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Reviews: Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

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Reviews: 11

Review by jbjbts December 10, 2003 (5 of 13 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I was really looking forward to this set, but it has the worst sound of any of the 30+ SACDs I own. When I played it for my girlfriend she immediately said, "This sounds worse than my CD of "Greatest Hits". The worst sonic sin in the boosted treble which makes it unpleasant to listen to for any length of time. I had to turn down the volume after 30 seconds of the first track.

The music is first rate but I would think twice before buying this set. If you must have it, wait about a month or two then look for dozens of them cheap on Ebay.

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Review by DACooper April 3, 2004 (11 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I couldn't disagree with the other reviewer more strongly!!

This was the first album I bought when I was 8 years old, and started me on a 30 year journey of music exploration. Amazingly, this album has stayed with me all these years, through worn-out vinyl to target double-CD to remastered CD to MFSL Cd and now, finally, to hybrid SACD. I say finally, because without a doubt this is the definitive version of this classic. To my ears, this is a benchmark multichannel SACD to which all others should be compared.

I'll skip right over the CD and SACD stereo layers and move right to a review of the 5.1 mix. This is an extraordinary mix. EJ's vocal is anchored in the center channel, with some bleed into the FL and FR, and unlike a lot of the early 5.1 mixes I've heard, his voice isn't overwelmed by the other speakers, but instead stands at the front of the mix just as it should. Davey Johnstone's legendary guitar sound is given a lot of space through the fronts and surrounds, Nigel Olsson's drums are more distinct and real than previous releases and the late, great Dee Murray gives the LFE channel a work out with his fluid bass lines. Add to that the ambient crowd noise on Bennie & the Jets and the until now indecipherable Jamaican dialogue on Jamaican Jerk-Off, and all-in-all you have a magnificent example of what 5.1 SACD can bring to the table.

I use this disc to show off my 5.1 system, especially for folks who are familiar with the album, and I have yet to find anyone who isn't impressed with the sound of the SACD. Buy it!!!

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Review by Sandman January 7, 2005 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I don't have any idea what the guy was encountering with the boosted treble, but the disc I have doesn't have that problem (and I have a very good system). This disc sounds great. No complaints at all.

What's especially nice is that the mix sounds like the original album in regard to mix levels and EQ -- it's just around you rather than in front of you. Greg Penny, the producer, did a superb job!

The only reason I give it 4.5 stars rather than 5 is that Honky Chateau sounds even better. But it's a difference in the quality of the source material, I think. I actually have this release on both SACD and DVD-Audio (out of curiosity), and I think the low end sounds better on the DVD-Audio version -- is clearer and more defined. I'm not sure why that would be.

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Review by anduandi August 2, 2005 (2 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I have to agree to my predecessor. If this was my first SA-CD it would have probably been my last. It is one of the worst sounding SA-CDs I have ever heard (I relate to the stereo-layer as I am not multi-channeled). I was very disappointed by this. Captain Fantastic sounds much better to these ears. The music's brilliant though, no question about that.

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Review by Chief December 10, 2005 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I have a real hard time believing anyone would have a problem with the sound of this disk. I've listened to it in MC and two channel and both were very good, but I must add that I listen to 95% of my collection in two channel unless the MC is just much better. On this disk the sounstage is huge in two channel. At times I had to check to ensure I didn't have the MC on. My system images very well with the ability to present a huge soundstage, but only does so on certain recording and this is such a recording. Smooth treble (anyone who says this is harsh really needs to take a look at their system IMO), very good detail and really well balanced. Just a great SACD. Very highly recommended.

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Review by sthebkrman January 18, 2006 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I am glad JBJBTS made his comment about the boosted treble. I have the same problem with this album, especially on the vocals. They are so harsh that I really have to turn it down or it drives my ears crazy. It is not like it is boosted but has a very harsh, high frequency edge to it that seems to come out of the rear speakers. I will try listening to the two channel layer which I have not tried yet. I hope this fixes the problem because I will not listen to this much because it actually makes my ears ring. I had better luck with the Elton John Super Audio CD Sampler even though "Take Me to the Pilot" has the same harshness which brings me to the conclusion that it has to be some recording issue since it is not on every song. My system may not be the best but I do not have this problem on most of my other SACD's. One word of warning; I think part of the problem may be that I have done some ear damage by listening to SACD's too loud. I played R&R since I was a teenager and never really had any hearing loss (51 now) but since I have had my SA system, the high frequency range of the system has caused some the ringing in my ears. They are now extra sensative to high frequencies. I still have no problem listening to the better quality SACD's such as Avalon-Roxy Music, Sea Change-Beck, Gaucho-Steely Dan, Black Dahlia-Bob Belden, Tommy-The Who, and DSOTM-Pink Floyd. The main reason I wrote this review is if you are having the same problem and are annoyed by the harsh high frequencies inherent in some recordings, do not buy this SACD.

