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HiRez Poll Blood, Sweat & Tears - MIRROR IMAGE & NEW CITY [SACD]

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Rate the SACD of Blood, Sweat & Tears - MIRROR IMAGE & NEW CITY

  • 6

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 5

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 2

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 1: Terrible Content, Surround Mix, and Fidelity

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    22

rtbluray

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Please post your thoughts and comments on this SACD reissue from Dutton Vocalion of the albums "Mirror Image" & New City" by Blood, Sweat & Tears.
This SACD includes the release of the original Quadraphonic mixes of both albums for the first time in over 40 years! 🤯

Mirror Image
LP KC 32929 (1974) STEREO/CQ 32929 QUADRAPHONIC
1: TELL ME THAT I’M WRONG (P. Cosby)
2: LOOK UP TO THE SKY (Jerry LaCroix; Julian LaCroix; Klatka)
3: LOVE LOOKS GOOD ON YOU (YOU’RE CANDY SWEET) (P. Cosby; Brown)
4: HOLD ON TO ME (Bargeron)
5: THINKING OF YOU (Jerry LaCroix; Klatka)
6: ARE YOU SATISFIED (Wadenius; Jerry LaCroix; Fischer; Bargeron)
7: MIRROR IMAGE:
MOVEMENT I – MAGLOMANIA (Willis) –
MOVEMENT II – MIRROR IMAGE (McClure) –
MOVEMENT III – SOUTH MOUNTAIN SHUFFLE – (INSPIRATION FROM CHICK) (Klatka)
MOVEMENT IV – ROCK REPRISE (Wadenius; Jerry LaCroix; Fischer; Bargeron)
8: SHE’S COMING HOME (Fischer; Wadenius)

Arrangers: Henry Cosby [1, 3], David Van dePitte [1,8], Anthony J. Klatka [2,5, 7iii], David Bargeron [4], Larry Willis [6, 7i-7ii, 7iv], George Wadenius [8]

New City
LP PC 33484 (1975) STEREO/PCQ 33484 QUADRAPHONIC
9: RIDE CAPTAIN RIDE (Konte; Pinera)
10: LIFE (Toussaint)
11: NO SHOW (McClure)
12: I WAS A WITNESS TO A WAR (Scott; Meehan)
13: ONE ROOM COUNTRY SHACK (Hooker)
14: APPLAUSE (Ian)
15: YESTERDAY’S MUSIC (Clayton-Thomas; Smith)
16: NAKED MAN (Newman)
17: GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE (Lennon; McCartney)
18: TAKIN’ IT HOME (Colomby)

Arrangers: William Tillman [9], Ron McClure [11], Larry Willis [12, 16], David Clayton-Thomas [13], Anthony J. Klatka [14], David Bargeron [15], George Wadenius [17], Blood, Sweat & Tears [10, 18]
Vocal and instrumental arranger:
Blood, Sweat &Tears with a little help from “Teeth”

Remastered from the original analogue tapes by Michael J. Dutton
Multi-ch Stereo
All tracks available in stereo and multi-channel

SA-CD
This hybrid CD can be played on any standard CD players

Product ID CDSML8572


 
Last edited:

GOS

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Happy to own this now. Probably not fair, but I'm comparing this to other BST surround releases I own. It sounds good enough, but just doesn't have the warmth of the other 2 I own. Does it??

Content - 8
Fidelity - 8
Mix - 8

8!
 

4-earredwonder

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Happy to own this now. Probably not fair, but I'm comparing this to other BST surround releases I own. It sounds good enough, but just doesn't have the warmth of the other 2 I own. Does it??

Content - 8
Fidelity - 8
Mix - 8

8!
It certainly doesn't compare content wise to the first two QUAD BS&T albums but to have them for the first time in such stunning sonics garners a 9 from me.
 

The Auroran

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This really is a disc of two halves, and can only confirm what I've felt about the two albums.
MIRROR IMAGE:
For what was still a high profile band, Mirror Image was dealt one of the worst productions I can remember hearing. In fact it's almost as if every track had the same "preset" production which robbed any chance of the material to shine though.

