06/09/2003 8:20p PT
Matt Rowe - Reviewer
One of the joys that we constantly experience here at MusicTAP is the ability to review reissues of our old favourites from ‘back in the day’. We get to hear fresh reproductions of past gems and get to review them just like we wished we could then. In this case, Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs’ SACD/DSD reissue of The Kinks’ 1979 gold album, Low Budget, in stereo and with no multichannel interference. I’m not prejudiced against multi channels but there is a place for it. You may remember as I do, when we dropped the tone arm and was able to hear our favourite music. We were entranced by what the combined workings of the turntable, stylus, and speakers yielded. That was vinyl and we loved it. This, folks, is SACD, and the love begins all over again.
The recognition of The Kinks and their music by having some of their important albums remastered using DSD technology in a time where the format is still in it’s infancy speaks clearly for the band’s output.
The Kinks have a resiliency that has supported them well for several decades. From “You Really Got Me” to “Lola” to their hits infused Arista release, Low Budget..and forward, The Kinks have produced a wide bodied collection of music. Whether you’re a Kinks fan or not, it’s difficult to dismiss the lively quality of their songs. I had occasion to play this disc for a friend of mine. This friend doesn’t go out of his way to acquire music in any fashion. However, he really enjoyed the album. If he were a buyer he would pick this up which states volumes on the appeal of the music despite its age.
Unfortunately, while The Kinks are recognized for their output, that recognition is not a vast one. Never mind the fact that two of their songs are cemented classics. They’ve floated in and out of public awareness over the course of time. With Low Budget, they put another foot on the rung. The mainstay of the band, Ray Davies, worked hard to create catchy songs and this album is full of them being the significant fruit of arduous reworks. When all was said and done, Low Budget produced 11 strong tracks with an interesting mix of styles. From that mix were generated several singles including “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” with its disco treatment and “Pressure” which fuses a new wave sound with surf music.
As you move from track to track, you get as many styles as could be crammed between the grooves of a vinyl disc back in the late 70s. Of course, many of you reading this review are already aware of what I’m talking about. That’s the allure of The Kinks and the draw of this album. And for the very reasons that you purchased this album back then, you should purchase this Mobile Fidelity release.
The sound has been revitalized by the procedures of Mo-Fi’s Ultradisc UHR Gain2 with DSD to instill back into the recording the vibrancy lost to CD and digital replication. Using the original masters, Mo-Fi reworked a classic into an awe-inspiring playback classic that you can revisit in its original intent for years to come. The disc is supplied in both PCM version and SACD’s DSD quality to create a hybrid and therefore transportable from house to other methods of playback.
With an extraordinary capture of sound depth and quality, Low Budget regains its voice as a document of the era that spawned it. DSD sharpens the clarity and presents an undeniably enjoyable playback experience. This disc is so good that it even sounds great on my PC speakers. Imagine how well the SACD layer sounds...yeah, that good. The vocal tracks reveal a crisp and clear playback as do the instruments. In a word, fantastic.
The added bonuses of this disc are three additional tracks. There is a US single extended version of “A Gallon of Gas”, a subject that is as valid today in ’03 as it was in 1979. There is an original extended version of “Catch Me Now I’m Falling” and a disco mix (inevitable given the already disco sound of the song) extended version of “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman”.
This set provides an essay written by Rob Gillis who pays much closer attention to the band than I do here. Additionally, there are lyrics with cool photos of bygone days, notably the once essential singles.
I have hope that Mobile Fidelity revisits more of the Kinks’ Arista/RCA catalog. I also hope that Mobile Fidelity can acquire rights to other Arista catalogue like Lou Reed’s Street Hassle (to begin with) and The Grateful Dead’s Arista output.
If you are a Kinks fan, particularly of Low Budget and Everybody’s in Showbiz, Mo-Fi’s other SACD offering, then you cannot go wrong in acquiring these titles. I’m hard to please where music is concerned but I know what I like. And I like this issue.
Copyright © 2002-2003 Matthew Rowe. All rights reserved.
Released: May 6, 2003
* US Single Extended Version