Sunday, 12 February 2017
Surf City Allstar Band - I Get Surround Review
Without boring the majority of people with the technical specifications, DVD-Audio is a high-resolution sound format that can only be played in DVD-Audio players. The DVD-Audio side of the DVD is in glorious 96/24 and throughout the recording process, all the latest technology was used to give a sound that just has to be heard to be believed! The DVD-Audio 5.1 MLP version is reference quality in every sense of the word, and I can honestly say, it's the best sounding High Resolution disc that I own!
Lucky for most people, this DVD also has a DVD-Video side to it, which allows you to play it on a normal DVD player. The DVD-Video side has both Dolby Digital and DTS versions of the DVD. The Dolby Digital version is the "Audience Mix" and the DTS version is the far superior sounding "Stage Mix". The DVD-Video side also contains all the extras, such as the session videos and commentary tracks, along with biographies, discographies, photos and some great interviews with Dean Torrence, among others.
Now lets take a look at the actual recordings of these great songs. This is basically a new album, recorded especially for AIX Records, and as such, has all totally new recordings. As mentioned earlier, there are different mixes (Stage, Audience and Stereo), which let you enjoy the music in different ways. The "Stage Mix" lets you feel as if you are actually on-stage with the band, the "Audience Mix" makes you feel that you are sitting a few seats back at a venue, and the "Stereo Mix" is a basic 2 channel stereo mix, in high resolution sound, only available through DVD players.
Song By Song Review
The Songs Reviewed
There are an unlucky 13 songs on this album (actually 14 if you count the two versions of Sloop John B), and they were reviewed using a Pioneer DVD-Audio player, a Philips 5.1 Channel Home Cinema Amplifier and 2 pairs of Eltax Reference speakers and a Philips Centre speaker.
I'll Surf Away - The album starts off with this crazy bit of vocal harmony, over a religious sounding organ. Dean talks the Allstars into a frenzy, and then they go into 5 or 6 part harmonies with this great vocal only song. This first song is really not what you would expect to open an album, and you know you are in for something special as soon as the harmonies kick in.
Every Body's Down At The Beach - A remake of an earlier Jan & Dean title that was written for a film. This version of the song is far superior to the original, and really makes use of the 5.1 surround channels. A "classic" surf sound in every sense of the word, where the whole band take it in turn to sing various parts of the song.
More Today Than Yesterday - The first ballad on the album is another killer track. Starting with a vocal intro, and then slowly building up the instruments. The sound quality on this song, and the way it is sung is very impressive.
Discovery - The first of a number of instrumentals on the album. This instrumental was based loosely around the great song Telstar but has a sound and feel all of its own. Some blistering guitar work, some great organ work and great use of the 5.1 speakers again.
Over The Moon - For some reason the band members tell a story of never hearing the saying "Over the moon", and liking it so much they used the title for this amazingly haunting ballad. What a choice of a title! This is one of the greatest songs on this album. Once again as with Discovery, it's a new song for this album, and is beautiful in every way.
Surf City - Now, how could anyone re-record this song? Well, don't worry, Dean does a very good lead vocal, and the band play really tight on this version. Is it as good as the original? Well, as a "live" version, this is better than any live version that Jan & Dean ever released. Remember, this album was recorded "live" in one take, with no over-dubs! (Something Jan was fond of adding to J&D records!)
The Big Drop - Guitars twirling around the room kick off this laid back instrumental track. The guitar work is amazing, and this instrumental is again totally awesome. If you heard this on the radio you would think you were back in the 60's on a beach some-where (Apart from the fact that the sound quality is a million times better than any instrumentals heard before this album!)
Sloop John B. - Now, yes, this is Sloop John B. However, it's nothing like the Beach Boys version... It's better! It’s sung in the original traditional style of the song, and has some truly awesome harmonizing going on. Once again, great use is made of the 5.1 surround sound speakers. As a note to this song. The DVD-Video side has Dean singing lead, and the DVD-Audio side has another member of the band (Philip) singing over the same track, when I spoke to Philip about this I got the impression they were not happy with Dean's vocal.
California Sleepwalking - Mid-tempo track with some great, if bizarre lyrics. The lead is handled well, and the whole band joins in for the great chorus. This could easily be the soundtrack to a film. Another great song.
Paulding Light - Written about a phenomenon that occurs during the night in a certain part of the USA, this instrumental at first sounds really simple, with a repeating rhythm, but sound builds into something a little special. Not really a surf sounding instrumental until it reaches half-way through, when the surf-guitars really kick-in. (and the middle-end of the song sounds a little like the backing track to "Black is black"!)
The Little Old Lady From Pasadena - A 5.1 version of the Jan & Dean classic! Handled well by Dean, the rest of the band fill out the whole feel to the song really well. This version takes the Jan & Dean version, and adds a great sounding surf guitar into the blend. Fantastic to hear this song re-worked so well!
Fastest In L.A. - Excellent use of surround sound again. And yet again a great song to go with it. Another mid-paced rocker, with an excellent chorus. Once again, a new song that could easily be mistaken for feeling old. This song sounds unlike any of the other songs on the album, but somehow fits in nicely.
Apache - This is a totally awesome version of the classic Shadows instrumental. You MUST listen to this track on a 5.1 system to give it its full effect. There is some mighty fine guitar work on this album, and this track is no exception!