I'm not saying the songs are that strong, they're not, but I'm convinced they deserved a better chance that they got here. 3 out of 10.

NEW CITY:
Like a much needed breath of fresh air, David Clayton-Thomas was brought back to front BS&T and along with a more sympathetic production we have an album that, at least, sounds like the band is back on the road from whence they came.

It's too easy to say that the material isn't as strong as on earlier albums, and I feel that might be a little unfair. How many bands, after having gone through personal changes, stay the same? New City is certainly a step or up from the previous album and does contain some interesting material.

It's one of those albums that grows on you, and sounds very good with this transfer.
8 out of 10.
 

The56Kid

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This really is a disc of two halves, and can only confirm what I've felt about the two albums.
MIRROR IMAGE:
For what was still a high profile band, Mirror Image was dealt one of the worst productions I can remember hearing. In fact it's almost as if every track had the same "preset" production which robbed any chance of the material to shine though.

I'm not saying the songs are that strong, they're not, but I'm convinced they deserved a better chance that they got here. 3 out of 10.

NEW CITY:
Like a much needed breath of fresh air, David Clayton-Thomas was brought back to front BS&T and along with a more sympathetic production we have an album that, at least, sounds like the band is back on the road from whence they came.

It's too easy to say that the material isn't as strong as on earlier albums, and I feel that might be a little unfair. How many bands, after having gone through personal changes, stay the same? New City is certainly a step or up from the previous album and does contain some interesting material.

It's one of those albums that grows on you, and sounds very good with this transfer.
8 out of 10.
Is your beef with the production of Mirror Image pertinent to the new D-V SACD quad release or to the original release in 1974? If its the former that you're rating 3 out of 10, I kindly suggest you might want to have your hearing checked or your system calibrated or both.
 

perzon57

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I love this tofer.😍As I often do with these discs,I shuffle play them.Can't hear any difference in production between them,even when the player jumps from track 3 to 14,both sounds very good.:cool:Real good music too,gave it 9.
 

humprof

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I still think there's probably one good (long) album between them, but overall I'm more impressed with the content of these two titles than I was after a casual listen to the Q8 versions. There are some great horn arrangements throughout--great arrangements, period--and the "Mirror Image" suite is a standout. DCT's efforts to get funky ("Life") and bluesy ("One Room Country Shack") strike me as misbegotten, though, and while you've got to credit the band for some audacious choices (Janis Ian, Randy Newman), New City is still kind of a strange grab-bag.

The sound is often good but sometimes less than stellar. The opening strains of "Tell Me That I'm Wrong," for instance, are downright muddy--an inauspicious start. But it quickly gets better. Generally speaking I wish the sonics were brighter, though, especially on Mirror Image.

Quad mixes are solid: subtle, tasteful, well-balanced. 8 / 8 / 9 => 8.
 
Last edited:

skherbeck

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Good , discrete quad mixes; fidelity is a mixed bag, but definitely better on "Mirror Image" (with maybe the exception of the first track). I really like the music on Mirror Image, so much so that a couple of the tunes made it to my surround demo playlist ("Look Up To The Sky" and "Mirror Image Medley"). Can't say that I liked the music on New City at all, unfortunately. I'll go 8 overall.
 

ar surround

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These are a couple of albums that I need to hear at least one more time before voting. There are definitely some good tracks woven in these albums. I need to remember that not every album is going to be a super classic like that BS&T self-titled release.
 

steelydave

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Having listened to this a few times now, I've come to the conclusion that this two-fer is a tale of two producers - one with a sympathetic approach, and one without.

I can't find any information about how Henry Cosby got the job producing Mirror Image, but I can only guess it was because (as a former member of Motown house-musician collective, the Funk Brothers) as a former sax player he was able to convince either the band, their management or the label that he knew what to do with a band with horns. Cosby produced some of Stevie Wonder's early hits (and co-wrote and co-produced Tears of a Clown with Smokey Robinson) was one of the Motown stalwarts who left the label when it moved from Detroit to LA in 1972, so I guess he was trying to establish himself as an independent producer circa 1974 when this album was recorded.

