Mark Smotroff

Mark Smotroff  |  Feb 23, 2024  |  2 comments

Some fans of progressive rock legends Yes tend to overlook their self-titled July 1969 debut album — but they really shouldn’t. Luckily, Yes is newly available as part of Rhino’s “Start Your Ear Off Right” campaign on cobalt-blue vinyl, and it’s housed in a gatefold package that faithfully reproduces the pop-art stylings of the original UK edition. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see how this new 2024 SYEOR version of Yes stacks up with the 2019 AAA RSD version. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Feb 16, 2024  |  4 comments

Craft Recordings’ new four-disc 40th anniversary deluxe edition box set celebrating the timeless, self-titled April 1983 debut LP from Violent Femmes, Milwaukee’s pioneering folk-punk trio, has as its centerpiece an AAA version of the original LP along with one additional LP full of demos and another LP with choice of-era live material, plus a bonus 7-inch single. Read Mark Smotroff’s review of this near-undefinable, infectious slab of post-new-wave, post-punk classic combined with a sizable collection of bonus material all adds up to a worthwhile analog spinning-and-listening investment. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Feb 09, 2024  |  5 comments

In February 1977, Elektra released Marquee Moon, the debut LP by New York’s groundbreaking art rock group Television — but finding a good-sounding vinyl copy of such an acclaimed album has historically been a bit of a challenge. But now, the new AAA 180g 1LP Rhino High Fidelity (RHF) edition of Marquee Moon may have just changed that distinction forever. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if this RHF edition finally helps Marquee Moon achieve the untethered, uncompromised, and uncompressed all-analog glory it so richly deserves. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Feb 02, 2024  |  13 comments

When Steely Dan’s Gaucho came out in November 1980 on MCA, it was at a time when that label was notoriously cutting corners, and quality control suffered. Fast-forward four-plus decades to the here and now, wherein we have a new 180 1LP edition of Gaucho to consider, one that’s been remastered by Bernie Grundman from a 1980 analog tape copy originally EQ’d by Bob Ludwig. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if this new vinyl edition of Gaucho is worth putting on your turntable. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 26, 2024  |  3 comments

Right from the opening notes, Green Day’s new Saviors LP sure sounds like it could be the kind of record for today’s generation that balances strong social sentiment with catchy songwriting. But just how good does it actually sound on vinyl? Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if Saviors makes the LP SQ grade. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 20, 2024  |  1 comments

Musician, composer, singer, and producer Zach Condon has somehow found a way to mesh the sounds of pump organs, real acoustic horn sections, ukuleles, drum machines, world-beat oriented percussion, and synthesizers into a distinctive blend that is immediately identifiable as the group called Beirut — a sound that bears a genuinely international flair processed through adventuresome recording situations. Read on to find out why ace reviewer Mark Smotroff feels Beirut’s new album Hadsel may be Condon’s most complete statement to date and why it’s so well-suited to spinning it again and again on vinyl. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 12, 2024  |  1 comments

Les McCann — the noted pianist/singer/composer who passed away at age 88 on December 29, 2023, just before the new year arrived — enjoyed a long, celebrated career that began in the late 1950s and continued well into the 21st century. We celebrate his legacy by taking a look at Never a Dull Moment! – Live From Coast to Coast 1966-1967, a 180g 3LP set released on Record Store Day back in November comprised of many dynamic, galvanizing live tracks culled from of-era performances in Seattle and New York City. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why Never a Dull Moment truly lives up to its name. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 05, 2024  |  2 comments

The May 15, 1953 performance at Massey Hall in Toronto by The Quintet, five of the most important mid-century change agents who transformed jazz music as we know it today — Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell, and Max Roach — is incredible on so many levels. Celebrating that historic concert’s 70th anniversary, Craft Recordings have issued a 180g 3LP package called Hot House: The Complete Jazz at Massey Hall Recordings, and it may well be the final word on this iconic moment in music history when five titans of jazz performed on the same stage together for the first and only time. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why the expanded Hot House belongs in your collection and on your turntable. . .

Mike Mettler,  |  Dec 30, 2023  |  First Published: Dec 30, 2023  |  12 comments

Looks like another year has gone by with a seemingly endless release-cycle parade consisting of scores of brand-new LPs from both known artists and untested newcomers alike, along with a myriad of archival vinyl reissues and overstuffed box sets galore — a good number of them presented in the much-preferred AAA form to boot. With the calendar set to turn over to 2024 any day now, that means it’s high time to assess the best of what we’ve heard on wax during the past 12 months. Read on to see AP editor Mike Mettler and chief LP reviewer Mark Smotroff’s respective lists of the top archival and new LP releases of 2023. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Dec 28, 2023  |  5 comments

The inherent quality of Jack White’s songwriting and production skills ultimately elevated The White Stripes’ much-celebrated April 2003 LP Elephant to the next level — and Analogue Productions’ new AAA 200g 45rpm 2LP version takes it even higher. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why Elephant sets yet another benchmark in the ever-expanding UHQR series. . .

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