Same thing (for me) with Anne Bisson.
No offense intended to her/their fans....I just don't get 'em.
I always find interesting the music that is used to demonstrate audio gear. It typically lacks any sort of emotional feel but certainly demonstrates accuracy. Hell, I want to hear Neil Young, A Man Needs a Maid from the Live at Massey Hall release or how about Icicle from Tori Amos' Under the Pink LP? Geez, play music that has some emotion. Another outstanding option would be Diana Krall, A Case of You from the, Live in Paris CD.
Hearing an audiophile quality recording can be a thrilling experience, but if the musical content is mediocre (or worse), it can become an empty experience. I keep my "Test LP’s and CD’s" (that’s all I think of them as---Sheffields, etc. But also Tea For The Tillerman, etc.) separated from my music. Hearing music that satisfies on an emotional level does not necessarily require it be of excellent sound quality. And unfortunately, much of my favorite music was recorded indifferently. If the quality of a recording is excellent, that’s a bonus, but the quality of the music has to be there first for it to matter to me. Life’s too short to waste on mediocrity!
Very well stated, bdp24. We love our ear candy and sometimes forget that ANY considerations or concerns re sound quality (barring the absurd, of course) either on the part of the artist, engineer or listener always take second place to musical considerations. The power of the music, if it is there, will always shine through, and the idea that less than perfect sound quality destroys the music is silly, imo. None of this is to say that a great goal should not always be great music with great sound, but it's easy to see what a tall order that is, everything considered. So, what is the audiophile/music lover to do? Ignore all the fantastic music out there that doesn't have audiophile sonic pedigree? Seems to me that trying to stay in a frame of mind that doesn't shut down the appreciation of the music because we are preoccupied with its sound is much more positive.
I had never heard of Vanessa Ferna(n)dez. I listened to "When The Levee Breaks" and, like the OP and others, I don't get it. Well, I do get it; and, it doesn't surprise me in the least. This kind of music product is pretty common. Pretty talented young singer who probably has some real potential, but is not there yet; and who (and the producer), imo, is not lacking confidence to think that she can do justice to songs that, in many ways, set standards for music of that period and genre. Pretty ballsy if you ask me. Unfortunately, she and the producers brought nothing new to the table and it all falls flat. Great sound can never make up for a ho-hum performance. I'm not prepared to say that profit is the motivator here; I just don't know. I do know that sometimes producers and record labels truly believe in an artist; but, like anything else, there are great producers and then there are the not so great or musically insightful.
These two recordings popped up on YouTube and are pretty indicative of all this. The producer's heavy and uninspired hand is all over Fernandez' cover of this Curtis Mayfield classic. Not bad, but check out how the classic Mayfield's time feel is so much better and in the pocket than the cover's. Killer drummer on the original; pretty average on the cover. The cover doesn't have any of the dark atmospheric vibe that is so appropriate for the content of the lyrics. They even copied the EXACT tempo of the original; that doesn't happen by accident. Wouldn't surprise me if the rhythm section was playing to a sampled click track. This sort of thing is done with projects like this pretty frequently and are just some of things that contribute to uninspired performances on record.
If the quality of a recording is excellent, that’s a bonus, but the quality of the music has to be there first for it to matter to me.
What dbp24 said.....
I went out and listened to a lot of stuff from VF on youTube. It sucked IMHO. The sound quality might be great (I don't know, I listened through my computer speakers), however the performances were less than inspiring. I didn't feel any emotion at all.
Feel free to not gush over Vanessa Fernandez. Maybe you're more of a music fan and less of an audiophile.
I liked the VF cover of that great Curtis Mayfield song. The label, Groove Note, is Ying Tan’s, and he has been around the audiophile record scene for a while- involved in Classic Records early on, and also responsible for Original Recordings Group releases. My impression is that Ying "discovered" VF in his native Singapore and gave her a shot. I do think she has some talent. The problem with a lot of "audiophile" records is that they emphasize sound quality over performances, which are often "safe" or middle of the road. Original Recordings Group (not to be confused with ORG Music, which has overlapping releases of some material) has delivered some audiophile classics in jazz and pop. I think the idea behind the Led Zep cover album was to let VF try to interpret LZ in a different way than the usual "cover band" with the additional bonus of some tricky mastering steps- feeding the cutter right from the tape without an additional EQ step at mastering. (Sorry, I don’t remember the details but my recollection was that it didn’t work as originally planned). Some of those Diana Krall records that are so popular come from the Original Recordings Group as well....
Bill, in the 1980's Ying Tan was a dealer of rare LP's in his little apartment a block off the famous corner of Hollywood & Vine, location of the Capitol Records circular building. I went over to his place a couple of times and bought from him. A nice guy who didn't over-charge "too" much. I seem to recall he had a Keith Monks RCM, a very expensive machine at the time. His apartment was stuffed to the gills with LP's!
