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Mike Mettler Posted: Mar 19, 2014 0 comments
Performance
Sound
Eric Clapton was at the crossroads of Personal Hell Avenue and Professional Conundrum Street as the calendar turned to 1974. His crippling heroin addiction derailed the creative momentum he achieved with Derek and the Dominos and Layla in 1970, and it took him a few long, painful years to emerge from the haze and return to chasing down his one true muse with guitar (and not needle) in hand. The jam-packed Give Me Strength: The ’74/’75 Recordings box set charts his sonic recovery.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Mar 12, 2014 0 comments
“I didn’t have the courage to go back to any of the masters and try to recreate those beautiful, real echoes,” says Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues about the surround-sound mixes he supervised for six of The Moodies’ “Classic Seven” albums: Days of Future Passed, On the Threshold of a Dream, To Our Children’s Children’s Children, A Question of Balance, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, and Seventh Sojourn. (In case you were wondering, there weren’t any multitrack masters available for In Search of the Lost Chord.) All six of those 5.1 mixes — done by Paschal Byrne and Mark Powell and built on the original quad mixes supervised by producer Tony Clarke and constructed by engineer Derek Varnals — appear in Timeless Flight (Threshold/UMC), the band’s mighty, 50-year-career-spanning 17-disc box set. Yes, there is a more economical 4-disc version available, but the mondo box is the only way to fly in 5.1 — if you can find one, that is. “I think Universal needs to press a few more copies,” chuckles Hayward.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Feb 26, 2014 4 comments
Over in Reference Tracks, Steven Wilson, the one true king of transformative surround-sound mixing (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, XTC), and I discuss the building blocks of how he transformed Yes’ groundbreaking 1972 LP, Close to the Edge, into a benchmark 192/24 5.1 mix. It’s as pure and true as you’ll ever hear it on Panegyric’s Definitive Edition Blu-ray/CD combo package. “It’s a bona-fide A-level masterpiece,” Wilson says of CTTE. (The Preacher, The Teacher hath spoken!) Further good news: The venerable surround master has also confirmed more 5.1 Yes album mixes are on the way. All I can say about them at this point is at least one of them was originally released before CTTE, and at least one was released after it.
Mike Mettler Posted: Feb 26, 2014 0 comments
Performance
Sound
The term supergroup gets a bad rap—but with good reason. Often, it’s applied to a collective of hot-shot all-star musicians who look pretty good together on paper, but the resulting music usually proves the individual parts are actually greater than the sum. Discerning listeners tend to cast a wary eye, er, ear toward such lineup mashups—unless the pedigree is an impeccably progressive one intent on exploring the cosmos of composition to achieve a common sonic goal.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Feb 25, 2014 0 comments
Performance
Sound
“On the surround mix, it sounds just like you’re in the room with Steve Howe while he’s playing those guitar harmonics.” Steven Wilson is describing the clarity of the gorgeous acoustic intro to “And You and I,” the second track on Yes’ groundbreaking 1972 LP, Close to the Edge. (Said intro is keenly accented by Rick Wakeman’s understated organ fills that lightly season the rear channels.)
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Mike Mettler Posted: Feb 19, 2014 0 comments
Jack Robinson / Universal Music Archives

Performance
Sound

Pete Townshend was on a spiritual mission, determined to produce a rock opera that would reflect his own path to enlightenment. His band mates in The Who were initially wary, but once they understood the multifaceted story of a deaf, dumb, and blind kid who sure played a mean pinball, there was no turning back from climbing the mountain. The epic sprawl of 1969’s Tommy catapulted The Who forever into the rock ’n’ roll stratosphere. And now Tommy gets a fuller archival due on this four-disc 45th anniversary Super Deluxe box set, achieving yet another new-vibration milestone on Blu-ray. (More on that disc’s groundbreaking surround mix in a moment.)

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Mike Mettler Posted: Feb 12, 2014 0 comments
“We would have done surround sound at the time if it had been available.” Original Moody Blues keyboardist Mike Pinder is discussing the always-enveloping signature orchestral sound of the band he was a part of for its first 15 years. Much of the Moodies’ core "Classic Seven" catalog has since seen a series of 5.1 releases in the interim, and Pinder’s innovative usage of the mellotron helped take many of those mixes (“Higher and Higher,” “Watching and Waiting,” “Legend of a Mind”) to the threshold of aural perfection.
Mike Mettler Posted: Jan 30, 2014 0 comments
Legacy. Some artists embrace it, some resist it. Early-period Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett decided to go the extra mile to dance on the volcano of his past, charging firth, er, forth to majestically recast the arrangements of a top-drawer selection of his ’70s output with the British prog giants.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Jan 29, 2014 8 comments
“I want to hear what the band heard during playback in the studio. And I want to respect the sound that the engineers and producers tried so hard to capture.” It’s a mantra engineer Steve Hoffman follows whenever he remasters classic, iconic albums, and perhaps those words should be etched between the monitors perched above the mixing consoles in every mastering studio across the globe. One recent labor of reissued love is near and dear to Hoffman's audiophile heart – namely, The Audio Fidelity Collection limited-edition box set that houses four classic Deep Purple albums he remastered: In Rock (1970), Fireball (1971), Machine Head (1972), and Who Do We Think We Are (1973).
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Mike Mettler Posted: Jan 15, 2014 1 comments
“Music is astounding, isn’t it?” Graham Nash is genuinely enamored with the wonders of sound. There’s always a special twinkle in his eye whenever we get together to talk about the indelible music he’s made since the early 1960s, the new music he’s planning to make next, and how he plans to have it all, both new and old, sound even better. Nash, 71, and I met at the Broadway HQ of Random House publishing arm Crown Archetype in New York City to dive deep into his quite revelatory autobiography, Wild Tales. In addition to discussing all of the shadows, shades, and sweet sonic details to be found within Tales, we also delved into why he’s been working “under the headphones” on a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young project that may very well become the first official hi-res Pono release. Carry on...

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