I'm a big fan of the "fusion" approach to music - I love when different genres of music are melded together and produce a synthesis where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. But in this case, Cosby's approach just doesn't work. I get what they were trying to do - funk, jazz-funk, and soul-jazz were really popular at the time, so trying to inject some of that in to BS&T's sound was a canny commercial decision. But where it falls down is in the execution - firstly with the songs that Cosby and his co-writers (including his wife Patricia, and future R&B singer Sharon Brown) bring in to the first side of the album, which are really by-the-number second-tier R&B stuff, and secondly with the production style, which seems to be trying really hard to mimick the "Motown sound", which would be great if it were 1966, but this is 1974. The signature BS&T horn charts are there, but they sound awkward to me, bolted on to these very earthy, gritty, rhythm arrangements. I also don't think proceedings are helped much by the really trite lyrics ("Look up to the sky, look up to the sky, look up to the sky, don't let your life go by" etc.) or that fact that both Jerrys Lacroix and Fisher are both pretty generic blue-eyed soul shouters (sort of like the guys on the first Chase LP) that don't have much of a gift for melody. Things improve greatly on side 2 however, first with Are You Satisfied and then the multi-part Mirror Image suite, where the band much more fully lives up to its potential, especially given the added jazz pedigree it had gained with the additions of keyboardist Larry Willis and guitarist Georg Wadenius. I may return to side 1 of this LP a bit more to see if I can grow in to it at all, but side 2 definitely falls in to the 'very listenable' category for me. The one thing that you can't deny about this album is that it sounds good, save for the opening track, where there's a massive treble-roll off on the horns - I think this was probably a production choice so that they'd sit underneath the vocals in the stereo mix, but (like a lot of production decisions on this album) it just doesn't work. Much like his work on Derringer's All American Boy, Don Young's quad mix takes an album that was sonically middling in stereo and breathes fresh new life in to it. I think his quad mixing in the '74-'77 period is easily some of the best that was ever done.

Mirror Image, on the other hand, I think is really fantastic. Jimmy Ienner was the perfect man for the job - not only did he have a good pop sensibility (having produced most of the Raspberries and Three Dog Night hits) he also had an understanding of brass-rock/jazz-rock given that he also produced a lot of the best stuff that Lighthouse (Canada's answer to Chicago and BS&T) did including tracks like One Fine Morning and Sunny Days.

David Clayton-Thomas returning to the band may have been the biggest "news" about this album at the time, but for me the most welcome "return" is that Ienner realised that historically the band's strength lay in its arranging abilities (many of their biggest hits were covers) and he pushes that to the fore - all but two of the songs are from outside writers. What I love about the album though, is that despite the variety of songwriters on the album, it feels musically and sonically cohesive because the arrangers are allowed to be as experimental and esoteric as they want in pursuing the "BS&T sound" - I mean who would've ever expected a 4 minute jazz-fusion freakout in the middle of Janis Ian's Applause? Ienner also shows a real ear for the melody that was missing from Mirror Image, loading up nearly every song with harmonies of some sort, be they backing vocals, horn parts, other instruments, or even string overdubs. This is a really sweet sounding album, but it never veers in to the too-muchness of Phil Spector's wall of sound approach or anything.

