Counting Crows: August and Everything After
Analogue Productions CAPP 24528 SA
Steve Bowman (drums, vocals)
David Bryson (guitars, vocals)
Adam Duritz (vocals, piano, harmonica)
Charlie Gillingham (keyboards, vocals)
Matt Malley (bass, guitar, vocals)
Mastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound
Counting Crows put in the gigging hours during the early days of the band, and it paid off. By the time they signed to Geffen in 1993, they had already built up a significant fanbase. Their debut, August and Everything After, produced by T-Bone Burnett, was released later the same year and became an unexpected multi-platinum hit, partly as a result of the successful single "Mr. Jones."
"We were fortunate that this was recorded to analog in an age that had many digital recordings," says Acoustic Sounds founder and CEO Chad Kassem, who describes August and Everything After as "one of the better albums in the entire '90s," with a timeless vibe and classic pop sound. Although recorded to audio tape, the album was originally mastered for CD and featured a longer playing time than a standard LP. Thus Analogue Productions has reissued August and Everything After as a double LP set to maximize the dynamic range of this recording. This is the first time that the 'Crows multi-platinum smash has been released in the U.S. as an SACD. Mastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound.
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Review by Rick Kosmick - April 1, 2015
At one time in popular music, there were albums that occasionally became wildly successful by selling astronomical amounts such as Counting Crow's "August and Everything After" which sold some 20 million copies worldwide after release in 1993. It was even more astonishing that this release was the debut album from a relatively unknown group. Upon listening to "August and Everything After" over twenty years later, you understand why: a great set of songs sung by the distinctive and highly expressive vocals of Adam Duritz. Call it a magical moment in time where the stars align and create a masterpiece set of recordings. From my perspective, it remains timeless.
"August and Everything After" sure had the prerequisite high charting singles ("Mr Jones", "Round Here", "Rain King") but this album is full of special songs such as the achingly beautiful ballad "Time and Time Again". In fact, it is the slow tempo numbers with some excellent lyrics that are the showcase of this record. But lyrics alone do not make a great album as the catchy melodies for each and every song are an integral part of these recordings. Also, the performance is a key component as Adam Duritz's highly emotive vocals come into play: so upon initial release, a number of critics suggested Duritz coped Van Morrison or cloned R.E.M. etc..... ah the self-importance of critics to justify their existence. All I know is there is nothing new under the sun and all musicians have been influenced by somebody. Needless to say, the vocals of Adam Duritz are incredible.
So, what about the audio quality of this SACD? Well, the transparency of vocals and instruments really are of special character with splendid detail..... the dynamics are great from from top to bottom..... there is a wonderful warm analogue sound..... and all placed within this realistic 'sound of the studio' atmosphere.
The importance of what happens during the recording process is a key factor for "August and Everything After". The producer for this album was T-Bone Burnett, a person with a well deserved reputation for his studio work. Beside his role in the arrangements, his reputation extends to high standards for audio quality that provided huge benefits for the SACD release by Analogue Productions. Without the original high production values, this SACD would not have the sparkling quality sonics.
But the most important factor will always be the source tapes. Analogue Production liner notes make no reference to the source tapes or who made the transfer. However, I have little doubt the original master tapes were used (some tape hiss is audible). I also have another audiophile recording of "August and Everything After" in the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) Gold CD version (1996). MFSL has a stellar reputation for using original master tapes. In comparing the SACD to the Gold CD, I found virtually no difference in audio between the two versions except in one area: the MFSL was noticeably brighter (but very pleasant) and the SACD had a slightly warmer tone. I feel comfortable in suggesting the same source tapes were utilized by both Analogue Productions and MFSL.
So, do I have a preference for either the SACD or MFSL? No, I do not. I always considered the MFSL version of "August and Everything After" as possessing exceptional audio quality and a personal favourite for this very reason. The SACD similarly exhibits the same high standards in sonics.
Counting Crows have released several fine albums over the last 20 plus years but "August and Everything After" stands above all. I have no qualms calling it a classic and the excellence in sound of this SACD from Analogue Productions makes it an all-out recommendation.
Copyright © 2015 Rick Kosmick and HRAudio.net