Wednesday, 1 February 2017

"Rainbow Seeker" by JOE SAMPLE [of The Crusaders] (2011 Japan-Only UMC/MCA SHM-CD Remaster Using The RUBIDIUM CD Cutting Process) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"…In All My Wildest Dreams…" 

Wow is the appropriate response! I'm loved Joe Sample's 1978 debut solo album "Rainbow Seeker" like I've loved Steely Dan's "Aja" from the year before. I can't be rational about either. So any excuse to get a better version is Nirvana to my ears...

In June and July of 2011 - Universal Music Japan launched what they called their "JAZZ THE BEST" series of reissues - 150 titles across their vast catalogue and all on the SHM-CD format (Super High Materials) and all apparently using the RUBIDIUM Atomic Clock Cutting Process. Each were pitched at roughly 1800 yen which is about £9 to you or I (mid price) and came in jewel-cases with new liner notes and of course the SHM-CD. 

Whatever the techno mumbo-jumbo - the remastered audio I'm listening to right now for "Rainbow Seeker" (one of those titles) has to be the best I've ever heard - and not just for this album - but in terms of a transfer that retains the warmth of the analogue original. This is gorgeous and has me frantically searching for other "Jazz The Best" titles I can buy in this series (see list below).

Here are the details... 

Released 22 June 2011 in Japan - "Rainbow Seeker" by JOE SAMPLE (of The Crusaders) in on Universal Music Japan/MCA UCCU-6047 (use Barcode 4988005651617) to get the right issue) and breaks down as follows (42:41 minutes):

1. Rainbow Seeker
2. In All My Wildest Dreams
3. There Are Many Stops Along The Way
4. Melodies Of Love
5. Fly With Wings Of Love - [Side 2]
6. As Long As It Lasts
7. Islands In The Rain
8. Together We'll Find A Way
The album was released May 1978 in the USA on ABC Records AA 1050 and in the UK on ABC Records ABCL 5245

The core band is STIX HOOPER and ROBERT 'Pops' POPWELL of The Crusaders on Drums and Bass with RAY PARKER, DAVID T. WALKER, DEAN PARKS and BARRY FINNERTY guesting on Guitars and stunning sessionmen like PAULINHO DaCOSTA providing Percussion. All eight instrumentals are in the Crusaders style of the time - funky one moment - Soulful piano the next (Bernie Grundman did the mastering - always a sign of class). And the whole album is really great - not just bits of it - all of it (something that can't be said of the albums "Carmel" or "Voices In The Rain" that followed in 1979 and 1981).

There's an Obi band around the jewel case and the rear artwork is altered. It doesn't say in the new 8-page inlay which engineer remastered what (the April 2011 liner notes are in Japanese)? There is a blurb on the RUBIDIUM process but again in Japanese. The SHM-CD of course plays in all standard CD players - it feels chunky - and picks out the nuances of the recording better. Regardless of the lack of written info in the booklet for anyone outside of Japan - sonically everything is improved and up for grabs here. Stuff like "Fly With Wings Of Love" has the Rhythm Section crystal clear and Barry Finnerty's fabulous guitar work suddenly alive like never before.  Comparing any of the tracks with the American GRP remaster from 1996 is like chalk and cheese. The soul-easing warmth of the ballad "In All My Wildest Dreams" has amazing clarity now bringing out the stunning musicianship - as does the slap bass and piano/brass funk of "There Are Many Stops Along The Way".

If you've any love for this album - or Jazz Fusion for that matter - I urge you to seek out this reissue and its exceptional sound quality...

PS: of interest are the following "Jazz Is Best" SHM-CD reissues using the same cutting process:
1. THE CRUSADERS - Street Life (June 2011, Universal UCCU-6061, Barcode 4988005651754)
2. THE CRUSADERS - Rhapsody & Blues (July 2011, Universal UCCY-6123, Barcode 4988005652348)
3. THE CRUSADERS - The Vocal Album (March 2012, Universal UCCU-6160, Barcode 4988005696335)
4. JOE SAMPLE - Carmel (June 2011, Universal UCCU-6143, Barcode 4988005652546)

PPS: Thanks Joe for all the great memories - another one of my musical heroes passed - RIP September 2014...

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