Saturday Deluxe / 6 August 2022

McCartney, MoFi scandal and Wham!

McCartney embraces spatial audio

Some of you have been in touch to advise that Paul McCartney has made available Dolby Atmos Mixes of his three ‘McCartney’ albums: McCartney (1970), McCartney II (1980) and McCartney III (2020). This of course isn’t some random event – it ties in with the vinyl and CD box set that was released yesterday.

It’s a very interesting development because in almost 12 years of Archive Reissues, McCartney has shown no interest at all in spatial audio. He’s had opportunities, because both Band on the Run and Venus and Mars had Quad Mixes created in the 1970s (reissued in the 1990s as ‘DTS CDs’) but Paul chose not to dust them down or spruce them up to full 5.1 for the 2010 and 2014 reissues, respectively.

In 2015, McCartney, with his trusted engineer Steve Orchard, remixed 1982’s Tug of War in its entirety, apparently to deliver a downloadable hi-res stereo version for the Archive Reissue (the original album was digitally mixed and therefore ‘trapped’ in a lower kHz/bit rate). Given the work involved, this presented a golden opportunity to create a 5.1 mix but the opportunity went begging. Or if they did do it, nothing was issued.

That’s not to say that Paul has eschewed surround sound entirely. His McCartney Years DVD from 2007 had promo videos with 5.1 mixes and 2009’s live album Good Evening New York City also boasted spatial audio.

With Apple now driving a strong interest on Dolby Atmos, it seems McCartney and his team have finally relented and the three albums have been remixed by Atmos stalwart Giles Martin working with Steve Orchard. The Dolby Atmos Mix was mastered by Emily Lazar. They are available via streaming (Apple Music and Tidal).

I haven’t had a chance to listen to them yet (more on that at a later date) but this is undoubtedly exciting news. Will any of these get a physical release? It seems unlikely, unless I could persuade them to join the SDE Surround Series!

Could we get Atmos Mixes in future Archive Reissues? Possibly. It has now been over two years since Flaming Pie was reissued and fans are waiting/hoping for London Town (1978) and Back to the Egg (1979). I very much doubt we’ll get Atmos Mixes of either of those, should they arrive this year, but I strongly suspect that McCartney will put out a 50th anniversary super deluxe edition of Band on the Run in the latter part of 2023 and, if that happens, then perhaps we’ll get an Atmos Mix as part of that offering.

In the meantime, you can access the Atmos Mixes of all three McCartney albums using the links below:

MoFi admit to using digital files in its ‘all analogue’ reissues

In a fascinating and quite shocking story, which no doubt some of you will already be aware, audiophile reissue label Mobile Fidelity have admitted that they use DSD ( Direct Stream Digital) files in what were previously thought to be ‘all-analogue’ workflows.

The Washington Post does a brilliant job of following the narrative of how the deception was uncovered and says that MoFi admits that by the end of 2011, 60 percent of their vinyl reissues used digital files in their workflow and all but one of their coveted ‘One Step’ series have used DSD technology. The latter are box sets that sell for hundreds of dollars initially – and then sell for even more on the resale market, precisely because audiophiles believe they are getting a unique product that is created entirely within the analogue domain.

It seems MoFi had been creating hi-res DSD files (from the original masters) and that was step one in their ‘one step’ process. This was never mentioned in the sheets included with One Step box sets but now will be in the future.

One wonders, with such reputational damage, whether MoFi can weather this particular storm. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

Andrew Ridgeley-approved remix of Wham!’s ‘Club Tropicana’ is released

Andrew Ridgeley has today announced a ‘Wonderland Redux’ remix of Wham!‘s classic 1983 single ‘Club Tropicana’.

Issued (digitally) via Sony Music Commercial Group, the new version is a collaboration between Ridgeley and his good friend, songwriter/producer Dru Masters. Andrew said that the goal with this remix was to present, for a new generation, “the wonder and joy of the carefree and heady days of youth”. He adds “It is the soundtrack to summer renewed and reaffirmed and I hope it conveys the same vitality and pleasure George and I imagined in the original recording”.

Something is definitely afoot with Wham! and SDE expects reissue activity later this year. George Michael’s official social channels have already reached out to fans asking for “footage or pictures that you might have taken of, or with Wham! from back in the day” and there’s also a new book called If You Were There from Snap Galleries (their website was down when I checked!).

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