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A clutch of new releases from Silverline demonstrate the aural superiority of the DVD-Audio format

DVD-Audio is destined to sit on the shelves alongside DVD and CD. You could be fooled into thinking that, holding these titles in your hand, there is audio and video content. In reality, apart from the Joey Ramone and  Lynyrd Skynyrd albums, this is all audio culled from the Sanctuary back catalogue.

Without the benefits of a dedicated DVD-Audio player, you're not going to realise the full potential but nevertheless played on your PC/DVD player and/or DVD player the results will be ok and arguably better quality than the average CD mastering job. This is due to the higher sampling rate (24bit/96khz) used. With a surround-speaker system pumping out the Dolby Digital 5.1 option, you are going to be in classic rock sonic heaven.

Shortly before his untimely death in April 2001, punk rock icon Joey Ramone had finished his one and only solo album 'Don't Worry About Me'. This album will appeal to Ramones fans, but it also marks a more mature approach perhaps not evident in previous outings. Crystal-clear DVD-Audio quality may seem somewhat incongruous when applied to this genre but it preserves both the power and the glory. In truth, it's a fitting tribute to a hugely influential artist. (Silverline 288118-9) ****

Atomic Rooster gained a reputation in the early seventies for doom-laden metal riffs using a vamped up Hammond organ. "The Best Of" brings together a selection of the band's best known live and recorded work. Regrettably there is no source information on the inlay or disc itself. However, as a trawl through heavy metal's backpages this is a sonic delight. (Silverline 288097-9) ***

Fast forward to the late 1990s and we have a recent incarnation of one of southern rock's stalwarts. The tragedy-ridden Lynyrd Skynyrd first came to attention with the anthemic 'Freebird' which single-handedly defined the heads-down, no-nonsense guitar meltdown and provided a blueprint for countless bands following the route to  raunch and roll. There's more information here, so we know these performances are lifted from previously released albums 'Live from Steel Town' and 'Edge Of Forever'. The audio mix does the music justice and there is also a live video of 'Simple Man' as a bonus. (Silverline 288076-9) ****

Gary Moore is a guitarist not afraid to experiment but the album 'Back To The Blues' marked a return to the pared-down blues and soul of his earlier successful excursions 'Still Got The Blues' and 'After Hours'.

After dabbling with some contemporary dance stylings on 'A Different Beat' and somewhat losing the plot, this album marked a return to form. There are four covers including 'Stormy Monday' and 'You Upset Me Baby'. (Silverline 288080-9) ***

Fairport Convention have celebrated their 35th anniversary in 2002 and these veterans of fol de rock 'n' rol and finger-in-the-ear-manship show no sign of slowing up. Fascinating for the constantly changing personnel, once again the inlay is short on detail although this is in fact a reissue of their 1998 compilation album 'Close To The Wind'. It's a worthy introduction, but fans can probably do a sidestep. (Silverline 288086-9) ***

These albums are worth investigating if you want to hear the novelty of the enhanced sound and in each case there are visuals, online liner notes and occasionally video content. Most fans will have these tracks in some shape and form. Silverline should be congratulated for their pioneering audio work (via the 5.1. entertainment company) but they should think more carefully about their target audience. If these items are going to appeal to collectors and the audiophile, the inclusion of full recording information and possibly bonus tracks will be a compelling reason to purchase whilst the casual hypermarket buyer will remain well served with foolproof chunks of classic rock history in superior sound quality. In this respect, for all-round entertainment value, it's the Joey Ramone release that shows the way forward.


Review by David Randall

© 2002 All rights reserved.

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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