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The Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke & The Animals Come to DSD

11-15-2014 | By Brian Moura | Issue 76

The Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke & The Animals in DSD

Just over a year ago, Chad Kassem at Acoustic Sounds announced the launch of Super HiRez, a new downloads site that would bring out major artist albums in Direct Stream Digital (DSD) in response to many requests from music fans and audiophiles. Since that time, Super HiRez has brought us almost 400 releases in DSD from top artists like Santana, Michael Jackson, James Taylor, Miles Davis and The Carpenters from record labels including Sony, Capitol and Universal Music.

At the launch announcement, Kassem also piqued our interest with the news that he was talking with ABKCO Records about bringing their SACD titles to Super HiRez. This was of major interest since ABKCO put together a series of transfers of Analog Master Tapes by artists including The Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, The Animals and Herman's Hermits to SACD for a limited time. It would be great to see these titles return to the market a DSD Downloads. Today, that moment has arrived as three of these albums are now available as DSD Downloads, exclusively from Super HiRez, as promised. Let's take a look at these long-awaited releases.

Let It Bleed – The Rolling Stones

Let It Bleed: One of SACD's Biggest Sellers

Let It Bleed by the Rolling Stones is one of the band's most popular albums. Released on SACD in 2002, it's also one of the biggest selling Super Audio CD titles with sales well over 1 million copies. Sadly it's out of print on SACD today.

Unlike many of the Rolling Stones albums released on SACD, this one contains all of the songs in Stereo. It was also a stealth SACD release—you needed to open the Digipak the album arrived in before you could see the DSD and SACD logos on the SACD disc inside the album jacket.

Each track on the album was transferred from the Original Analog Master Tapes by Steve Rosenthal and Teri Landi at The Magic Shop using a specially modified ATR-102 Analog Tape Recorder. The DSD Transfer was engineered by Gus Skinas from the Super Audio Center and mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering. The transfers, engineering and mastering was done to preserve the original sound of the performances.

The album has 9 tracks including the classics "Gimme Shelter", "Midnight Rambler" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want". All three are a treat but "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is destined to be a DSD demo track—just amazing! You'll also want to check out some of the other tracks including "Country Honk" which features some traffic sounds at the start of the track along with a fiddle which introduces us to a country-style version of "Honky Tonk Woman." Entertaining, amusing and great fidelity —all in one song. Definitely fun.

The inside of the SACD edition of Let It Bleed says "This Record Should Be Played Loud" in bold capital letters. I second that recommendation. The album definitely rocks and yet it offers the Stones classics with an amazing sound stage and detail. This is a great addition to any audiophile's collection.


Portrait of a Legend: 1951-1964 – Sam Cooke

Portrait of a Legend

ABKCO's Portrait of a Legend album brings 30 of Sam Cooke's biggest hits and best known songs to music fans in one album. It also has a 31st track—an interview with the artist named "Soul" that was a hidden track when the album was released on CD. Unlike Let It Bleed, the album was a little less stealthy when it was available as an SACD. It came packaged in a Digipak, but there was a mention of SACD and DSD on the back cover at the bottom.

Super HiRez is doing Sam Cooke fans a favor with their pricing of this one. 31 tracks for only $24.98? That's less than $1 per song in DSD. A great deal to be sure.

Like many of the ABKCO releases on SACD, Portrait of a Legend has a mix of Mono and Stereo tracks. There are many Cooke classics on the album but I have to say several of the Stereo tracks are a special treat in the new DSD Download edition. In particular, be sure to give a listen to "Only Sixteen", "Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha", "Chain Gang", "Ain't That Good News", "Meet Me at Mary's Place", "Twistin' the Night Away", "Shake", "Tennessee Waltz", "Another Saturday Night", "Good Times", "Having a Party" and "A Change Is Gonna Come". You will find it difficult to choose a favorite among these when it comes to Cooke's singing and the sound quality.

I can enthusiastically recommend this DSD Download—both to Sam Cooke fans and to those of you who may not know his music yet. This one is a classic.


The Animals' Retrospective

Retrospective is a collection of 22 of the biggest rock hits performed over the years by Eric Burdon. The early songs feature Burdon backed by The Animals while the final track "Spill the Wine" has Burdon on lead vocals backed by the group War.

As with Portrait of a Legend, Super HiRez makes this DSD Download very tempting—offering all 22 tracks for $24.98. With hits from start to finish on the album, it will be a hard one to ignore.

Retrospective offers Burdon's classic vocals on some of the biggest hits of the 1960's and 1970's. It's a real treat to relive all of these fine songs and performances. The album brings these songs to us in their original Mono sound in most cases—with 9 of the later songs in Stereo. The DSD Download demonstrates how well these were originally recorded.

In terms of favorites, I'd highlight three of the Stereo tracks: "Spill The Wine", "See See Rider" and "San Franciscan Nights" for extra listening. They're all really outstanding in DSD. It's tough to select a favorite here.

Fans of Eric Burdon, The Animals and War will want to get this DSD Download. No question about it. A real treat that you—and your DSD DAC— will enjoy.

Super HiRez – DSD Downloads and More

Your Next Stop…

I could tell you more about these classic albums in DSD. But it would be better to just give you the links to these releases and say, your next stop is the Super HiRez web site where you can buy them. Enjoy!

Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones (DSD Download)


Portrait of a Legend: 1951-1964 by Sam Cooke (DSD Download)


The Animals Retrospective (DSD Download)


DSD Downloads on Super HiRez


[Images courtesy of ABKCO and SuperHirez.com]