Good news for Classic Rock Surround Fans in 2011! We saw titles from Pink Floyd, The Who, Derek and the Domino's, Jethro Tull, and Rush appear in new, crystal clear quadraphonic and 5.1 mixes. At a time when the surround music market seemed to be pretty much shut down, these titles somehow managed to become available for purchase. The bad news was that in order to get these surround releases, the surround buyer was required to purchase a "Deluxe Box Set", in some cases in very limited editions.
Now, there are a few ways to look at these releases. First, and what seems to be the majority opinion here at QQ, you could look at it as described above, and be very annoyed that these titles are not available as stand-alone surround only releases. You could say that since these were created to be included in these box sets, why not make more and sell them direct, much the same way that Pink Floyd did with the Wish You Were Here SACD.
The opposing view point might be "Hey, they didn't HAVE to include surround versions in these boxes, since the boxes are not targeted for the surround market, they are created for the ultimate fan of these bands." This is also true. Many box sets have appeared over the years, and QQ members have complained "Why didn't they put the quad mix in the box, they really blew it." The McCartney Band on the Run book/box comes to mind for example.
I suppose the best way to look at these releases is that at LEAST these boxes included the surround mixes, and in the case of the 2 Pink Floyd Boxes and the Aqualung box the buyer not only got a new 5.1 mix disc, but also the original quadraphonic mix. In some ways, this is astonishing. Who ever thought we'd ever see the quad Aqualung mix be sold again in any format? Or the WYWH 1975 quad mix?
As for Derek and the Domino's, the Elliot Scheiner mix was something we'd only heard about, and now it was there, for us to buy and hear - at a price of course.
Maybe at some point these surround discs will be available as stand alone releases. At this point, we don't know. However, what we do know is that they are available in these boxes, and that is good. It is far better, IMHO, to have a box set with a surround mix out there, even at a high price, than to have a box set out there at a high price with no surround mix.
Surround music fans have been beaten into submission over the years to be grateful for whatever pittance the record companies give us. That hasn't changed, but you have to admit that at least, with these recent box sets, they have at least given us something to enjoy, mostly in HiRez, with multiple mixes and alternate tracks in surround. The sad part is that there are many fans who simply cannot afford the price tag of these deluxe box sets, and hopefully the coming year will see these titles appear as single surround releases, even if only as limited editions available through places like Acoustic Sounds and Elusive Discs.
For those who purchased one or more of these boxes, be sure to vote in LizardKing's poll "The Year of the Box
", located in the forum.