SACDs have not held the same promise of releases that they did several years back. What seemed like a flood of upcoming classic albums became a spigot with the handle squeezing the expected titles to a mere trickle. This lack of titles came from a reduced consumer interest. However, there are still companies that have great faith - and love - for the format that had been abandoned by the big labels.
Mobile Fidelity has a great reputation for reissuing great titles in much improved formats that include Gold discs, high quality mastered LPs, and the superior CD format known as SACD. The label regularly releases anticipated titles in one of these great formats, sometimes even over several formats.
Recently, Mo-Fi reissued two Marvin Gaye classics from the '70s, the socially conscious What's Going On?, and the sexy soul of Let's Get It On. Both discs were trailblazing titles, unleashing a string of important albums that emulated the formula that Marvin Gaye had pioneered. The Temptations released their own socially conscious album, while Barry White furthered the sex-drenched Soul that boldly began with Marvin Gaye.
What's Going On was released in 1971 on Motown Records (Tamla Records). What amazed about this album was that Marvin Gaye used his incredible voice to explore the unrest of the 'early '70s. A financial malaise had hit the US resulting in a severe economic downturn; a lingering and greatly unpopular war was raging in Vietnam; and our environment's deterioration was readily apparent. What's Going On was so popular that it generated three hit singles as it completely and fearlessly explored the issues of the day in all of the album's nine songs.
On Mo-Fi's popular Original Master Recording series, the DSD remixed classic has become more than its original sound. The renewed sounds of What's Going On has undergone a restoration that not only brings out the clarity of the vocals but also every wonderful instrument used on every track. In fact, you'll find the hairs on your arms raised as you hear these songs in a new way, especially the crown jewels of "What's Going On," "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," and "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)." As the greetings are heard just before the sax kicks in on "What's Going On" you'll be immensely impressed by the clarity of sound. The banter that occurs throughout is likely something that you may have missed before but you'll hear every word spoken on this magnificent reissue.
"Save the Children" with its spoken, then sung lyrics and its percussion that underscores the plight of uncared for children, is simply gorgeous, musically and vocally. Marvin Gaye was also unafraid to express his religion, as heard in the defensive "God is Love." "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" is musically alive as the world's greatest Soul singer reviews the damage visited upon the earth, as far back as the early '70s. And then there is his protest of "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" in all of its musical perfection, just as it was meant to be heard.
His next album, Let's Get It On, upon release in 1973, represented a hipper, more experimental side of Marvin Gaye. It begins with the hit, "Let's Get It On," his best know tune. Here it is more spacious, providing a deeper musical insight into the song. You'll hear more, enjoy more, and marvel at the music that this song was truly made of. The emerging Funk and Soul of this period encapsulates the eight tracks on this album. The orchestral background of "If I Should Die Tonight" is complementary to Marvin Gaye as he delivers a heart-melting ballad, and which is made all the more impactful by this SACD reconstruction. In all songs, Marvin Gaye's voice is brought out more fully, more richly in a way that only SACD can deliver. The continuation of "Let's Get It On" is heard on the similar "Keep Gettin' It On," while the wonderful track "Come Get to This" follows.
Each SACD album is stored in the popular Japanese-styled Mini LP packaging affording a return to the look of the original LP issue. The disc itself is placed within a protective cloth sleeve and protected further by a hard cardboard, folded to receive the SACD. The cardboard is then inserted into a Special Limited Edition gatefold cover that is numbered. As the album was issued, so is this set. Mobile Fidelity has done their usual superior masterwork on two classics. The SACD is a hybrid, which means that they contain a CD layer playable in normal players, and the SACD layer that needs special SACD equipment. If you have a PS3, chances are decent that you have this capability already. But not all PS3s versions enjoy this capability (check your manual). There are no 5.1 Surround remixes on these SACDs.
You simply will not believe the clear sounds that you are hearing, each song becoming an aural masterpiece. If you haven't heard these, then you haven't heard these albums as they were meant to be heard. For those with SACD equipment, you owe it to yourself to enjoy two of Soul's greatest treasures, What's Going On, and Let's Get It On, as you haven't enjoyed them before.
Yes, I gushed. But there is good reason.