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  |  May 10, 2012  |  16 comments

Twenty five years later, it’s easy to forget that Graceland, the album many consider to be Paul Simon’s finest musical achievement, was mired in controversy because of the continuing disgraceland that was apartheid South Africa. Nelson Mandela was still jailed and protests erupted on college campuses and in the halls of government around the world.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 10, 2014  |  26 comments
On the analogplanet we greet with great enthusiasm news of a carefully considered reissue project like this, but clearly that’s not the case elsewhere. While poking around the Internet looking for background information I came upon a bizarre and surprising series of comments on, of all places Rolling Stone magazine’s website.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 20, 2016  |  20 comments
By now you know the drill: The Electric Recording Company finds a collectible and music-worthy title to reissue and does its fanatical-attention-to-details thing, both in the mastering from the original tape on a lovingly restored all-tube cutting system to a meticulously produced record sleeve and jacket that are in most ways difficult to distinguish from the original as described in previous ERC reviews.

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

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