There are at least three good reasons for classic rock lovers to take a hard look at Audio Fidelity’s latest release in its 24K+Gold Compact Disc series, Phil Collins’ Hello, I Must Be Going. First of all, there is the music. Second, there is the sound quality. Third, even if you think all Collins’ music sounds the same, the discs in this Audio Fidelity numbered and limited series are collectibles waiting to happen.
First things first, the album’s ten tracks are samples of Collins at his dramatic, albeit resentful best. If you like what Collins does–and while it may not be hip to admit it, I have to say I do–how can you not want a pristine version of the ultimate bitter kiss off anthem “I Don’t Care Anymore?” The album is filled with a lot of the same kind of venom nurtured art: “I Cannot Believe It’s True,” “Do You Know, Do You Care?” and “It Don’t Matter to Me.” There is no muse like a woman, even one you are divorcing. You have to wonder who it is the singer is listening to in “Thru These Walls.” How the upbeat cover of the Supreme’s “You Can’t Hurry Love” managed to make its way onto the album is open to question, but it does at the least offer something of an antidote to the overall sweet bitterness.
The sound quality on these Audio Fidelity discs is exceptional. As their website describes it, their process replaces the “irregular plated surfaces of standard aluminum discs” with a perfected layer of 24K gold free from “any type of physical defect.” Mastered in this case by noted audiophile music restoration specialist Steve Hoffman, the CD aims for what he calls a “lifelike” sound. In answer to a question on his website, Hoffman says
I want that “breath of life.” That’s what I want. If it sounds like a fake approximation of nothing that’s alive—that is not it for me. I want it to sound like, (and it doesn’t matter if it is Buddy Holly or Blood, Sweat and Tears or The Doors) I want it to sound like they could be standing in the same room where you are listening.
While there are those who argue there are superior re-mastering processes, the sound on the Audio Fidelity discs is impressive enough for me.
Finally there will be those who, as I suggested in my review of the Audio Fidelity release of James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James, will not even bother to cut open the shrink wrap on their CD. Limited edition, numbered, and nestled in what the manufacturer calls “deluxe packaging with see-through slip cases,” these discs are prime candidates for collectors. A quick check on eBay shows that there is indeed a market for past issues. The Band’s self-titled album, for example, is on sale for $89.99. Given contemporary interest rates, there could be worse ways to invest your money.
Seriously, the Audio Fidelity 24K + Gold series offers a selection of some of the best classic rock mastered with expert care. Hoffman is on record as saying his goal is for the music to sound “alive.” As far as this ear is concerned, it is a goal he has reached.