Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Jul 21, 2013  |  22 comments
Real name Sarah Joyce, the 34 year-old singer-songwriter who goes by the name Rumer (after the English writer Margaret Rumer Godden), was born in Islamabad, Pakistan and is most often described as having a Karen Carpenter-like soothing, dreamy voice.

The daughter of a British woman whose British engineer husband was assigned there to work on a dam, Rumer and her six older siblings lived isolated in an ex-patriot community. Not until she was 11 and her “parents” divorced and the family moved back to England did she and her siblings discover that her father was the family’s Pakistani cook.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 17, 2013  |  10 comments
Sublime music making of the highest order despite the "shock value" cover, the collaboration between pianist Bill Evans and guitarist Jim Hall, who at 82 is still performing produced two albums of enduring beauty and quiet grace
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 16, 2013  |  2 comments
Best known for playing the traditional jazz it was founded to preserve fifty years ago, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band here celebrates its next fifty with a forward looking program of audacious, often raucous and sometimes mischievous new originals mostly written by 41 year old Ben Jaffe, son of the hall's founders Allan and Sandra and current Creative Director
Michael Fremer  |  Jul 08, 2013  |  6 comments
By the time the "classic" Dave Brubeck Quartet arrived at Carnegie Hall on February 22nd, 1963 it had "practiced, practiced, practiced" as the old joke goes. The quartet of Brubeck, drummer Joe Morello, bassist Eugene Wright and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond was a well-oiled music making machine.

It was also the world's most popular and well-known jazz ensemble, having toured the world for the State Department and released numerous big selling albums such as Time Out, which sold well in excess of a million copies.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 01, 2013  |  7 comments
This loving tribute to Les Paul featuring longtime trio cohort Lou Pallo and others with whom Les played at Fat Tuesdays and the Iridium is musically fabulous assuming you like the timeless "old school" style. And if not, why not? If it's good enough for Keith Richards, Steve Miller, Billy F. Gibbons and Slash, among others who perform here in that style, well hell, then it's good enough for you!

No doubt Les's playing and his technological innovations with guitar and multi-tracked overdubbing affected all of them. But surely his playing hit them more squarely in their young guitarist wheelhouse.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2013  |  21 comments
Last winter an old audio biz friend of mine visited bearing a gift: a new Italian 45rpm pressing of Gil Evans' dark, brooding and oh so slinky 1960 recording of Out of the Cool originally issued in 1961 by the then new Impulse! label created by producer Creed Taylor for parent company ABC-Paramount. The album was Impulse! A-4, the label's fourth release.

This reissue on the DOXY label puts the entire album on a single 45rpm record. Given that side one runs almost 21 minutes, I was surprised they squeezed it onto a single side. Sides two's approximately 16 minutes is slightly more manageable with "slightly" the operative word.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 27, 2013  |  31 comments
Dylan claims Blood on the Tracks' pained, heartbreaking and often very angry and vicious songs weren't personal confessionals, though he was in the midst of a painful divorce. His son Jakob says they were. Does it really matter if they were about or inspired by his life? He delivers them as if they were very personal as does any great actor, but they are just as satisfying or disturbing thought of as having been inspired by his personal circumstances at the time.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 24, 2013  |  23 comments
Ridley Scott's 1982 "future noir" classic "Bladerunner" based on Philip K.Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" was a box-office flop when first released. Like "TRON", another flop, it has gained stature over the years, though like "TRON", the movie's visual and sonic pleasures are greater than the storytelling.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 10, 2013  |  4 comments
When first released by RCA as a single LP back in 1988 (RCA 9589-1-R) this album, probably sourced from digital, created a sensation—at least among the legions of Elvis Presley fans.
Michael Fremer  |  May 30, 2013  |  29 comments
David Bowie fans who lost the thread around his Tin Machine days or who meandered mystified or perhaps less than fully satisfied through his end of century output and beyond need to return for The Next Day his first album in a decade, following his 2004 heart attack and major surgery. Not that Heathens wasn’t a good outing
Michael Fremer  |  May 08, 2013  |  15 comments
Through her early EMI recordings, among others, the late Hungarian violinist Johanna Martzy has achieved fame, notoriety and a cult following that escaped her during her lifetime.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 25, 2013  |  3 comments
Singer/songwriter Thom Chacon delivers hardscrapple tales in a voice well-suited to the task that will immediately remind you of what's his name? Maybe John Prine, or John Mellencamp, or Steve Earle or Bruce or Guy Clark or?

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 21, 2013  |  12 comments
Frank Sinatra recorded this album for Capitol in the summer of 1960—the same year he left the label and with a few hundred thousand dollars of his own money started Reprise Records. You can be sure plans for the new label were well underway during the production of this thirty three minutes and change long album.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 04, 2013  |  12 comments
Greatest Hits albums from the '60s are a crap shoot: how many were made from original tapes strung together to produce reels for lacquer cutting? A few but not most. Instead the originals (hopefully) were pulled and tape copies of the hits were made and those were strung together for the hits package.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 02, 2013  |  4 comments
Note: The pressing issue I encountered with the copy I bought was corroborated by some readers but not all. The producer's QC copy was fine, so we exchanged copies. The replacement I was sent (autographed by Bryan Ferry, thank you!) sounded fine throughout.

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