Where @humprof may have found a "grab bag" of songs and songwriters, I find the variety in styles, tempos and levels of bombast refreshing compared to the same-iness of much of Mirror Image. Ride Captain Ride is the rare cover that makes the original obsolete, you get credible funk in Life, and some of the aforementioned enjoyable contrast between the overblown melodrama of I Was a Witness to a War and the stripped back One Room Country Shack, which is just DC-T, an acoustic guitar, and some really tasty lead dobro playing from David Bromberg. I'm normally not one for "novelty" songs on albums, because usually the more you listen to them the less funny they get, but I really like the inclusion of Naked Man on this album. Maybe it's because Randy Newman's lyrics are clever and obtuse enough ("They found out about my sister/they kicked me out of the Navy") that they keep you trying to figure out the situation the protagonist finds himself in, but it also acts as a nice kind of counterbalance to the record's more highbrow moments, and shows that the band doesn't take itself too seriously, which is nice. And having mentioned all the outside writers, the few tracks that come from within the band are my favourites, especially Ron McClure's No Show and Bobby Colomby's Takin' it Home. Both are instrumental showcases, but (especially with No Show) they're so organic in construction that they don't just seem like contrived vehicles for jazz-solo show-off-ery. The only misstep on this album for me (and that isn't to say it's bad, it just doesn't really go anywhere) is the cover of the Beatles' Got to Get you into My Life - i think this song is probably pretty inspirational for a lot of bands with horns that started out in the late 60s (I've heard Chicago's Robert Lamm cite it as well) because it was one of the first pop songs of the era that had a big bold brass arrangement, and I think it was maybe that love of the song that led BS&T to be a little too reverent with the arrangement - I wish they'd been a bit more daring with it like they were with the rest of the album. I think what I came to love about this album is that it has the "sound" of the BS&T I like (ie 2nd album through 4th album) combined with some of the sonic innovations of the mid-70s (funk, jazz-fusion) and without the classic rock radio burnout I have on the songs from the Greatest Hits album. This album almost feels like it's from an alternate timeline where David Clayton-Thomas didn't leave the band after BS&T 4 in 1971 and they put out a new album with him 18 months later.

The sound quality of this album may be ever so slightly inferior to Mirror Image, but Carmine Rubino's quad mix is absolutely fantastic. It seems like everything either recorded or mixed at the Record Plant NYC around this time (Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult, Derringer's Spring Fever) has, to some degree, a kind of flat and somewhat un-dynamic sound, but I think the fact that this was at least recorded at Bobby Colomby's home studio and only mixed at the Record Plant avoids most of these pitfalls. He takes full advantage of the quad soundfield, and there are tons of fun instrument and vocal placements. This is one of those albums with so much going on that I don't think you can fully appreciate all the layers until you hear them "unpicked" in this kind of surround fashion - I can't imagine ever wanting to listen to the stereo version again, unless I'm in some circumstance where I don't have surround playback capability.

Much like the two O'Jays albums that I wrote about yesterday, every previous digital release of New City sounded like hot garbage - midrangey and overcompressed. Once again this release blows the doors off everything that's come before it. After so many years of living with that crummy CD version, and my own Q8 transfer, it's an absolute thrill to hear this album with both proper bass response and sparkle in the horns for the first time. Even with my misgivings about the merits of Mirror Image, I think there's at least 1.5 albums worth of good to great material on this disc, so for me it's an easy 9.
 

Simon A

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Having listened to this a few times now, I've come to the conclusion that this two-fer is a tale of two producers - one with a sympathetic approach, and one without.

I can't find any information about how Henry Cosby got the job producing Mirror Image, but I can only guess it was because (as a former member of Motown house-musician collective, the Funk Brothers) as a former sax player he was able to convince either the band, their management or the label that he knew what to do with a band with horns. Cosby produced some of Stevie Wonder's early hits (and co-wrote and co-produced Tears of a Clown with Smokey Robinson) was one of the Motown stalwarts who left the label when it moved from Detroit to LA in 1972, so I guess he was trying to establish himself as an independent producer circa 1974 when this album was recorded.

