Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Jun 20, 2010.
Seems like "sick" is today's version of the '70's "bad" meaning good - -
AKA as the Steve Hoffman Flu. D) In that case, I've been sick for quite some time & it feels good.
Sick is GREAT, Steve! In current jargon, "sick" is an over-the-top rave!
Stellar players in that orchestra. They really never made a mistake. Any take breakdowns were usually tempo disputes or a vocal phrasing issue. Those were the good old days.
The quality of musicianship in the Golden Age of Pop really spoiled us for everything since then, didn't it, Steve?
Well no I don't think it is an unreasonable desire, not just for now of course but for those people in a future which, seemingly, may be almost solely oriented to digital files of some sort. It's just things aren't working that way in our ever puzzling world. You might be able to buy some, er, let us say "not so magnificent" lossy files ripped from the indifferent-or-worse 1980s-90s commercial CDs at iTunes or Amazon. Didn't think that would be the case in mid-2010 but here we are and the online licensed music distribution situation is... not what one might wish.
Thanks so much Ben for the kind praise.
got the SACD today, holy cow!!!
Yes, the sound quality is quite fine. And for those who don't have an SACD player, my opinion is that the CD layer is really pretty close to being as good. Playing it in the car the other day I had that "concert in a car feeling." It's very intimate and immediate.
I think it's an extraordinarily serene album for most of it. It's kind of trance-like at times. Don't really have the words for it, but...
Someone does. And that someone is Chris Hall, who has written the eloquent and amazing notes for this album. Check out this short passage interpreting the mood of this concept album:
"The ideal of a love to which one commits their life can be a proposition of all or none at all, and it is with a declaration of this sort that Love is the Thing begins....Our auditory senses are first brushed with strings, stirring the primordial consciousness, singing light into the velvet darkness until awareness bursts to life with musical and lyrical declaration of ultimate purpose. Thereafter the melody becomes the deliberate and dominant musical language through all variances of time. Or maybe it is a view of a starry night sky, a night that leads to the moment a lover makes their ultimate offer, stating their feelings and terms, seeking definition..."
Pretty intense stuff....It's a fine essay, well above your average liner notes, imho, which helps make the package so worthwhile even at its premium price.
Both Chris and Jordan are excellent writers, aren't they? Must take credit for hooking them up with Chad at Acoustic Sounds. Their words really help us appreciate Nat Cole all the more.
Steve,what is it about this album that's so magical? Listening to it gives me a feeling that no other record does.Personally,I think the arrangements by Gordon Jenkins have much to do with it.He found the perfect setting for Nat's conversational style of singing;I hear the influence of Bernard Herrman there as well...
Of course it was due to Gordon Jenkins. His arranging style was pretty magical. When combined with NAT you got the best.
Jenkins did albums with others (Sinatra, etc.) but the Jenkins/Cole collaborations hold up the best. A meeting of two great musical minds.
Jenkins arrangements with others can seem dated now but for some reason the Nat Cole stuff holds up. Nat's voice transcends dated.
Fell in love with this album on the first listen of the opening cut when I was 8 years old! My uncle, who turned me on to pop music and audiophilia back then, played it on his Fisher/Dual/Shure stereo with Empire Grenadier floor-standing speakers and the downfiring 10-inch woofers, and I was hooked on Nat's music for life!
I can hardly wait to get my copies of Steve & Kevin's work from Acoustic Sounds!
Ok...Just got Love is the Thing and The Very Thought of You and I am perplexed, I am unable to access anything other than the first ten tracks. Also, I'm unable to get those first ten tracks to play in multi-channel. No center channel.
Unfortunately, I'm unable to get to any of my other sacd's because I'm in the midst of selling my house and they are all packed and stored.
I believe I read here somewhere that someone else was having a problem...but I can't find the thread
I have an Oppo 981 and a Denon 5308. I would guess I'm hooked up wrong somehow.
