On October 24th, MCA will debut its latest effort in the audiophile realm -- the new "Heavy Vinyl" series. Each title is remastered from the original master tapes, without any noise reduction or bass roll-off. Pressed on 180 grams of pure virgin vinyl, all of the titles in the series are limited editions. The packaging on each title in the series is very nicely done. The original artwork and liner notes are intact on all 5 titles, and in some cases, expanded upon. The pressings on all five albums were excellent -- virtually no surface noise at all, and free of any distortion.

The first title of the series to be reviewed is John Barry's Academy Award winning score to the motion picture "Out of Africa". The orchestra sounds very warm and resonant throughout the album. However, unless you're a big fan of the movie itself, you'll be fighting to stay awake by the time you get to the end of the album. "Out of Africa" is impressively recorded, but there isn't enough happening at any given time to engage the listener.

Next up is the self-titled second album from rock and roll legend, Buddy Holly. The sparse arrangements of the material on this album make it a prime candidate for an audiophile pressing. The instruments are all easily distinguishable from each other and very clear. Songs like the classic "Peggy Sue" and the Fats Domino penned tune "Valley of Tears" never sounded better. The new Heavy Vinyl version of "Buddy Holly" contains additional liner notes as well.

Moving on to the third title in the series, we come to the classic Buddy Guy album, "I Was Walking Through the Woods". Originally released on the Chess label in 1970, "Woods" contains songs recorded live in the studio as they happened and also a collection of singles and (at the time) unreleased cuts. The channel separation on the classic "First Time I Met the Blues" is stunning. Probably the best test of the quality of a Buddy Guy recording is in the guitar sound and the vocal transients. The Heavy Vinyl pressing passed with flying colors. Like "Buddy Holly", this album also contains additional liner notes.

Dave Mason's solo debut, "Alone Together" is the next title in the series. Containing the classic hit single "Only You Know and I Know", and FM radio staples such as "Look at You, Look at Me" and "World in Changes", the album remains Mason's greatest accomplishment. The dynamic range on the 1970 recording is outstanding. The sound quality on the album is markedly improved over the original release. All of the instruments and vocals are clear and very distinct.

Probably the most eagerly awaited title in the new Heavy Vinyl series is The Who's 1971 release, "Who's Next". Who fans take note -- this is now the definitive version of the album. The sound quality has never been better. Even the superb Japanese pressing can't hold a candle to the Heavy Vinyl version. The individual instruments and vocals can all be heard clearly, even from a different room! Released in a gatefold cover (as are all of the albums in the series so far), there are two new photos on the inside.

The albums in MCA's new Heavy Vinyl series are manufactured using the latest innovations in mastering technology, and are designed to take advantage of high-end audiophile turntables and cartridges. As a result, these albums are competitive with their compact disc counterparts in terms of sound quality. All five titles have extremely high resolution, spaciousness and clarity that is unmatched in any format.

© 1995 Steve Marshall