High Fidelity: Collectible hi-res releases hold value

By Todd Whitesel

CD collectors have discovered in the past few years that most out-of-print discs with any fan demand eventually get reissued. I remember when Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel’s Game, Dames And Guitar Thangs was released by Rhino Handmade in 2004. Like all Rhino Handmade offerings, this had a limited pressing and soon was out of print and selling for upward of $100. If you wanted a copy, you had to shell out.

Two years later, Collectors Choice reissued the album — minus Rhino’s four bonus cuts — and once more Game could be had for $15 or less. Such events make most compact discs collectible for a short time only, but that doesn’t hold true for high-resolution recordings. If you collect Mobile Fidelity discs, SACDs or DVD-Audio discs, there are dozens and dozens of discs that are OOP for good. They’re not coming back, and while you procrastinated, other collectors snapped them up. Here are 12 high-res releases that will likely remain collectible — and out-of-print — for the long haul.

Aerosmith — Rocks (SACD, Sony): For many SACD collectors and hard-rock fans, this is not just the best Aerosmith of all but the holy grail of high-res recordings. Unlike its predecessor, Toys In The Attic, whose SACD issue is easily found, Rocks has a mysterious SACD existence. Rumors floated around chat rooms for years about whether or not this album was actually released on SACD. It’s been verified, but there seem to be very few copies circulating. If you find one or have one, I’d love to hear from you. Value? Name your price.

The Rolling Stones —
Let It Bleed (SACD, ABCKO): Man, did I miss the boat with this and the other Stones’ albums reissued as SACDs. In 2002, a full 18 discs were unleashed, from 12 X 5 up to Metamorphosis. The complete set would be killer, but if I had to choose I’d probably opt for Beggars Banquet or Let It Bleed, which now goes for $80 and up for one still in the wrapper.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer — Brain Salad Surgery (DVD-Audio, Rhino): This recording blows away any others I’ve heard of BSS — amazing detail and clarity.  I was fortunate to find this, along with several other DVD-Audio discs, during a going-out-of-business sale for an ex-entertainment retailer. The high-res discs were placed way back in the store, like lost luggage. Expect to pay $50 for a used copy and at least twice that for still-sealed. It’s worth it, too.

Isaac Hayes — Hot Buttered Soul (SACD, Mo-Fi): Hayes’ brilliant solo debut was given the SACD treatment by Mobile Fidelity in 2003 and soon was out of print. If you want to get to Phoenix with this one, be prepared to drop a Benjamin.

Fleetwood Mac — Rumours (DVD-Audio, Warner Bros): That one of the top-selling albums of all time is highly sought-after in its high-res and surround pressing is no surprise. Would $100 break the bank or the chain?

Yes — Fragile (DVD-Audio, Elektra): Perhaps the most important progressive-rock release ever came to DVD-Audio in 2002. Whether you played “Roundabout” in surround (is that “SurRoundabout”?) or two-channel, the music’s dynamics and dimension shone through. Look to spend $75 for a used copy and twice that for unopened.

The Eagles — Hotel California (DVD-Audio, Elektra): A DVD-Audio suite in the Hotel California will set you back at least $100, but you’ve never heard prettier “Pretty Maids All In A Row” than on this superb mix. Gorgeous vocals and expansive sound.

Deep Purple — Machine Head (SACD, EMI): To my knowledge, this is the only Deep Purple studio album that’s been released as an SACD. Although Machine Head was also released on DVD-Audio, the consensus is that the SACD mix is superior, with better detail, dynamics and plenty of punch. The rumbling opening of “Highway Star” has never sounded better. You can get in the driver’s seat for around $80.

Sheryl Crow — Globe Sessions (SACD, A&M):
Sheryl Crow, collectible? She is on this 2004 SACD reissue, where fans are forking out $100 or more to hear Crow’s third album in 24-bit detail.

Miles Davis —
Bitches Brew (SACD, Sony/Japan): Ever the musical chameleon and explorer, Davis’ groundbreaking Bitches Brew remains one of his definitive recordings. It has rightfully been reissued in ever-expanding volumes to include every note of these sessions where jazz collided with rock to create music of the cosmos. For about $100, you can have the original two-disc set optimized for two-channel playback.

Nektar —
Remember The Future (SACD, Dream Nebula/Ecletic): This is on my short list of SACDs I would love to add to the collection. This amazing piece of prog was remastered for 5.1 surround from the original quad mixes, so you actually get 4.0 surround, but I can live with that. A used copy of my favorite Nektar album now goes for around $180. I guess for now, I’ll have to remember the vinyl!

David Elias — The Window (SACD, Sketti Sandwich): Elias is a folk-rock singer whose 2003 effort, The Window, became an unlikely darling among surround-sound aficionados and SACD enthusiasts. Good luck finding a new copy; used discs typically go for about $200.

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