zone as it has a story that has been enhanced in importance through the cover art design. This is why I collect vinyl as it enhances the experience.

For those interested, you can still get the limited edition 7-inch release. It is well worth owning as the presentation and mastering is superb.

If you would prefer to purchase both songs on other formats, they are of course available on some of the post 1998 Killers editions that are available on CD and Vinyl.

Killers is also available on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Apple Music for those of you who prefer to stream.

While all these options are great, the version I would recommend, for Killers, is the vinyl edition. This is because the CD, TIDAL Hi-Fi, and iTunes/Apple Music (Mastered For iTunes) releases all have low dynamic ranges that average 07 out of 20. The vinyl by comparison is 12 out of 20. For more information on these scores, please click here. That said, many of the vinyl re-issues omit Twilight Zone, so please make sure you check the track listing before purchasing.

Despite this, I still enjoy listening to my 1998 edition of Killers on CD, but it is sonically compromised when compared directly with the vinyl edition. That said, they never really did master turntables in cars, did they? 

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Buddy Holly – Greatest Hits (Vinyl)

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Buddy Holly – Greatest Hits (Vinyl)

Buddy Holly is one of those artists that one must simply have in their collection. As a rock and roll pioneer, Holly forever changed how music was performed. His new sound came at a time when the audience was ready for a shift from the big band vocal jazz and blues performances that had been culturally popular prior to the 1950s. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with those before mentioned styles, Holly was able to adapt his new sound and integrate it with traditional genres. Although, I’ve no doubt that many parents took offence, at the time, to his style and the topics he discussed via song. Perhaps it is simply a generational thing, but that response is still applicable in modern society.

Unfortunately, Holly would die tragically in a plane crash when he was only 22. It still amazes me how much wonderful music he brought to the world in the four short years between 1955 and 1959. I often sit and ponder what could have been if he, and many other musical greats, remained with us longer. Would they have further evolved music into a different art form that would seem foreign to us today? Of course, I don’t have any answer for my own hypothesising, but I can say with certainty that we are extraordinarily lucky to have the collection of songs we have.

Over the years, I had become aware of Holly’s most famous songs, but I never owned any of his albums. In 2007 I decided to change that as I purchased That’ll Be The Day from iTunes. Along with that song, that he recorded with The Crickets, I purchased a variety of 50s and 60s tracks that I didn’t have at the time. I cherish all those songs to this day and will write about them in future posts, but for now I’m busy collecting as much of this music on vinyl as I can.

With that in mind, I had recently picked up Buddy Holly and The Crickets’ album, The Chirping Crickets. It is fantastic! Seriously, get yourself a copy. For streamers, it is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Apple Music.

By now, you’re probably wondering how I came about collecting Buddy Holly’s Greatest Hits. For Christmas my closest friends gave me the book Rockwiz Decades – The Greatest Songs Of Our Time. Within its pages, I came across Buddy Holly’s song True Love Ways. I was captivated by the song’s beauty. It has the perfect mixture of jazz, blues, and orchestral backing music. As a result, I truly believe it is now my favourite song from Buddy Holly’s catalogue. Interestingly, I had never heard the song before and I went in search of obtaining a copy. The album it was originally released on was the posthumous release The Buddy Holly Story, Vol. 2. Unfortunately, that album hasn’t been re-issued on vinyl, so I kept searching and found that it was available on the Greatest Hits vinyl release. I was elated to find my most trusted record dealer, Goldmine Records, had a copy in stock. I was equally excited when the album arrived this morning.

The Vinyl Passion pressing contains a selection of 19 songs and certainly lives up to it’s Greatest Hits moniker. It is also perfectly silent. I’ve never fully researched how the actual DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) Cutting process works, but I have noticed that albums done using this process are always of high quality, while being reasonably priced. Regardless, the sonic mastering of this album is exquisite and matches my expectations.

Unfortunately, this album and the specific track listing, isn’t available on CD or via streaming services. That said, I will discuss some of the songs in further detail and link to the editions that are available for purchase via iTunes. The songs are also available on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Apple Music, so simply copy and paste the song names. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this collection; I know I do.