I'm a big fan of the "fusion" approach to music - I love when different genres of music are melded together and produce a synthesis where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. But in this case, Cosby's approach just doesn't work. I get what they were trying to do - funk, jazz-funk, and soul-jazz were really popular at the time, so trying to inject some of that in to BS&T's sound was a canny commercial decision. But where it falls down is in the execution - firstly with the songs that Cosby and his co-writers (including his wife Patricia, and future R&B singer Sharon Brown) bring in to the first side of the album, which are really by-the-number second-tier R&B stuff, and secondly with the production style, which seems to be trying really hard to mimick the "Motown sound", which would be great if it were 1966, but this is 1974. The signature BS&T horn charts are there, but they sound awkward to me, bolted on to these very earthy, gritty, rhythm arrangements. I also don't think proceedings are helped much by the really trite lyrics ("Look up to the sky, look up to the sky, look up to the sky, don't let your life go by" etc.) or that fact that both Jerrys Lacroix and Fisher are both pretty generic blue-eyed soul shouters (sort of like the guys on the first Chase LP) that don't have much of a gift for melody. Things improve greatly on side 2 however, first with Are You Satisfied and then the multi-part Mirror Image suite, where the band much more fully lives up to its potential, especially given the added jazz pedigree it had gained with the additions of keyboardist Larry Willis and guitarist Georg Wadenius. I may return to side 1 of this LP a bit more to see if I can grow in to it at all, but side 2 definitely falls in to the 'very listenable' category for me. The one thing that you can't deny about this album is that it sounds good, save for the opening track, where there's a massive treble-roll off on the horns - I think this was probably a production choice so that they'd sit underneath the vocals in the stereo mix, but (like a lot of production decisions on this album) it just doesn't work. Much like his work on Derringer's All American Boy, Don Young's quad mix takes an album that was sonically middling in stereo and breathes fresh new life in to it. I think his quad mixing in the '74-'77 period is easily some of the best that was ever done.

Mirror Image, on the other hand, I think is really fantastic. Jimmy Ienner was the perfect man for the job - not only did he have a good pop sensibility (having produced most of the Raspberries and Three Dog Night hits) he also had an understanding of brass-rock/jazz-rock given that he also produced a lot of the best stuff that Lighthouse (Canada's answer to Chicago and BS&T) did including tracks like One Fine Morning and Sunny Days.

David Clayton-Thomas returning to the band may have been the biggest "news" about this album at the time, but for me the most welcome "return" is that Ienner realised that historically the band's strength lay in its arranging abilities (many of their biggest hits were covers) and he pushes that to the fore - all but two of the songs are from outside writers. What I love about the album though, is that despite the variety of songwriters on the album, it feels musically and sonically cohesive because the arrangers are allowed to be as experimental and esoteric as they want in pursuing the "BS&T sound" - I mean who would've ever expected a 4 minute jazz-fusion freakout in the middle of Janis Ian's Applause? Ienner also shows a real ear for the melody that was missing from Mirror Image, loading up nearly every song with harmonies of some sort, be they backing vocals, horn parts, other instruments, or even string overdubs. This is a really sweet sounding album, but it never veers in to the too-muchness of Phil Spector's wall of sound approach or anything.

Where @humprof may have found a "grab bag" of songs and songwriters, I find the variety in styles, tempos and levels of bombast refreshing compared to the same-iness of much of Mirror Image. Ride Captain Ride is the rare cover that makes the original obsolete, you get credible funk in Life, and some of the aforementioned enjoyable contrast between the overblown melodrama of I Was a Witness to a War and the stripped back One Room Country Shack, which is just DC-T, an acoustic guitar, and some really tasty lead dobro playing from David Bromberg. I'm normally not one for "novelty" songs on albums, because usually the more you listen to them the less funny they get, but I really like the inclusion of Naked Man on this album. Maybe it's because Randy Newman's lyrics are clever and obtuse enough ("They found out about my sister/they kicked me out of the Navy") that they keep you trying to figure out the situation the protagonist finds himself in, but it also acts as a nice kind of counterbalance to the record's more highbrow moments, and shows that the band doesn't take itself too seriously, which is nice. And having mentioned all the outside writers, the few tracks that come from within the band are my favourites, especially Ron McClure's No Show and Bobby Colomby's Takin' it Home. Both are instrumental showcases, but (especially with No Show) they're so organic in construction that they don't just seem like contrived vehicles for jazz-solo show-off-ery. The only misstep on this album for me (and that isn't to say it's bad, it just doesn't really go anywhere) is the cover of the Beatles' Got to Get you into My Life - i think this song is probably pretty inspirational for a lot of bands with horns that started out in the late 60s (I've heard Chicago's Robert Lamm cite it as well) because it was one of the first pop songs of the era that had a big bold brass arrangement, and I think it was maybe that love of the song that led BS&T to be a little too reverent with the arrangement - I wish they'd been a bit more daring with it like they were with the rest of the album. I think what I came to love about this album is that it has the "sound" of the BS&T I like (ie 2nd album through 4th album) combined with some of the sonic innovations of the mid-70s (funk, jazz-fusion) and without the classic rock radio burnout I have on the songs from the Greatest Hits album. This album almost feels like it's from an alternate timeline where David Clayton-Thomas didn't leave the band after BS&T 4 in 1971 and they put out a new album with him 18 months later.

