One of the best ways to review a CD is to compare it to the live experience, so that is what I am going to do. In January I experienced the equipment, the music, the hi-tech environment and the glitz of Las Vegas and CES 2002 and attended a CEA sponsored cocktail party at the Alexis Park Hotel. There was a buffet of delicious food, an open bar and lots of audio celebrities in attendance. But there was a special surprise, a live concert sponsored by the Chesky brothers.
It was pure bliss to see and hear The Persuasions sing many of the songs from their new album. It was not jazz, not blues or rock-n-roll. The Persuasions perform many of our old Beatles favorites and they sing them a cappella. What a treat to hear a concert where the only instrument is the human voice and even more fun to hear the music of the Beatles interpreted for this unique instrument. Only four voices: one sings the bass line, one the highs, one the mid range and the fourth sings lead. Sometimes they sing the melody line, other times they sing in counterpoint and many times their voices blended together in perfect harmony. No matter what technique they employed, The Persuasions filled the room with music. The experience was so total that other instruments of the musical persuasion were not needed.
For the last song, Jerry Lawson (the lead singer) invited people from the audience up onto the stage but no one moved. Suddenly there was a rustling from the back of the room and Lew Johnson (of Conrad Johnson) came strutting up to the stage, he shared a microphone with Ray Sanders. Others were soon to follow, "and there was joy for every girl and boy, sing Ob La Di, Ob La Da".
After the concert was over, I was one of the first people on line to purchase a CD and get it signed by the members of the group. I couldn't wait to tour the rooms of the Alexis Park Hotel with the The Persuasions Sing The Beatles as one of my demo CDs. I listened to smaller, less-expensive systems like the Splendor S Series with Talk Electronics -Thunder CD, Cyclone integrated amplifier; mid-priced systems like Joseph Audio RM33Si's with Theta Citadel amplifiers, Theta Voyager CD Player and Gen 8 D to A converter; and high-end systems like the Piega of Switzerland C40 Speakers with Aloia Inductive ST15.01 amplifier, Aloia Inductive CD player and pre-amplifier. It didn't matter what system played this CD, the sound remained uncolored, the voice was natural and the sound stage was accurate.
Just for giggles and for this review, I decided to audition this CD on a different kind of equipment, a brand new Zenith DA3520 5.0 surround sound DVD/CD/MP3 Player with a totally digital chain from player to built-in amplifier (30watts per channel) to 5.1 speaker system (included). The sound remained true; the Zenith player amazingly uncolored with sweet mid-range, tight bass and smooth highs. I was not sure if the quality sound was due to Zenith engineering or Chesky talent, so I listened to several other CD's. A Peter Gabriel recording sounded hard and metallic; Eric Clapton's 461 Ocean Boulevard on Polydor Records in DTS 5.1 sounded clean and transparent but the voice was equalized beyond recognition. The stereo version of 461 Ocean Boulevard lost dimension and detail but held on to the transparency. I concluded that it does not matter what kind of system you play this CD on: hi-end, analogue or pure digital, the sound remains accurate and true to the live experience.
Quality begins at the recording level and this excellent sounding CD was recorded live at St. Peter's Church in Manhattan. The members of the group stood on stage in a semi-circle and David Chesky recorded them with a single microphone. There were no separate microphones or monitors, no mixing or over-dubbing just a simple, state-of-the-art recording of an a cappella icon, just as they sang 40 years ago on the streets of Brooklyn, New York.
So if you are feeling sad, bad or stressed and you love the Beatles; pop this CD into your transport or digital player and I guaranty that your headache will vanish, your stress will disappear and your spirits will be lifted.
Sound Quality: 95