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Japanese CD of the Day / The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers

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This is a brand new Japanese release (UICY-75886) of The Rolling Stones classic 1971 album Sticky Fingers.  The album comes packaged in true mini-LP CD form, replicating in precise detail the original vinyl, including a jeans with working zipper and belt buckle, which when unfastened, reveal well-filled underpants beneath.

The sheet insert from the original release is identical (except smaller..) as is the rear cover which featured the debut of what is now basically The ‘Stones corporate logo – the ‘tongue & lips’.

Cute though it is, we’ve had vinyl replicas of this album before, of course. Way back in 1994 Virgin had a similar release where the vinyl replica slotted into a hard plastic slipcase. These ‘Collector’s Editions’ (many albums were issued this way) were rather smart, but were something of a halfway house. For example Sticky Fingers had the working zipper, but it was not really totally accurate. For a start, the cover folded open, you could see clearly the full ‘underpants’ shot. That isn’t right. It’s supposed to be difficult to peak in – that’s part of the fun. Also, while the Virgin reissue maintained the photograph of the band – with Jagger 16 years ahead of Neil Tennant with ‘the yawn shot’ – they changed the design of the sheet which has the track listing and the big ‘tongue & lips’ on it. That’s against vinyl replica ‘rules’. Also these two bits of artwork formed an inner sleeve on the Virgin, which was also not accurate (the original had a plain inner sleeve with a separate sheet included.

Anyway… amazing though this new Japanese packaging is, it’s pleasing to say that you would want to buy this for the SOUND of the album even if the presentation was rubbish. Put simply, this is a truly stunning version of Sticky Fingers.

This new ‘mastering’ (transfer might be a better way of putting it) was used on the non-hybrid Japanese SHM-SACD in 2011, but this is its debut on a CD that is compatible with all players. It’s also significantly cheaper than the SHM-SACD. Here’s the science bit –  this is how this CD was created (taken from the booklet):

  • • DSD flat transferred from UK original analogue master tapes by Mick McKenna and Richard Whittaker at FX Copyroom, London in 2011
  • • Edited in DSD by Masaru Takagi at Sunrise Studio, Tokyo in 2011
  • • 176.4 Khz/24 bit transferred from DSD by Yumetoki Suzuki at Universal Music Studios, Tokyo in 2013
  • • HR (High-Resolution cutting from 176.4 Khz/24 bit at Victor Creative Media in 2013

Just to confuse things further, these releases come in two forms. The version here, and a slightly more expensive “Platinum” edition in which platinum is used in place of the aluminium to form the reflective coating. The Platinum discs are fully compatible with standard CD players but will not play on CD players that can’t play CD-R discs. The platinum disc has the same mini-LP presentation but that sits inside a presentation case.

We’re as sceptical as everyone else about SHM or Blu-spec CD2 or whatever the latest ‘improvement’ is to encourage us to buy the same album yet again, but the proof is in the  Sticky Fingers pudding. This is a phenomenal listen even in ‘non platinum’ form.  VERY analogue sound, warm, natural, lots of clarity and separation, but smooth with it. Quite a low volume level (lower than the ’94 Virgin reissues) but distinctly better than the Virgin, or any other CD version we’ve heard. What they appear to have done is concentrate on the very best flat transfer that can be created, rather than ‘lets-try-and-make-it-sound-better’.

Highly recommended, if you can track one down.

Places to buy:  Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, CDJapan

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“Sticky Fingers” 2013 SHM-CD (click to enlarge)

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Rear of sleeve, Jagger yawning in photo (click to enlarge)

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13 responses to Japanese CD of the Day / The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers

  1. Deckard says:

    I received this yesterday (together with Some Girls) and I couldn’t agree more. These Japanese reissues are truly something remarkable. This version of Sticky Fingers is really the best digital version out there, platinum or not, both sound excellent. Some other albums were also released in the same fashion e.g. Exile On Main St, Some Girls…

    A lot of other classic albums by other artists are getting the same treatment. I received Blind Faith and Derek & the Dominos last week and they both sound excellent too. The Blind Faith one even beats the MFSL reissue by miles imo. Both are also flat transfers of the original master tapes.

    Coming end of this month and end of next month are the 3 first albums by Cream. Disraeli Gears (Mono+Stereo), Wheels Of Fire and Fresh Cream. Fresh Cream will be releaesd in Mono+Stereo. The first time the Mono version will be released digitally! Again, all flat transfers.

    One can really ask if these flat transfers of the master tapes sound so very good, why would anyone want to do the extra werk of remastering those albums?

    Gotta love the Japanese and their sense for detail and quality.

  2. fisonic says:

    > the very best flat transfer that can be created,
    > rather than ‘lets-try-and-make-it-sound-better’

    That’s the only sensible thing to treat classic album reissues, imo.

    However, this could be done on a plain standard format CD as well. The whole SHM-or-whatever thing is mainly a poor marketing hoax. It’s the like old misuse of SPARS code reloaded.

  3. bob touwell says:

    Record companies in general are not really interested in sounds, but just in selling. The loudness war that kills almost every CD issue these days, is their toy. Mastering for mp3 and GBP 3,95 headphones has become the standard. Luckily there is this beautiful country Japan, where things are being taken more seriously. However this replica SF release saw the light of day already as an SHM-CD in a Japanese box called: RS in the studio; greatest albums from the 70’s to ‘oo’. Same sleeve, same obi, same inner. only the mastering is pre-2011. box number UICY-91558/71, issued in 2010 as a numbered limited edtion of 5000.

  4. LedMan says:

    I have the Virgin 1994 Collector’s Edition which Paul mentions above and also the SHM-SACD. Now i’m curious if this edition is considered a upgrade compared to both of those? If so then hopefully the same transfer will be used and released as a blu ray (audio only) in the near future.

  5. Joeri Buhrer Tavanier says:

    I cannot get hold of this particular version though would love to. I do find SF with serial number UICY-94571 for sale. Would you know if that version contains the same mastering?

    Thank you!

    • Jochen Mosthaf says:

      UICY-94571 is the CD from the box Bob Touwell mentions above: same everything, but different mastering.

  6. Joeri Buhrer Tavanier says:

    Oh, and yet another is UICY 76136. While not a mini lp if that has the same mastering that would be cool too!

    • Jochen Mosthaf says:

      I haven’t got Sticky Fingers, but i’ve got Black and Blue from the same series (UICY 76140).
      On the insert it says: “Mastered by Stephen Whitmore at Marcussen
      Mastering, Hollywood, CA.”

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  10. Will Cullen says:

    I’m hoping someone can shed some light on this (Paul?). I’ve been looking online for an SACD version such as the ones you’ve mentioned here. I’ve found some, one being released just in November of 2014 at CDJapan. I notice you mention ones released in 2011 and 2013 so I guess it’s not the same release but maybe as good? It is the SHM SACD version with catalogue number UIGY-9579. It sells at the website for about $40 CDN. Maybe this is a better alternative than the new reissue at least as far as audio goes. Can you confirm or deny or possibly something in between??

  11. Jochen Mosthaf says:

    UIGY-9579 appears to be a priced down 2014 SACD reissue of the SHM-SACD UIGY-9066, released in 2011, which means the mastering is not the same as for the 2013 SHM Sticky Fingers UICY-75886. The 2011 version came in a cardboard (not mini replica) sleeve, and the reissue comes in a jewel case.

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