The sound quality of this album may be ever so slightly inferior to Mirror Image, but Carmine Rubino's quad mix is absolutely fantastic. It seems like everything either recorded or mixed at the Record Plant NYC around this time (Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult, Derringer's Spring Fever) has, to some degree, a kind of flat and somewhat un-dynamic sound, but I think the fact that this was at least recorded at Bobby Colomby's home studio and only mixed at the Record Plant avoids most of these pitfalls. He takes full advantage of the quad soundfield, and there are tons of fun instrument and vocal placements. This is one of those albums with so much going on that I don't think you can fully appreciate all the layers until you hear them "unpicked" in this kind of surround fashion - I can't imagine ever wanting to listen to the stereo version again, unless I'm in some circumstance where I don't have surround playback capability.

Much like the two O'Jays albums that I wrote about yesterday, every previous digital release of New City sounded like hot garbage - midrangey and overcompressed. Once again this release blows the doors off everything that's come before it. After so many years of living with that crummy CD version, and my own Q8 transfer, it's an absolute thrill to hear this album with both proper bass response and sparkle in the horns for the first time. Even with my misgivings about the merits of Mirror Image, I think there's at least 1.5 albums worth of good to great material on this disc, so for me it's an easy 9.
As always Dave, simply impeccable and most eloquent writing.
 

The56Kid

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Having listened to this a few times now, I've come to the conclusion that this two-fer is a tale of two producers - one with a sympathetic approach, and one without.

I can't find any information about how Henry Cosby got the job producing Mirror Image, but I can only guess it was because (as a former member of Motown house-musician collective, the Funk Brothers) as a former sax player he was able to convince either the band, their management or the label that he knew what to do with a band with horns. Cosby produced some of Stevie Wonder's early hits (and co-wrote and co-produced Tears of a Clown with Smokey Robinson) was one of the Motown stalwarts who left the label when it moved from Detroit to LA in 1972, so I guess he was trying to establish himself as an independent producer circa 1974 when this album was recorded.

I'm a big fan of the "fusion" approach to music - I love when different genres of music are melded together and produce a synthesis where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. But in this case, Cosby's approach just doesn't work. I get what they were trying to do - funk, jazz-funk, and soul-jazz were really popular at the time, so trying to inject some of that in to BS&T's sound was a canny commercial decision. But where it falls down is in the execution - firstly with the songs that Cosby and his co-writers (including his wife Patricia, and future R&B singer Sharon Brown) bring in to the first side of the album, which are really by-the-number second-tier R&B stuff, and secondly with the production style, which seems to be trying really hard to mimick the "Motown sound", which would be great if it were 1966, but this is 1974. The signature BS&T horn charts are there, but they sound awkward to me, bolted on to these very earthy, gritty, rhythm arrangements. I also don't think proceedings are helped much by the really trite lyrics ("Look up to the sky, look up to the sky, look up to the sky, don't let your life go by" etc.) or that fact that both Jerrys Lacroix and Fisher are both pretty generic blue-eyed soul shouters (sort of like the guys on the first Chase LP) that don't have much of a gift for melody. Things improve greatly on side 2 however, first with Are You Satisfied and then the multi-part Mirror Image suite, where the band much more fully lives up to its potential, especially given the added jazz pedigree it had gained with the additions of keyboardist Larry Willis and guitarist Georg Wadenius. I may return to side 1 of this LP a bit more to see if I can grow in to it at all, but side 2 definitely falls in to the 'very listenable' category for me. The one thing that you can't deny about this album is that it sounds good, save for the opening track, where there's a massive treble-roll off on the horns - I think this was probably a production choice so that they'd sit underneath the vocals in the stereo mix, but (like a lot of production decisions on this album) it just doesn't work. Much like his work on Derringer's All American Boy, Don Young's quad mix takes an album that was sonically middling in stereo and breathes fresh new life in to it. I think his quad mixing in the '74-'77 period is easily some of the best that was ever done.

