Linda Ronstadt, "What's New", first thoughts

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John Kotches, Nov 22, 2002.

  1. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    I received a screener copy of this disc about two weeks ago, and in that time have had the pleasure to play it back on both a Kenwood DV-5700 and the Meridian 598/568.2 combination.

    The stereo tracks are direct from 30ips stereo masters. The surround tracks are from original multi-track masters. Both the original stereo tracks, and the multi-channel mixes were performed by George Massenburg (apologies if I've botched the spelling of his name).

    Stereo and multi-track mastering were done by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering and DVD, using dCS 24/192K A/D convertors. Bob has done a number of mastering projects for DVD-A and SACD. It's a good bet, if you see "Mastering by Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering and DVD" it will be impressive from a sonic standpoint.

    This disc is a collection of American Popular music, from composers such as George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin and other great tunesmiths of the 1st half of the 20th century.(Aside -- this sounds like I'm a music historian... I'd better watch out).

    The arrangements are from an ackowledged master, who literally wrote the book (Arranged by Nelson Riddle) on the topic. The arrangements are lush and rich, with some lovely dissonances heard throughout. Nelson Riddle is most widely known for his orchestrations and arrangements for some of Frank Sinatra's best albums.

    The backing group is first rate, with notables such as Plas Johnson on Tenor Sax, Don Grolnick on Piano, and even the (late) great Ray Brown on Bass for some of the tracks.

    The stereo track is nice, but once you listen to the surround mix, it's very difficult to go back to the stereo mix. The stereo mix seems flat and two dimensional in comparison.

    The surround mix places you at the center opening of a U shaped surround field. You aren't "fully immersed" here, as no common information exists between the surrounds to close off the back of the surround field.

    On the Kenwood, there were spots where I thought LRs vocals were clipping slightly, but the Meridian combo shows that this was a limitation in the analog stage of the Kenwood player.

    It is a very clear, hiss-free recording from the early to mid 1980's, and WB/Rhino have a done an excellent job on preserving the stereo mix, and an outstanding job with a tasteful, opwn surround mix.

    I'm not going to spend a lot of time discussing the tunes, because you will either love or hate the music. Given that I'm a "retired" jazz saxophonist, I've played them time and again.

    If you enjoy the repertoire (What's New, Someone to Watch over Me, Goodbye et al) you will in all likelihood enjoy this disc. If you don't, it might not be your cup of tea.

    Keep in mind, I am not a professional music reviewer nor do I play one on TV or the internet.

    Regards,
     
  2. Al B. C

    Al B. C Supporting Actor

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    I totally agree John, the stereo track, (unlike Neil Young's "Harvest" DVD-A), pales in comparison to the surround mix.
    It's not your basic "gimmicky" surround mix, it sounds more full and open, almost like listening to a live recording.
    This album has been one of my favs since it was released, and I have owned it on vinyl, tape, CD and now DVD-A and I have come to this conclusion - I have never really "heard" this album until I popped that disc in my player on Tuesday night.
    What a treat! Keep them coming. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  3. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    Well, that does it. Gotta go order it now. Thanks ALOT! [​IMG]
     
  4. Alan_Horner

    Alan_Horner Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd been waiting for this one for six months -- I think I remember it being scheduled for release all the way back in May -- and I wasn't disappointed when I got this in the mail earlier this week.

    The difference between the original CD and the new DVD-A is incredible. Listening to the former is like sitting waaaaay up in the rafters of an aging music hall. The orchestra sounds far away and backed up against a wall (i.e., flat as can be). Ronstadt's voice sounds okay, but it really overwhelms the backing orchestra.

    The DVD-A is like having a front row seat in the best concert hall you could imagine. The orchestra sounds very rich and full, and it's easy to pick out individual instruments across the board (not just solos). Ronstadt's vocals are locked into the center channel, which is just right for this kind of music (singing into a microphone center stage). Her voice no longer overpowers the music and has gained a tremendous amount of detail. Really, really nice.

    The disc offers song lyrics and has the "concept" video -- not the concert version -- of the song "What's New," something I'd never seen before.

    The only downside to the release is the lackluster graphics and layout of the disc. It looks like they could only come up with a few pictures from the year the album was originally released, and they're used repeatedly throughout. Ugh.
     
  5. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Well shoots, instead of ordering this one (since Best buy doesn't seem to stock it) I got impatient and did what I told myself I wouldn't do again: went and blew twenty bucks on a disc where I wasn't familiar with the music.
    Last night I bought "Tchaikovsky: Classics" a dvd-audio from DTS (from Best Buy). I have little technical knowledge of classical music, but do like certain types of it (I have a Telarc recording of Stravinsky's "The Firebird"-all sorts of stuff is happening in this energetic music). Wellllll, I knew Tchaikovsky did the Nutcracker, & I've always wanted to hear a full disc of some big sounding classical music in 5.1 so I bought it.
    The deal is, is that the music--just about all of it--is on the ummm....."delicate" side....kind of foo-foo sounding as my girlfriend would say. It's very pretty music but now I know why I usually only hear about women going to see the Nutcracker performance during Christmas, rather than men :b.
    Well, at least the recording quality is good (I can only access the DTS track) and it's surround mix is conservative but still full sounding.
    Dang it, I could've bought "Office Space" from the next aisle instead [​IMG] .
     
