Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer Posted: Oct 31, 2014 8 comments
Though the first studio effort by Miles Davis’ “second great quintet” may not be the group’s finest, it is nonetheless a groundbreaking and very satisfying record, especially considering the backdrop.

Around 1963 Miles’ rhythm section of Wynton Kelly on piano, Jimmy Cobb on drums and Paul Chambers on bass left Davis to form their own group.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Sep 14, 2014 14 comments
A cynic might say that The Electric Recording Company chooses records to reissue by scouring Ebay, Popsike, Discogs and other used record sales monitoring sites and finds the most expensive, collectible records to reissue. This one, originally issued in 1961 on the French Ducretet-Thomson label is a solo piano recording of Debussy's "Estampes" and "Préludes Livre 1" played by the rather obscure French pianist Henriette Fauré.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 22, 2014 12 comments
Today we mostly think of Tony Bennett as a jazz singer but back in 1962 Tony Bennett was one of Columbia Records' pop music stars. He had his first #1 hit for the label in 1951 with "Because of You". In 1953 Bennett's "Rags to Riches" topped the Billboard charts for 8 weeks. "Stranger In Paradise" only made it to #2 that year but you couldn't avoid it on the radio and few back then wanted to.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 19, 2014 17 comments
Back in 1949 Guy Lombardo and then Doris Day had hits with a song called “Enjoy Yourself (it’s later than you think)”. The chipper tune composed by Carl Sigman with lyrics by Herb Magidson advised down in the dumpers to get busy enjoying themselves:

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 09, 2014 18 comments
First released in "Living Stereo" way back in 1959, Belafonte at Carnegie Hall continues to captivate listeners, both audiophile and non. The question that needs asking is: Were this not such an astonishing recording, would it still hold interest?.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 08, 2014 23 comments
Yes, it's a horrendous conflict of interest, I suppose, for me to be reviewing this double LP TRON soundtrack reissue since I originally supervised it back in 1982, but I was there, so who better qualified to do it?

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 06, 2014 6 comments
Not being heavily steeped in progressive rock, I can't say in what esteem the Polish group INDUKTI is held but thanks to the persistence of one young man, who I met at last year's Newport Audio Festival and his Sunspot Record label (not to be confused by the Washington, D.C. Reggae label of the same name that shuttered in 1994), the band's debut album S.U.S.A.R. ((Suspected Unexpected Serious Adverse Reactions) has gotten a double 180g vinyl release.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 05, 2014 22 comments
The late Rick Griffin's mischievous rodent cover art isn't the only retro aspect of this prog-rock/jazz fusion recording debut by a group that's been together for more than a decade. (Griffin is best known for his Grateful Dead work including the Aoxomoxoa cover).

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 05, 2014 1 comments
Recording engineer Mike Valentine produced and recorded an old-fashioned audiophile demo disc using 50 year old Neumann tube microphones and a high resolution Nagra digital recorder all connected together with ZenSati cables from Denmark. One track was recorded using a 1/2" Studer analog deck running at 30 IPS.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 17, 2014 10 comments
Eschewing both retro and modern musical gestures, the remarkable young jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant manages here to make new and fresh an album of mostly very old songs.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 11, 2014 32 comments
“Bloated Blimp”. That’s what I called the band after hearing this album for the first time. I also thought the Hindenburg disaster album cover in bad taste. But then I was in law school in 1969 and trying the straight and narrow after “widening” (not around the waist) in college.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 02, 2014 38 comments
Dylan's previous album Bringing It All Back Home arguably contains the first rap song ("Subterranean Homesick Blues") and is associated with the first rock video—the one where he holds up those cue cards with some of the lyrics—but this album made Dylan a rock star. The cover photo remains iconic and enigmatic: Dylan as The Mona Lisa?

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2014 30 comments
On his posthumous album The Sky Is Crying, Stevie Ray Vaughan covers "Chitlins Con Carne", the opening tune on this seminal 1963 jazz/blues release. The annotation includes a quote from brother Jimmie who said that the album was "...a tribute to Stevie's heroes...." among whom was Burrell. Despite his undeserved reputation as a "note-slinger", SRV's version evokes the delicacy, nuance and open spaces found on the original.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 29, 2014 13 comments
Peter, Paul and Mary brought gospel fervor to the staid folk revival of the early '60s. Though they got their live chops at Paul Colby's Bitter End, the brick wall of which serves as the cover's backdrop, it was this album that propelled them to pop music-like mainstream stardom.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 27, 2014 24 comments
Why has the blues been banished from popular music? Probably because young people today don’t have the blues. For one thing they seem generally more happy and well-adjusted than previous generations—certainly in matters of sex, though recently a youngster who couldn’t get any indulged his self-pity with a mass shooting. Perhaps had he learned to sing or even listen to the blues, some soothing could have stopped him.

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