Mirror Image, on the other hand, I think is really fantastic. Jimmy Ienner was the perfect man for the job - not only did he have a good pop sensibility (having produced most of the Raspberries and Three Dog Night hits) he also had an understanding of brass-rock/jazz-rock given that he also produced a lot of the best stuff that Lighthouse (Canada's answer to Chicago and BS&T) did including tracks like One Fine Morning and Sunny Days.

David Clayton-Thomas returning to the band may have been the biggest "news" about this album at the time, but for me the most welcome "return" is that Ienner realised that historically the band's strength lay in its arranging abilities (many of their biggest hits were covers) and he pushes that to the fore - all but two of the songs are from outside writers. What I love about the album though, is that despite the variety of songwriters on the album, it feels musically and sonically cohesive because the arrangers are allowed to be as experimental and esoteric as they want in pursuing the "BS&T sound" - I mean who would've ever expected a 4 minute jazz-fusion freakout in the middle of Janis Ian's Applause? Ienner also shows a real ear for the melody that was missing from Mirror Image, loading up nearly every song with harmonies of some sort, be they backing vocals, horn parts, other instruments, or even string overdubs. This is a really sweet sounding album, but it never veers in to the too-muchness of Phil Spector's wall of sound approach or anything.

Where @humprof may have found a "grab bag" of songs and songwriters, I find the variety in styles, tempos and levels of bombast refreshing compared to the same-iness of much of Mirror Image. Ride Captain Ride is the rare cover that makes the original obsolete, you get credible funk in Life, and some of the aforementioned enjoyable contrast between the overblown melodrama of I Was a Witness to a War and the stripped back One Room Country Shack, which is just DC-T, an acoustic guitar, and some really tasty lead dobro playing from David Bromberg. I'm normally not one for "novelty" songs on albums, because usually the more you listen to them the less funny they get, but I really like the inclusion of Naked Man on this album. Maybe it's because Randy Newman's lyrics are clever and obtuse enough ("They found out about my sister/they kicked me out of the Navy") that they keep you trying to figure out the situation the protagonist finds himself in, but it also acts as a nice kind of counterbalance to the record's more highbrow moments, and shows that the band doesn't take itself too seriously, which is nice. And having mentioned all the outside writers, the few tracks that come from within the band are my favourites, especially Ron McClure's No Show and Bobby Colomby's Takin' it Home. Both are instrumental showcases, but (especially with No Show) they're so organic in construction that they don't just seem like contrived vehicles for jazz-solo show-off-ery. The only misstep on this album for me (and that isn't to say it's bad, it just doesn't really go anywhere) is the cover of the Beatles' Got to Get you into My Life - i think this song is probably pretty inspirational for a lot of bands with horns that started out in the late 60s (I've heard Chicago's Robert Lamm cite it as well) because it was one of the first pop songs of the era that had a big bold brass arrangement, and I think it was maybe that love of the song that led BS&T to be a little too reverent with the arrangement - I wish they'd been a bit more daring with it like they were with the rest of the album. I think what I came to love about this album is that it has the "sound" of the BS&T I like (ie 2nd album through 4th album) combined with some of the sonic innovations of the mid-70s (funk, jazz-fusion) and without the classic rock radio burnout I have on the songs from the Greatest Hits album. This album almost feels like it's from an alternate timeline where David Clayton-Thomas didn't leave the band after BS&T 4 in 1971 and they put out a new album with him 18 months later.

