Audio Fidelity Issues New Bob Marley Super Audio CD [HFR]

Audio Fidelity’s latest Super Audio CD release features 15 classic tracks from Reggae legend Bob Marley. On the disc, Marley performs with the Wailers and the Upsetters during recording sessions in Kingston, Jamaica from 1969 – 1972.

As with previous Audio Fidelity SACD releases, the new disc is a Single Inventory Hybrid Stereo Super Audio CD. It features SACD Stereo and CD Stereo versions of the music on the album and is playable on SACD, CD and SACD compatible DVD Video players. The SACD disc will serve as the SACD and CD edition of the release, no separate CD will be issued.

Audio Fidelity describes the disc by noting that “Bob Marley is one of the best-known figures in the multi-cultural history of the Caribbean. A worldwide superstar, he is a figure of major spiritual, political, revolutionary and musical importance. Bob Marley is a symbol of freedom and musical creativity. “Young Mystic” is a collection , which also features The Wailers and The Upsetters, two groups of musicians that helped shape the early Bob Marley and Jamaican music for years to come.”

Album Tracks
1. Soul Shakedown Party
2. Small Axe
3. Duppy Conqueror
4. African Herbsman
5. Sun Is Shining
6. Soul Rebel
7. Try Me
8. Soul Almighty
9. Jah Is Mighty
10. Fussing And Fighting
11. All In One
12. Reaction
13. Keep On Moving
14. Kava
15. Stand Alone

Production Credits and Sonics
The Young Mystics album was compiled and mastered by Steve Hoffman from the original master tapes with DSD Engineering handled by Lon Neumann from the Sony SACD Project Suite in Hollywood, CA. Interestingly, the album was in large part created by going back to the original “splits” of the album and recreating it from there.

Mastering engineer Steve Hoffman says “We feel this disc contains the best sounding versions of these classic songs ever released. We went back to the original Jamaican master tape “splits” (music and vocals on two separate channels) to master the songs. In a few cases the splits no longer exist and we used the original mono mixes instead. For the most part, you are hearing the true sound of the original session masters for the first time here.

Since we bypassed the usual “production masters” we also bypassed a great deal of added distortion, compression and over the top equalization used on other releases of this historic material. You will notice when you listen to this SACD/CD hybrid disc that the vocals now have a warm lifelike sound that is dynamic and realistic. I did not use any compression when mastering this disc. In fact, these mixes are unique to this release and were done live to DSD (SACD layer) and PCM (CD layer) without any processing, insuring that you will hear the “breathe of life” that has been hidden in these performances for 35 years. Audio Fidelity has really gone the extra mile in bringing these legendary performances to you.”

Listening to the SACD layer of the new Young Mystics disc, it is clear that Hoffman’s efforts have paid off. The vocals are very clean and clear as is the music. On the Stereo tracks, rather than placing the music and vocals on the right and left Stereo channels, Hoffman has mixed the vocals to the phantom center channel and has put the music on either the right or left channel (the music channel, as it were, is alternated as the disc progresses). It’s a different approach but it does work. I think Bob Marley fans will enjoy the new disc as it really does capture the vividness of his performance on the songs.

The new Young Mystic Hybrid Stereo Super Audio CD is now available through the Elusive Disc and Music Direct web sites. The SACD should be available from other web sites and retail music stores in the weeks ahead. Young Mystic carries a list price of $15.98 and the SACD was replicated by Sony.

Sonny Clark Trio SACD: Now Out of Print
Audiophile labels like Audio Fidelity often license their albums from the owner of the master that include terms like availability until a specific number of copies are sold and/or for a limited period of time. Apparently that provision has been reached with the Audio Fidelity Hybrid SACD edition of A Session With The Sonny Clark Trio (Audio Fidelity AFZ 006) as that Super Audio CD is now out of print.

In light of that news, if you were thinking of picking up the Sonny Clark Trio SACD, I’d advise you to check around and nab a copy quickly as no more will be made. Given the fine sonics on the disc, jazz fans will find that it’s worth the effort.