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  |  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  |  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  |  Apr 06, 2017  |  6 comments
Over the past decade or so vinyl-loving jazz enthusiasts have been treated to a series of previously unreleased but significant recordings discovered under beds, in closets and in the vaults of European radio stations. Some were never before heard. Others were bootlegged from radio broadcasts

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 18, 2013  |  3 comments
I don't know what "defo" is, but judging by this record, life after it is achingly melancholic. Actually after writing that I did web search and learned that "defo" means something like "certainty". So who can argue that life after certainty would leave you anything but melancholic or worse?

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 01, 2017  |  41 comments
It’s not an insult to call singer Lyn Stanley’s fourth album “formulaic”. Not when the formula includes bringing onboard some of today’s best studio and touring jazz musicians and arrangers, recording in the best studios and hiring the greatest engineers. Another part of the formula is the cover art: highly stylized, glamorous black and white photos of Lyn.

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