Asia – Audio Fidelity reissue – remastered


I’ve been listening to Audio Fidelity’s remastered Asia CD for the past week and I can enthusiastically confirm to all the Asia fans out there that it’s definitely the best sounding version of Asia’s 1982 debut album available. Most fans probably own the Asia Gold 2-disc anthology released by Geffen/Universal since it compiled the first three Asia albums plus all the b-sides into one package. Convenient, yes but the sound left a lot to be desired. Geffen/Universal felt it necessary to remaster the disc to compete with other modern day CDs. in other words, the audio ended up compressed, limited, re-EQ’ed and ultimately, not that pleasant to listen to.

Thankfully the audiophile record label, Audio Fidelity chose to issue their own version of this landmark pop-prog album. I’m not totally sure how they ended up choosing Asia since they’re not a band high on an audiophile’s list but I ain’t complaining.

Mastering engineer Kevin Gray made sure to produce a more faithful representation of the original master tapes with the dynamic range restored. The general public need to finally realize that “louder” isn’t always “better”. And yes, this CD is most definitely not as “loud” as the Geffen/Universal Gold edition. The sound is much more natural and clearer than before. Just listen to the smooth decay of the cymbal crashes as one reference point. Also the mid to high frequencies aren’t as harsh sounding as before. The recording is now easier on the ears and less prone to ear fatigue which tends to happen now with modern masterings.

The only thing missing in my opinion are the B-sides/bonus tracks. But from what I understand Audio Fidelity only focuses on creating the best sounding version of the original album and never adds bonus tracks on their releases.

Now if only we can get a better sounding Alpha album. but from what I understand, a better mastering job can only do so much. With such a dense sounding mix, I believe Alpha requires a full remix to get things cleared up!

Some old school Hip Hop Bling for my niece


My niece’s birthday is coming up and I’ve been scrambling to find something unique for her. I recently learned through my son that she has been re-discovering old school hip-hop music which I thought was pretty amusing. This is the stuff that I grew up with in junior high with artists like Run-DMC, De La Soul and LL Cool J. They all bring back memories of my younger days with me lugging around that old Panasonic Boombox with the five-band equalizer and dolby cassette deck. man, those were the days! Anyway, I found a cool online retailer called Hip Hop Bling that offers some great jewelry that my niece would absolutely love especially now with her new found obsession. They’ve got a wide range of styles and designs from the tasteful and restrained to the all out bold and eye-catching “Bling Bling” including some outrageous diamond encrusted Grillz. I just can’t wait to see her face when she opens up her gift that I got for her this coming weekend!

Last night’s Dancing with the Stars snoozefest


Last night’s Dancing with the Stars results show proved to us all once again their uncanny ability to stretch what could have been done in five minutes, into a full hour. man, that was painful. viewers had to wait what seemed like eternity to simply confirm the obvious choices for the finale – Donny, Mya and Kelly. And in my opinion, Mya is going to take the trophy home … unless Donny’s faithful fans push him over the top in the end.

Other than getting to the final three, there really wasn’t much else. Obviously there was a bunch of time to fill so they had three musical acts and a dance showcase for the upcoming film Nine.

Alicia Keys screeched her way through her new song “Try sleeping With A Broken Heart”. and then Leona Lewis lip-synced to her new song “Happy” which was a bit of a disappointment since she actually has a great singing voice.

and just when I thought the show couldn’t get any worse, they trot out the two remaining Gibb Brothers to perform “You Should be Dancing”: yikes! They should simply outlaw anyone over 60 from singing disco music in high falsetto!! it’s definitely hazardous to the ears!

But on the other hand, it was nice to see Cheryl Burke and Chelsie Hightower on the show dancing again. They’re both a treat for the eyes. as a matter of fact, if it were me, I’d rather watch Chelsie, Cheryl, Lacey Schwimmer and Edyta Sliwinska in those skimpy outfits for an hour and be done with it.

Last minute changes to Banana Shpeel before Chicago opening


Speculation is at its peak now that there’s less than a week left before the world premiere of Banana Shpeel at the Chicago Theatre. With no sneak peeks or advanced reviews, most of us theater fans are pretty much left in the dark on what to expect from the brand new Cirque du Soleil show. Playbill.com recently reported that Serge Roy and David Shiner had to make the difficult decision to rewrite the whole show to streamline the plot. Unfortunately, the two love interests, Emmett and Katie had to written out of the show. The change was very unexpected especially when the initial press events heavily featured the two actors in those roles, Michael Longoria and Annaleigh Ashford.

But I suppose the creative team was simply doing what needed to be done to live up to “Cirque du Soleil” standards. And there seems to be a ton of interest in this show since Banana Shpeel is a bit of a departure for the successful entertainment brand. Cirque du Soleil is known the world over for their complex acrobatic trapeze acts and unique contortionists but with Banana Shpeel, they’re attempting to do a twist on vaudeville in a traditional theater-type setting.

My personal favorite show of theirs is “Love” but I’m sort of biased since I’m a life-long Beatles fan. The visual interpretation of Beatles classics was absolutely breathtaking and the newly remixed Beatles music in surround-sound was simply to die-for.

I can’t wait to hear more about Banana Shpeel once the show finally opens. With the show being promoted as being “light and fun”, expect big laughs and a lot of clowning around. Zany humor, clowns and slap-stick aren’t usually associated with the usual Cirque du Soleil show but I, for one, applaud the creative team behind Banana Shpeel for branching out and going for something completely different. Be sure to head on over to the Cirque du Soleil website for show dates and ticket information.