If you've ever found that a particular 78 rpm-era recording sounds good on one CD but scratchy on another, it has to do with the remastering -- or lack thereof. With proper digital remastering, a pre-1950 recording can lose a lot of its scratchiness. But if the remastering is lousy, the scratchiness will remain. Robert Parker, an Australian sound engineer, is an expert at cleaning up 78 rpm-era recordings and greatly reducing the amount of noise. Parker has handled the remastering for Nimbus' Classic Years in Digital Stereo series, which is the focus of this compilation. Describing the 78 rpm-era jazz and pop recordings on this CD (which spans 1931-1949) as "digital stereo" is misleading -- these are still mono recordings, and the best remastering in the world won't make them sound like they were recorded in 2001. But thanks to Parker's magic touch, they sound a lot cleaner and sharper than they would without proper remastering. The "stereo" that Parker provides is simulated stereo, not real stereo -- however you describe it, he makes a lot of classics sound great on CD. You can't help but applaud Parker's remastering on definitive classics by Louis Armstrong ("When the Saints Go Marching In"), Billie Holiday ("Fine and Mellow"), Bing Crosby ("White Christmas"), Duke Ellington ("It Don't Mean a Thing"), and Glenn Miller ("Moonlight Serenade"). Parker also cleans up some 1940s novelty items by the wacky Spike Jones, who was arguably the Dr. Demento of his day. From jazz to pre-rock pop, this CD reminds that recordings from the 1930s and 1940s don't have to be excessively noisy and scratchy.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson