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Discussion Starter #1
Just found it in my mailbox. This is an album I listened to a lot when I was a kid. My musical tastes have grown a lot since then, so I don't know how well the music will hold up, but I'll give it a try. Since Wilson changed XTC's Drums and Wires from New Wave into progressive rock, maybe he will do better with progressive rock. I just hope he does better than with Jethro Tull's War Child.

Just looked at the cover and already a problem. The bonus tracks, which take up an entire CD weren't included on the 5.1 DVD. Boo on that.
 

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All right. I just listened to it.

First the good news... The mix is very, very good. I can hear much clearer than the old LP, even the UK pressing that I used to have. Balances are very good and the frequency response range is huge, from the low thump of the kick drum all the way up to super high upper harmonics of the triangle. In fact, the mix is often so clean, you can hear the tape hiss, not of the overall track, but in individual elements as they pot in and out. Dynamics are good. A few of the dynamic contrasts aren't punched as hard as they were on vinyl, but not nearly as bad as XTC's Drums and Wires in that department.

The rear channels aren't used much for ping pong effects, but there's some very sophisticated 5.1 mixing going on. Speakers tend to be paired with varying balances between the two. For instance right rear and right main will have an element that pots from front to back on one side, or the right main may be joined to the center to create a slightly off center focus in the soundstage. There is one point where a strange rumbling sound moves through the room walking towards the right main. There are many places in the mix where the sound comes from the middle of the room. The sound field is perfectly controlled.

Now for the not as good news... I remember why I liked this record when I was a kid now. It's the perfect record to smoke an awful lot of pot and fall asleep to. It's got that "Renaissance Faire" sound, with jangly acoustic guitar arpeggios contrasted against church organs and hootie hoot French horns and toodley toot flutes. Good music to impress a hippie chick, I guess. But not exactly challenging stuff. If this is your meat, go for it. But this record doesn't have balls. That's for sure.

A couple of tracks include Phil Collins doing his best Peter Gabriel impression. This record is MUCH more closely connected with Wind and Wuthering than it is Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (again, the balls thing). I kinda think the Pop Genesis is better than the transitional period Genesis myself, but other people may like the softer stuff with less punch.

My only quibbles with the sound quality and mix is that there is a piano at the end that is decidedly lofi- probably recorded at home on a consumer open reel deck. And the church organ, strings and clarinets aren't very well miked or EQed. But the guitars and vocals sound great, and I guess that's what counts with this album.

If you like this kind of music, you will love the 5.1 remix. If you aren't so keen on pseudo-rennaissance style music, it's best to put on when you have a fire going, a bottle of wine and a lady friend. At least that way, you won't fall asleep! (unless the wine is better than the lady friend!)
 
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