No Parlez was British blue-eyed soul singer Paul Young’s debut studio album, originally released in July 1983 through CBS records. The album was a massive success in the UK, staying in the top-100 charts for nearly two years. Young would go on to have 14 UK top-40 singles throughout his career, the first of which came from No Parlez: a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home).”

Young and producer Laurie Latham assembled a talented group of musicians (referred to affectionately as “The Royal Family”) to record No Parlez, including bassist and future star session player Pino Paladino, drummer Mark Pinder, guitarist Steve Bolton, keyboardist Ian Kewley, and backing vocalists Kim Lesley & Maz Roberts.

As part of belated celebrations surrounding the album’s 40th anniversary, Demon Music Group and have joined forces to bring fans a limited-edition Pure Audio Blu-Ray featuring new 5.1 surround sound & Dolby Atmos mixes from producer David Kosten. 

Fans may recall that Kosten previously helmed the 50th anniversary Dolby Atmos remix of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells (1973)–the tenth entry in SDE’s Surround Sound Series, released in June 2023–and served as co-producer on Steven Wilson’s last two records (2021’s The Future Bites and 2023’s The Harmony Codex)

Paul Young No Parlez SDE Blu-Ray Atmos

As with his work on Tubular Bells, Kosten’s Atmos mix remains faithful to the original production while also making full use of the additional space that the immersive format provides. All speakers in a 7.1.4 setup remain active throughout the proceedings, with the side, rear, and height channels constantly supplied with key instrumentation such as background vocals, synthesizers, and digital percussion. 

“Come Back and Stay” kicks off with the drums upfront, while percussion answers from the side speakers. The rhythm section remains mostly confined to the front channels, with Palladino’s bass reinforced in the center speaker. Paul Young’s vocals interestingly appear from the front ‘phantom’ center rather than isolated in the center speaker, but the difference is close to negligible from the sweet spot. Background vocal chants of “why don’t you come back?” from Lesley & Roberts are divided between the side surround and front height channels.

Synthesizers fill up the side surround and height speakers for “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” with Palladino’s bass again residing primarily in the center speaker. A lower-register harmony from Young appears in the rear during the chorus, along with some guitar during the breakdown at around the two-minute mark.

Young’s passionate lead vocals are the star of the show again for the third track, a soulful cover of Marvin Gaye’s classic “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home).” LinnDrum percussion fills up the side surrounds, with the massive ‘80s-era drum echo pushed up into the rear height speakers.

Funky rhythm guitars dance between the front and side channels for “Ku Ku Kurama,” while the various call-and-response vocal parts (“wake up,” “we are lovers of the world tonight,” etc) bounce all around the room to great effect. Interestingly, what sounds like a xylophone(?) pops out of the rear left height speaker from time-to-time.

The title track offers one of the most effective demonstrations of immersive audio on the album, as the layered backing vocals have been deconstructed and parsed all throughout the three-dimensional space. For example, I never really noticed the higher harmony (on “stick it to the hammer…”) that appears in the rear surrounds during the chorus.

Paul Young No Parlez SDE Blu-Ray Atmos

Background vocals rise from the side surrounds up into the height array for “Love Of The Common People,” while electronic percussion and synthesizers are spread out around the listener. There’s a particularly fun moment at around the two-minute mark where the brass solo appears mostly isolated in the left side speaker.

“Iron Out The Rough Spots” is another showcase for the layered background vocals, while Palladino’s bass again takes center stage for “Tender Trap” and the sultry closer “Sex.” In addition to the original 11 album tracks, the Blu-Ray also includes three bonus songs from the No Parlez sessions: the B-sides “Behind Your Smile” and “Yours,” as well as a cover version of Frederick Knight’s soul classic “I've Been Lonely For So Long.”

Overall, the new Dolby Atmos mix offers a fresh, exciting new perspective on this ‘80s classic while effectively retaining the original balances and feel. Despite all the layering and pyrotechnics, Young’s incredible vocals are never overshadowed. For fans of ‘80s pop and immersive audio, this Pure Audio Blu-Ray release isn’t one to miss!

Author picture
About the Author
Jonathan is an audio engineering enthusiast from New York with a passion for immersive audio, having amassed a formidable collection of multichannel optical discs and quadraphonic vinyl. He earned his undergraduate degree in Television-Radio from Ithaca College and Master's degree in Audio Technology from American University.