Michael Fremer  |  Jan 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments
I don't know Graham Slee from Gram Parsons, or which House he was in at Harry Potter's Hogwarts School, but let me tell you: If you'd just been listening to a bunch of budget phono preamps, as I had, then came upon the GSP Audio Era Gold Mk.V, you'd think someone had switched out not just the phono preamp but your entire system. You might think you were listening to a different pressing or a different cartridge. How can this be?
Michael Fremer  |  Jan 01, 2004  |  0 comments

With frenzied, wailing, guitar lines that sound more like squealing subway cars careening around sharply curved rusty tracks than what you think of as a “guitar part” in any known genre of music, and a car alarm voiced lead singer who’ll convince you Yoko Ono was on to something, Melt-Banana’s noise littered music is a neon-lit sci-fi fun house assault that at first sounds more like the sonic embodiment of a video game than an electronic re-invention of punk.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 01, 2004  |  0 comments

While everyone’s talking about teenagers today downloading music and making custom compilations, sometimes it takes a pro or two to do it correctly, as this fabulous 20 song collection demonstrates. Originally compiled back in 1963 by Goffin and Titelman as a twelve song LP highlighting, depending upon how you look and listen to it, Dimension Records, The Brill Building hit factory, Jews ‘n’ Roll, or the genius of Goffin-King, it has been expanded by Sundazed’s Bob Irwin to include 5 additional Goffin-King classics (or semi-classics) and two other musty but vital curiosities. There's also an attempt at starting a dance craze called "Makin' With the Magilla." It's not about dancing with a gorilla, either. Check a Yiddish dictionary.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 01, 2004  |  0 comments

In the mid-‘70s when Joni Mitchell applied the glossy red lipstick and abandoned the bucolic but spent Laurel Canyon hippie scene, it was the end of an era, and for some fans, the end of the their love affair with Joni Mitchell. Many felt betrayed—as if she’d decided to grow up while they desperately clung to their youthful, Peter Pan-ish ‘60’s idealism. The sense of abandonment and estrangement was palpable. Thirty years later artists like Neil Young prove it is possible to maintain the ‘60s zeal and ideal—at least esthetically—while this superb DVD documenting Mitchell’s musical growth and her ability to keep up with and indeed lead some of the best jazz artists of the time, proves that it’s also possible for an artist to shift musical directions 360 degrees while remaining true to core values.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 01, 2004  |  0 comments

By now Sean O’ Hagan must be tired of music critics writing about him having a Brian Wilson/Pet Sounds fixation (I just did it too), so on the latest High Llamas album O’Hagan de-emphasizes the Wilsonian percussion and electronica in favor of “acoustica.” The sense of floating, of well being, of whimsy that his other albums exude ensues though, and what he’s ended up with here is 21st Century chamber music that resembles Brian Wilson less and Van Dyke Parks more (one of the tunes offers “…a toast to V.D.P.").

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 01, 2004  |  0 comments

Judging by the mail from some visitors, music and politics don’t mix well. Jean-Luc Godard’s film “One Plus One” issued here as “Sympathy For the Devil”— a version of which he apparently disapproved—serves to back up that contention, but it won’t stop me from posting an occasional political note, nor should it keep even the most right-wing among you from watching this fascinating ‘60’s artifact.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 01, 2004  |  1 comments

If you took note of, and admired Judith Owen’s sympathetic back-ups on Richard Thompson’s The Old Kit Bag (Diverse Vinyl DIV004DLP), here’s an opportunity to hear what Ms. Owen can do on her own. The Welsh born singer/songwriter/pianist prepped for this, her third CD, by performing live at an L.A. nightspot called The Joint, backed by Herman Matthews on drums and Sean Hurley on bass. Owen and the rhythm section bravely recorded this set live in the studio in two afternoons and one evening, with a few additional afternoon sessions at the engineer’s home for duets with Richard Thompson and Julia Fordham, and some guest musicians.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 31, 2003  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  2 comments

Right to the point: no, the 11 new ABKCO limited edition 180g vinyl Rolling Stones reissues ( already available in Europe) do not quite measure up to UK DECCA originals, but who expected that? The tapes are between 35 and 40 years old and the superlative DECCA playback/cutting/plating/pressing chain is long gone. If you have the DECCA originals you’re not shopping for these anyway.

Sure, in an ideal world we’d prefer to have had albums like Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed and Aftermath cut to lacquer directly from the original tapes, but they weren’t. Instead, the final DSD masters created by Bob Ludwig referencing original UK Decca, and US London LPs were used.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 31, 2003  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

This article originally appeared in the final edition of Art Dudley’s Listener magazine, before the Rolling Stones catalog had been reissued, but after the promo sampler had been distributed. The SACD catalog has been out now for some time and it's been a phenomenal success.

Now of course we have the Stones LPs cut from the DSD masters and judging by website visitor’s emails, those who have bought some of these LPs agree that they sound great. Not as good as original DECCAs, but damn good. I just borrowed a Mo-Fi Stones box and will do the obligatory comparison ASAP.

How the material made it from original analog tape to DSD master is included in the Listener article.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 01, 2003  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  1 comments

He didn't play an instrument and he didn't sing, but Brian Eno was in the band, and the band was Roxy Music. So what exactly did Eno (full name Brian Peter George St. John de Baptiste de la Salle Eno-wouldn't you shorten it?) do for Roxy Music, which he co-founded in London with Bryan Ferry back in 1972? Listen to Stranded the first Eno-free Roxy album and you'll hear something missing. Or, listen to pre-Eno U2 albums, and then to The Unforgettable Fire the first Eno produced U2 album, and you'll hear something added.