With the recent news that Universal Music are issuing a Dire Straits Complete Studio Albums box set, we thought the band’s highly regarded 1978 debut album would be a good choice for our semi-regular Japanese CD of the Day feature.
This reissue dates from late 2010 and is actually both an SHM CD (Super High Material) and a (stereo-only) SACD (Super Audio CD). Universal Music Japan released a number of albums in this format at that time including titles from The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder.
The sound reproduction on this disc is superb, arguably the best digital version available, but the packaging is rather curious, and not wholly satisfying. It lies somewhere between a fully fledged vinyl replica Japanese mini LP-CD, and a standard jewel case package.
On the positive, the eight panel configuration (which folds in on itself) has superb graphics, text and photo reproduction, and has a lovely matt laminated ‘soft’ feel to it. The cover and rear designs of the original UK vinyl are accurately represented, as is both sides of the original inner sleeve.
However, on a less positive note, the other ‘side’ of this eight-panel wallet is taken up with Japanese text (white copy on a dark turquoise background) which looks like an extended sales pitch for the ‘benefits’ of SHM and SACD, or both! This was the same for all these reissues, not just for this Dire Straits package.
The disc is protected well, as usual with Japanese reissues. The reflective metallic green CD is housed in the rice paper-type sleeve, which resides in a white card wallet, with both SHM and SACD logos embossed into it.
No doubt about it, this is a desirable item, but as the full-panel wraparound OBI – with diagrams about DSD processes and Pulse Code Modulation – confirms, Universal Music Japan seemed to be trying a tad too hard to convince fans of the benefits of SHM and/or SACD. Let’s face it, you don’t need to carry on with the sales pitch once you’ve made the sale.
We should point out that this is NOT a hybrid disc, so you will need an SACD player to enjoy it. A quick look on amazon, confirms that you can pick these up – used – for around £50.