The sound quality of this album may be ever so slightly inferior to Mirror Image, but Carmine Rubino's quad mix is absolutely fantastic. It seems like everything either recorded or mixed at the Record Plant NYC around this time (Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult, Derringer's Spring Fever) has, to some degree, a kind of flat and somewhat un-dynamic sound, but I think the fact that this was at least recorded at Bobby Colomby's home studio and only mixed at the Record Plant avoids most of these pitfalls. He takes full advantage of the quad soundfield, and there are tons of fun instrument and vocal placements. This is one of those albums with so much going on that I don't think you can fully appreciate all the layers until you hear them "unpicked" in this kind of surround fashion - I can't imagine ever wanting to listen to the stereo version again, unless I'm in some circumstance where I don't have surround playback capability.

Much like the two O'Jays albums that I wrote about yesterday, every previous digital release of New City sounded like hot garbage - midrangey and overcompressed. Once again this release blows the doors off everything that's come before it. After so many years of living with that crummy CD version, and my own Q8 transfer, it's an absolute thrill to hear this album with both proper bass response and sparkle in the horns for the first time. Even with my misgivings about the merits of Mirror Image, I think there's at least 1.5 albums worth of good to great material on this disc, so for me it's an easy 9.
A fantastic review and wonderful read, Dave. I’ll have your review in hand next time I listen to this release. I’d never heard either of these albums before this D-V two-fer, but I’ve really been enjoying it.
 

Dillydipper

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Thank you, Steelydave, for the best damning-with-faint-praise summation I've seen so far in reference to "Tell Me That I'm Wrong"! I'd been carping about this track for so long now (mostly on "that other board"), that I thought I must have been the only one who's ever opined, that it's one recording that should never have been released in reference to a band of this outstanding caliber. It's never sounded anything close to good, and I never understood either how it got released in the first place, or why nobody else ever singled it out for its' substandard sonics. While I'm glad the two-fer quad release is out there and getting higher-than-expected marks for the results, this one is gonna have to be a lower priority for my want list.

"Alternative universe" sums up the way I think about both these albums: I felt "New Blood" and "No Sweat" were great directions for the band to stretch, and by this time never missed the departure of DCT anyway. LaCroix was a serious misstep in my opinion, didn't quite "get" him subbing-in for Rare Earth around that time, either. Still, glad to get a final taste of Fischer, even if that lineup was creatively floundering. "Mirror Image" just always reminded me of that joke where the Devil comes back into the room and says, "okay, coffee break's over, everybody back on your heads!". I'd lost my enthusiasm for the band by that time anyway,

So, thanks for an open-minded review with a lot more background of that period, than I've seen tackled anyplace else!
 

GOS

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Happy to own this now. Probably not fair, but I'm comparing this to other BST surround releases I own. It sounds good enough, but just doesn't have the warmth of the other 2 I own. Does it??

Content - 8
Fidelity - 8
Mix - 8

8!
I've been listening more. I really like Mirror Image. Really strong. I totally dig Mirror Image Movement! What a freak fest.......just outstanding. Edged my vote to a 9.
 

newslane

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I was pleasantly surprised by the strength of these songs, and think the SACD stereo fidelity is superb. Great stereo separation, too. I voted 10/stereo.
 

newslane

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I can fix that! Looks like I inadvertently bought two copies of this - I just got mine from DV, and another coming from Amazon. Anyway, if anyone wants one, drop me a line.
 

Scott65

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Shocking as hell that more members don't own this. Or, just need to vote???
I'm in the second category. I recall liking it when I received it but need to revisit it before voting - unfortunately is there is the 'problem' of too many new surround releases this year.... :p
 
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