Saturday Deluxe / 3 December 2016

Kate Bush / Before The Dawn 4LP vinyl

An Endless Sky of Hype…

So after all the column inches (or should I say ‘pixel real estate’) telling us that Kate Bush was ‘on course’ for a number one album with Before The Dawn, it didn’t happen…

All the media folks were excitedly telling everyone that the ‘midweek chart’ (something not available to ‘normal’ people) had Kate ‘neck and neck’ with Little Mix, but not only did Kate’s first live album not reach number one, it didn’t reach number two or three either! Yes, Before The Dawn was a new entry on the UK charts at number four, behind Michael Ball (with Alfie Boe) and Elvis Presley. In 2016, can anyone predict ANYTHING with any accuracy, anymore!?

On the assumption that the album will climb no higher (a reasonable one, I think) this is Kate’s third worst charting album after 2011’s 50 Words For Snow (peaked at no. 5) and 1978’s Lionheart (no. 6). But for a triple live album it’s (quadruple on the vinyl) it’s not a bad effort at all.

kick_insideThe fact is, only two of Kate’s ten studio albums have gone to number one (Never For Ever and Hounds Of Love) and if The Kick Inside couldn’t make it to the top spot with the fearsome promotional tool that was Wuthering Heights, it’s not too surprising that Before The Dawn didn’t achieve the feat.

It seems unlikely that Kate is bothered. She gave up a golden opportunity for a more or less guaranteed number one album back in 2014, by not putting out an updated greatest hits package. 1986’s The Whole Story (which also reached no. 1) is now thirty years old and is woefully in need of updating, delivering as it does HALF ‘the story’, since it summarises the first five records in a ten album career.

Before The Dawn is out now. Read Kate’s message thanking fans for the ‘extraordinary’ achievement of sending her album to number four.

Read the SDE interview with David Rhodes on performing with Kate


Jarre signed print delivers

My Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygene Trilogy box set turned up yesterday and while I haven’t had a chance to open it up and have a proper look (too busy shipping T-shirts!) I did get to Jean-Michel Jarre / Electronica deluxe box setadmire the signed Oxygene print. It’s beautiful and I’m off to the picture framers at the earliest opportunity to get this iconic image preserved and hung on the wall.

I have to say that this is a big improvement on the signed Electronica ‘fanbox’, because that signature was on a ‘certificate of authenticity’ which was stuck to the back of the lid. Yes, it was signed (and limited to 1000 units) but what they have delivered with this Oxygene set is far better (and cheaper).

Read more about Oxygene 3 and the Oxygene Trilogy box set here.


Alison Moyet broke my CD player

I’ve had the Alison Moyet deluxe reissues for a while now, but I was sure there was something wrong with Alf, because when I put it into my CD player the machine made a horrible scraping sound as the disc spun and nothing played at all. Then what came out sounded like a really bad MP3 played on a digital radio station with lots of digital artefacts and dropouts.

I tried another CD and the same thing happened, so can only conclude that my CD player (it’s actually a Pioneer DVD-656A CD/DVD-A player) is buggered. For someone who runs a music blog, this is bad news. I have a Yamaha S1700 (which also plays SACD and DVD-As) in another room, but that’s all wired up to the surround sound system, so I didn’t really want to move that. So in short, I need to buy a new player.

The requirement is the ability to play the following formats: CD, SACDs, DVD-A and blu-ray audio, but I do want the machine to be an excellent CD player and not just an average ‘jack of all trades’. I should stress that this machine won’t be linked up to a TV so how good it performs as a DVD/Blu-ray player is largely irrelevant to me. So is any networking capability, since I’ve now got a few Sonos speakers (yes, I know they don’t do hi-res).

Does such a player exist? I’m thinking of the OPPO BDP-103 which you can get in the UK for about £500. Even though it ticks all the boxes, will it be good for what I need it to do most of the time, which is playing CDs? Someone said the BDP-105 is the better model for audiophile-style playback, but this is £1000 which is really more than I want to pay.

Would I be better off spending £300 on something like a Marantz CD6006 CD player for excellent CD playback and perhaps sourcing something in the used market that plays SACDs, DVD-As and blu-ray audio? So have two separate machines?

I need to sort this out sooner, rather than later, so I’d love to hear your views and if you have any of the kit mentioned, then please let me know what you think. Thanks!

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