  6. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Lance,
    That's a new one.... "Chicks dig Tchaikovsky" just doesn't have that same ring to it, though does it? [​IMG]
    Anyway, I actually enjoy the Nutcracker suite, it has a relatively challenging bass clarinet part (for orchestral work), which is very rare indeed. I've played it once or twice.
    I also love the chordal structure of the "Dance of the Toy Soldiers", it's a thing of beauty.
    To each their own. And order that LR disc forthwith if you haven't already. DVD Planet sells for 25% off of retail.
    Regards,
     
  7. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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  8. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Lance,

    I'm not a big classical music guy, but I'd venture to say that something out of the baroque era (which Handel is) won't have the same pyrotechnic qualities that Stravinsky has.

    It's very nice, tasteful stuff... but it won't have that aggressive side that the Stravinsky material has.

    Plus it won't have some of those glorious harmonic structures that Stravinsky has.

    Regards,
     
  9. Brian Burgoyne

    Brian Burgoyne Second Unit

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    Hey Lance, I just got Linda Ronstadt at Best Buy in Cowtown. I gotta admit though, you never know what's gonna be on the shelf at BB on any given day.
    This is a very beautiful sounding DVD-A by the way. My collection is getting pretty schizophrenic though; Linkin Park and Linda Ronstadt on the same shelf?[​IMG]
     
  10. Joe Solek

    Joe Solek Agent

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    I can only access the dts and dd tracks. This disc sounds incredible. It is simply beautiful.
     
  11. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Brian,
    Instead of Schizophrenic, use the word eclectic... it legitimizes a crazy music collection, trust me [​IMG]
    Regards,
     
  12. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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  13. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    John K.:
    Thanks for the advice (I have a CD from the group The Art of Noise called "The Seduction of Claude DeBussy" that sort-of got me interested in classical a couple years ago).
    LJ
     
  14. Brian Burgoyne

    Brian Burgoyne Second Unit

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  15. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    I picked it up today at Best Buy. Simply incredible. This is definately demo-disc worthy. Her vocals seem to leap out of the center channel and are ultra-smooth and clean.

    This one is a no-brainer if you are a fan of DVD-A. I think the sound quality is up there with the best of the 'mainstream' DVD-A titles out there, possibly even surpassing most (IMHO). Whoever mixed this did an excellent job as it really does seem like you are in the best seat in the house.

    I'm finding that more and more of the 'older' original recordings are making the best DVD-A discs. I wonder why that is? The best sounding titles are all 15+ years old

    Ronstadt - What's new
    America - Homecoming
    Eagles - Hotel California
    Neil Young - Harvest (while I HATE the mix, the sound quality is there.)
    Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (A little inconsistent, but still very good)

    It seems as thought the 'newer' titles just don't have that rich and full sound that the older titles have. I don't think that ANY of my newer recordings (REM, Metallica, Alanis....) sound as good as the older titles. They don't sound BAD. I just don't think they have had as much care paid to them as the older titles. I dunno.
     
  16. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Shawn,
    The mixing engineer (for the original stereo version and the surround version) was listed above, it's George Massenburg. Mastering was by the (rightfully famous in his circle) Bob Ludwig, of Gateway Mastering and DVD (also listed above). It's a good bet that when you see Bob Ludwig's name on the "mastered by" credit it will be a sonic treat, regardless of the format.
    If you're talking mainstream popular music recordings, than for the most part I agree with you that the delivered recording quality has degraded somewhat. Whether this is compression artifacts or what, I don't know.
    There are exceptions, like Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now or Steely Dan's Two Against Nature or James Taylor's Hourglass (haven't heard October Road yet).
    You might not like the material, but the titles coming out of AIX Records by Mark Waldrep are consistently of demonstration quality. This is especially true when
    talking about the surround mixes. Their sister label, Hi-Res music takes older analog stereo masters, and masters them into high-res stereo recordings (DVD-A). Mark does the mastering and authoring for these titles as well.
    Regards,
     
  17. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    John,
    Thanks for the insight on the engineer and the master-um-er. I'm just not familiar with anyone in the industry, so I don't know who to keep an eye out for when purchasing music.

    I wish I had the vocabulary and the writing skills to better review the titles that I like. So far, any review that I have posted has sounded something like "Yeah, it sounds good. Um, I recommend it. It sounds, uh, nice."
     
  18. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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  19. Al B. C

    Al B. C Supporting Actor

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    Just saw this title at Best Buy 2 days ago.
    Pick it up. [​IMG]
     
  20. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Al:
     

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