Album Reviews

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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.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 23, 2015  |  27 comments
If the iconic Miles Davis album Kind of Blue captured an event—an abrupt musical switch from melody to modal, these three mid-period quintet albums, Sorcerer (1967), Nefertitti (1968) and Filles De Kilimanjaro (1969) represent a period of transition as the quintet moves slowly towards Miles’s amplified instrument embrace.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 22, 2015  |  7 comments
Igor Stravinsky was the original rock'n'roller and if you don't think so, you don't know rock'n'roll or Stravinsky!

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 13, 2015  |  0 comments
When I interviewed singer/songwriter Jack Tempchin recently I joked about why older songwriters often lose their creativity.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 10, 2015  |  7 comments
If you've already got a version of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" that you like, I'm not suggesting you need a "second opinion" though in my world any well-produced, good-sounding musically worthwhile and well-performed D2D record is a treasure worth owning

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 05, 2015  |  77 comments
Grand scale examinations of the human condition tend to be preachy, didactic and obvious. The more interesting observations tend to be small scale and personal—in other words, how individuals deal with human foibles and circumstances beyond individual control generally are more compelling and interesting.

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