Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Southern Surroundings

I know, I know - there's about 15 bazillion Skynyrd comps out there. So why care about this one? Well... it's special.

A few years back, this thing called DVD-Audio made the scene, along with SACD and DTS CDs. Never heard of any of them? Well, you're probably not alone. But here's the deal: you know how the DVDs and Blu-Ray movies you buy have multiple audio channels? 5.1 or 7.1 Surround Sound. They let you hear all that cool movie surround audio from your home theater system.

Well, some bright guys at the record companies thought "what if we could listen to music in 5.1, too?" And so Sony, Warner Brothers, Universal and other set about putting 5.1 music onto CDs and DVDs. And it really does sound amazing! Until you've heard Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" in 5.1 surround, you haven't lived.

Unfortunately, they did a bad job of marketing these discs. No one cared. And they stopped making them (for the most part). But every now and then, a new one sneaks out.

That's what makes this Skynyrd comp special: It's in 5.1 surround. In fact, it's a 3-disc set: a stereo greatest hits, the 5.1 DVD-Audio disc, and a video DVD of Skynyrd performances on BBC's "Old Grey Whistle Test" programme (UK spelling for my Brit friends).

Here's the thing: It's only available at Wal-Mart, and in limited quantities. So if you want to get it, do it now. The price is right: Only $11.99.

There's a lot that's great about this disc. First, it's Skynyrd, in Surround! Hearing "Curtis Loew" and "Gimme Three Steps" in 5.1 Advanced Resolution audio is pretty danged amazing. And the remix was done by the legendary Elliot Scheiner, the guy who did Surround Sound mastering for Roy Orbison and Porcupine Tree, among others. It's quality stuff.

The downside is that only 10 tracks are on the 5.1 disc, and "Sweet Home Alabama" is not among them. (Word in the multichannel audio underground is that this surround set was part of a more comprehensive remix project begun in 2008 when 5.1 Surround was in full flower at Universal Music, so we're just lucky that this music made it out into the wild.)

Anyway, be on the lookout. If you've got a home stereo, and you're a Skynyrd fan, find a copy and play it loud. It's great stuff.

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