Thursday, October 20, 2022

Review Blue Hawaii 45 RPM LP

In 1961 the soundtrack album for 'Blue Hawaii' entered the Billboard chart for a year-and-a-half run, remaining at No. 1 for 20 weeks, second best to 'G.I. Blues' as the biggest album of Elvis' career on the Billboard charts. It also yielded the No. 2 single destined to become an Elvis classic, 'Can't Help Falling in Love'. 

61 years later, the Mobile Fidelity record label released a Super Audio CD and a numbered Limited Edition double LP of the 'Blue Hawaii' soundtrack on 180 Gram and playing at 45RPM. 

What does this vinyl edition add to the SACD we just got? 



This new outing of the classic soundtrack comes in a sturdy gate-fold cover with almost all graphic elements of the original album art. Fans looking for little differences to the original, the RCA logo is missing on the front, but is present on the back. 


The inside of the gate-fold is almost as empty as an Hawaiian beach after all tourists are gone, only a few leaves of a palm tree are lost in the sand. Why not use the promotional text from the website or some details on the mastering and/ or equipment used? That would have fit in perfectly for an high-end release as this one as audio enthusiasts surely would enjoy reading about the magic the engineers and other technicians involved in this release did mixing an mastering this album.


The LP's, featuring a MoFi label and not a copy of the original RCA labels, are safely housed in thick plastic protective sleeves. I wish vinyl came standard with sleeves like this, the disc s are protected and they slide in and out of the gatefold jackets.



The content of the LP is the same as on the SACD release, see my >>> review of the SACD for that. 


The reason to consider to add this edition of Elvis' first Hawaiian soundtrack to your collection is of course the remastered audio and vinyl playing at 45 RPM. For the mastering of this CD Klaus Wunderlich, assisted by Rob Laverde, used DSD 256 transfers of the original analog master tapes. 

There has been some serious discussion and even controversy when record buyers discovered that Mobile Fidelity had switched from using original master tapes to DSD copies. 

In a response, MoFi President Jim Davis, stated: “Some record label tape vaults changed policy regarding shipment of mastertapes. At that point our only option for those recordings was to go to the mastertapes. Once we were able to access these masters, the dilemma was how can we best retrieve the information from the master? 

We experimented with making analog copies from the master. Various tape stocks (½**, 1**) and speeds (15ips, 30ips) were tried but rejected. There was no way to overcome the noise-floor disadvantages of copying from one analog tape to another. 

When we tried DSD, it was immediately clear this was a vastly superior method for maximizing information retrieval. Developed as an archival format, DSD is sonically transparent, with a very low noise floor. Combined with the painstaking transfer process … the capture is a virtual snapshot of the master, revealing detail and nuance at a level that conventional methods could not. Counterintuitively, this capture yields, in our evaluation, superior sonics compared to a cut that is direct from the analog tape to the lathe.


The process of achieving these captures at a remote studio location is expensive and time consuming. We ship our proprietary gear, including our Tim de Paravicini-modified Studer A80 tape machine, to the studio, rent studio time, and fly and lodge our engineer for several weeks at a time. The process of making a DSD capture using our techniques takes a day or more alone for each tape.


We did extensive evaluations of all aspects of the mastering process and found that using our proprietary gear with these steps yields the best sonic results. In the end it's up to each individual listener to make his or her own decision as to what sounds best. 


So what do we hear when we play these Hawaiian tunes? Assuming the label used the same source for both the SACD and 45 RPM vinyl releases, this is th eensame clear mix with good stereo separation. Playing the LPs and listening closely, I even thought I heard briefly the sound of a banging bracelet from one of the musicians on ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’, never noticed that before. And listen to the female voice backing and “answering” Elvis on ‘Moonlight Swim’, she sounds clear as glass. The harmonica on ‘Hawaiian Beach Boy’ cuts in very sharp! 


Listening to the discs closely, the vinyl does add a touch of warmth compared to the SACD edition, leaving in all the details you expect to hear in a high-end release like this.




Overall this is a quality release that will please Elvis fans and audio-enthusiasts. It won’t make ‘Ito Eats’ a better listening experience, but let’s be honest, what could? Summing it up, it’s a classic album that looks good in this gatefold cover, feels good holding the solid flat vinyl in your hand and sound good, as quality vinyl should! Having the choice between fun colored vinyl from Russia on the DOL label, black vinyl with a colored bonus single from the wrong picture as released in Europe (Glamourama Records) or solid black vinyl from the States, I know which one to select. 


Compared to the Super Audio CD by Mobile Fidelity, this outing of the soundtrack comes a bit closer to the original album, simply because it is on vinyl. And although you have to pay the price of nostalgia as you do keep flipping the disc every three songs, doing so made me more aware I was listening to music, not just putting on a CD or starting a playlist. That’s priceless!

For more information on the album and SACDs visit the >>> Mobile Fidelity website.