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A view on Blu-ray Audio discs by Daniel Lalla

Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road [Blu-ray Audio]  

 

 

Review by Daniel Lalla

 

Producer: Universal Music Group (Geffen Records)

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Total Music time: 1:16:11.000

Total Disc Size: 18,098,020,613 bytes

Stereo: 9,905,338,368 bytes

Surround: 7,874,273,280 bytes

Audio: 2.0 Stereo LPCM or DTS-HD 24 / 96 (24 bit depth and 96 kHz sampling rate)
5.1 Surround 24 / 96

Chapters: 17 Tracks Stereo PCM 2.0 and DTS-HD Audio & 17 Tracks Surround 24/96

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: March 24th, 2014


Recorded: May 1973 Château d'Hérouville, France & Trident Studios, London
Originally Released: October 1973

 

Extras:

12-page foldout with photos and lyrics. A paper with a code to access the Blu-ray disc digital downloads online
Produced By: Gus Dudgeon

 

1. Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding (0:11:07.000)
2. Candle In The Wind (0:03:48.875)
3. Bennie And The Jets (0:05:22.958)
4. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (0:03:13.708)
5. This Song Has No Title (0:02:22.666)
6. Grey Seal (0:03:59.083)
7. Jamaica Jerk Off (0:03:38.625)
8. I've Seen that Movie Too (0:05:57.916)
9. Sweet Painted Lady (0:03:53.958)
10. The Ballad Of Danny Bailey (1909-34) (0:04:23.083)
11. Dirty Little Girl (0:05:01.416)
12. All the Girls Love Alice (0:05:07.541)
13. Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock'n'Roll) (0:02:43.083)
14. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting (0:04:54.416)
15. Roy Rogers (0:04:06.791)
16. Social Disease (0:03:43.250)
17. Harmony (0:02:46.625)

 

 

 

 

Comparison material:

Japan SHM-SACD
Deluxe Edition 2 SACD Set
 

RIAA Sales: USA certified gold in October 1973, 5× platinum in March 1993, 8X Platinum in 2014
Singles:

Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
Candle In The Wind
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Bennie And The Jets


Awards: Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame 2003 and Rolling Stone #91 Greatest Album

Charting: #1 in UK, USA, Canada and Australia

Interesting trivia : The album was not planned to be a double album. Taupin wrote the lyrics in under 3 weeks and Elton John did the music in about 3 days. Staggering considering they released 17 tracks (18 if you split the opening track). The working titles for the album were initially Vodka and Tonics and Silent Movies, Talking Pictures

Description: This is widely regarded as Elton John’s greatest album. There are a number of editions. Mobile Fidelity released an audiophile gold CD and it has been reissued on the 30th anniversary as SACD and DVD-Audio discs. Hi resolutions versions have been out of print for a while until there was a Japan SHM-SACD reissue and this
Blu-ray PureAudio. The Blu-ray marks the return of the surround track that was issued on the DVD Audio disc. There is also a 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe 4 CD & DVD edition that includes a 2 CD Live at the Hammersmith Odeon concert as well as bonus material and DVD.

The album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is an album of tremendous breadth, ranging from dramatic orchestral rock arrangements, glam, melodic arrangements and the rocking Saturday Night track that became a staple of radio for Sir Elton. The Marilyn Monroe tribute Candle In The Wind is one of the more melodic and touching tracks on the album, and remade as Goodbye England’s Rose for Lady Diana on her death. The album has something that appeals to almost everyone, reflected in the staggering initial response and the enduring appeal that this album has. Further testament is in the number of re-issues this album has seen. It cannot go out of print for long. This year has also seen new vinyl issues and a very hard-to-find deluxe 2 LP yellow vinyl issue that includes a download code.

Audio: Once again, I must admit I have an issue with this
Blu-ray release. While it features the return of the surround track, it lacks any of the video special material seen in the DVD Audio and the Super Deluxe Edition. The mastering is in keeping with the new more ‘aggressive’ style of mastering pushed right up to the maximum with a definite cut in dynamic range. While the sound is still good, in the loudest passages it seems shrill and lacks the definition of the SHM-SACD. Fortunately, it does not overwhelm the album (except for those loudest passages). This has become de rigeur in the industry, so I don’t know whether I’m wasting my breath commenting on this, or if it will ever change. Louder, it seems, is always considered to be better. However, if you take the SHM-SACD and adjust the volume on your amplifier accordingly, I find it to be the superior version. The Blu-ray very closely resembles the US/UK SACD from 10 years ago. The DVD Audio and SACDs from 2003 also feature bonus tracks. No reason not to include them here. I am disappointed there as well.

 

 

 

Analysis: As mentioned above, the mastering is a little all-over-the-place. The US/UK SACDs and DVD Audio also had evidence of compression but it seems worse to my ear with the Bluray. It is tonally bright but I think a little harsh and unnecessary in a recording that is quite well done. The dynamic range scores vary from DR9 to DR 12 for the Japanese SHM-SACD. There are so many versions out there that comparisons become difficult, but I found the original SACD and DVD Audio pleasing. The Japanese SHM-SACD is just bliss and the Bluray is somewhat of a disappointment: no bonus tracks, and the sound seems no better to my ear. The only reason to recommend it is the surround, but you can still get the Blu-ray with extra tracks.


Summary: My recommendations: The
Blu-ray could be argues to be a lazy repressing with no bonus material and new mastering. I see nothing that precludes the Blu-ray from having some of the video material or extra tracks of the other edition. There is little to specifically recommend it therefore.

If you want the best audio:
Japan SHM-SACD – best DR (Dynamic Range) score, most balanced and accurate sound.
If you want the most tracks, live material etc.. get the 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition
If you want the surround track, your only current option is the
Blu-ray unless you can get the 2 SACD or DVD Audio editions – The mastering on the Blu-ray is the 40th anniversary more ‘aggressive’ sound
If you want a balance of good audio, surround tracks and bonus material: the
2 SACD Edition (or DVDAudio if you can still find one)
If you just want a high resolution release in stereo, HDTracks has the 24/96 40th Anniversary remaster for download with a similar DR score. As they advertise it as the 40th Anniversary Celebration, I presume it is the same master and you can choose your download format of choice (AIFF, FLAC, Apple Lossless etc…)

 

 

PS – you can still find the 2 SACD 30th Anniversary version for about $25 at Amazon.com. Why not get the extra tracks and still have both stereo and surround.

 

  

  


  

Daniel Lalla

May 12th, 2014

 

Tools Used:

MacPro with iTunes 11 using AudirvanaPlus.
XLD used for all file format conversions where needed.
AudioLEq Version 3 (paid version) for analysis and histogram
Output through TEAC UD-501 USB DAC (driverless in Mac OSX) with direct DSD support
Parallels Windows partition with Foobar 2000 with SACD and Dynamic Range plugins, using TEAC ASIO driver
Some album information is drawn from Wikipedia and other sources on the internet.

Daniel Lalla

 

     

 




 

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