Tuesday, 24 August 2010

“Never A Dull Moment” by ROD STEWART (2009 Audio Fidelity 24 KT Gold Audiophile CD Reissue) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"…It Appears To Be Raining Again…You Know I Wouldn’t Tell You No Lie…"


Half way through the second song on this CD "Lost Paraguayos" - I turned it off. I thought to myself maybe it's my CD player, maybe it's me, because the sound on this supposed audiophile CD reissue is incredibly muffled and dull and nothing like what it should be.

Audio Fidelity AFZ 058 is a 24 Karat Gold CD (HDCD encoded) of "Never A Dull Moment" by ROD STEWART issued November 2009 in the USA and is a numbered limited edition of 3000 (33:36 minutes).

AF's releases have had very mixed reviews despite the blurbs all over their gold die-cut card-wrap packaging about "Ultimate Sound Quality", no "compression" and analogue masters being put through "digital converters" etc. It's odd, because I raved about their Joe Walsh CD "The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get" which is fantastic - so why are some of their issues so underwhelming (Faces, Montrose, Randy Newman jump to mind as well).

I then dug out my "Reason To Believe - The Complete Mercury Studio Recordings" 3CD set from 2002 with its stunning SUHA GUR remasters (has done loads of great work for Hip-O Select on Motown and Verve recordings) - and there's the sound I want - full, lively, every instrument alive - kicking like an audiophile title is supposed to do.

I now find that there's controversy about their recent Simon & Garfunkel CD for "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme" too which sounds exactly like the Columbia CD on a few years ago that you can get for a few cents. And to ad insult to injury - Audio Fidelity have even removed the "From The Original Master Tapes" wording from the card sleeve of their new 2010 "Talking Book" reissue by Stevie Wonder! An audiophile reissue company that doesn't want to have the words "original master tapes" on their reissues - how ludicrous can you get.

The packaging too came in for flack, it's a CD single jewel case inside and not an album one - with the original album artwork reproduced in card form - but you can't read anything off it. But that's not what any punter is buying this for - they're looking for the best sound - and for me - it's just not there. The "Reason To Believe" set with 5 full albums, non-album single sides and previously unreleased outtakes and a decent booklet is the winner you want - with genuinely great remastered-sound from an award-winning engineer.

With it's iffy packaging, high price tag and above all suspect sound - I would say that this is a reissue to avoid I'm afraid.

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