The Best "Aja" You Will Ever Hear and It's Not Even Close
"Deacon Blues" Gets a full side at 45, so case closed?
The tape box pictured in the notes tells the tale in tiny hand written letters: "original master was 1/4". In other words the source for this UHQR reissue was a 1/2" Dolby A copy of the master, which became the 2 track Dolby Master. When you hear the record you won't care about from where it came, you'll just know it's the best sounding Aja you've ever heard and it's not close.
For one thing, "Deacon Blues" takes up an entire UHQR 45rpm side so anyone trying to tell you the original whether the AA or the AB or the Cisco, or the MoFi 1/2 speed from "back in the day", or whatever sounds better, doesn't quite understand what happens toward the end of the side as the groove radii get smaller and the high frequencies get "scrunched" together. The 7:26 epic finally has room to breathe and express all of the tape's wondrous top end and dynamic authority.
This copy is the real Clarity Vinyl one not the black vinyl TP reported on previously and it's even better especially than that black vinyl one especially in longer decay that noticeably lingers beyond lengths to which your memory is accustomed. Transients are so well defined. You're sure to hear newly resolved detail. Bernie Grundman did not appreciably mess with the EQ compared to his original 1977 cut because there was nothing wrong with what he originally did, but cutting at 45 and not having to cut to near the label has obvious benefits especially on "Deacon Blues" but really on everything and the bottom end has definitely not been attenuated as it must have somewhat been on the originals.
This Aja fulfills the UHQR promise as well if not better than has any in the series and there's plenty of stiff competition!
What's there left to say about this classic? Even Donald Fagen ran out, so his notes are mostly about musician choices and why and nothing about the songs themselves, so I'll take my cue from him and can the unnecessary analysis, but since people seem to like anecdotes, here's one: Fagen notes the various drummers who contributed, one of whom was Rick Marotta.
Back when The Tracking Angle was a print magazine a post card arrived in our box from a guy in Staten Island asking for a free copy of the magazine. It's not as if he asked. It was kind of "Send me a copy to this address". The nerve! It just struck me the wrong way. I wasn't in the mood for arguing, so I fired off a "who the f**k are you to ask for a free copy?" For some reason i didn't think this guy could have been the Rick Marotta, but shortly after I tossed the post card in the mail I had second thoughts. It probably was the Rick Marotta. One of my dumbest moves. Oh well.
I'll conclude this "review" in quotes because it hardly qualifies as one because one's not needed. All you want to know is does it sound great, and it does, and you won't be disappointed! The only negative thing I can say is that the jacket credits misspell Elliot Scheiner's name as "Elliot Schneiner".