Peggy Sue reminds me of many of the songs from that era that would be named after an individual known to the writer. This candid biographical style of writing music seems to have diminished in the last couple of decades and I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t a case of avoiding litigation these days. If it is, the world has surely gone crazy. Regardless, the song has a great early rock beat that is easy to sing–along with.

Oh, Boy! is a wonderful song with a speedy tempo that mixes the lead vocal and background harmony so well, you will not be sure which one to sing–along with. I like songs like that. The ones where you are the lead performer during the chorus, but can then sink into the background during the verses.

Maybe Baby is the song that makes me think Buddy Holly is the sing–along king. Seriously, I’m not normally a lyrics kind of guy, but when Buddy is playing, I have to sing. The songs are so catchy, but they are not clichéd. Maybe Baby, along with Holly’s entire catalogue, remain timeless.

Listen To Me is quite a shift in tempo and I feel that is slows down the record a little too much. A simple re-tracking would have solved this problem but I find Listen To Me has a very similar tone to some of the early Beatles songs well over a decade later. I know The Beatles were inspired by 1950s rock and roll, I would love to know if this song had any impact on them.

Rave On is an epic song that sounds more akin to the early 60s style of rock and roll. I certainly don’t believe it would inaccurate to say that Holly was well ahead of his time.

Fool’s Paradise sounds like a lovely place to be. I was there once in my early courting days. If anyone knows how to get back there, please let me know! Fool’s Paradise is just one of those lovely romantic songs.

Early In The Morning is perhaps the only song that I find irritating on the album. It is a good song, but I feel the background vocals are a little too much. Think The Chipettes.

Heartbeat reminds me of the UK television police drama. The show used a cover of Holly’s original, recorded by Nick Berry, as their theme song. I truly like both editions of the song, but sometimes the overcommercialisation of a song can have detrimental effects on one’s recognition.

It Doesn’t Matter Anymore is a song that I recall from my childhood, I just can’t exactly recall why. Not being able to remember is going to drive me nuts. If I ever figure it out, I will update the post.  

Raining In My Heart is a tragic love song, but beautifully executed. Unfortunately, on my copy of the record, there are a couple of dropouts that occur within five rotations of the song commencing. It isn’t the end of the world. This is just one of the limitations of vinyl. It is just a shame given how good the rest of the album is. That said, I still love looking at the record spinning and the needle gliding through the groove. It may be old technology, by today’s standards, but it is still amazing and dare I say it, it sounds better (okay, different!).

Midnight Shift is simply a catchy song that works well in this compilation.

Peggy Sue Got Married is a sequel to the original song Peggy Sue. While it pays homage to the original, it is uniquely different with a more bluesy sound. I have always enjoyed song sequels and their appearance on concept albums. While this song in particular wasn’t part of a concept album, it was likely one of the first songs that was presented in the sequel format. That said, as with movies, the song sequel rarely meets the expectation set by the original. That is certainly true in this case.

Learning The Game isn’t one of my favourite songs as it has too much guitar twang. That said, I recognise how popular the acoustic twang was in that era and I’m sure many of you would enjoy it.

(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care is a fun song. It has also been covered by a who’s who of the music industry including, of course, Buddy Holly. I have Queen’s edition on Hungarian Rhapsody (Live In Budapest 1986). They do it well, but the mimicking vocal style Freddie Mercury applies to the song is a little over-the-top.

Valley Of Tears closes out the album with the haunting pipe organ being used in the backing track. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would love to see the pipe organ used more in modern music. I think it has a undesirable reputation due to its association with churches and associated ceremonies, along with horror medias, but it is a powerful instrument that immediately invokes emotion.

Buddy Holly is an amazing artist with a catalogue of songs that any musician would envy. If you don’t have his music in your collection, you should change that as soon as possible. You will never regret it!

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Iron Maiden – Women In Uniform (7-inch 45rpm Single)

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Iron Maiden – Women In Uniform (7-inch 45rpm Single)

Following the controversy of Sanctuary, Iron Maiden couldn’t help but once again show England’s then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, on the cover of their follow-up single Women In Uniform. Presented in classic Maiden-style artwork, Thatcher is seeking revenge on the beloved, but sinful, Maiden mascot Eddie. As mentioned previously, this type of iconic artwork is all tongue-in-cheek, but it does demonstrate the attitude of the times in which this single was released.

