Friday, July 8, 2016

Teenbeat XXI - The Cars on cd edition

It's 2016 and so a series of high quality reissues continues to trundle its way out in drips and drabs of the output of the influential Boston New Wave group The Cars whose music I've had on most formats since the late 1970's.
The Cars - 2016 sacd
This originally came out in 1978 being recorded in England where the singles My Best Friends Girl and Just What I Needed were quite popular even coming in picture discs.
This album has had two known remasterings on cd, the okay 1999 HDCD US only and the 1993 limited gold remaster by Steve Hoffman for the now defunct DCC Records which was pretty decent owning both.
The new one by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs of Chicago,Ill., on super audio cd playable on regular players too, has brought out more fine detail hidden in the original recordings without sounding overly bright.
This like most recent Mfsl cds is packaged in mini lp form replicating the feel of a vinyl album with the disc in a soft cloth inner.

Candy-O - Gold regular cd 2011


It had been a long time in the making near enough 22 months since I ordered this cd when it's release was announced in 2009 but on September 13th it finally came out on gold mini lp style cd and 180 gram vinyl.  
 I first remember buying this in 1979 being mightily impressed with the debut album released June 1978 and it's clutch of singles that charted well in the UK. 
The lead off single on this album was Let's Go a perky little 'new wave' number with It's all I Can Do being the second going from memory. 
 In case any doesn't know the model in the body stocking is Candy Moore. 
This new issue to me has judged the sound of the percussion about right as one of the signature sounds of producer Roy Thomas Baker's work is the forward highly miked drum sound that is hard to pull off without sounding harsh .
The original cd, a red coloured top one from the early 80's was generally a very pleasant sounding one easily one the best Cars cds of the time but suffered from quite a lot of his and also has a haze over the upper treble suggesting to me this was a few generations removed from the original master tape.
I'd say this new version marries the better tapes and attack  with the better rendering of the drums as well as that general listenable nature and certainly is the best cd version I've ever heard.
Strongly recommended.

 Heartbeat City - Audio Fidelity March 2009 HDCD

In March 2009 as part of the relaunch of Audio Fidelity, the 1984 Cars album Heartbeat City got re-issued and re-mastered from the original 30IPS master tapes by Steve Hoffman. This event created an awful lot of interest in hifi circles as you'd expect for the resumption of the 24karat audiophile cd format. From what Mr Hoffman said this is the first time since the original lp was cut in 1984 that these tapes had been used as all the CD versions used copytapes with equalization applied to aid vinyl cutting and the best of these is the WG "Target" which was one of the first CD's issued around the time of the lp issue (cd pressing capacity was a real problem back then).

Above is my copy showing the 'Target' design.
This was in many respects the last good Cars album and a staple of FM radio featuring the smash 45's Drive, You Might Think and Magic. It sure wasn't off my tape player having back the original on chromedioxide tape - that happened to sound rather good back then but both it and the target cd always sounded a bit bright which took away the edge from Ric Ocasek's vocals.
How the audio spectrum has been equalized to bring forward some of the bass  and smooth out the higher notes has made it more enjoyable to listen to.
I would conclude by saying I did not regret buying this Cd - it sounds great - and will be main listening copy for now on although there's a MFSL sacd coming out soon I'd like to hear. 
July 2016 MFSL 2016 SACD (Playable on regular cd players too)
 This one arrived August 19th.
The main difference I would say is it doesn't have the softened high notes of the AF so the slight rasp in the vocals is present without the very bright splashy symbols of the original but has a really warm midband projecting the vocals clearly as if you were in the studio booth hearing the session. In that way it's more truthful to the original lp but really builds what was captured on tape. The infamous gaps between songs appear to be correct on this issue although I did and remain convinced too much was made of that issue.
I prefer this sacd for the sound and love the mini lp presentation.

The Cars Greatest Hits - DCC CD GZS 1123 1996

Shortly afterwards I was able to get this CD also re-mastered by Steve Hoffman with a 19.99% reduction at a price I could just about afford as it's been out of print for just over a decade

This also uses the "original mastertapes" and is quite useful having all the top 40 45's from the first five albums on as Steve only tackled Heartbeat City for AF and The Cars S/T for DCC which is well out of print commanding three figure prices.
It does sound really good although I should note Steve used the album versions of I'm Not The Only One - a 1986 '45 and Heartbeat City rather than the remixes done by Elektra - the bands label - for the original Greatest Hits lp/cd.

Panorama - US Elektra 1999 HDCD
A real step up from my regular German cd and the home of the single Touch and Go, Misfit Kid and You Wear These Eyes.
 I also got the Joe Gastwirt HDCD U.S. only re-master of the bands 1980 Panorama album which in Europe remains in a murky sounding version with very little top response. This had to be imported.
While in every respect the finest version of this album remains the US original lp, the re-master is a considerable improvement obviously sourced from a good quality tape for anyone needing a cd.
The only negative is it is slightly bright on my system - with tone controls you need to turn the treble back to about 11 o'clock.

Shake It Up - Gold regular cd 2009

In November of 2009 Mofi issued this remastered version of the bands fifth album Shake It Up in goldplated UDII form with a mini lp style package which is the home of Victim Of Love, I'm Not The One, Since You're Gone and the title track
Remastered by Rob LoVerde this is the best CD I've ever heard of this title and although it's a limited edition it is highly recommended.
CD catalogue number UDCD788

I have the first five studio albums on lps mainly bought from new between  1979 through 85 too which have their own sound and gain from their bigger size when it comes to looking at the artwork..

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