Sonic Grade: F
Where did this thick, dull, bloated, opaque turd come from? Having played at least 50 copies of the album over the last ten years, I can honestly say I have never heard one that sounded very much like this new version (maybe some record club copy we picked up by accident did, can’t say it never happened).
Can that possibly be a good thing?
Well, in favor of that proposition I guess you could say it sounds less like a CD now. On the other side of the ledger, it now sounds a great deal more like a bad LP.
We listen to piles of pressings of Graceland regularly. We know what the album generally sounds like, the range from bad to good, and we know what qualities the very best copies must have in order to win one of our shootouts.
Above all the one thing Graceland has going for it sonically is CLARITY. It can be open and spacious, tonally correct, with punchy, tight bass and present, breathy vocals. The best of the best copies have all these qualities, but the one quality any good copy must have is clarity, because that’s what’s good about the sound of the record. Without clarity the music doesn’t even work.
The new version has been “fixed”. It got rid of all that pesky grit and grain and CD-like sound from the original digital mix by heavy-handedly equalizing them away.
Cut the top, cut the upper mids, boost the lower mids and upper bass and voila – now it’s what Graceland would have sounded like had it been all analog from the start, AAA baby!
Or at least analog for those who don’t know what good analog sounds like. (more…)