I did have to move everything a few months back...to make things even more complicated, I've had to disconnect the rears as I have no room right now. So, I haven't been listening to any 5.1 stuff. I figured 3 channel would be fun.
Besides all that I have no idea why I can't access the sacd stereo or mono tracks.
I feel pretty stupid.
I used to live in Santa Barbara. In fact, that's where I went to grad school. Little piece of paradise....Sometimes I even "Return to Paradise." Good place to listen to NKC.
Well, as to your question...I had this problem too, at first. I think every system is different, but for me it involved pressing an obscure button on my remote that says "MULTI/2CH." Hope this helps, but our systems are different so it's quite possibly different for you.
First thing to do is figure out which layer you're playing. The display on the player should tell you that. Most will default to SACD layer when you put a disc in, but my guess is that you're playing the redbook, regular-CD layer ... but if that's the case you should also be hearing the mono tracks on the "Love Is The Thing" disc immediately after the stereo tracks. (You'd be able to access much more than just the "first 10 tracks," in other words.)
And "The Very Thought Of You" has 16 tracks (all stereo, no mono) on just the redbook layer, so something is wrong there, too, if you're only able to access the first 10 tracks.
As for the inability to hear the center-channel, you need to think about what you ARE hearing to figure out the problem. If you're playing the disc without hearing Nat's vocals, it means you ARE, in fact, playing the multi-channel version on the SACD layer but your connections (or balance settings on the receiver) need to be looked at. If you're hearing a "normal," well-balanced stereo mix with Nat's vocals intact, you're playing the stereo version, which would explain the lack of center-channel information. (It could be either the redbook-stereo or the SACD-stereo version you're accessing...)
So figure out what layer it is that you're listening to and go from there.
In the words of Milt Gabler:
I'm listening to this one again right now. It's nice to have Nat and Gordon and the orchestra in the living room again giving a performance.
I knew this album hit number 1, but I learned from Chris Hall's notes that it was on the charts for 94 weeks. Wow. Talk about staying power. You can see how this one would have had word of mouth advertising money can't buy--"trust me, just get this album...." kind of stuff...
The mono mix isn't on the redbook layer on "Very Thought of You"? They don't mention that on the website, just that the mono bonus tracks are only on the SACD layer.
94 weeks? Didn't know that!
Good advice, all. I had no problem accessing either the multichannel, the stereo and the mono tracks. All sound good.
Over the years when "good" music conversations have come up, I do not know anyone who ever said they hadn't at least heard some tracks from this album.
I am willing to go out on a limb and say that this is the one LP that is most-well known (if not most popular) of Nat's catalogue.
A thought about "STARDUST"
There was a post (I think on this thread) that gave a link to a Gordon Jenkins bio book on line that I read a lot of yesterday. It told of how Nat was pissed that he had to record STARDUST and didn't want to do it but begrudgingly did so. They said he tossed off one take and then went on to something else.
For one thing, it makes a good story but is totally not true. There were SEVEN takes of STARDUST. Nat did it until he felt it was right. (And boy, was it. He NAILED it).
Secondly, they had planned on CALLING THE NEW ALBUM "STARDUST" right from the first! It was to be the title track, fer heaven's sake. In fact, the old ledgers still list the upcoming album as "Stardust". They changed the title to "Love Is The Thing" at the last minute.
Just shows to go ya that one can't believe everything one reads (except here, of course).
Thanks for correcting that tall tale, which I've read a couple of places over the years. How are the other takes?
Stardust would have been a great title too. Wonder why they changed it...?
Destroyed in 1959.
Long Is This Thing post alert but...
Another reason these are such remarkable releases, for those with any interest in quality and presentation. If not nearly as overt as the characteristic sound of a classic Motown mono 45, Capitol's records from the "golden age classic pop" often had something of a characteristic sound too, including Nat King Cole's records. We're talking a subtle distinction here, but it is one enthusiasts can feel (often regardless of what gear they listen to it with) and it informs their choices of which releases of a title to buy when there is a choice. Avoiding digital reprocessing isn't the only reason a collector might want to settle for nothing but the best original Capitol vinyl they can (provided there was a typical quality release to start with). Folks who pursue Beatles Parlophones for their sound know exactly what we're talking about here. If you want to feel a '57 Chevy, you ain't makin' it in a '73 Impala.
