LATEST ADDITIONS

Filed under
Michael Fremer Posted: Jan 01, 2011 0 comments
I wrote this article, originally published in Music Connection magazine, back in 1985 after becoming increasingly disgusted with and alarmed by the deteriorating sonic quality of new releases from familiar artists. Little did I realize then that 1985 was a 'golden age' of good sound compared to what most pop and rock recordings sound like in 2008! I remain grateful to editor Bud Scoppa for giving me the platform to spout a then unpopular view in a magazine read by Los Angeles engineers, artists and music business executives.

When The Absolute Sound's Harry Pearson announced he was looking for a new popular music editor, I applied for the job by sending him this article. He liked it enough to give me the job. That gave me an ideal platform from which to advocate saving the vinyl record and extolling its unique set of virtues, sonic and otherwise.

Watching the LP section at the huge Tower Records on Sunset shrink by the week, never did I imagine that in 2008 the LP would be back and Tower would be gone. —Michael Fremer, 1/15/08

Filed under
Michael Fremer Posted: Jan 01, 2011 0 comments

How bad were the original Beatles CDs issued back in 1987? So bad that even the clueless conditioned to believe that CDs represented an automatic sonic step up from vinyl noticed something was terribly wrong.

Amusing to some observers was the nature of the complaints: “they sound tinny,” “they sound flat,” “they sound thin and bright,” “they’re harsh and edgy,” “where’s the warmth?” etc.

Filed under
Robin Platts Posted: Jan 01, 2011 0 comments

August 22, 1983. A packed concert at the newly constructed BC Place stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are halfway through a set on the last leg of their North American tour, billed as “A Summer Night with Simon and Garfunkel.

Filed under
Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 01, 2010 1 comments

As a talent scout, bluesman John Mayall has no equal. Everyone knows he 'discovered' Eric Clapton and that the Blues Breakers album (Decca SKL 4804) became a best seller and a classic, but the list of Mayall discoveries and/or early accomplices is astonishing: John McVie (Fleetwood Mac), Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones), David O' List (The Nice), Andy Fraser (Free) and more recently (though still 25+ years ago!) Coco Montoya and Walter Trout.

Filed under
Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 01, 2010 1 comments

Dick Dale is widely acknowledged as the inventor of “surf music.” Most observers consider his first single “Let’s Go Trippin’” recorded July 21st 1961to be the first surf record. Certainly those of us old enough to remember hearing it on the radio back then had never heard anything like it before, though that could be said about virtually everything that showed up on  pop music radio back then.

Filed under
Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 01, 2010 1 comments

The British progressive rock group Gentle Giant never achieved exalted status among the genre's aficionados, though they were well respected and their following was loyal and vociferous. When I was on "free form" FM radio in the mid 1970s I'd get calls from fans requesting Gentle Giant, but when I played through the albums, I heard nothing that I thought would grab listeners.  Listening today to this and to Free Hand (ALLUGV03)—the two albums falling midway in their recording career— makes clear why that was so,  and why they are deserving of a second listen almost forty years later. 

Filed under
Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 01, 2010 0 comments

Back in 1969, five years before Vince Guaraldi jazzed up Christmas music for "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn conceived of and superbly executed this delightfully good-humored jazz version of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite."

Ellington and Strayhorn made up hip new names for Peter Ilich's originals, like "Sugar Rum Cherry" and "Toot Toot Tootie Toot" (Dance of the Reed-Pipes), but even without the novelty titles, you'd know The Duke was going for lightness and good humor.

The suite will be familiar to all, but the retelling as a jazz tale will be novel. The orchestra with Hodges, Carney, Gonzalves, Ray Nance and all the other great vets including drummer Sam Woodyard, swing their way easily through these rhythmically charged, nimbly struck arrangements.

My only criticism here are the short sides. Each is over too quickly.

The recording, produced in Los Angeles May through June of 1960 is clean, crisp and three dimensional, though the mix is more 3 track than stereo, with instruments panned fairly hard left and right with a prominent center fill and little to the its sides until you get to the hard left/right stuff.

Still, despite the somewhat dated staging, the recording quality itself is superb. The horns have a full, brassy swagger, the reeds plenty of buzzy warmth and Woodyard's drum kit is nicely developed with a juicy, woody rim shot that pops brilliantly and crisply chiming cymbals. Ellington's piano is also nicely recorded and there's an emphasis on close-miked percussion that helps make this an audiophile's delight.

A nice blend of direct, closely miked sound and chamber reverb produce a big, exciting picture you'll wrap your ears around with pleasure.

Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman's mastering and the quiet Pallas pressing make this reissue superior to the original, though if you have a clean one of those, you don't need this.

Though it was issued by Pure Pleasure last Spring, now's the time to remind you of this swinging Christmas record, perfect for right now!

I've been loving my original pressing for years. It's a record that comes out every Christmas. Get it and I guarantee it will become a tradition in your house every holiday season for years to come.

Filed under
Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 01, 2010 1 comments

Even if this record evaporated in a cloud of smoke after one play like the "Mission Impossible" tape it would be worth buying just to hear young Clifford Brown's suave take on the ballad "Easy Living", reproduced with such graceful authority on this double 45—especially if your previous reference was either the CD or the 1974 UA/ Blue Note compilation Brownie Eyes (BN-LA267G), which was all I've previously had. 

Pages

Share | |

X
Enter your Analog Planet username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading