Half Speed Vinyl Remasters – Average White Band, Belinda Carlisle, Kirsty MacCall – Reviewed

Diving Into the World of Half-Speed Remasters: A Personal Journey Through Sound
This journey was sparked by my growing admiration for Frank Black and the Catholics, or Black Francis, whose music has captivated me over the past few years. My fascination reached new heights with the acquisition of a vinyl box set featuring all of Frank Black and The Catholics studio albums, which I’ve previously reviewed. The stark difference in sound quality between these half-speed remasters and earlier pressings was nothing short of revelatory, prompting me to delve deeper into other albums given the same treatment by the Demon Music Group.

My curiosity led me to a diverse selection of albums for this exploration. I chose Kirsty MacColl and Belinda Carlisle, artists whose work I’ve recently revisited and reviewed, and the Average White Band, a group whose music has long resonated with me. Each of these albums holds a special place in my musical landscape, making them perfect candidates for this half-speed remaster journey.

Upon receiving these albums, the first thing that struck me was the care put into their packaging. Each record is housed in a polyline sleeve, a detail that aligns with Now Spinning Magazine’s campaign for better vinyl protection. This thoughtful inclusion ensures the longevity and preservation of these records, something I deeply appreciate as a collector.

The Average White Band’s 1974 album, celebrating its 50th anniversary with a half-speed master edition, was the first I explored. Known for hits like “Pick Up the Pieces,” this album was a soundtrack to my youth, blending funk and soul in a way that transcended my usual rock-centric tastes. The accompanying foldout sheet, filled with lyrics and memorabilia, added a nostalgic touch to the experience.

Kirsty MacColl’s albums “Electric Landlady” and “Kite” were next, each offering a glimpse into her versatile talent. The half-speed mastering brought new life to these records, highlighting MacColl’s unique voice and storytelling prowess. The inclusion of a booklet with lyrics and photographs in each album is a great touch.

Belinda Carlisle’s “Live Your Life Be Free” was the final album I delved into. Already familiar with the CD version, I was eager to hear how the vinyl remaster compared. Carlisle’s angelic voice, coupled with the rock-infused production, sounded more vibrant and immersive than ever before.

The half-speed remastered albums from the Demon Music Group have been a revelation. The meticulous process of half-speed mastering, which involves cutting the master disc at half the playback speed, allows for greater detail and a richer soundstage. This technique has breathed new life into these records, making classics like the Average White Band’s 1974 album sound as if they were recorded yesterday.

As a record collector, I’m always seeking the highest quality pressings, and these half-speed remasters are excellent. The attention to detail, from the packaging to the sound quality, has made each album a worthy addition to my collection. I highly recommend exploring these remastered treasures. Whether you’re a fan of soul, pop, or rock, the half-speed remastered albums offer a listening experience that is both nostalgic and refreshingly new.

Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine

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