Album Reviews

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Mark Smotroff  |  Feb 03, 2023  |  0 comments

As good and desirable as blues guitarist Mel Brown’s 1967 Impulse Records debut album Chicken Fat is, the reality is he’s not quite a household name, even among many jazz and blues aficionados. That said, enough people have discovered Brown’s music to warrant its inclusion in a significant new reissue series from Verve By Request/UMe that’s being pressed by Third Man Records. Read Mark Smotroff’s dive-into-the-frying-pan review to see why you might want to add Mel Brown’s tasty-sweet funky 180g Chicken Fat LP to your vinyl collection. . .

Julie Mullins  |  Feb 01, 2023  |  0 comments

New LP review alert! This is the first installment in a new series of album reviews we’ll be doing here on AP wherein we catch up on LP releases we weren’t able to cover when they initially came out in the not-so-distant past, but are indeed ones we feel are worthy of note. Read on to get our take on Andrew Bird’s most intriguing 2022 LP, Inside Problems. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 27, 2023  |  2 comments
If you’ve found yourself aching to hear some rich, vintage-sounding, progressive-leaning, post-psychedelic independently made music with authentic roots — but are tired of playing your well-worn copies Pink Floyd’s Meddle, Todd Rundgren’s Something/Anything?, and The Pretty Things’ Parachute — then you might want to check out Sweden’s Dungen (pronounced Doon-yen). Mark Smotroff gets his Moog ‘N’ Mellotron on to explore the band from the land of the ice and snow and midnight sun’s latest, late-2022 LP En Är För Mycket och Tusen Aldrig Nog (which translates to One Is Too Many And A Thousand Never Enough). Read on to get his take on this adventurous post-modern LP release. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 20, 2023  |  2 comments

In the annals of jazz history, one artist who often gets overlooked was one of the early architects of the saxophone sound, dating back to the 1920s when he was arranging for Fletcher Henderson. His name is Benny Carter, and his stellar 1958 album simply titled Jazz Giant has just seen a 180g 1LP reissue from Craft Recordings, via an all-analog remaster by Bernie Grundman. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if this Jazz Giant is a must-have addition to your jazz vinyl listening experience. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 13, 2023  |  15 comments

Reviewing a new Brian Eno album is never an easy thing. Inevitably, those of us who have been following him from his earliest days in Roxy Music and nascent solo career have our deeply established favorites from different periods of his work. The fact is, Eno has quite a legacy behind him, so it’s nice to know his latest album, FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE, fits into this continuum — and it’s presented on 180g recycled vinyl to boot. Read on to get Mark Smotroff’s take on how it all sounds, and how this song cycle stacks up with the arc of his life’s work. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 06, 2023  |  4 comments

Never one to sit idle, even after a debilitating physical injury he sustained in late 1971, Frank Zappa pushed onward to make some of the most creative music of his entire career. The resultant two albums — July 1972’s Waka/Jawaka (official Zappa album No. 15) and November 1972’s The Grand Wazoo (official Zappa album No. 16) — are two sides of a coin now duly feted in a pair of new, 50th anniversary 180g 1LP editions sporting all-analog mastering by Bernie Grundman. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to find out why you need to get your hands, and ears, on both LPs. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Dec 16, 2022  |  3 comments

For a long time now, we’ve had the feeling there were seemingly a bazillion different versions of Vince Guaraldi’s beloved jazz soundtrack to the timeless “A Charlie Brown Christmas” 1965 TV special out there in the wilds of record collecting. Thus, we were quite excited to learn of the new, audiophile-leaning black vinyl 180g 2LP edition of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” — now in stores and very much in time for holiday gift giving, courtesy Fantasy/Craft Recordings — to hopefully provide us all with some higher-fidelity LP solace. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if this new, expanded 2LP edition of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is worthy of getting for those on your gift list — and/or, in the spirit of the season, also get one for yourself. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Dec 09, 2022  |  6 comments

Two often overlooked albums by The Beach Boys are the main focus of a fantastic new 180g 5LP+1EP box set, Sail On Sailor – 1972, which features the band’s landmark 1973 album Holland plus 1972’s under-appreciated and much misunderstood Carl And The Passions – “So Tough” to form the heart of this excellent new collection buttressed by a previously unreleased, complete, of-era 1972 live performance from Carnegie Hall. Read Mark Smotroff’s thorough review of this truly special box set-cum-document of an artistically transformative, often powerful, and at times remarkably hard-rocking period for a quintessential Southern California band looking for — and ultimately reaching the summit of — some creatively fruitful new horizons. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Nov 18, 2022  |  8 comments

The notion of Bruce Springsteen releasing a vintage soul and pop covers album this late in his stellar career is not all that surprising, really, if you’ve been following The Boss since the beginning like we have. But does the notion of Only The Strong Survive being a truly good and vital Springsteen album that stands proudly next to the rest of his storied catalog hold sway? Read Mark Smotroff’s review of the 180 2LP edition of Survive to find out if Survive has what it takes on wax. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Nov 15, 2022  |  27 comments

Last week, we sung the praises of the new 180g 1LP Geffen/UMe edition of Steely Dan’s November 1972 debut album, Can’t Buy A Thrill. This week, we cue up Analogue Productions’ 200g 2LP UHQR edition of Thrill, and — spoiler alert! — it’s one of the best listening experiences you’ll have this year (or any other). Read on to find out all the pressing details why this 200g Thrill is one for the ages. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Nov 11, 2022  |  5 comments

Steely Dan’s November 1972 debut release Can’t Buy A Thrill has often been overlooked in the wake of the band’s later, mega-impactful hit albums like September 1977’s Aja and November 1980’s Gaucho. But the reality is, the template for the Steely Dan sound was born in full flower on their first album, and is thus ground zero for understanding and appreciating the trajectory of the band. Read on to find out how just good this new 180g 1LP Geffen/UMe standard-edition reissue sounds in relation to a 1970s pressing, and how well it bodes for the concurrent UHQR 20g 1LP version from Analogue Productions we’ll be reviewing here next week. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Nov 07, 2022  |  3 comments

Trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie collaborated with Cuban percussionist Chico O’Farrill on Afro, a fantastic Afro-Cuban hybrid-genre jazz album in 1954 that’s been out of print for ages — until now, that is. Afro has just been reissued in fine 180g 1LP form by Vinyl Me Please (VMP), and the results are quite exhilarating overall. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to find out why Afro belongs in your collection. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Oct 28, 2022  |  2 comments

A fabulous new retrospective collection being released via BMG on November 4 that celebrates Jamaican-born jazz pianist Monty Alexander is the latest offering from the Montreux Jazz Festival archives. Called simply Monty Alexander: The Montreux Years, this 180g 2LP set is a fine addition to this important archival series, which curates the finest performances from the Swiss festival’s acclaimed, vast catalog of recordings between 1993 and 2016. Read on to see why Alexander’s Montreaux Years on vinyl deserves to be a part of your upcoming rotation. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Oct 21, 2022  |  18 comments

If you are considering buying the new 180g 4LP/1EP Super Deluxe Edition vinyl box set celebrating The Beatles’ landmark August 1966 album Revolver that’s set for release on October 28, then you’ve come to the right place. Read on to discover why this landmark Beatles box set is worth the coin for mono and stereo fans alike. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Oct 14, 2022  |  17 comments

Your decision as to whether you need the second volume in the 1950s trilogy of recorded collaborations between Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong — October 1957’s Ella And Louis Again — may depend on how much of a fan you are of the Great American Songbook and vocal jazz in general. Read on to see if this 180g 2LP offering from Verve and Acoustic Sounds whets the audiophile palate. . .

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