There is lots and lots of new releases and top re-releases coming out over October and November. But I will ignore all those for now and look at these new SACD discs of UK's two studio albums and live album which have just been issued in Japan.
Over the last few years Universal Japan have been releasing a range SHM-SACD discs primarily aimed at the audiophile market. They all seem to be sourced from the original master tapes. What sets them apart is that they are flat transfers from these tapes. That is, there is no further mastering involved in the transfer of the tapes to discs. That is unusual for the Japanese who do seem to like lots of compression and EQ in their discs. So, with these they do seem to understand the need to achieve the best reproduction of the original tapes without any additional tinkering.
I am pleased to say that these new reissues of the UK albums are DSD flat transfers from the original tapes and not from Eddie Jobsons remasters of a few years back as was originally rumoured and feared! Though it doesn't state it in the notes, I believe these new transfers were done this year. So all that is good, so what about the actual discs themselves? Well, the original EG discs of many years back didn't actually sound too bad for a first issue. Compared to what companies were dishing out back in the day they sounded not bad at all. Maybe a bit flat to my ears, but sonically could have been a lot worse. These new transfers sound not dissimilar but there is far more detail and depth to the sound. For instance on "In the Dead of Night" from the first studio album you can actually discern Wetton hitting his bass strings. The clarity and separation is that good! This is true for all three discs. So, for me these will be my go to versions for listening to UK. And as usual the packaging is top notch too. The discs are in their own protective sleeve, with a complete mini reproduction of the original LP sleeve, together with inserts and lyric sheet in English and Japanese, all housed in a cardboard box. Yes, it's all over the top, but that's how the Japanese do things and I am happy they do!