With the release of this much antisipated release just under two weeks away, i thought it might be a good time to do a review of this boxset. One thing i’d like to mention is that Amazon.UK have made a right mess of the release of this, but there is one very welcome change, and that is the price reduction to £12.99, which is the price i said it was actually worth. Was someone actually listening? LOL
I’d like to thank Steve Hammonds for making this available. It arrived on April 1st, and as it was sealed i’m reviewing it as if it was bought “off the shelf”.
The set comes in a box that’s a fraction larger than the recent Jethro Tull book style releases, the front being the normal cover picture we all know and love, and wraps around the sides. There is no indication of what this box set actually is, not even a mention of it being a “Deluxe Edition” like the two previous releases. The side panels are also devoid of anything bar a small version of the “logo” from the front cover. On a shop shelf this boxset could easily go un-noticed.
Looking at the back of the box there is a basic listing of the four disc’s, being three CDs and one DVD-A. One noticeable omission is the total lack of any technical information. Nada – Nothing! I’m hoping this is dealt with, even if it’s stickered.
Opening the box, i found it best to shake it open as there are no cut-outs on the sides to enable the bottom to be gripped, there are two box sized booklets along with the four gatefold sleeved disc’s nicely wrapped together to stop disc’s slipping out during transit.
Looking at the glossy booklet first, the first twelve pages basically reproduce the pages from the original LP release, nicely done. Pages eight and nine contain track listings for the disc’s, containing a touch more information about them, but again nothing technical.
The other half of the booklet contains a three page overview of Rick’s career, plenty of scans of magazine articles, posters, etc and an article written by Jerry Ewing from 2015. The back of the booklet does contain some information, although it’s basically from the original release and of those involved with the creation of the booklet.
Moving onto the non-glossy booklet, the front gives a clue to what it is, the album title is in Japanese. This is a nice reprint from the 1975 tour of Japan. It contains some nice pictures and adverts, with all of the text, obviously, in Japanese. So, time to do some brushing up…….
Moving onto the four disc’s, as previously mentioned there are four gatefold sleeves, the first being, basically, the normal LP cover with the other three having different pictures, taken from the inner pages of the original album, and an enlarged version of the ‘logo’, but no other title. The backs of the covers give basic track information, but nothing else. Nada – again!
So, to the disc’s themselves:
D1: This is a remastered version of the stereo album with an additional track, “The Pearl and Dean Unfinished Symphony”. I suspect this nice addition was recorded at the same time and is typical of the fun side of Rick, how many of the adverts do you recognise? Technically the album is very slightly compressed and if not a flat transfer, it’s had just a tweak of a tweak of eq, but neither proves to a problem. It was always a bass light album and there’s no change there! Phew!
D2: Oh! Well the information on the back of the cover states ‘Live in Boston 1974’, but what it doesn’t say is that it’s a bootleg/audience recording. Quality’s not bad but there’s a lot you don’t hear.
D3: ‘Live in Buenos Aires 1993’ fairs a little better, sounds as if it’s possibly from the mixing desk. It’s a more modern, almost solo version, and another bootleg. Oh yes, and there’s no chapter points, it’s one long track. Odd as the previous disc does have them.
D4: Finally to the disc we are all here for. This contains the original quadraphonic mic of the album along with the Mobile Fidelity version of the stereo mix. Now as i may have mentioned just one or twice, there is a total lack of any technical information anywhere on this set which really is a negative point when it comes to this disc.
So putting the disc in the player brings up a menu with four options: ‘Play Stereo’, ‘Play Quad’, ‘Track List’ and ‘Audio Set-Up’. Hmm. OK, pressing ‘Play Stereo’ brings us to another menu listing the four tracks. So, pressing ‘The Journey’ takes us to another menu whilst the track starts to play. So what’s missing… ANY information as to what is playing. There’s no mention that it’s the Mobile Fidelity master, no picture of that release cover, information about it, or at what sample rate it is, etc. Again Nada!
Back to the main menu and i thought i’d have a peek at ‘Audio Set-Up’. which takes us to another menu listing four options, ‘MLP Quad’, ‘MLP Stereo’, ‘DTS Quad’ and ‘LPCM Stereo’. Ummm…..
Going back one step and pressing ‘Track List’ takes us to the same track list as previously seen. But which version has been chosen to play? the last selected? or?
Ok, going back and pressing ‘Play Quad’ and, hey it’s the same menu/picture as before and when we chose a track it starts playing, but is it MLP or DTS?
I haven’t seen such a poorly created menu since the very early days of DVD. Appalling! Oh, and anyone notice something missing? There’s no AC3/Dolby Digital stream. Now for many reading this that omission isn’t an issue but the majority of the buying public use, and are very happy with, it. With the complete lack of technical information on the box itself, let alone anywhere else, this omission could possibly see many of this set being returned as faulty.
Anyway, i’d best mention the sound quality. All there is to say this is a major improvement over what was originally sent to me for testing, which was compressed to and eq’d to hell. I couldn’t actually listen to it all the way through in one sitting.
Again, someone obviously listened as we are given the quad mix in what sounds like a copy of the master, with no, or very very little eq-ing and no, yes that’s right no compression. hallelujah!!!!
I sent a report of my findings, which didn’t seem to go down too well. I’m hoping that, at the very least, some form of technical information is added to this set, along with a visible warning there is no AC3/Dolby Digital stream.
A little note regarding sampling frequency. Whilst playing the DTS stream of the quad mix, my amp showed it to be 24/96, so it’s fair to assume that the MLP stream is the same.