Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Sep 10, 2018  |  14 comments
It's difficult to believe that British born cellist Jacqueline Du Pré was but 20 years old on August 19th, 1965 when she delivered this recorded performance in famed Kingsway Hall with Sir John Barbirolli conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 09, 2018  |  7 comments
Gillian Welch's fourth album originally released in 2003 on CD-only finally gets an AAA release, cut by Stephen Marcussen on the Ortofon VMS-80 cutting system Welch and partner Dave Rawlings bought and restored. Now that's progress!

Malachi Lui  |  Sep 07, 2018  |  2 comments
The National’s Boxer remains a great album eleven years after its release. With its basic, slightly Joy Division-esque stadium-filling musical arrangements and lyrical themes, two of which are relationships and aging, many of the songs remain fresh-sounding.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 22, 2018  |  24 comments
Startling when first released in 1968, The Band's debut continues to evoke mystery, grandeur and an abundance of musical depth that few rock records achieved then or now.

Books have probably been written about the album and certainly have been about the outfit known as The Band, the members of which though mostly unknown to buyers lured by a Bob Dylan cover (literally and musically), were touring and recording veterans—not that experience alone can explain what the group achieved here.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 20, 2018  |  14 comments
The faded Crown (or Coronet) Records cover art, the borrowed “360 Sound” “Stereo” arrows in the top strip where “Ruen Brothers” replaces “Stereo” and the retro attitudinal looks on the faces of the two brothers, one wearing string tie, one not, hint at what’s in the grooves of this audacious Rick Rubin produced debut of the brothers RUpert and hENry Stansall also known as the Ruen Brothers. They are not poseurs. They are serious. They are on a “wake up” mission that’s been developing for four years.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 16, 2018  |  20 comments
Humungous conflict of interest alert! I wrote this compilation’s liner notes and created the 22 song track order. Chad Kassem selected the female artists and the individual tracks sourced from albums he’d previously licensed and released on vinyl, SACD and high resolution download (maybe even R2R tape).

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 13, 2018  |  2 comments
The first unknowable is the correct speed at which to play this oddly accessible 100% improvised double LP set of 13 spontaneous collaborations between saxophonist Dave Liebman and a pair of eclectic percussionists, Adam Rudolph and Tatsuya Nakatani. There's nothing written on the gatefold jacket or labels indicating speed, but I'm pretty sure its 45rpm!

Malachi Lui  |  Aug 10, 2018  |  25 comments
(Mr. Lui's new Rega P3 has yet arrive following the family's west coast move so he was allowed to review the deluxe CD edition—Ed.)

One of the events covered most by the music press in the last few months has been that a “lost” John Coltrane album has been found and finally released. The original session tape vanished when Impulse moved from New York City to Los Angeles, the label having dumped many tapes of unreleased material in the process. The music was thought to be lost forever, but the family of Trane’s first wife, Naima, found the “take home” session copy in 2004. The story of its discovery is sure to captivate many fans, making it the perfect marketing tool for this new archival release.

Malachi Lui  |  Aug 02, 2018  |  16 comments
“Rock is dead. No modern rock artist can have a number one album. Anybody who makes something this weird can't make the Billboard 200 at all, right?”

But to the words of cynics, Jack White says “I don't care” and spreads his statement across a 44 minute album that blends roof-shattering rock, blues, electronic, hip hop, country, spoken interludes, and even jazz. “The one who is prepared is never surprised”, I guess.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 28, 2018  |  3 comments
At 80 Charles Lloyd can musically pretty much do whatever the hell he wants, though he did likewise at age 30 in 1966 when he fronted a group featuring 21 year old Keith Jarrett, 24 year old Jack DeJohnette and at 31 the group’s “elder statesman” Cecil McBee, and produced the classic Forest Flower (Atlantic SD 1473), recorded live at the Monterey Jazz Festival.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 18, 2018  |  14 comments
The Buffalo Springfield box set reissue fans have long awaited is finally here and it was well worth waiting for. Neil Young points out in the enclosed heavy paper full color "one sheet" that all five records were cut directly from the original master tapes, not tape copies. Each record has a Neil-created "SPARS code"

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 29, 2018  |  30 comments
The irony wasn't lost on Stones fans when ABKCO and Universal simultaneously issued Rolling Stones vinyl box sets back in 2010. ABKCO, which owned the group's British Decca-era catalog, hired legendary mastering engineer Bob Ludwig to handle mastering of its catalog while Universal, which controlled the group's own label, released a box set with no mastering credits.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 06, 2018  |  8 comments
Sounding more like the recording engineer accidentally fed only the reverb buss to the 2 channel master instead of the intended mix of "dry and wet", the Cocteau Twins' ethereal, reverb drenched Head Over Heels released in 1983 became a much imitated template for "wave", "shoe gazing" and other musical genres that followed in its wake.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 05, 2018  |  2 comments
Buddy Holly's last album before "the day the music died" released in 1958 belongs in every rock-based record collection. It's not even a close call. And this reissue sourced from the original analog tapes still in superb condition and cut by Kevin Gray is by far the best sounding edition ever.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 05, 2018  |  1 comments
In his 2017 liner notes for this new release, finger style guitarist/musicologist Duck Baker writes "It may seem obvious that folkies would not want to hear some kid trying to sound like Eric Dolphy with a nylon-strung guitar, but back in the 1960s and early '70s this was not quite so clear-cut. Sandy Bull had recorded with Ornette's drummer Billy Higgins, after all, and people did talk about blending genres quite a bit (they still do talk about it, anyway).

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