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Mobility Fidelity's release of "Permanent Waves"


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Remember those Gold CDDAs of the 80s and early 90s? Mobile Fidelity, the company that brought them to us is back and with a vengeance. (actually the company began the mid-70s producing high quality records; if you're under 30 those are the black discs your parents--or grand parents--have sitting next to their one-piece, chest-line stereo system).


I once they were just hype, another way to get me to buy a CD a second time or to pay double/triple the price of the aluminum substrate versions. A Tower Record's employee even told me, "There's no difference except that Gold doesn't oxidize as fast." Not hard to fathom why they went out of business.


:D:D:D:DAt the beginning of this year, they released a new version of Permanent Windows :D:D:D:D (US Amazon page is here.) remastered using their proprietary processing system (you can read all about it on their website mofi.com).


The result is absolutely stunning. Excepting SACDs, I have NEVER heard a better audio recording*. When Neil hammers the tympani's on "Jacob's Ladder" it as tho' you are literally sitting in front of that old, monster kit as hit plays. Geddy's bass sound both fat and sharp at the same time (Rush fans'll know what I mean by that). Alex's guitar work, esp the acoustic sections, shimmer magically. And when it's time for Zeppelinesque bombs-away segues, the walls shake in most satisfying manner. At one point, I swear I can hear a pick tap a humbucker.


The recording of tidal pools and high tides on the epic "Natural Science" is so realistic, all I had to do was close my eyes imagine and I was sitting on the beach at La Jolla Shores on a softly, moonlit night with my lovely lady.


Get the wife (and or kids) out of the house, make sure the neighbors aren't home, pop the disc in and then turn the volume up as close as you can get before your speakers start protesting. And enjoy.


It's thirty-six minutes of pure audio bliss./In short, it don't get much better than this.




*Granted, I didn't have good systems until about 10 years ago, and still I certainly do not have a $50,000 system, recessed into the cherry-paneled walls of my study, concealed by motorized doors; I have a Yamaha HT-6050 receiver with speakers sitting on a pine coffee table between the sliding glass door to our dying yardlet (what idiot decided on [ grass in the hottest desert in the world?!?!] and the rear window (that is most excellent--esp for our smallish townhouse (1600s.f.).

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Couple of other things:


It took me over six weeks to get this disc after I ordered it. So it Imay, conceivably, take you a good while to get it. Mofi's own website lists it as "currently out of stock"; Amazon says they have three. They make only five thousand of any disc, and each package (a "mini" LP jacket) has a number. In my case, mine is number 3042. (I'm not a hundred percent on the 5000 disc limit; but there must be a limit of some kind, else why number them?)

I just checked Amazon Canada and UK. The former has it in stock (for the exact same numerical price as Amazon US, testimony to the stricken US dollar...). The UK site lists it as an "Import" does not carry it. Of course, Brit Rush fans can always order it from the US or Canada. I know it cost me a fortune in shipping to order a DVD from Amazon UK, almost as much as the disc itself!


The worst shipping bill I ever paid was for a $3 CDDA I ordered from Amazon Deutchland. The shipping was $15!!! :&

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The only complaint that I--and many others--have is the cover artwork. While the "mini-LP" sleeve (apparently a Japanese fad) is quite cool, the reproduction of the LP art, is awful. It's dark, indistinct and fuzzy. Given Hugh Syme (renowned cover artist and "conceptualist" for many, many bands) and Rush's stringent quality demands, it's hard to believe they okay'd this art work.


But don't let that put you off. The gold (no pun intended) inside would be worth having even if my 8 yr old had been hired to crayon a new cover for the album.


The 1997--2004 remasters of Rush's entire catalog, i.e. every album excepting the last two, Vapor Trails and [/i]Snakes and Arrows[/i], were excellent, a distinct improvement on the original CDs released in the 80s (and which, before my first wife got her grubby little hands on them, I had the complete set; at one time I had every Rush album on CD, LP and cassette).

I have had to replace several of my 20+ yr old CDs that have the dreaded disappearing aluminum syndrome--a fault due to poor quality control from some of the first CD pressing plants (both German and American). CDs made from 1987 on don't suffer from this problem.


But this Mobile Fidelity remastering job--directly from the original master tapes defies description--so I won't lay a thick encomium on you (some have complained--rightly so--about my allergy to brevity).


Suffice it to say: if you're a die-hard Rush fan, and I'm going on 26 yrs, then the US$26.99 price tag ($21 higher than the "regular" disc) is well, well worth it.


Also, a lot of fan reviews are saying that this is the best MoFi release ever, and not just of Rush's catalog. 2112, Moving Pictures and Signals all got the treatment in the early 90s. Used copies of these go anywhere from $33 (Signals) to $257 (Moving Pictures).


Prices for other MoFi editions of classic albums are even more statospheric: an unopened copy of Who's Next is listed on Amazon as costing $499! For a CD that originally cost--indexed for inflation--$60!


I only wish I'd had the foresight (and money, back in those days, I was dirt poor, i.e. so poor I had to eat dirt, with a little salt...) to buy a couple of copies each and store one unopened.


There are rumors that MoFi intends to re-released these three as well as additional Rush titles. However, I couldn't find anything about this on their website. Perhaps I'll drop the official Rush webiste and email and see what they have to say on the matter. (Hopefully "yes," "yes," and "soon."



*(the latter being the first Rush studio album yet to have gone at least Gold; as I said, "yet" inevitably, they'll get over the half million mark. The Boyz from Toronto have sold more than million albums a year from nearly 35 years. There are damned few bands that can claim that.)

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