Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Feb 10, 2018  |  43 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  |  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  |  Jan 26, 2017  |  44 comments
Pictured are three percussion records you should own—especially if you feel like banging your head against the wall. One is an "oldie" Living Stereo novelty that's back in print, one was originally released in 1984 thanks to a grant from The National Endowment For the Arts (today an endangered species) reissued in the 1990s and one is a current release.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 30, 2016  |  18 comments
The second David Bowie box set covers but two years—1974-1976—but for David Bowie that timespan leaped across a few musical universes.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 27, 2016  |  12 comments
The subscription-based, vinyl-only record label Newvelle Records is an audacious project on many levels—a “closed loop” system wherein jazz enthusiasts pay an annual “membership fee” of $425 (includes shipping) and receive six Newvelle-produced records—all performed by mostly familiar “world class” artists— over the course of the year.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 28, 2016  |  72 comments
You don’t have to be Phil Spector or Brian Wilson to appreciate mono sound, as anyone who’s purchased the recent mono Beatles box can attest. When these records were originally produced, they were meant to be heard in mono both because they were played on the AM radio, which was mono and because the young people buying the music mostly had monophonic record players. Plus that is how The Rolling Stones wanted to be heard, which is the most important reason of all.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 09, 2016  |  24 comments
Analogue Productions recently completed one of the major reissue projects in modern vinyl playback history with the release of the final eight Beach Boys albums in both mono and stereo.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 02, 2016  |  27 comments
There's something deeply offensive to me about picking apart the sound on the David Bowie [Five Years 1969-1973] box set. The guy is gone, the sadness lingers and maybe it's time to just enjoy and celebrate the music.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 19, 2015  |  53 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  |  Jun 16, 2015  |  38 comments
The fourth Kinks album was the first on which Ray Davies removes his hard rock shell. It’s clear in retrospect that many artists from the ‘60s rock era were rocking only because that’s what the times demanded.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 20, 2015  |  68 comments
Only one of them had actually ridden a surfboard. They weren’t hot rodders or drag racers and by the time the group formed in 1961 lead vocalist Mike Love was already 20 years old and arguably more a man than a “boy”. Al Jardine was 19 as was Brian Wilson. Brothers Dennis and Carl were, respectively, 17 and 15, so they qualified as “boys”.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 22, 2014  |  17 comments
The first stereo release from The Electric Recording Company is a reissue of Columbia SAX 2386 first released in 1959 . It is a much sought after record as the used prices for clean copies are nothing short of astronomical— $3000 and up. Kogan was born in the Ukraine in 1924 and died of a heart attack in 1982 at age 58 a few days after playing this piece in Vienna. His western discography isn't extensive and the few he recorded for the Columbia division of EMI are the most collectible.

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.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 03, 2018  |  23 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  |  Jun 26, 2014  |  24 comments
Why has the blues been banished from popular music? Probably because young people today don’t have the blues. For one thing they seem generally more happy and well-adjusted than previous generations—certainly in matters of sex, though recently a youngster who couldn’t get any indulged his self-pity with a mass shooting. Perhaps had he learned to sing or even listen to the blues, some soothing could have stopped him.

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