Ted Jensen’s mastering on the CD release of Summer in the City, Joe Jackson’s live album from 2000, has long been a sonic favorite of mine. But Kevin Gray’s remaster from high-res digital archives for the recording’s first release on vinyl brings out details that put you at a table close to the bandstand. In the initial moments, the audience applauds as Jackson, bassist Graham Maby, and drummer Gary Burke take the stage in a small club—and you are in the midst of the crowd.
Jackson’s piano sounds larger and more three-dimensional on this pressing, as well as more harmonically layered. The chords on the set-opening “Summer in the City” ring out with more force and the notes sustain longer, creating a more complex and realistic sound than the CD. It’s easier to hear Jackson’s technique on the piano—check the use of dynamics during his take on Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo”—while the clarity of the 88s throughout speak to his performance skills.
The deeper soundstage brings Jackson’s voice out further, exposing additional textures. By 2000, his singing had matured and gotten more fluid in comparison to his early years. In the context of the trio, it’s enjoyable to hear how talented a vocalist he’d become.
Maby and Burke also benefit from Gray’s remaster. The former’s bass sounds very good on the CD, but the high notes have more snap here. The lows also reach deeper and hit harder. Burke’s drums come out of what seems like a slight haze on the CD to sound more impactful and nuanced on vinyl. His cross-sticking on “The In Crowd” rings out more sharply, and his kick drum has more low-end presence without being overpowering.
Intervention Records’ two-LP set is cut at 33RPM. The relatively short running time for each side, 17 minutes or less, results in a vivid, powerful presentation.
*VinylReviews.com is owned and operated by Intervention Records’ Founder Shane Buettner.
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