Monday, October 16, 2023

Review - Rock and Roll No. 1 - From Mono To Stereo

For this review we take a closer look - and listen 
- at the second Mono II Stereo CD release of Elvis early recordings as featured on the CD ‘Rock and Roll No. 1’

The new audio masters were created by Anthony Stuchbury from the United Kingdom, released by the RDM Edition record label from France and reviewed on-line and on paper by Rogier van Luyken and Kees Mouwen from the Netherlands.


This CD comes with a very attractive and authentic looking design by David Parker, who also wrote the insightful liner notes. It has the right 1956 Elvis feel and nods to Elvis’ debut album and past French releases for the connoisseurs. The disc itself has a “vinyl look”, adding to the 1956 look and feel.


Halfway into the 1950’s record companies wanted to make mono recordings sound like stereo when the first high-end home audio equipment became available. The engineers came up with Electronically Reprocessed Stereo, a technical gimmick that worked well for marketing, but the sound-quality of this first “Mono II Stereo” technique often sounded dramatically bad.

But the times they are a changing, and now we have entered the digital age, there are better techniques available which offer new possibilities for audio-engineers. Digital Extracted Stereo (DES) and A.I. are techniques that delivered some interesting results. The first stereo releases using this technology a few years back were “just” a first step - or should we say gimmick  as the end results still had audible flaws.

But the technique has evolved, and the U.K. based Memphis Recording Service label in particular, has embraced this technique, releasing some very interesting results
Now, in October 2023, Anthony Stuchbury takes 'DES' and A.I. to the next level by adding additional techniques to the process.

There is not very much information available on Anthony Stuchbury, but over the past 10 years he has contributed to various releases on the Memphis Recording Service (not the recent stereo concert releases) and pretty much all of the Memphis Mansion vinyl and CD releases. 

What we do know is that he delivered a top notch product with the ‘From Elvis at Sun’ CD, so how does the first release with RCA masters sound? 

This second Mono II Stereo CD album was clearly inspired by our hero's 1956 debut album. It brings us a new stereo presentation based on the original tracklisting of the U.S. LP, supplemented with the tracks that only appeared on the U.K.version of the album , as released by the His Master’s Voice label. The tracklisting is completed with Elvis’ breakthrough single 'Heartbreak Hotel', coupled with 'I Was The One'. 

Since some Sun recordings were part of Elvis’ first LP, it is inevitable that there is a little overlap with the previous ‘From Elvis at SUN’ release. The latter tracks were tweaked lightly to create a coherent and constant sound balance for this new album.

Starting this stereo-experiment with the holy grail of Elvis recordings, the SUN recordings and Elvis’ debut album, Anthony’s choice of material can only called daring, some may even consider it sacrilege. On the other hand, this material, with a simple set-up in the studio using just a handful of musicians, works best for this new digital technology.

e 1956 recordings are a real pleasure to hear. To us the real highlights on this disc are 'Blue Suede Shoes' which has never sounded so beautiful clean and fresh to our ears'I Got A Woman' is a real treat, it brought goosebumps to our armswhat a dynamic performance! It really rocks a lot more now.

Also wonderful to listen to is the piano solo in 'One Sided Love Affair', where Elvis' voice also comes through very well, offering the listener various new nuances. On 'Shake, Rattle and Roll' it seems as if Scotty and Bill - who form the background choir - are standing with you in your living room! And listen to ‘Just Because’, it never sounded better!

In addition, listening to these new Stereo Masters, several details emerged that weren’t this audible when listening to the original mono recordings. For example, there is a lot of dynamic in Elvis' voice, you really hear more of it - certain nuances - than on the original recordings. And when you listen closely to 'I Was the One' you hear what may sound like a little dropout at 00:13 into the song, but is it? No, it is D.J. Fontana missing a beat with his brushes on Elvis singing the word “kissDetails like this are not noticeable on the Mono Masters because everything else masks it.

The beauty of this release is not the stereo separation itself, but creating a real stereo picture, opening up the original mixed-down recording, while keeping the songs together as a whole and making it sound as authentic as the originals. It (almost) sounds like you’re right there in the recording studio with Elvis. Listening to Elvis’ early classics, that is both a great joy and achievement. Besides knowing how to use some DES-techniques, this requires craftsmanship, the right tools and good ears. Anthony Stuchbury has managed to distinguish himself and take the creation of new Stereo masters to the next level. Up to now he has held back exactly how he manages to create these results. 

We advise you to listen to this CD over a real sound system with speakers to enjoy this music as a whole, instead of focusing on the stereo separation using headphones, that is not the goal of this CD.


The question of whether Elvis' mono fifties classic recordings should be re-released in newly created stereo versions is hotly debated among hard-core collectors. In a recent interview with the Elvis Information Network Stuchbury commented:
Piers Beagley: So what to you defines a good quality “stereo” version of a mono recording? 

Anthony Stuchbury: That’s something I can’t answer, I just use my ears and rely on what sounds good to me, it’s basically what I like. It’s all subjective anyway when it comes to audio, some people don’t even like or enjoy Elvis, believe it or not.

Piers Beagley: “Do we really need stereo versions of these mono classics? I know a lot of people would consider it sacrilege”.

Anthony Stuchbury: “Do we really need the mono classics? We don't really need anything, it's our own personal choice, but I get the point entirely, each to their own. Polite and constructive criticism is always welcome”.

Read the complete interview on the >>> Elvis Information Network website.

You have to consider that Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys were not playing mono nor were they recorded via one microphone. It was Sam who took the three or four microphone feeds and mixed them down to mono. The same goes for the RCA recordings, so the genuine sound of Rock 'n' Roll being played in the studio was stereo.


This new release comes highly recommended; Anthony Stuchbury really surprised us with the newly created stereo sound on these RCA and SUN recordings.
With that in mind we’re already looking forward to a third release from Mr. Stuchbury.

The CD is available from the >>> RDM-Edition webshop.
The CD is available from the >>> Rock Art Webshop.
The CD is available from the >>> Bennies Fifties webshop.

And expanded edition of this review, including the 'From Elvis at SUN' CD is featured in the October edition of the >>> It's Elvis Time magazine.

Note: as I played a small role in connecting Anthony Stuchbury to the RDM-Edition record label, I asked Rogier van Luyken to team up for an unbiased review. 

Click on the paid linkto get the CD.