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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 2
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Analogue Productions Hits a Grand Slam: Creedence Clearwater Revival on SACD - At Last!
by David W. Robinson

 

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Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willie and the Poor Boys
Analogue Productions CAPP 8397

Disc type = hybrid stereo SACD
Disc provenance = analog master tape directly to DSD, produced by Chad Kassem, mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray
Price = $25.00

 

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Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cosmo’s Factory
Analogue Productions CAPP 8402

Disc type = hybrid stereo SACD
Disc provenance = analog master tape directly to DSD, produced by Chad Kassem, mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray
Price = $25.00

 

Yowzah! Lightning Strikes!

Stop the (virtual) presses! I’ve got to take some to do an advance rave about Chad Kassem’s remarkable new SACDs due out any day now: Creedence Clearwater on SA!

Chad, the President and Chief Honcho over at Acoustic Sounds (http://www.acousticsounds.com) is on the verge of releasing a set of SACDs covering some of the greatest Creedence titles. Done directly from the original master tapes via an all-triode console directly to DSD (no PCM bogosity!) by mastering great Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray, this project is one that I’ve been awaiting for quite a while. No one who’s heard his work from DCC to the present doubts the wonderful touch that Steve and Kevin both bring to all of their work. I’d have to say that Chad was showing world-class smarts in bringing him into the mix for this project, as there are only a handful of mastering engineers on the entire planet (Grundman, Ricker, Sax, Ludwig, Stubblebine, Britton, Pappas, to name a few) that I would trust the work to.

True Confession Time

As a matter of fact, I had been hoping for it so much that I got tired of waiting for CCR on SACD last fall, and tried to help organize a re-issue company to do just this sort of thing. While that didn’t work out, I’m very pleased to see that Chad and company have been able to accomplish what our group wasn’t able to do, which is to make these classic rock recordings available on SACD.

Thus far, Analogue Productions (Kassem’s production company) has done seven CCR titles to 180 gram vinyl: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bayou Country, Green River, Commotion, Willie and the Poor Boys, Cosmo’s Factory, Pendulum, and Mardis Gras. (I’ve purchased all seven of these LPs, but due to the destruction of my Linn Arkiv stylus by a bloody cleaning person (!!!), I am still waiting to twirl these. I’ll report when we move ahead on the turntable front.) Of this, Chad tells me that the first five titles are also slated for release on hybrid stereo SACD. Of these first five, Chad was good enough to send along two Sonopress test pressings of Willie and the Poor Boys and Cosmo’s Factory.

I can tell you that I put them onto my Kern-modified Sony SCD-1 the same day that they arrived. As in, "within minutes."

Anybody surprised? Didn’t think so….

The Sound

Within seconds of the first strains of "Down on the Corner" from Willie and the Poor Boys, I knew that Chad, Steve, Kevin, and company had done the real thing! The SACD was had the feel of master tape written all over it—the ease! The classic feel of tubes and tapes! Analog galore! And without digital artifacts of any kind!

Back and forth between the two SACDs I went. Just wait until you hear "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"… it’s a true revelation of what we’ve been missing for all these years. Or "Effigy"… or "It Came Out of the Sky"or "Fortunate Son"…or "Ramble Tamble"… or "Up Around the Bend." These are gems, real audio treasures, polished and shining, better than they ever sounded new.

Forget the old Fantasy CDs, those execrable creatures. The DCC Creedence CDs were noticeably better, but I had the original blue label Fantasy LPs that I knew pretty well. In addition, I had a copy of Steve’s Creedence reissue LP, Willie and the Poor Boys, which trumped them all at that time. Most anyone who’s listened to the LPs knows that they crush standard digital issues. And while I’m still waiting to spin Chad’s new LP reissues, the advance word that I’m getting on them is that Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray have noticeably bettered their earlier work, making these the finest CCR LPs ever released.

After listening to the mastering work on the SACDs, I can believe it.

I went from cut to cut in a kind of excited daze. I had grown up with this music from about 1969, and knew it inside and out. And yet, despite owning two different CD issues, the Fantasy blue labels, and the DCC LP, I felt that I was really hearing the music for the first time!

John Fogerty’s voice clean, clean and properly rendered—for the first time.

John Fogerty’s tight, crisp, edgy lead guitar, piercing without sounding brittle—for the first time.

Tom Fogerty’s driving rhythm, timbrally right—for the first time.

Stu Cook’s bass, sounding deep and round, not tubby, but right—for the first time.

Doug Clifford’s drums with some real presence and placement, some real extension, and some real percussives—for the first time.

I sat there for the rest of the night, just listening to these SACDs. The sound is rich and liquid, yet full of new texture and detail that’s never been there before. As a lover of CCR, it was almost like being a stranger in a strange land… one that I thought I knew, but didn’t. These recordings aren’t "audiophile reference soundstaging/imaging masterpieces" in the audio nerd sense of the term (thank God!)—they’re old-time rock and roll, after all—but I’d say that as music references they are truly world-class. If you got soul, they take control!

Just for fun, I took these SACDs over to Positive Feedback Online Senior Assistant Editor Rick Gardner’s listening room a few days ago, so that he and Jennifer Crock and I could listen to these together.

Result?

The same… which didn’t surprise me at all. Jennifer’s "Oh my GOD!" pretty much summed things up… and now we’ve all pre-ordered the entire Analogue Productions/Acoustic Sounds CCR SACD reissues. Heck, more than that: we’ve ordered the entire Analogue Productions SACD reissue series… all twelve titles!

If you’re smart, you’ll do the same. Don’t argue; just do it… you can thank me for the recommendation later!

Get Thee to Acoustic Sounds!

Based on these advanced test pressings (which Chad says is identical with what will be released in the next several weeks), I very enthusiastically award the Analogue Productions/Acoustic Sounds Creedence Clearwater Revival Willie and the Poor Boys and Cosmo’s Factory on SACD a "Ye Olde Editor’s ‘Highest Recommendation.’" True world-class, reference caliber work from all the way through…

If you’ve got an SACD player (and if you don’t, why don’t you?), you owe it to yourself to own these masterpieces, and hear what brilliant mastering and DSD can do for our precious recordings.

Chad, my man, we are all in your debt! Encore, amigo!

Sound = 8/10; Performance = 10/10; Music = 10/10

Manufacturer:
Acoustic Sounds/Analogue Productions
http://www.acousticsounds.com
Orders: 800. 716. 3553

 

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