Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery SACD

With the news of the death of Keith Emerson I have been revisiting ELP recordings of course. I have heard so many versions of Brain Salad Surgery over the years and own plenty too! Before the catalogue moved to Sony, Universal released a number of deluxe editions which BSS was one back in 2008. It was a mess! From what was actually on the disc to all the errors in the booklet, this looked like a rushed job. The package had 3 discs, one of which I call the "hidden" SACD. Hidden because, apart from the SACD symbol on the discs, nowhere on the packaging or booklet does it mention the third disc is actually a hybrid SACD. The first disc is the original album on CD, remastered by Pachal Byrne. The SACD has that as the CD layer and also the stereo layer of the SACD, so making disc 1 completely redundant! The multichannel layer has the 5.1 mix which was produced for Rhino's 2000 DVD-Audio version of BSS. I have only ever played the SACD on my Sony unit which does not have multichannel capability. So I have only heard the Paschal Byrne stereo remaster. It however just occurred to me that I could play this on my universal player which has SACD stereo and multichannel playback through HDMI into the amp. Though I don't have surround sound my amp should automatically downmix the surround tracks into stereo so I could hear that Rhino mix. I did just that and the results were astounding! Whereas I found the recent Jakko Jakszyk remix very odd and quite radical in some places, this Rhino mix is more akin to the original mix but more detailed, powerful and very exciting indeed. It's a great listen. There are subtle changes, but nothing that jars as much as the recent mix. It's just overall a hugely detailed, clear, punchy experience. It may be my favourite BSS yet. I just wish I sussed this out earlier. What a twat!


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