Although, it is important to note that Women In Uniform is not a Maiden original as it was first written and recorded by the Australian band Skyhooks, for their Guilty Until Proven Insane album. While Skyhooks is an Australian rock icon, and certainly a band that I have much respect for, I don’t particularly like their original composition of Women In Uniform. I find the Skyhook’s rendition is a little too pop driven and only truly becomes a rock song during the memorable chorus. It is simply missing that harder edge that I feel Maiden was able to bring to the song. That said, if Maiden hadn’t covered the song, I likely would have been smitten with the Skyhooks original.

While I feel the Maiden version is superior, it is widely regarded by the band, especially founder and bassist Steve Harris, as being a substandard recording due to Tony Platt (producer) mixing the song without the band’s input or approval. As a result, the song was only briefly presented on the original Australian release of Killers. Following the 1998 enhanced re-issue, Women In Uniform was removed from the track listing and subsequently only available hence forth on the 2014 re-issued 7-inch vinyl release. Women In Uniform was also featured on the now out-of-print Best of the 'B' Sides, that was included in Eddie’s Archive Box Set.

Women In Uniform has yet to be released on any streaming service, but the video clip is available for purchase on iTunes as it goes down in history as being their first recorded music video.

Iron Maiden has also made the song available, on their official YouTube channel, for those of you who don’t wish to purchase the 7-inch vinyl edition.

Paul Di’Anno, Maiden’s original vocalist, not only recorded the original but would go on to cover his own cover again in 2006 when he released the re-recorded compilation album The Classics: The Maiden Years. This album is not available for streaming, but you can hear the Di’Anno’s re-recording on TIDAL Hi-Fi or Apple Music as it appears on the The Early Iron Maiden Songbook album from 2010. Di’Anno also released the song on his 2012 release, Wrathchild – The Anthology.

I’m not sure how I really feel about re-recordings. Generally, they are released as a quick cash-grab and opportunity to return to popularity on the coattails of success, in this case Iron Maiden’s. That said, Di’Anno does a wonderful job with Women In Uniform and all other tracks that are presented on the before mentioned albums. They truly are worth seeking out and listening to.  

So, is Di’Anno’s re-recording better than the original he recorded with Iron Maiden in 1980?

Yes, and no! Clearly, Di’Anno’s newer release has a stronger rock edge to it and over the years his vocal delivery has developed, thereby bringing this re-recording inline with modern hard rock and metal recording styles. However, there is just something special about the Maiden original. It has their early raw sound that is reminiscent of a thoroughly pleasing live performance. That said, I don’t think you can wrong with either version.

The B-side on this 7-inch release contains the song Invasion. Unfortunately, the song is not available for those of you interested in streaming, but you can check it out on Maiden’s official YouTube channel below.

The song Invasion was originally released on Maiden’s debut EP, The Soundhouse Tapes. The EP is highly sought after by collectors and is ludicrously expensive, even for the most dedicated Maiden fans. That said, if you have a copy and would like to part with it, please let me know.

Invasion is classic Maiden and I would go as far as saying it was a stronger performance than their cover of Women In Uniform. The drum track and guitar riffs are exquisite and show a band that was well beyond their debut in terms of musicality and cohesion.

For the vinyl collectors out there, the 7-inch edition is still available and well worth owing. The pressing offers one of the best sonic representations of the band to date, although my only comparison for these particular songs is listening via the lossy YouTube quality, hence it is difficult to accurately compare. 

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Dire Straits – Dire Straits (self titled)

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Dire Straits – Dire Straits (self titled)

‘They don’t make them like that anymore,’ seems appropriate to describe not only Dire Straits, but their self-titled debut Dire Straits. Dire Straits, or more specifically Mark Knopfler in the role of vocalist, lead guitarist, and writer, created a unique sound that would resonate for decades and result in a sound that is truly timeless.

