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Rock/Pop

Sonic supreme

Last-word versions of classic Motor City related albums

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Published 11/25/2009

Marvin Gaye 
What's Going On
(Gold CD/SACD Hybrid)
Let's Get it On (Gold CD/SACD Hybrid)
Tamla/Mobile Fidelity

The absolute last sonic word on the two best Marvin Gaye albums comes packaged in lovely cardboard mini-LP sleeves, each open-gate, including all original art and credits. The disc itself arrives in a felt protector-holder. 

Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs has, for 25 years or so, been issuing the best-sounding reissues of albums available. And in line with the MFSL template, these Motor City-defining masterpieces were painstakingly mastered from the original analog master tapes — using Mobile Fidelity's proprietary mastering facility, and there's no compression or limiting added so the result is a disc that can utilize the full dynamic range of a CD — which, without boring you with details, is rarely the case with CDs — and if you've a player with SACD capabilities, you'll get an even better listening experience. Think of the instruments (and musicians) becoming three-dimensional around your stereo. 

Gaye's vocals sit dead center, can soothe the soul, and his suave ghost images float between the speakers while each of the various Funk Brothers is heard is his place. (The bass on "Mercy Mercy" can and will lift floor boards). The realism's scary — tall, deep and wide. And because digital-to-analog converters have come a long, long way in the last five years — and are barely recognizable since the dawn of CD — you can now have a CD (certainly an SACD) that can trump in warmth and detail the cleanest, heaviest audiophile vinyl pressing, as long as the mastering is judicial. In short, Mobile Fidelity discs are a completely involving listen, which only reinforces the idea that music listening is an actual activity. Because the music commands your attention and draws you in — its intention, its subtle power, is realized. You are hearing exactly what Marvin Gaye heard in the studio during playback. In fact, this CD (particularly the hi-res SACD layer), for all intent and purposes, is the master tape. Each disc is numbered, limited edition, and will soon sell out, as MFSL discs do. Watch the prices soar to insane heights on eBay and Amazon for these instant collectibles. Available at Dearborn Music.


Alice Cooper 
Killer
(Gold CD)
Warner Bros/Audio Fidelity 

This 24kt gold CD is a must-own for any Cooper collector or fan, or one who's keen to hear the best fidelity of a killer '70s rock 'n' roll record. It's incredibly well-manufactured, minus all the dynamic-killing compression common to new remasters of albums. The mastering engineer here is Steve Hoffman, whose own very large cult following regularly fellates his work on albums. 

On "You Drive Me Nervous," you can hear Alice at his profligate best, all the knowing winks, all the airborne spittle, all the cans of Budweiser. And the lo-fi, glitter-twin guitars — and self-referential Detroit-city strut — of "Be My Lover" just can't sound any better (er, uglier?). How strange to hear Killer, which is hardly the most pristine recording to begin with, so detailed, with real separation between the instruments and voices. To (re)hear an album that's so assimilated into the Cooper mythology, so anti-celebrity in its celebrity, and one of the greatest rock 'n' roll albums ever, is to hear a new album that just kills. This numbered, limited edition stunner (along with School's Out, released earlier this year, and Love it to Death, which drops Dec. 10) will sell out. Available locally at Dearborn Music, Rock-a-billy's and Flipside Records.

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