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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Folk > Pop > Political > Graham Nash Ė Songs For Beginners (1971/Rhino CD + DVD-Audio Set)

Graham Nash Ė Songs For Beginners (1971/Rhino CD + DVD-Audio Set)


Stereo: B+†††† Dolby Digital: B†††† DTS 5.1: A-†††† MLP: A-†††† Extras: C+††† Music: B+



A few years ago we had the pleasure of reviewing Graham Nashís Songs for Survivorís which always seemed like the complimentary piece to his debut album Songs for Beginners, which has recently been released as a CD/DVD-Audio combo set.Check out the review for Songs for Survivors here:





It only seems natural for his debut album to follow with great results that Survivors did with the DVD-Audio treatment.Although, in the recent years since that title was issued much has changed in the world of high-resolution music.For one, we are seeing less and less on the DVD-Audio format and more SACDís issued, but even those are starting to dwindle and it appears will never be a mainstream format. Having this particular album issued this way will make everyone happy as it contains the basic CD as well and then the beefed up DVD-Audio for home theater enthusiasts and audiophiles.


In comparing Beginners with Survivors you can hear a quick distinction between the two.The most obvious thing is that with Beginners we hear a youthful Nash who is pouring out his heart in a post-CSN (& sometimes Y) sort of way.He is finding himself as a solo artist and defining his sound on his own.That same sound is also heard on Survivors, but itís a more matured sound, more polished, and reflective, while Beginners was dealing with the moment.I suppose itís fair to say that Beginners was raw, hopeful, emotional, and direct.Of course those who know the history of this album can easily see why as he was dealing with the split from Joni Mitchell, plus leaving a successful time with Crosby and Stills, plus our country at the time was on the tail end of a bizarre war.


For DVD-Audio purposes the performance is quite stunning considering its age and quite dynamic too.I was immediately impressed with how the soundstage (in particular with the 5.1 mixes) never felt too thin or spread out, which is a common problem when re-translating material from a 2.0 source into a 5.1 mix.Here though we get a great balance and while the majority of the mix is front-heavy, it still has nicely placed surround and ambiance.Itís incredible to think that an album completed in 1971 could have the sonic abilities even as it rapidly approaches the 40-year mark.


The album was a hit during itís time and is perhaps a great album worth rediscovery and what better way than this particular release, which will give those who are very familiar with the album a new fresh perspective with the remixes and high-resolution sound.†††††††


Track Listing


Military Madness

Better Days

Wounded Bird

I Used To Be A King

Be Yourself

Simple Man

Man In The Mirror

Thereís Only One

Sleep Song


We Can Change The World



One of the better tracks on the album is the opener Military Madness, which is an obvious politically-charged song that reminds me of John Lennonís Mind Games, which also opened that album.The clanky guitar riffing over the funky piano sound are staples here. The vocals appear to come from a very large front soundstage and the melody of the song is constantly changing shape within the mix giving it a freshness and lasting life.Chicago was another hit from the album (Nashís only Top 40 solo hit to date) too and also has a fresh sound here with a bit more richness to it.The more acoustical songs also present themselves well, especially in the high-resolution format with far more detail being heard and the album sounds more life-like and live, itís almost like you can hear and feel the sound from a real guitar within your room, rather than just a recording of one.This is the real distinction that CD was never quite able to deliver without super-high-end equipment to do so, but even then was limited with its compression.


Overall the MLP 5.1 (48k/24bit Meridian Lossless Packing format) is perhaps my favorite, although the DTS 5.1 mix feels a bit deeper in the lower end, it doesnít quite have the fidelity, so I tend to lean towards more fidelity in the mix.The weakest mix on the DVD-Audio is the Dolby Digital mixes, which just seem flat by comparison and do not even sound nearly as engaging as the CDís PCM 2.0 sound, which has also been remastered with a new stereo mix.There is also a photo gallery and new interview with Graham Nash included.


In the end we get a great update on a classic album and this CD/DVD-Audio combo with hopefully excite a new generation of listeners and also please those who grew up with it.I see no reason why it wouldnít or couldnít accomplish both, Rhino got things right with this release for sure!



-†† Nate Goss


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