Happy 75th George Harrison! – “Concert for George” 2018 2 CD/2 Blu-Ray Review

 

Happy Birthday Mr. George Harrison!

Tomorrow, February 25th would have been George Harrison’s 75th birthday (he passed away in 2001) and to celebrate I thought I’d post a review of a new 2 CD/2 Blu-Ray reissue that just came out featuring Harrison’s music – “Concert for George”.

The Concert for George took place at the Royal Albert Hall in the London on November 29, 2002 and was a celebration of the life and music of George Harrison that featured a host of Harrison’s famous friends (and legendary musicians) playing Harrison’s music and sharing personal memories of him.

The concert performers included former Beatles band mates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as well as Harrison’s Traveling Wilbury cohorts Jeff Lynne (of ELO fame) and Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers) as well as Harrison’s dear friend Eric Clapton plus Bill Preston and Harrison’s only son Dhani Harrison.

Needless to say the concert is a stellar representation of George Harrison’s music that features some of my favorite live performances from Paul McCartney (“For You Blue”, “Something” and “All Things Must Pass”) and Ringo Starr (“Photograph” and “Honey Don’t”) as well as a killer live version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that features not only McCartney and Starr but Eric Clapton who played guitar on The Beatles original studio recording.

Really all the performers shine in this concert and it’s an emotional and joyful celebration and a perfect tribute to the life and music of George Harrison.

In observance of Harrison’s 75th birthday, the George Harrison estate decided to reissue “Concert for George” in several new configurations.

The “Concert for George” had previously been issued by Rhino Records in 2003 (CD and DVD) and 2011 (Blu-Ray) but the new versions released yesterday include: CD, 2 CD/2 DVD set, 2 CD/ 2 Blu-Ray set and 4 Lp vinyl set as well as a sold out more expensive vinyl set with deluxe extras that was available strictly through georgeharrison.com.

Now, I own the previous versions of this set and was not really overexcited by this re-release but I did manage to pick up a copy of the new 2 CD/ 2 Blu-Ray set to compare and see if there was any improvements to previous releases.

The most recent release of this concert from 2011, a 2 Blu-Ray set, was my preferred version of this concert – until now.

While the credits in the booklet only mention a remastering of the audio (I think) I compared the Blu-Ray’s in the new set to the 2011 version and I could see a definite improvement in the clarity of the picture on this new set.

The old one was no slouch but it did tend to look a bit blurrier on certain shots and softer then this new set.

I particularly noticed things like the fabric and light on the backdrop of the stage on the first rock song “I Want to Tell You” seemed to stand out more with better clarity and texture.

I also noticed that Ringo Starr’s jacket was a richer shade of red and again seemed clearer than the previous Blu-Ray and McCartney’s clothes also seemed to have a sharpness that was somewhat lacking in the previous Blu-Ray version.

Not to say the previous one was bad and that it’s a night and day difference but the new Blu-Ray set was a joy to watch and going back and forth with the old Blu-Ray seemed to confirm that the new set overall had better clarity for sure.

The sound on every edition is superb and the new set is no different. I’ve always liked the sound on the Blu-Rays better then the CDs which is still the case here.

The CD version is a bit flatter or glassy sounding to me compared to the surround version on the Blu-Ray but not bad by any means.

I didn’t notice a huge difference in sound quality on the new CD version but will have to spend more time with it to see if it’s much different at all.

I will say if you’ve never seen or bought this concert before then this new set is a MUST as it’s a terrific concert filled with one stellar performance after another.

If you own previous versions it’s not night and day better but I do think the new Blu-Ray’s do look better. It’s up to whether or not you’re a huge fan of Harrison or his music (or if you have ‘collectoritis’ like me) as to whether it’s worth buying this once again.

As usual there are photos above of the new set and a couple of screen shots which unfortunately won’t help you see the crispness of the picture but I thought I’d throw them in for grins anyway.

Even if you don’t get this set take a minute tomorrow to play a George Harrison song or two in celebration of Harrison’s 75th.

