Mark Smotroff

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. . .

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 30, 2022  |  First Published: Dec 30, 2022  |  13 comments

Last week, AP editor Mike Mettler asked ace reviewer Mark Smotroff to come up with a list of his Top 10 vinyl releases of 2022, and it was a much harder task than Mark imagined it would be. “Paring down all the vinyl releases I’ve reviewed in 2022 into a list of just 10 choices?” was Mark’s initial reply. Nonetheless, Mark soldiered on, got his list in fine order, and shared the first 5 of his 10 choices, focusing on archival releases, plus a few bonus selections. This week, Mark shares the other 5 top-shelf choices on his list — all of them new-to-2022 releases — and here they are. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Dec 23, 2022  |  First Published: Dec 23, 2022  |  3 comments

AP editor Mike Mettler asked ace reviewer Mark Smotroff to come up with a list of his Top 10 vinyl releases of 2022, and it was a much harder task than Mark imagined it would be. “Paring down all the vinyl releases I’ve reviewed in 2022 into a list of just 10 choices?” was Mark’s initial reply. Nonetheless, Mark soldiered on, and got his list in fine order. Read the first 5 of his 10 choices — archival releases, in this case, plus a few bonus extra selections — here. . .

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  |  Dec 08, 2022  |  First Published: Dec 08, 2022  |  3 comments

Mark Smotroff was up bright and early on Record Store Day (a.k.a. RSD 2022) back on Black Friday, November 25 — and, spoiler alert, he was able to find most of the RSD Exclusive and RSD First LPs he wanted. Read on to find out what LPs he got, how they all sound, and where you might still be able to find any RSD 2022 goodies you want for your own collection. . .

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