SoundStage! Music Online Editor's Pick Archives
May/June 2003

Art Pepper - Landscape: Art Pepper Live in Tokyo '79
JVC XRCD VICJ-61035, 2003

Musical Performance
****
Recording Quality

****

Overall Enjoyment
****

There are a number of intriguing things about this remastered CD from JVC. First and foremost, it is one of the first of the new XRCD24 discs, which are remastered with JVC's newly designed K2 24-bit analog-to-digital converter. Second, it features Art Pepper on alto sax and clarinet. Third, the original recording was produced by Akira Taguchi, who is the producer of the entire JVC XRCD series. While the sound is more up front and energetic than that of the bulk of XRCDs and XRCD2s I own, it's no less natural -- and very good overall. The musicians -- Pepper, George Cables on piano, Tony Dumas on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums -- play with a looseness that occurs very rarely in the studio. An earlier Art Pepper XRCD, Meets the Rhythm Section, is one of my favorites of the entire series; I would rate ...Live in Tokyo '79 its near equal....Marc Mickelson


The Police - Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity
Universal Music 069493605-2 and 069493606-2, 2003

Musical Performance
****1/2*
Recording Quality

***

Overall Enjoyment
****

I always figured it was a universal truth that the Police's two best albums were the band's last: Ghost in the Machine and Sychronicity. I'm especially partial to these two because they show how far Sting, Stewart Copeland, and Andy Summers progressed from their reggae roots -- and, alas, where they were musically when they split. I mentioned this to Doug Schneider, who paused and said, "I like Regatta de Blanc much more." So much for universal truths. But here's another: If anything has a chance at kick-starting the acceptance of non-audiophiles for SACD it's an event like the re-release of the entire catalog of a band like the Police on SACD. But unlike the Rolling Stones' SACDs, the new Universal Music Police SACDs are not Hybrids -- at least as released here in the US. Discussions of format aside, the SACD releases of Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity are superb. There are two ways to evaluate their sound: overall and in terms of improvement over the original CDs. Ghost in the Machine still sounds opaque and distant, but inner detail is greater, so the sound has improved over the CD. Synchronicity is probably the Police album that sounds the best from the get-go, but as I have come to expect, the SACD is more detailed and plagued less by late-'80s peaky digital sound. I like the trend of a group of SACDs coming out from important artists, and in this regard, Universal Music has just re-released the entire Peter Gabriel catalog, again as single-layer SACDs (or so I understand -- I haven't heard the discs yet). A large chunk of the Bob Dylan catalog is coming from Sony later this year as well. If you're into SACD, you have a lot to look forward to from the format.....Marc Mickelson


Go Back

Copyright 2003 SoundStage!
All Rights Reserved
www.soundstage.com