Until next time, you say it’s your birthday

TTFN

 

 

Wouldn’t It Be Nice – Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” 2018 Colored Vinyl Review

 

Okay, what do you think of when I say The Beach Boys?

Surf? Sun? Surf boards?

Well, there’s much more to The Beach Boys music than “Fun, Fun Fun” and “Surfer Girl”.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the early Beach Boys records but if you look beyond the classic surf-themed hits you’ll find a treasure trove of some of the most original and creatively written (and produced) pop music EVER!

Yes, I said ever.

You see Brian Wilson (the main Beach Boys songwriter and producer) is one of the most talented and complex figures of the rock era and he spearheaded the creation of what some say may be one of the best pop albums ever made and I’m inclined to agree with that statement.

In 1966, Wilson created the landmark Beach Boys album “Pet Sounds” which featured not only some of the best songs The Beach Boys ever recorded including “God Only Knows”, “Wouldn’t it Be Nice”, “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”, “I Know There’s an Answer” and “Caroline, No” but some of the most unique production and arrangement choices that to this day are still impressive.

For those of you out there who’ve never listened to the “Pet Sounds” album beyond its three big hits, the album is full of subject matter (and melodies) that embrace introspection and melancholy just as much as joy and cheerfulness which were the trademarks of Beach Boys music up until around 1965.

Wilson has said that the “Pet Sounds” album came from God and one certainly gets a sense of the spirit or at least a sense of self-discovery when listening to the album – at least I experience the album that way.

I’ve been a fan of “Pet Sounds” since I discovered it in the late 1970s and have owned it in several different configurations (shocking I know lol).

I own this album in box set form (two to be exact), gold CD (also two), DVD-A audio disc with surround sound and a special 40th anniversary edition with a fuzzy cover but for some strange reason I’ve never owned this album on vinyl – until now.

Just this month Universal Music (who now owns and releases The Beach Boys music) has offered a limited pressing of 2,000 copies of “Pet Sounds” on green and yellow vinyl exclusively from this Website – https://thesoundofvinyl.us/pet-sounds-limited-edition-yellow-green.html

Well of course that was just enough to push me over the edge, the collector in me won out and I finally bought this new colored vinyl edition which I received in the mail this week.

This new 2018 pressing features the stereo version of the album that was created in the late 1990s.  Brian Wilson only made a mono mix of the album originally and that’s my preferred choice for listening to “Pet Sounds” but I must say I’ve grown to really enjoy this stereo version as well.

I am used to hearing the stereo version on CD and I originally thought it was just okay until it was reissued by the MFSL label a few years ago and I found that version much more warm and musical sounding.

This new 2018 pressing sounds much like the MFSL stereo version, warm and smooth and with a nice depth to the sound stage, which is different from the more closed in mono mix but just as enjoyable. I’d say that both the mono and stereo versions are equally enjoyable ways of listening to the album – just different.

In fact I’d now say this vinyl version is my preferred way of hearing the stereo mix of the album as it is even warmer sounding than the CD versions yet still very dynamic.

I read online someone else had bought this new colored vinyl version and said it was dreadful – super noisy with lots of distortion. I must say that on my first play of this 2018 pressing I too was shocked at how much noise and dirt seemed to be present on the vinyl.

Luckily after three cleanings and letting it dry for a couple of days I returned to play the album and found it sounded just great! I’m kind of dismayed that this nice limited edition pressing would come out of the pressing plant so dirty but once it was cleaned it sounded just fine.

There was just a tad bit of crinkle on at the beginning of side 1 but after that the rest of the album was practically noise free and really wonderful sounding.

If you’re a fan of the album or The Beach Boys and want to grab one of these before they’re gone just remember to give it a really good cleaning before you play it.

Everything else about this vinyl version is just fine – nice sturdy cover with lovely colors and not blurry at all and the vinyl has this nice sea of green spilling into the yellow in waves on my copy which looks lovely.

Take a peak at the 2018 vinyl in the photos above.

As I said I will feature more about “Pet Sounds” and other Beach Boys release in future blog posts.

Until then be well and TTFN