Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jan 04, 2017 10 comments
There was a period in '60s record history when you could buy "by the label" and pretty much be assured of a great listen. It was true of Elektra and later, after it got off its "high horse," Columbia, which for a while wouldn't touch rock.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 30, 2016 12 comments
This is the first Roy Orbison collection that includes material from all of Roy's excellent recorded adventures. There are twenty six tunes in all, culled from Sun, Monument, MGM, Virgin and The Traveling Wilburys.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 24, 2016 20 comments
The just released (November 18, 2016) six LP box set of the four Brahms symphonies recorded direct-to-disc performed by Sir Simon Rattle and The Berlin Philharmonic before a live Philharmonie audience is as meticulously produced and presented as its existence is unlikely.

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Tristram Lozaw Posted: Dec 21, 2016 2 comments
We make a seasonal exception to our vinyl-only review policy and publish Tristram Lozaw's review of the double Grammy Nominated (Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes) three CD plus harcover book set Waxing the Gospel: Mass Evangelism and the Phonograph, 1890-1900.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 12, 2016 3 comments
Producer/annotator Jay Landers has pulled from Capitol's rich vaults some of the label's best Christmas music that the label has issued as a double LP set complete with excellent liner notes (they are back.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 12, 2016 2 comments
According to the liner notes for this record that's guaranteed to knock you out in a good way, both musically and sonically, the aggregate known as "The CO-OP" began as an "ad-hoc" backing band for the Swedish singer-songwriter Malin Johansson, A/KA Blue Utopia. The more you search online for information about Ms. Johansson or Blue Utopia, the less you'll find, not that it really matters.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 11, 2016 7 comments
Angel Olsen's third album reminds me of Elvis Costello's first even though she's mostly vulnerable whereas Costello was angry and snarly. The similarity is in how both make fresh older rock conventions like power cords and '50s era rhythms.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 01, 2016 Published: Nov 30, 2016 16 comments
The second David Bowie box set covers but two years—1974-1976—but for David Bowie that timespan leaped across a few musical universes.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 28, 2016 Published: Nov 27, 2016 12 comments
The subscription-based, vinyl-only record label Newvelle Records is an audacious project on many levels—a “closed loop” system wherein jazz enthusiasts pay an annual “membership fee” of $425 (includes shipping) and receive six Newvelle-produced records—all performed by mostly familiar “world class” artists— over the course of the year.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 21, 2016 22 comments
By now you know the drill: The Electric Recording Company finds a collectible and music-worthy title to reissue and does its fanatical-attention-to-details thing, both in the mastering from the original tape on a lovingly restored all-tube cutting system to a meticulously produced record sleeve and jacket that are in most ways difficult to distinguish from the original as described in previous ERC reviews.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 01, 2016 6 comments
This fascinating Record Store Day release last spring probably got lost in a crowd of LPs so you may have missed it. I did. it was recently sent to me for review by Northern Spy Records (NSPY).
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Michael Fremer Posted: Oct 29, 2016 Published: Oct 28, 2016 63 comments
You don’t have to be Phil Spector or Brian Wilson to appreciate mono sound, as anyone who’s purchased the recent mono Beatles box can attest. When these records were originally produced, they were meant to be heard in mono both because they were played on the AM radio, which was mono and because the young people buying the music mostly had monophonic record players. Plus that is how The Rolling Stones wanted to be heard, which is the most important reason of all.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Oct 27, 2016 15 comments
Recording direct-to-disk is difficult enough. The entire side has to be cut in one long take. Consider a big band vocal album like this, which has four songs per side. The orchestra and singer have to be ready as soon as the cutting stylus hits the lacquer and then they have to perform flawlessly on each track, pausing but a few seconds between songs.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Oct 27, 2016 0 comments
Jay Fisher, in his mid-forties is Apple Rabbits. He writes and arranges, sings, plays guitar, bass, piano, keyboards and percussion. He also likes to experiment with electronica. The strings and flutes on this record are real though, and very convincingly recorded .

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Michael Fremer Posted: Oct 26, 2016 5 comments
The late Allen Touissant preferred working in the background for most of his long career. He got his start playing piano in the 1950’s, when his Dr. Longhair-influence rollicking style caught the ear of Dave Bartholomew, Fats Domino’s producer.

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