Next thing I knew, he was an audiophile reissue label owner, along with Michael Hobson of Classic Records. I never heard what happened, but Hobson bought out Ying after only a few years. I haven't seen him since.
VF's here but I am gone conveys the most emotion and involvement IMHO in the 2 albums that I have heard. Maybe her most popular too demoed by many high end gear retailers. Very talented and well recorded but her song choices sometimes don't put her beautiful voice in the best light causing interest to be lost by listeners. Any who are not a fan now should check out her future work.
I like a few cuts particularly "Hard Times" and the Bill Withers cover "Use Me". I don’t think she’s exceptionally talented. But when I want to hear the shear sonic quality of my system, I will throw her stuff on.
As others have said, exceptionally well recorded and the musicians are top notch via Leland Sklar and Tim Pierce. I’m not sure who the drummer is which is funny because I am a drummer.
And yes, it is perfectly acceptable to not "gush" over her!
My original post was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I realize the aspect of this recording being a demo disc. It’s just that "we’ve seen this movie before". Right? I want something original. Don’t you? If I want to hear a great cover of "Use Me", I'll put on Mick Jagger's "Wandering Spirit", which is a very underrated lp!
Well we had it in 2014 (the exact same year as VF) by way of Blake Mills "Heigh Ho". No one reviewed it in my universe. It is a unique recording. It has great musicians. But overall it is an excellent recording that, for some reason....maybe because Blake wasn’t a female, covering previously released songs that were marketed to a specific audience! Hel-oow! Wake up people! By the way, Jim Keltner is the drummer here. This recording will actually require greater "end-user" system set-up than the VF.
There are more musicians out there if we try to find them!
Frankly, I’d rather hear the original. (Mick’s version is obviously out of great respect) and his decades of history. The VF version is out of necessity. (A BIG DIFFERENCE)! The seemingly necessity of the industry insiders to invent a "new" way to hear something that really cannot be improved upon is, IMO, a disservice to all!
I believe it is a way to sell product. The product is usually a re-invention of the past. (Look at VPI).
BTW, I don’t think Harry buys his lps, much like Michael Fremer... something to think about?
If I did not have to actually buy these expensive lps, and, having said this, there is no personal consequence, I would have little initiative to "bite the hands that feed me"? Right?
To bring up a sore subject... look at what I disclosed. That VPI has been, for years, selling their product, under false pretense. Their S2P distance is off by 2mm. Look at Bill Stevenson’s response on the VPI 3d, 2nd pivot thread....
I hope you all are like me, having faith in a certain manufacturer, (buying in to their, "made in America" speill and the press to provide us with a truthful perspective/review of a product. Well, it seems that for years, by the aforementioned thread, that VPI has deceived their customers and really makes no common sense for them to be (silent) anymore.
This, I’m sure, was noticed by the well respected reviewers such as Michael Fremer, but was not made public. Why? Well, I could elaborate, but I’d rather them tell their readers why on their own terms.
This hit at VPI seems very off topic and I'm not looking to start anything but just to respond and wrap it up...
Harry myself and my staff members BUY their own records. Most of the time we buy (for full price) at the local brick and mortar store, Vintage Vinyl, to support them and help keep record stores alive.
There are only so many ways to make a platter spin so yes, every turntable from every company is a re-invention of the past. The "Made in America" pride isn't a speill. We are proud to support our American workers and products.
Regarding the S2P concern, the argued tolerance would be +/- 1-2mm. However, after the feedback from forums (and viewers like you!) switched to a more precise custom built application/jig to ensure a tighter tolerance.
Also, @slaw you and everyone else are always welcome and invited to come over to the factory, meet the team, see our process, and even spin some records with us. Would love for all of us to get to know each-other better.
I have just finished playing the Vanessa Fernandez LP..When the Levee breaks. The covers are well played, but there is something missing. That something is the complete urgency and guttural scream that RP brings to these pieces, Instead, we have Vanessa Fernandez sounding like she wants to be a smooth laced chartreuse?? Which is ok, except the basic meaning of these pieces is now lost, IMO. Since I play a lot of these covers myself, I can appreciate the musicality behind the scenes, but surely a more piercing and powerful vocalist is needed. Even the production sounds a little canned to me...
Oddly, the LP is fun to listen to...so long as you don’t have high expectations and are simply listening for the basic recording quality....
Overall, I feel it is a good LP, but Vanessa Fernandez needs to be in a different place and a different studio doing other pieces...these don’t really work with her skill set, IMO.
Another pet peeve, why on earth are we treated to the cheapest inner sleeves on this LP...these cheap plastic sleeves scratch the vinyl before it is even played...pathetic at this price level. One has to immediately remove these inner sleeves and replace with a better product....failure to do so will severely impact the vinyl it is supposed to protect. The actual cover is nice, but the inner sleeves....please.