NEW 2007 JAPAN REMASTER(S) AVAILABLE
BOB | LOS ANGELES, CA | 09/30/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"In 2007, the main 16 Weather Report Columbia titles were re-released in Japan with new DSD remastering in mini-sleeve format. From an audio quality standpoint, the DSD versions now supercede all the earlier standard-CD-audio U.S. releases (some of the WR catalog are available as SACD's).
Additionally, the Japan editions feature a welcome 2CD restoration of "8:30" to the original 13-track double-LP album configuration, with the proper inclusion of "Scarlet Woman", which had been edited off all domestic editions to allow for a cheaper, single-disc release.
So far, the WR DSD catalog is only available in mini-sleeve format, and all `sleeves are limited edition. If it is your desire to own the latest/greatest audio, then don't delay in picking these up, although it is always possible that Sony Japan will release them again as less expensive jewel case editions somewhere down the road. However, for the true WR fan and vinyl nut, it's great to have the wonderful mini-LP replicas of the original LP covers!
I wanted to provide links for each 2007 `sleeve edition, but unfortunately, Amazon only allows 10 per review. But, by linking to the 2007 DSD remaster of the first Weather Report album, you should be able to use the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" tool to locate the rest of the 2007 DSD titles (just make sure you verify the release date and Product Description).
Also, of note: In this same release were updated DSD remasters of the following WR-member solo albums, also as mini-sleeves:
Jaco Pastorius (1st album)
Wayne Shorter "Native Dancer"
Joe Zawinul "Di-a-lects"
And, the two Havana Jam albums, both where WR appeared live, also as `sleeves:
Havana Jam 1
Havana Jam 2
And, FINALLY: 2007 witnessed John McLaughlin finally relenting to release the full Trio Of Doom studio & live recordings, the awesome line-up of McLaughlin, Pastorius and Tony Williams, which could only be found previously on the Havana Jam albums, albeit in edited form.
WHAT IS A JAPAN "MINI-LP-SLEEVE" CD?
Have you ever lamented the loss of one of the 20th Century's great art forms, the 12" vinyl LP jacket? Then "mini-LP-sleeve" CD's may be for you.
Mini-sleeve CDs are manufactured in Japan under license. The disc is packaged inside a 135MM X 135MM cardboard precision-miniature replica of the original classic vinyl-LP album. Also, anything contained in the original LP, such as gatefolds, booklets, lyric sheets, posters, printed LP sleeves, stickers, embosses, special LP cover paper/inks/textures and/or die cuts, are precisely replicated and included. An English-language lyric sheet is always included, even if the original LP did not have printed lyrics.
Then, there's the sonic quality: Often (but not always), mini-sleeves have dedicated remastering (20-Bit, 24-Bit, DSD, K2/K2HD, and/or HDCD), and can often (but not always) be superior to the audio on the same title anywhere else in the world. There also may be bonus tracks unavailable elsewhere.
Each Japan mini-sleeve has an "obi" ("oh-bee"), a removable Japan-language promotional strip. The obi lists the Japan street date of that particular release, the catalog number, the mastering info, and often the original album's release date. Bonus tracks are only listed on the obi, maintaining the integrity of the original LP artwork. The obi's are collectable, and should not be discarded.
All mini-sleeve releases are limited edition, but re-pressings/re-issues are becoming more common (again, not always). The enthusiasm of mini-sleeve collecting must be tempered, however, with avoiding fake mini-sleeves manufactured in Russia and distributed throughout the world, primarily on eBay. They are inferior in quality, worthless in collectable value, a total waste of money, and should be avoided at all costs."
The start of the decline
Gavin Wilson | 09/15/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
As a teenage rock fan of the 1970s who came across to jazz-rock, I have to say that what made Weather Report great was always the rhythm section -- not the jousting between Zawinul and Shorter. Thus for me the great Weather Report moments are the bass duel between Miroslav Vitous and Andrew White on 'Boogie Woogie Waltz', Al Johnson's bass on 'Scarlet Woman', and the interplay between Ngudu and Alyro Lima on 'Between the Thighs'. Pastorius's composition 'Havona', which ends HEAVY WEATHER, is also a supreme track.
I saw Weather Report in concert both in the five-man line-up (with Badrena and Acuna on percussion at Oxford Poly in 1977) and the four-man version (with Erskine at the Hammersmith Odeon around 78/79), and I don't believe Erskine was an adequate replacement for the two Latins whatsoever.
I don't hold any grudge against Erskine now (he's made some nice ECM albums since), but I did at the time, because Weather Report were less exciting with him on board. And by this stage, it seemed as if Zawinul and Pastorius were ganging up on Shorter, and gradually squeezing him out of the composing and performing limelight. Pastorius had to be on drugs to keep doing his lengthy solo spots, despite the adverse boos from much of the audience. (He looks half out of it when he attempts a short-ish solo on the excellent Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light' concert DVD of 1979.) So the seeds of Weather Report's decline were being sown, and Pastorius was set for departure and tragedy soon after.
8:30 doesn't stand up well as a live album. The sound quality is poor, and the fact that they tack some studio pieces (including the dire 'Orphan') on at the end indicates that the band recognise they are short-changing fans. It's a real shame that none of the classic line-ups -- in my book, from SWEETNIGHTER to HEAVY WEATHER -- laid down a great live album. 8:30 isn't awful, and I find it more listenable than the earlier LIVE IN TOKYO, but really Weather Report were at their best in the studio, producing many layers of percussion, bass and keyboards."