Album Reviews

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Mark Smotroff  |  Jul 11, 2024  |  4 comments

Dwight Yoakam burst on the music scene in the mid-1980s with a refreshing blend of vintage ‘50s/’60s-inspired, truckstop-worthy, country-fried, rockabilly-infused honky-tonkin’ twang and bright, modern sensibilities that captivated new and old audiences alike. On Record Store Day 2024 back on April 20, Reprise/Rhino/Via issued a limited edition (3,500 copies) 4LP box set dubbed The Beginning and Then Some: The Albums of the ’80s to celebrate Yoakam’s fruitful career beginnings. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why this reasonably priced box set is worth pickin’ up and spinnin’. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 28, 2024  |  6 comments

Original pressings of it from 1964 are scarce, as it was initially issued primarily in the UK. What’s a vinyl-loving fan of acoustic blues on a budget to do? Fortunately, Craft Recordings has come to the rescue, seeing fit to reissue John Lee Hooker’s legendary 1964 Riverside Records LP, Burning Hell as part of their new Bluesville series. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if this AAA edition of Burning Hell should be fired up or your turntable sooner than later. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 21, 2024  |  4 comments

Grateful Dead’s self-released June 1974 LP From The Mars Hotel often polarizes fans, with some considering it an all-time classic while others (sadly) overlook it. We here at AP feel Mars Hotel warrants reconsideration as an ultimate equal in the now-classic trilogy of “indie” Dead studio albums from the 1973-75 time period. Lucky for us, this underrated album has been officially reissued by the Dead and Rhino in newly remastered 180g 1LP form today, June 21, 2024. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why this new edition of From The Mars Hotel belongs in your collection. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 14, 2024  |  5 comments

It’s been heavily bootlegged over the years, and yet Paul McCartney & Wings’ One Hand Clapping is still something of a holy grail among fans. These 1974 live-in-the-studio recordings find the group firing on all cylinders — and then some. Finally, this vital Macca music has been officially released today, June 14, 2024, by MPL/Capitol/UMe as both a 180g 2LP set and a web-exclusive edition that also includes a bonus six-track 45. Read on to see why Mark Smotroff feels One Hand Clapping offers some of the most rocking Macca & Wings music on vinyl to date. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 07, 2024  |  5 comments

The acclaimed hybrid North Carolina/New York four-piece band The dB’s were on the leading edge of the gradually growing indie-rock movement as the calendar turned to the 1980s. Today, we are celebrating the first-ever U.S. vinyl edition of their highly influential January 1981 debut LP, Stands for deciBels, which is set for release by Propeller Sound Recordings next Friday, June 14. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why Stands for deciBels continues to stand tall as an influence on much of the music we listen to on vinyl today, and why this new domestic LP version belongs in your collection. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 31, 2024  |  1 comments

Pianist and composer Vijay Iyer is someone who should have been on our analog radar much, much sooner, so we’re beyond pleased that we’re now able to marvel at his and his trio’s true artistry on their new 180g 2LP release on ECM Records, Compassion. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if Iyer and Compassion should be added to your must-listen list. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 24, 2024  |  1 comments

A new 4LP box set compiling the initial four solo album releases by the late, great tastemaking guitarist/vocalist Tom Verlaine, titled Souvenir From a Dream: The Tom Verlaine Albums (1979-1984), celebrates the artist’s initial musical life beyond Television, his highly influential CBGB-era alt-punk band. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if Souvenir is worth adding to your collection. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 17, 2024  |  6 comments

Joseph Henry Burnett III is not exactly a household name for most people these days, and that’s a shame. Under his T Bone Burnett sobriquet, he’s turned in a lifetime of work that has placed this legendary musician, composer, and producer in the crosshairs of the likes of Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Los Lobos, Robert Plant, and Alison Krauss (to name but a few). He’s also just released a new solo album, The Other Side, that’s one of the best LPs we’ve heard so far this year. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why both sides of The Other Side belong on your turntable. . .

Mike Mettler  |  May 15, 2024  |  7 comments

Gaucho is the fifth entry in Analogue Productions' comprehensive 200g 45rpm 2LP Steely Dan UHQR reissue series, and this one has been sourced from a 1980 analog tape copy originally EQ'd by Bob Ludwig, who also mastered the original album itself. Read AP editor Mike Mettler’s in-depth review to find out if the new Gaucho UHQR improves upon the original release’s Grammy-winning sonics. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 10, 2024  |  3 comments

Pearl Jam’s first studio album in four years, Dark Matter, is chock full of the kind of hard-edge songs that made the band great when they first burst onto the rock scene in the early 1990s. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if the Dark Matter LP passes audiophile muster. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Apr 27, 2024  |  3 comments

We here at AP had pretty fruitful, respective Record Store Day 2024 ventures last Saturday, and we hope you did too! In Part 1 of his RSD 2024 review roundups, Mark Smotroff tackles a pair of excellent multidisc live LP releases from Talking Heads and Fleet Foxes, so read on to see if either/both belong in your own RSD-related collections. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Apr 18, 2024  |  3 comments

It’s not often you get new titles from three legendary artists of yesteryear like gospel icon Sister Rosetta Tharpe, piano virtuoso Art Tatum, and soul-jazz organ pioneer Brother Jack McDuff all released on the same day. But this year, all three of them are being celebrated on Record Store Day 2024 — this year’s first installment of which happens to fall on this upcoming Saturday, April 20 — with newly unearthed, previously unreleased, multidisc live concert recordings on 180g black vinyl. Read Mark Smotroff’s review of all three of these releases to see which one, or ones, belong on your “must have” RSD 2024 shopping list. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Apr 05, 2024  |  3 comments

The first question we asked ourselves when contemplating the newly unearthed 1953 concert recording of Nat King Cole duly dubbed Live at the Blue Note Chicago — which is earmarked for release on the next upcoming Record Store Day, April 20 — is why would audiophile-leaning vinyl enthusiasts and jazz fans alike want it in their collections? The combination of great performances, of-era sound quality, and pricing topped our requirements list, and, fortunately, Live at the Blue Note Chicago has enough of all three to satisfy our listening/collecting needs — but what about yours? Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if Nat King Cole’s Live at the Blue Note Chicago belongs on your RSD must-have list. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Mar 29, 2024  |  10 comments

In these 21st century times, there is arguably no better person more ideal to helm a 50th Anniversary remix of Deep Purple’s seminal March 1972 hard-rock classic LP Machine Head than Dweezil Zappa, and he’s done just that for the vinyl that’s included in the just-released 50th anniversary Machine Head deluxe box set. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if Dweezil’s new stereo mix makes the mighty Machine Head even better and stronger on vinyl — and, if so, how he was able to achieve such an aurally dynamic feat. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Mar 22, 2024  |  4 comments

Our first 2024 installment of Review Explosion Short Cuts includes a trio of fine new 1LP releases from the cool Radiohead side project knows as The Smile, the latest, hi-fi-sounding album from indie faves Guided By Voices, and the debut LP from East L.A. “souldies” pioneers Thee Sinseers. Read Mark Smotroff’s combo-platter review to see if any, or all three, of these new LPs belong in your collection. . .

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