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Audio Fidelity Releases 4 on Super Audio CD

ZOMBIES, Greatest Hits
Audio Fidelity stereo SACD - AFZ 001

Ever since I heard this disc was coming out, I have lusted for it. I received a test pressing of the disc. There were no liner notes or cover literature. The disc exceeded my expectations. The Zombies were a British rock group of the sixties. They arrived with the British invasion of the mid sixties. Three of their songs are true rock classics. Those being: "Tell Her No," "Time of the Season," and "She’s Not There." They produced five albums and had songs on the Bunny Lake Is Missing Soundtrack during the sixties. This is a collection from these six discs. The disc contains twenty tracks. The last two tracks are alternative versions of "She’s Not There" and "Time of the Season." They are both not as good as the main version on the disc. There are seven mono tracks on the disc. These tracks sound good for mono, but not up to the stereo tracks. The regular stereo layer sounds very good and makes it a good buy for non-SACD player owners.

The Zombies had more musical content than most of their fellow British invasion counterparts. There music had more drive than Herman’s Hermits and Freddie and the Dreamers. The surprising part of this disc for me was the quality of the other songs on the album. Every song on the album is worth listening to. The really great news is this album sounds really great. A friend was over at a listening session the first time I played the disc. When I suggested listening to the Zombies SACD, he was lukewarm on the idea. He remembered the sound on a lot of the pop recordings of the era. On the first cut his ears picked up. At the end of the disc, he said he thought it was one of the best pop recordings he had heard. I agree with him. Naturally there is some variation in sound between tracks, because songs come from different recording sessions. The lead vocals of Collin Blunstone are very well placed and clear. There is a good sense of presence in the recordings. The balance between to various members is very good on the recording. The even better news is the disc has a list price of $16. Great music and great sound, run out and buy this disc. It is an essential disc for anyone who likes 60’s rock. Congratulations on a great first SACD Audio Fidelity! They are supposedly coming out with an Everly Brothers greatest hits album. I look forward to this release with great anticipation. Very highly recommended. Clay Swartz

Buddy Rich, The Best Band I Ever Had
Audio Fidelity Stereo SACD AFZ 003

I should admit first off that Rich has never been one of my favorite drummers, but this session of unknown date really smolders and features some terrific players. It’s been called a "dream band," and fortunately Rich is balanced sensibly with the band and not over-riding it. Not only are his sidemen great but the choice of tunes and arrangements couldn’t be better, and the added res of SACD makes this a must-have for any SACD owning big band aficionado. There’s only 29 minutes here but seeing how there’s no excess musical fat that’s not worth complaining about. Tracks: Birdland, Bouncin’ with Bud, Cape Verdean Blues, Fiesta, Funk City Ola. John Henry

Cal Tjader Quintet, Latin + Jazz
Audio Fidelity Stereo SACD AFZ 004

This is one of the few Tjader albums not recorded under the Fantasy Records aegis. The venue was a live session at an Aspen Colorado club back in l968. Conga player Armando Perazza heats up the group and the changing timbres of his drums are highlighted and differentiated by the added transparency of DSD. The below-standard tuning and timbre of the club’s piano is also unfortunately put in the aural spotlight as well but one gets used to it after a while. Tracks: Armando’s Quajira, Armando’s Bossa, Why Did I Choose You?, Milo’s Other Samba, Song for Pat, The Touch, Colorado Waltz, Nica’s Dream. John Henry

Mel Torme, The London Sessions with the London Symphony Orchestra cond. by Christopher Gunning and guests Phil Woods, Barry Miles, and Gordon Beck
Audio Fidelity Stereo SACD AFZ 002

Many jazz vocalists are dragged down by full orchestra backing like this, but not the effervescent Velvet Fog. The arrangements are just perfect for Torme’s style of casual delivery and they don’t sound a bit overblown or pretentious as have many similar vocalist’s "big productions" like this. I even liked "Send in the Clowns," which normally sends yours truly out of the room! Add the solid soundstaging and increased res of this two-channel SACD and you have a gem of a disc that makes us realize what a loss his passing has been to jazz vocal art. The tunes are: Send in the Clowns, New York State of Mind (boy, do New York tunes ever have a different feeling now than they did when this album was recorded...), All in Love is Fair, The First Ever I Saw Your Face, Stars, Ordinary Fool, Medley: When the World Was Young/Yesterday When I Was Young/Bye Bye Blackbird. John Henry

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