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Yes! Audio Fidelity Rushes to SACD with Prog and Classic Vocalists, Plus: Elton, Scorpions Go for the Gold

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Yes - Close to the Edge SACDThe audiophile specialist label Audio Fidelity has a busy March ahead, kicking off a new series of SACD releases and continuing its long-running series of 24k Gold compact discs.

On March 5, the team at AF is scheduled to return to the high-resolution SACD format with two new hybrid stereo SACDs (playable on all CD players).   Yes’ 1972 album Close to the Edge was the fifth studio album from the progressive rock heroes.  Jon Anderson (vocals), Steve Howe (guitar/vocals), Chris Squire (bass/vocals), Rick Wakeman (keyboards) and Bill Bruford (drums/percussion) crafted this epic album around the nearly 19 minute title track which was featured on the original album’s Side One.  That four-part suite was followed on Side Two by another four-part ten-minute opus, “And You and I,” and the nine-minute “Siberian Khatru.”  The last Yes album to feature Bill Bruford before his return to the fold in 1992 reached impressive berths of No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and No. 4 on the U.K. albums chart.  In 2003, Rhino expanded Close to the Edge in an edition with four bonus tracks; Audio Fidelity’s edition hews to the original album line-up.  It’s been remastered by Steve Hoffman.

Rush - Counterparts SACDJoining Close to the Edge is the 1993 album by Rush, Counterparts.  The band’s fifteenth studio album, it became Rush’s highest-charting U.S. release with a peak of No. 2 on the Billboard 200.  The triumvirate of Geddy Lee (bass/vocals/synthesizer), Alex Lifeson (guitars) and Neil Peart (drums/percussion) earned a Grammy nomination for the instrumental “Leave That Thing Alone,” and the album spawned three hit singles, all on the Mainstream Rock chart: “Stick It Out” (No. 1), “Nobody’s Hero” (No. 9) and “Cold Fire” (No. 2).  Composer/conductor Michael Kamen contributed the string arrangements and also conducted “Nobody’s Hero.”  A return to the organic, guitar-driven sounds of earlier Rush albums, Counterparts successfully blended heavy rock tracks with instrumentals and acoustic compositions.  Kevin Gray has remastered the album for its Audio Fidelity SACD debut.

The label’s next two SACD releases, both due on March 19, turn the clock back to the realm of classic pop rather than classic rock.  Hit the jump for details on both of those discs, as well as on the Gold CDs coming soon!

Nat King Cole - Welcome SACDFans of the late, great Nat “King” Cole will no doubt be excited to see his 1959 Capitol album Welcome to the Club leading off Audio Fidelity’s March 19 release slate.  Recorded in summer 1958, the album featured an uncredited Count Basie Orchestra, sans Basie himself, playing under the direction of Dave Cavanaugh.  Gerald Foster Wiggins took Basie’s place at the piano, and Cole and the swinging orchestra tackled a number of jazz, blues and pop classics including “She’s Funny That Way,” “Mood Indigo” and “Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home.”  The disc has been remastered from the original masters by Steve Hoffman in two-channel stereo; Hoffman previously handled mastering duties on a number of highly-regarded Cole reissues on SACD from Analogue Productions in mono, stereo and three-channel surround.  Audio Fidelity’s SACD adds one bonus track, “Madrid.”  The song was cut at the same July 2, 1958 session that yielded the album’s “Look Out for Love” and “Wee Baby Blues,” and was originally released as a single.

Harry Belafonte - Calypso SACDHarry Belafonte’s 1956 RCA long-player Calypso was the singing star’s second consecutive Number One album on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart (now the Billboard 200).  Three of Belafonte’s most enduring songs were included on Calypso and contributed to its mighty success: “Jamaica Farewell,” “Man Smart (Woman Smarter)” and of course, “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).”  The latter reached No. 5 on the pop singles chart, while “Jamaica Farewell” charted at No. 14.  Calypso holds a spot in the history books as possibly the first album to sell over one million copies; some sources cite another RCA title, Elvis Presley’s debut, as having accomplished the feat.  (Elvis Presley actually knocked Belafonte’s previous album, Belafonte, from the No. 1 spot on the chart!)  In any event, Calypso spent 31 weeks at No. 1, 58 weeks in the Top 10, and 99 weeks on the U.S. charts.  Whew!  For Audio Fidelity’s SACD, this landmark album has been remastered by Kevin Gray.

