Can anybody doubt that Audio Fidelity knows its audience? The audiophile label is taking niche marketing to another level with the introduction of its new line of reissues. To the average consumer, a “Target CD” might be one purchased at that retail giant. To certain collectors, though, the words “Target CD” have a different meaning altogether.
In the infancy of the compact disc, target CDs were pressings released by WEA (Warner-Elektra-Atlantic) in the early-to-mid 1980s. Most were manufactured in either West Germany or Japan for distribution in the U.S. before pressing plants here had converted to CD manufacture, though some of the discs were indeed pressed in the U.S. and even in France. Target CDs are so called for their label design, which resembles crosshairs or, well, a target. Many of these labels, though not all, were painted, for a smooth feel and unique look. Moreover, some collectors of target CDs prefer the sound on these discs, a result of many being derived from “flat transfers” of the LP masters and not subject to later remastering techniques.
It’s with that in mind that Audio Fidelity is introducing its new Target Series. According to the label’s copy, “the series will feature popular recordings on vinyl and CD that will carry the rich tradition of the original early 1980's CDs that have become known as the Target CDs. The Target CDs are synonymous with unique design and rich sound.” Audio Fidelity is promising to deliver on both counts, with the design updated from the original target style, and the sound handled by mastering engineers Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray. (The acclaimed if sometimes controversial Hoffman runs the popular Steve Hoffman Music Forums, where many of the target collectors regularly offer their findings as to the discs’ sonics in comparison to later reissues.)
The first two titles in Audio Fidelity’s Target series have been confirmed as Riot's Fire Down Under and 10,000 Maniacs’ Our Time in Eden. Both titles will be available on the Target Vinyl Series. Hit the jump for more details including complete track listings!
To differentiate these titles from Audio Fidelity’s 24k Gold Compact Disc series, The Target Series will be made available at a lower price range of $14.99 to $22.99. In addition, the new series will not be numbered or pressed in limited quantities like the gold disc. Audio Fidelity states its hopes that the new line “will nonetheless be valued as collectible because of the distinctive design, high quality mastering and superior sound. “
Kevin Gray has handled the mastering chores for both initial releases. Riot’s Fire Down Under is generally considered the finest effort from the New York heavy metal band. The 1981 album captured the line-up of Mark Reale (guitar/vocals), Guy Speranza (guitar), Rick Ventura (guitar) Kip Leming (bass) and Sandy Slavin (drums) at their peak. It introduced Reale and Speranza’s “Swords and Tequila,” likely the hard rockers’ best-known song.
10,000 Maniacs’ 1992 LP Our Time in Eden was the group’s final studio album before lead singer Natalie Merchant departed to embark on her solo career. (One more album with Merchant was yet to arrive: the 1993 MTV Unplugged concert recording, with the band’s take on the Patti Smith/Bruce Springsteen song “Because the Night.”) Though the album only produced a couple of modest hits (“These are Days” and “Candy Everybody Wants”) Our Time in Eden nonetheless offers thirteen tracks of the band’s well-honed folk/pop blend.
Both titles originally appeared on the Elektra label and have been licensed through Warner Music Group, which is appropriate as WEA originally devised the target design. Release dates haven’t been confirmed for Fire Down Under and Our Time in Eden, but more information will soon be available at Audio Fidelity’s official website.
Riot, Fire Down Under: Target Edition (Elektra 5E-546, 1981 – reissued Audio Fidelity, 2011)
- Swords and Tequila
- Fire Down Under
- Feel the Same
- Don’t Bring Me Down
- Don’t Hold Back
- Altar of the King
- No Lies
- Run For Your Life
10,000 Maniacs, Our Time in Eden: Target Edition (Elektra CD 61385, 1992 – reissued Audio Fidelity, 2011)
- Noah’s Dove
- These are Days
- Few and Far Between
- Stockton Gala Days
- Gold Rush Brides
- How You’ve Grown
- Candy Everybody Wants
- Circle Dream
- If You Intend
- I’m Not the Man