That is, at least the Capitol monos tended to have distinct qualities, with their superb engineering and polished, "wet" and very subtly "black and silver" character. By contrast the early stereos, with their variable pickups, mixes and masterings, seldom had the polish the more controlled monos had - where everything was always "right in the zone" of the sonic picture. Some releases of stereos, particularly of NYC or post-'60 Tower recordings, are still essentially Capitol in sonic character, given of course that the instuments can vary from the mono as far as how on or off mic they may be. Others just don't quite fit the classic sound.
In the case of Love Is The Thing, Just One of Those Things and The Very Thought Of You, the monos were quintessential classic Capitol. The stereos never sounded quite like that. Echo was added, compression and filters applied and balances broadly fiddled with, but it never sounded as polished. There was Nat, a sound partition and an orchestra, all picked up by extremely wide range gear that was variably adjusted over the course of the sessions. For better and worse that's what one heard (to varying degrees of fidelity). Making them sound any more like the monos would have been a real bear. The folks at Capitol were busy making those now-classic recordings then, too busy to fiddle with those stereos any further if they had wanted to. Folks reissuing them in the post-classic era frankly weren't interested in recreating that classic sound exactly and probably weren't able to had they wanted to. The DCCs were the highest quality release of the stereo recording, such as it was. They sound like DCCs of the stereos warts and all, a beautiful sound to be sure.
The Analogue Productions releases are not simply DCC redux; they are the first and all too likely only time that the stereos sound essentially like... classic Capitol! More like the mono, but in stereo. Varying, roughly, in the same ways their stereos tended to vary from monos, but still having that polished, "wet" and subtly "black and silver" character. The orchestra fits better around (more exactly, beside and behind) Nat and the tone and balances of the orchestra are more consistent at all times, while still preserving a lush, wide dynamic and frequency range. Reverb is well blended and rather closely resembles that present on the mono. The reverb is also very artfully and subtly done: taking the stereo version's infamous opening of When I Fall In Love, the added reverb has juust the right effect to subtly reinforce what little there is of the cello (section at least) without sounding artificial. And of course there's the super-high resolution of the pure analog 45rpm vinyl cuts and true analog to DSD SACD as icing on the cake. The standard CD layers are also darn fine, being captured with a high quality A/D converter from the same analog source as the DSD was fed.
This was accomplished through "analog" engineering and analog gear, not a simulated product of digital artifice. Leveraging (anyone else not love that term? That witch in Snow White, trying to make that stone on the cliff roll down at the Dwarfs, now that's leveraging. And ask her if it didn't bite. But I digress) past experience and the ability to use his choice of gear on his terms at AcousTech, together with what must have been a load of careful tweaking throughout, Steve Hoffman has managed to bring the sound of the stereo mixes more consistently into "the zone" and present it sounding more like the best of classic Capitol than it ever has. A bit like the classic stereo LP release they never had. Although I always enjoyed the "alternative presentation" let's say of the stereos, personally for what it's worth (zilch), I would have had the mono versions as the sole standard commercial release of these 3 albums, in whole or in part. To be sure the monos are still definitive. They're also included in the SACDs, sounding as beautiful as ever. But unexpectedly, the stereos finally belong.
A subtle thing, sure. But it's fantastic to me to see a reissue realized with this ultimate level of understanding for the spirit of the originals combined with such taste and craftsmanship in execution. It should earn Grammies and other notices of distinction, were such to be so genuinely interested in these arts. No one else has ever managed it for these titles until now and I can't say I'd expect it to ever happen for these titles again. As is too often true for anything of notable quality, the licenses are regrettably limited. So, if you're interested at all in the music... Get what you can of them while you can.
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