The Second Disc

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On Target: Audio Fidelity Introduces New Retro Reissue Line

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Can anybody doubt that Audio Fidelity knows its audience?  The audiophile label is taking niche marketing to another level with the introduction of its new line of reissues.  To the average consumer, a “Target CD” might be one purchased at that retail giant.  To certain collectors, though, the words “Target CD” have a different meaning altogether.

In the infancy of the compact disc, target CDs were pressings released by WEA (Warner-Elektra-Atlantic) in the early-to-mid 1980s. Most were manufactured in either West Germany or Japan for distribution in the U.S. before pressing plants here had converted to CD manufacture, though some of the discs were indeed pressed in the U.S. and even in France. Target CDs are so called for their label design, which resembles crosshairs or, well, a target.  Many of these labels, though not all, were painted, for a smooth feel and unique look.  Moreover, some collectors of target CDs prefer the sound on these discs, a result of many being derived from “flat transfers” of the LP masters and not subject to later remastering techniques.

It’s with that in mind that Audio Fidelity is introducing its new Target Series.  According to the label’s copy, “the series will feature popular recordings on vinyl and CD that will carry the rich tradition of the original early 1980’s CDs that have become known as the Target CDs.  The Target CDs are synonymous with unique design and rich sound.”  Audio Fidelity is promising to deliver on both counts, with the design updated from the original target style, and the sound handled by mastering engineers Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray.  (The acclaimed if sometimes controversial Hoffman runs the popular Steve Hoffman Music Forums, where many of the target collectors regularly offer their findings as to the discs’ sonics in comparison to later reissues.)

The first two titles in Audio Fidelity’s Target series have been confirmed as Riot’s Fire Down Under and 10,000 Maniacs’ Our Time in Eden.  Both titles will be available on the Target Vinyl Series.  Hit the jump for more details including complete track listings!

To differentiate these titles from Audio Fidelity’s 24k Gold Compact Disc series, The Target Series will be made available at a lower price range of $14.99 to $22.99.  In addition, the new series will not be numbered or pressed in limited quantities like the gold disc.  Audio Fidelity states its hopes that the new line “will nonetheless be valued as collectible because of the distinctive design, high quality mastering and superior sound. “

Kevin Gray has handled the mastering chores for both initial releases.  Riot’s Fire Down Under is generally considered the finest effort from the New York heavy metal band.  The 1981 album captured the line-up of Mark Reale (guitar/vocals), Guy Speranza (guitar), Rick Ventura (guitar) Kip Leming (bass) and Sandy Slavin (drums) at their peak.  It introduced Reale and Speranza’s “Swords and Tequila,” likely the hard rockers’ best-known song. 

10,000 Maniacs’ 1992 LP Our Time in Eden was the group’s final studio album before lead singer Natalie Merchant departed to embark on her solo career.  (One more album with Merchant was yet to arrive: the 1993 MTV Unplugged concert recording, with the band’s take on the Patti Smith/Bruce Springsteen song “Because the Night.”)  Though the album only produced a couple of modest hits (“These are Days” and “Candy Everybody Wants”) Our Time in Eden nonetheless offers thirteen tracks of the band’s well-honed folk/pop blend.

Both titles originally appeared on the Elektra label and have been licensed through Warner Music Group, which is appropriate as WEA originally devised the target design.  Release dates haven’t been confirmed for Fire Down Under and Our Time in Eden, but more information will soon be available at Audio Fidelity’s official website.

Riot, Fire Down Under: Target Edition (Elektra 5E-546, 1981 – reissued Audio Fidelity, 2011)

  1. Swords and Tequila
  2. Fire Down Under
  3. Feel the Same
  4. Outlaw
  5. Don’t Bring Me Down
  6. Don’t Hold Back
  7. Altar of the King
  8. No Lies
  9. Run For Your Life
  10. Flashbacks

10,000 Maniacs, Our Time in Eden: Target Edition (Elektra CD 61385, 1992 – reissued Audio Fidelity, 2011)

  1. Noah’s Dove
  2. These are Days
  3. Eden
  4. Few and Far Between
  5. Stockton Gala Days
  6. Gold Rush Brides
  7. Jezebel
  8. How You’ve Grown
  9. Candy Everybody Wants
  10. Tolerance
  11. Circle Dream
  12. If You Intend
  13. I’m Not the Man

Written by Joe Marchese

August 15, 2011 at 15:29

Posted in News, Reissues, Riot

5 Responses

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  1. I really admire Steve Hoffman, for many years. So, I have to ask, why would you refer to him as controversial? Could it be people that like that ‘compressed to death sound’ don’t like SH?

    Carl

    August 15, 2011 at 20:42

    • No… He is controversial mainly because there are numerous people who have claimed that, after criticizing his work on his website, he or one of his moderators edited and rewrote their posts to make it look like they had posted something violating the rules of the forum, and then banned them from the forum. Several people have claimed this.

      In addition, numerous people (who did not claim their posts were altered) have said they were banned without warning and their posts deleted simply for “correcting” Hoffman or criticizing his work, including mastering engineers from MoFi, who were apparently banned.

      And then there is the legend that Hoffman was fired from MCA many years ago for stealing Buddy Holly master tapes from MCA. And the rumor he was fired just a couple years ago from mastering Warner’s Because Sound Matters vinyl reissues, for reasons unknown.

      I have NO IDEA if any of these things are true… just saying these rumors are why he’s controversial.

      twinza

      August 15, 2011 at 22:48

      • Yes, the rumours contribute to the overall controversial nature of Hoffman. Also, if you read any Amazon reviews of Hoffman’s products, you will see that he can be a polarizing figure.

        I do think the Hoffman site is an important and useful resource for music lovers and audiophiles.

        Tom

        August 16, 2011 at 10:36

  2. As a casual visitor to the Hoffman site, I’ve often wondered (althought not enough to look it up myself) just what a “target” CD was. Thanks for the lesson.

    I think the, um, “attitude” of some of the members of the Hoffman site is what is controversial, more so than the man himself. That being said, the site is a vast and useful resource of a specific type of information.

    Jim

    August 15, 2011 at 21:40

  3. The first CD I ever owned was a target of “No Jacket Required” by Phil Collins. I was, maybe, four.

    I managed to get a target of Talking Heads’ “Remain in Light” a few years ago from eBay. It’s one of the best CDs I own and one of the only older issues I haven’t sold off (I do have the DualDisc).

    More on topic, it looks like that Maniacs album was only released on vinyl in Germany. Albums from the early ’90s are rare on vinyl and go for a lot, if my abandoned attempt to get Neil Young albums from that era (Harvest Moon, Lucky Thirteen, and so forth) is any indication.

    plasket

    August 16, 2011 at 05:58


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