Over the past several years a number of Elton John albums were released in both SACD and DVD-Audio, including Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Now, once again, fans are welcome to open their wallets for a Blu-ray version of his classic 1974 release. While SACDs of other albums remain available, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road can only be found at ridiculous prices for the SACD version, and the DVD-Audio edition has all but vanished.
Clearly for those who own the SACD, there is no compelling reason to double dip for the Pure Audio Blu-ray, as the content contains a similar audio quality at 96kHz / 24bit sampling rates. Likewise, fans who have the DVD-Audio version are not likely to hear any sound quality improvement, as the sample rate is identical.
For all other fans, the re-issue on Blu-ray provides access to the 2003 surround sound mix created by Greg Penny, along with a high-fidelity version of the stereo mix. Having already added this to my collection a few years back, I can say without a second thought that this is a fantastic surround mix. There is wonderful separation of instruments, and surely listeners, like me, are very likely to hear parts that went unnoticed when compared to the vinyl version. Penny has gone through great lengths, taking about one month per album to remix the tracks for surround. He has improved the sound, while also holding true to the analog technology which it was recorded on. There is still some audible tape hiss, but nothing that detracts from the songs, and generally is masked by the levels of much of the music.
We can only hope that Universal will continue their reissue campaign of Elton John’s 1970’s albums. Surround sound fans have been waiting to kick back and enjoy the remaining albums Penny mixed, which include: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player (1973), Caribou (1974), Rock of the Westies (1975), and Blue Moves (1976). However, as I wagered when I wrote this article back in 2014, the label instead has chosen to start reissuing the material already available on SACD, which includes Elton John (1970, Tumbleweed Connection (1970), Madman Across the Water (1971), Honky Chateau (1972), Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975).
Still for fans seeking a high-definition stereo and multi-channel mix of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, if you can find a copy at a reasonable price, it is highly recommended to pick up the Blu-ray first, or either the SACD or DVD-A depending on your preference.
Check out this video with Greg Penny talking about mixing the various Elton John albums.
High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray disc, contains 24/96 stereo and surround sound mixes. Also available on Vinyl.
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About the Author
Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.