Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Jan 01, 2016  |  3 comments
A description of this record in Twitter-like brevity: "Sandy Bull meets Michael Hedges in a church."

Of course that short-changes everyone involved, especially the only living artist among the three: guitarist Patrick Higgins.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 30, 2015  |  4 comments
Recorded music comes to us pressed in plastic and frozen in time. The work leading up to the master often gets lost, tossed or erased and recorded over without a thought that it might be of interest to anyone. That’s most often true. Alternate takes, when they do surface, usually make clear why they were passed over in favor of the one programmed into your brain, though there are exceptions.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 19, 2015  |  52 comments
A recent sales blurb from UMe's "The Sound of Vinyl" website reads: "Using the original analog master tapes this artisan process results in cuts that have superior high frequency response (treble) and very solid and stable stereo images. In short, a very high quality master that helps to create a very high quality record."

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 17, 2015  |  32 comments
One of the greatest Broadway shows ever was also one of the great recordings of the dawning stereo era. Just reissued by Razor & Tie imprint Analog Spark and sourced using the original 3 track analog master tape, the music leaps from the speakers with new found conviction intensity and astonishing transparency.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 15, 2015  |  17 comments
Chad Kassem's got a vinyl selling website, a reissue label, a pressing plant and well-oiled licensing deals so what's left to do but a self-produced double vinyl Christmas compilation pressed on red and green?

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 12, 2015  |  15 comments
Of course the only "ultimate" Sinatra collection for fans is having a huge collection of his albums on Columbia, Capitol and Reprise—the label he started—plus some of the original 78s from the late '30's up until the era of the long playing record.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 02, 2015  |  5 comments
No doubt Elvis Costello knew he was no George Jones or Merle Haggard when, in the spring of 1981 he stepped before the microphone in CBS's Studio A in Nashville under the direction of veteran producer Billy Sherill (who passed away this past August), but he wanted to record an album of country covers in Nashville and following the cleansing craziness of the Trust sessions, this probably seemed like the right time.

 |  Dec 02, 2015  |  7 comments
At the top of the Costello album heap (not there alone, though), Trust issued in 1981 is Elvis Costello peaking in anger and disillusionment and coupling his discontent to wiry melodic constructions riding atop tautly tensioned rhythms. The album title is obviously ironic.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 21, 2015  |  17 comments
"Jenny Sings Lenny" as Mr. Cohen playfully referenced this album in a cartoon included in the original release's liner notes but for some reason omitted here, both technically and musically has never sounded better.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 12, 2015  |  14 comments
The golden gatefold cover art of Samantha Crain's Under Branch & Thorn & Tree makes clear that this is not a collection of "good times" tunes, but one is still left unprepared for the relentlessly bleak stories of betrayal, despair and desolation Crain delivers in an often pain-wracked voice that's somehow wrapped in a soothing, mesmerizing balm.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 04, 2015  |  10 comments
The Bowie dress cover did not make the American cut when the album was first released in America in the Fall of 1970.
Michael Fremer  |  Nov 03, 2015  |  7 comments
Gerry Rafferty has long been under-appreciated. Oh, sure, "Stuck in the Middle" was an unlikely hit when first released by A&M in 1972 and later found its way into Quentin Tarrantino's "Reservoir Dogs" where the bouncy, anthemic, Dylanesque record company exec knock reached a new audience.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 03, 2015  |  6 comments
If you're looking for a good place to delve into the Sam Records reissue catalog beyond the obvious Chet Baker entry point, try this record featuring pianist John Lewis originally issued by Disques Versailles (MEDX 12005) in 1956.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 01, 2015  |  20 comments
Hunky Dory introduced a kinder, gentler David Bowie after two heavy albums laden with mythological imagery and pleasant dread—not that this album doesn't also include heavy doses of the latter.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 20, 2015  |  73 comments
Donald Rumsfeld once famously said "You go to war with the army you have not the army you want". While reissuing Miles Davis' iconic Kind of Blue is hardly as consequential as invading a country, in context of our little musical and sonic world it probably is.

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