Elton - Rock of the Westies GoldTwo “standard” Gold CDs are also due for release from AF on March 5.  Elton John’s Rock of the Westies was the troubadour’s tenth album, and his second consecutive LP to debut on the Billboard 200 at No. 1.  It came hot on the heels of an earlier 1975 release, the semi-autobiographical Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.  For Westies, Elton was joined by his musical mainstays Davey Johnstone and Ray Cooper as well as by James Newton Howard, Caleb Quaye, Roger Pope and Kenny Passarelli; as usual, the lion’s share of the songwriting was by John and Bernie Taupin.   The No. 1 U.S. single “Island Girl” continued the singer’s hitmaking streak on the singles chart, as well.

Scorpions - Virgin Killer GoldKevin Gray has remastered Rock of the Westies, and he’s also responsible for the 24K Gold reissue of The Scorpions’ 1976 Virgin Killer.  Klaus Meine (vocals), Uli John Roth (lead guitar), Francis Buchholz (bass), Rudolf Schenker (rhythm guitar) and Rudy Lenners (drums) marshaled their forces to create an early hard rock-metal classic.  The German band attracted controversy not due to the album’s thunderous music, but by the album’s original cover artwork depicting a 10-year old girl in the nude.  Members of The Scorpions have since offered divergent opinions about that cover, which ignited more controversy in 2008 when various organizations in both the U.S. and the U.K. condemned it once again.  It wouldn’t be The Scorpions’ last incendiary cover, either.  1977’s Taken By Force depicted children playing with guns in a military cemetery.  Audio Fidelity’s reissue of Virgin Killer uses the alternate cover artwork of the band members.

All of Audio Fidelity’s upcoming titles mentioned above can be pre-ordered via the links below!

Yes, Close to the Edge (Atlantic LP SD 7244, 1972 – reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ 147, 2013) (Hybrid SACD)

  1. Close to the Edge (The Solid Time of Change/Total Mass Retain/I Get Up I Get Down/Seasons of Man)
  2. And You and I (Cord of Life/Eclipse/The Preacher The Teacher/The Apocalypse)
  3. Siberian Khatru

Rush, Counterparts (Atlantic CD 82528-2, 1993 – reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ 152, 2013) (Hybrid SACD)

  1. Animate
  2. Stick It Out
  3. Cut to the Chase
  4. Nobody’s Hero
  5. Between Sun and Moon
  6. Alien Shore
  7. The Speed of Love
  8. Double Agent
  9. Leave That Thing Alone
  10. Cold Fire
  11. Everyday Glory

Nat “King” Cole, Welcome to the Club (Capitol LP SW-1120, 1959 – reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ 153, 2013) (Hybrid SACD)

  1. Welcome to the Club
  2. Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere
  3. The Blues Don’t Care
  4. Mood Indigo
  5. Baby Won’t You Please Come Home
  6. The Late Late Show
  7. Avalon
  8. She’s Funny That Way
  9. I Want a Little Girl
  10. Wee Baby Blues
  11. Look Out for Love
  12. Madrid (Bonus Track) (Capitol single F-4125, 1959)

Harry Belafonte, Calypso (RCA Victor LP LSP-1248, 1956 – reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ 138, 2013) (Hybrid SACD)

  1. Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)
  2. I Do Adore Her
  3. Jamaica Farewell
  4. Will His Love Be Like His Rum?
  5. Dolly Dawn
  6. Star-O
  7. The Jack-Ass Song
  8. Hosanna
  9. Come Back Liza
  10. Brown Skin Girl (Calypso)
  11. Man Smart (Woman Smarter)

Elton John, Rock of the Westies (MCA LP MCA-2163 (U.S.), 1975 – reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ 149, 2013) (24K Gold CD)

  1. Yell Help/Wednesday Night/Ugly
  2. Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future)
  3. Island Girl
  4. Grow Some Funk of Your Own
  5. I Feel Like a Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford)
  6. Street Kids
  7. Hard Luck Story
  8. Feed Me
  9. Billy Bones and the White Bird

The Scorpions, Virgin Killer (RCA LP PPL1-4425, 1976 – reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ 134, 2013) (24K Gold CD)

  1. Pictured Life
  2. Catch Your Train
  3. In Your Park
  4. Backstage Queen
  5. Virgin Killer
  6. Hell Cat
  7. Crying Days
  8. Polar Nights
  9. Yellow Raven

Written by Joe Marchese

February 18, 2013 at 09:54

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