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Review by sportbigred November 5, 2006 (6 of 9 found this review helpful)
I just listened to "Funeral for a Friend"/"Love Lies Bleeding" in 5.1 Surround/SACD 30th Anniversay Delux edition. What a disappointment! There are many reasons for this and I will give evidence for this. First, there is distortion on Nigel Olsson's snare drum which is too loud and very dry in the mix. I do not know if the distortion was on the original multi-track tape or if it occured during the surround re-mix. 2nd, the drums in the mix overpower the music. Third, on "Love lies Bleeding", Elton John's vocal is dry and unexciting and is also too loud which makes the band and the background vocals sound small in comparison. 4th, on "Love lies Bleeding" Davey Johnstone's guitar anthem/melody is missing along with the fast guitar arpeggios which he played so fluently. I blame this entirely on re-mix director Greg Penny who obviously never heard the original stereo 2 ch. version or did but did'nt care about the surround re-mix. 5th, original mix engineer David Hentschel's lush ARP string synthesizers are missing which makes "Funeral for a Friend" sound empty, weak and steril. Once again, this is Greg Penny's poor judgement and lack of insight. 6th, the dynamics of "Funeral for a Friend" sound weak and lifeless. All in all this is a typical example of "How not to mix in Surround". Greg Penny's profession should have been a market butcher rather than a re-mix engineer. This lackluster re-mix hackjob is up there with Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" which is actually worse and on my all time list of the worst of the worst re-mixes in 5.1. surround. For a high resolution format, the listener should hear all the advantages of SACD and want to buy into this format rather than have a nightmare experience with it. I will give this re-mix a complete "Thumbs Down"!

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Review by tdunster November 30, 2012 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I'm just going to cut to the chase here and say avoid this one unless you can find it very cheap. The main problem with this one is that it will make your ears bleed.

What happened ? I'm not sure, because the other Elton John SACD's sound winderful. This one is just too loud and appears to distart as a result.

Get the Japanese version - it's worth the extra few dollars.

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Review by p59teitel February 24, 2013 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I currently have both SACD versions: the Island 2003 2-disc set, and the Universal Japan 2010 SHM-SACD. I won't go on about the music itself, we all know it's a stunning 5-star album where songs like "Grey Seal" and "All the Young Girls Love Alice" are every bit as strong as the hits like "Harmony" and "Bennie and the Jets."

Each SACD release has its merits. The SHM-SACD boasts a quieter background, a cleaner high end, and more detail. I give it 4 stars for sonics. The Island SACD has more bass weight, punchier vocals, and a better soundstage, and I rate that one 4.5 stars sonically.

Those with an analytical bent seeking the perfect studio sound will likely do better with the SHM-SACD. But for me, the Island SACD has better pace and emotional impact. It sounds more like an actual band playing music in front of me, and is the version I prefer.

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Review by dmonds March 7, 2014 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Ok, so I'm relatively new to SACDs and whilst my system could be considered middle of the road, it still sounds awesome in my lounge room compared to many friends higher end systems. I went ahead and ordered this SACD despite some of the negative reviews here and have to say I suffered a bit of trepidation waiting for it to arrive. In the meantime, I pulled out my older vinyl and CD and gave them a thorough listen to.

I've just sat down and listened carefully to Funeral for a friend/Love lies bleeding (one of my all time favourite rock tracks) in MC on the SACD.
I think I can understand why some people may have had issues with the treble...on my system during FFAF, the lead guitar comes from the right rear surround speaker and does sound a little harsh. On my system these rear speakers are substantially smaller than my front speakers and do not have the same sensitivity, power, tonal or dynamic range...if they did there would be absolutely no issues. I'd also imagine you'd need to ensure your front to rear balance is absolutely spot on or the separation would be off...which would make a huge difference. So, for me, it comes down to the positioning in the mix as well as shortcomings on my system. Also, I noticed that the bass is much stronger during FFAF and that the positioning of the lead guitar moves to the front during Love Lies Bleeding.

This is the first review I've submitted here as I was keen to compare my experience with others for what I think everyone agrees is an awesome album performance wise. I've perhaps been overly critical with it wheres I'd usually sit down and have a general listen with a glass of red in hand and as I'm sure with everyone here, you know right away if you like it or you don't and that's what matters...I still think this disc is very good overall sonically...hope this helps...cheers

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Review by keith December 29, 2014 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I bought the new Goodbye Yellow Brick road SACD 2014
All hooked up, set for 6 CH hit play. I sit back, relax and start to hear the start of Funeral for a Friend. So far, sweet. The song continues, and there is some serious guitar parts missing. Oh crap, must be something wrong with my set up. I take it all apart, re connect every wire, check each one. Check, Check , Check. I start over. This time I play it in 2 CH just to make sure its as I remembered it. Sounded absolutely brilliant. OK. Now I go back and start over SACD 6CH I hit play, relax, start to hear the beginning of Funeral For A Friend. All good. Then the song continues, What? Missing Guitar parts that are an essential part of the music. It was not my set up, or my cables, it was the jerk off who remastered this SACD that has no business in this business. It's give and take, I get it, but when you know an album, you should know what is essential in the remaster, and what can be hidden. So, big fail on the remaster for that song.
The rest of the 6 CH SACD is absolute solid gold. Stunning sound with some of the best music ever recorded. Beautiful crystal clear separation with a new clean sound. It's not the same mix as that album I listened to over 500 times, but it has lured me in.
This might be the worst review ever written, but it needs to be said, a warning for those out there who might play this for the first time, and start to rip apart your system, thinking 2 of your channels went out.
Ive Seen This Movie Too: Stunning sound, excellent mix. Nice job.

ok. I think I made my point.

Overall. Just get this one, and add it to your SACD library.

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