From the magical guitar strumming introduction for Down To The Waterline, you will be captivated with some of the most beautiful atmospheric music you have ever heard. In-fact one element that I truly appreciate Dire Straits for is not over playing the guitar. So many bands turn a guitar lick into an entire song and it just doesn’t work. Dire Straits by comparison gives you just enough guitar twang that you are left wanting more, not less.

Similarly, Water Of Love is the perfect mixture of rock and folk-styled music. It is truly music for relaxing on a lazy sunny afternoon with an appropriate beverage in one’s hand.

While I enjoy the entire album, Setting Me Up is one of the songs that I’m not in love with. I just feel the tempo was too fast, especially being placed in-between the two rhythmic songs Water Of Love and Six Blade Knife.

Southbound Again is just incredibly groovy and when I hear the hit song, Sultans Of Swing, I simply can’t believe this was a debut release. Not only did Dire Straits already have their sound, but they were playing better than bands that had been together for years.

While Knopfler’s vocals are exceptional throughout the entire album, I feel they are strongest on In The Gallery. His voice is perfectly refined and toned for the style of the song. I must admit that I’m also captivated with the guitar licks on this track.

Wild West End and Lions close out the album nicely, although neither are true standouts, but they certainly don’t diminish the album and as Lion concludes, I always want to play the album again.

The Dire Straits edition I have is the Warner Super Bit Mastering CD from 2000 (Cat No: 9 47769-2). This is how a CD should sound. Complex, detailed, and atmospheric. Most importantly it is NOT brickwalled.

While I have the 2014 vinyl re-issue in my wish list, the CD is so good that other than introducing a slightly warmer analogue sound, I don’t feel much can be improved in regards to sonic representation. That said, while the dynamic range of this release is off the charts, it is still less than the vinyl release, hence logic suggests that a slight improvement may be applicable.

For those of you interested in high resolution formats, the SACD matches the Dynamic Range of the Warner Remastered CD from 2000. I’m all for high resolution formats, but they have to introduce advantages in dynamic range and soundstage, otherwise additional 0’s and 1’s is somewhat pointless.

The 2000 Warner Remaster is done by the legendary mastering engineer Bob Ludwig. I honestly don’t think I have a bad mastering in my collection that includes the name Bob Ludwig. While this remaster claims to include the original LP art, it isn’t the exact replica that I would personally like to see. When I look at the way the Japanese market does the replica Mini-LP, that is what I expect and call original LP artwork. Nevertheless, this is a small gripe that is targeted towards the record label.

That aside, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Warner CD Remaster from 2000 as the overall mastering and production is top notch. The album has also recently been reissued on vinyl and all reviews thus far say the Universal Back To Black 2014 re-issue is the one to get. For those of you looking at get the album in high resolution digital formats, it is still available on SACD. Although as mentioned earlier, I don’t believe a significant improvement will be seen over the standard CD release.  

For music streamers, the TIDAL Hi-Fi edition is the 1996 remaster that was done by Gregg Geller. It isn’t a bad mastering, but I find elements such as high-hats and cymbals to be too harsh on this edition. That said, I’m seriously clutching at straws. You’d be more than happy with the TIDAL Hi-Fi edition.

Interestingly, the Apple Music/iTunes edition is the original 1978 mastering and it sounds EPIC. I’m not joking, the Apple Music/iTunes edition isn’t Mastered for iTunes and I’m elated as this is further proof that if an album is mastered well, it need not be remastered. It also provides validity that lossless editions can sound perfect. It is all in the mastering!  

The Apple Music/iTunes edition is done so well that you can even hear tape noise in the background between tracks. Some people may dislike that, but that is how it should sound. My CD release also has tape noise. It indicates that they were able to capture every element from the original source, and did not digitally remove anything which could have caused an adverse change in the tonality of the album.

That makes me wonder why record companies and artists can’t simply agree on a single master. I know it all has to do with encouraging sales of back catalogues, to collectors who have already purchased the album, but as a collector I would much prefer a value-added product, rather than a remastered one. While all the remastering editions of Dire Straits are great, were they really needed when the original was done so well?

The bottom line is, regardless of the version you get, this album is a must have for any collection. 

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