Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Feb 10, 2018  |  42 comments
Beginning in the late ‘70s, continuing throughout the 1980s and once in 1994 Wilson Audio Specialties founder Dave Wilson released a series of records that he co-produced with wife Sheryl Lee, many of which he also engineered. They were minimally miked—often a spaced pair of Schoeps was all—and mastered by an all-star lineup of disc cutters including Bruce Leek (who also shared engineering credit on some), Stan Ricker and Doug Sax (Google if any of the names are unfamiliar). The tape machine for all but the very early organ record Recital (Wilson W-278) was an Ultramaster™ by John Curl, a highly modified Studer 1/2" deck running at 30 IPS.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 06, 2018  |  15 comments
If you are too young to remember but want to experience the turmoil and dread that marked the end of the tumultuous 1960's and you want to view it through west coast music that veers from bucolic to anarchistic, from sublime to self-indulgent with a force and power rarely heard in today's noodling rock, here it is.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 29, 2018  |  14 comments
Howard Stern is probably today's best interviewer still standing now that Charlie Rose is sidelined, though his recent Robert Plant sit-down was among his least effective. Stern was so looking forward to having Plant in the studio that he sort of forgot why Plant agreed to visit in the first place. Plus his usually crack research team dropped the ball.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 26, 2018  |  2 comments
Novelist Douglas Kennedy described himself as a "jazz junkie" in a 2016 New York Times profile. After reading it, Newvelle Records co-founder Elan Mehler got in touch. Kennedy quickly responded.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 25, 2018  |  2 comments
The cover art for British jazz vocalist and trumpeter Peter Horsfall's recently released LP makes clear the music's moody, lonely-at-night feel. There's always hope though, embodied in his cover of pianist Barry Harris's "Paradise", which you can listen to below, transcribed via the new Technics SL-1000R turntable fitted with an Ortofon A95.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 04, 2018  |  13 comments
Silly me! I thought all Hans Zimmer lifted for The Gladiator soundtrack were bits and pieces of Holst's "The Planets". Everyone does that so no offense, but after playing this reissue I heard from where came the best parts of The Gladiator soundtrack. Surely this was on the CD player when Zimmer created his track. Don't get me wrong, it's still a masterful soundtrack and filled with sonic and musical jolts, but here's from where it originated.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 03, 2018  |  0 comments
Step away from your predictable audiophile fare and consider this double 45rpm LP set from the U.K.'s Gearbox Records of artists you've mostly never heard of playing music you've probably never heard either.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 03, 2018  |  22 comments
Before getting to the audiofool controversy surrounding the release of a 3M digital recording on expensive vinyl, there's the music. You're smacked in the face on the side openers "I.G.Y." and "New Frontier" (on the original single LP) by the exuberance and sunlit optimism of the "certain fantasies" entertained by "a young man growing up in the remote suburbs" back when science was venerated and not denigrated as it is today in certain circles as a "liberal plot".

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 01, 2018  |  4 comments
During the great folk music revival of the 1960s how many buyers of Peter, Paul & Mary's stunning debut album knew who was the Reverend Gary Davis, writer of the apocalyptic side 2 opener "If I Had My Way"? Probably very few. In those days you'd have to visit the local library to find out who he was, assuming you paid attention to label credits in the first place.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 28, 2017  |  10 comments
What always felt like it would be a nasty bump in the Dylan Bootleg Series road turns out to be a smooth walk on the water thanks to a concept the Dylan boot team perfectly executes by covering the mutable artist's evangelical period with highly charged live performances, outtakes and rehearsals that will turn you into a believer, if not in Christ, then in Dylan's absolute commitment to what he then preached and in the power of the songs and especially the supercharged performances he delivered.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 15, 2017  |  8 comments
You don’t have to be a Blue Note fetishist to know that pianist Sonny Clark made at least one great and enduring album, the 1958 hard bop classic “Cool Struttin’, though the cult of Cool Struttin’ has driven up the price of original pressings to the $4000 range and higher.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 26, 2017  |  10 comments
Don Was, community organizer. Who would have thought? There's long been a Blue Note "community" but it's a loose knit, worldwide group of like-minded label enthusiasts that have kept the Blue Note flame glowing. The fans remained true even as the company changed hands, lost artistic focus, engaged in self-exploitation and occasionally tried to re-invent itself into something it was not.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 26, 2017  |  7 comments
After the messy "supergroup" hype surrounding Blind Faith—more a one-off money maker than a group formed to last—Eric Clapton decided to downplay his fame and so was born in 1970 Derek and the Dominoes and the Layla... double LP that initially flopped. Many people today forget that, but flop it did. It didn't help that it was a costly double LP by an "unknown" group.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 22, 2017  |  0 comments
BS&T fans fall into 4 camps: the 1st which prefers the Al Kooper led original group and the album Child is Father to the Man, the 2nd that prefers only the second eponymously titled album, which was the group's most popular, the 3rd camp that loves the first two albums and the 4th camp that loves all of the group's albums. This box is definitely for them.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 04, 2017  |  6 comments
Pianist Jamie Saft's trio recorded a well-received, sonically superb 2014 album called New Standard. If you need a group or individual backgrounder, please hit that hyperlink.

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