More DVD-Audio On Tap

Although it announced support for SACD in early September, the world's third-largest record label, EMI Music Distribution, says it is also gearing up for a full slate of DVD-Audio titles. While the company has numerous new releases available, these will be the first to come from its back catalog.

EMI reports that the first three titles in the series, culled from various labels, are slated for release in December and include Al Green's Greatest Hits, Leon Russell's Retrospective, and Eric Johnson's Ah Via Musicom. In the months that follow, the label says, other key catalog titles will also be released in the DVD-A format.

Reaction to the announcement comes from Matsushita's Sakon Nagasaki, who comments that the company's subsidiary, Panasonic, "is delighted that EMI, a global music innovator, has decided to release titles which will create growing momentum toward the creation of an entirely new DVD-Audio industry." EMI's Jay Samit adds, "The superior sound quality of DVD-Audio gives music fans an outstanding music experience. Panasonic's technical leadership has greatly aided EMI in bringing these new titles to the market."

Also announcing new DVD-Audio titles last week, Universal Music Group says it has embarked on a project to recover and restore Bob Marley's recorded legacy for subsequent release in the DVD-A format.

Universal says that to date, numerous multi-track live recordings made between 1973 and 1978 have been rescued from the company's vaults in London. Universal's Jeff Glixman comments that with several of the tapes, there was only one chance to make the transfer from the original analog format to high-resolution digital. "These tapes were in various degrees of decay, and we wanted to pass the oxide over the heads as little as possible," he said.

"It is my understanding that Universal plans to turn these recordings into releases over the next year," Glixman added. "We are also re-mastering and releasing other classic Marley albums; there are plans for up to 15 Marley releases over the next year. Video footage of these concerts also exists, so there will likely be DVD-Audio discs as well as regular CDs." Artist manager Stephen Smith, who initially contacted the Marley estate about the project, points out, "Obviously there are thousands of multi-track masters out there that are in danger of being lost. With the tremendous potential for release of product in new high-resolution formats, such as DVD-A in 5.1 surround, it's time the recording industry wakes up and begins digitally archiving before they have vaults filled with dust."