Latest Additions

Phono Preamp Reviews
Michael Fremer Jan 06, 2007 Published: Oct 05, 2003 0 comments
"Everybody's gotta get into the act!" Jimmy Durante used to say. That's what's happening with phono preamplifiers—they just keep being built, and I keep getting them for review. Up for evaluation in next month's column are new models from Perreaux, Musical Fidelity, Graham Slee, and a Chinese one, Ming Da. You can bet there'll be more.
Album Reviews
Michael Fremer Jan 01, 2007 1 comments

This live set pressed as two picture discs is little more than a souvenir "audio tour book" from a band to its loyal fans. Picture discs don't usually sound good and this one is no exception, though the records are quieter than some normal black ones I've bought lately.

Album Reviews
Michael Fremer Jan 01, 2007 1 comments

So closely does the cover vibe provided by Ted Croner’s iconic cover photo “Taxi, New York at Night” mirror the music on the album, you have wonder if the cover choice was inspired by the music, or vice-versa.

Album Reviews
Michael Fremer Jan 01, 2007 1 comments

EC has always been a fine interpreter of American soul music as his much maligned but dependable and surprisingly durable and jumpy set Get Happy proves. Though only two songs were not written by Costello ("I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" and "I Stand Accused") much of the album feelsAmerican-sourced, whether country ("Motel Matches") or ghetto. By the way, try to find a UK F-Beat original. Even though it packs 10 short songs per side, it still sounds more dynamic and punchy than Rhino's last CD version and it wallops the flaccid American Columbia LP original. The "ringwear" on the jacket is part of the artwork, though some twit at Columbia removed it fearing you'd be too stupid to get the joke.

Album Reviews
Michael Fremer Jan 01, 2007 1 comments

Foné records’ Giulio Cesare Ricci is easily one of the most charming, entertaining and eccentric people I have ever encountered in an industry packed with such people. I spent some quality time with him and his lovely wife Paola Maria, who works in the fashion industry in Milan, during last fall’s Top Audio show there.

Album Reviews
Michael Fremer Jan 01, 2007 1 comments

If you buy this and just hear some moldy old monophonic Dixieland you deserve to spend the rest of your life listening to Aqualung and Patricia Barber, not that there’s anything wrong with either that album or that artist. I don’t mean to insult anyone but the audiophile “pop charts” are depressingly mundane and predictable.

Album Reviews
Michael Fremer Jan 01, 2007 1 comments

Produced by Bay area bluesman Roy Rogers (Hooker had moved there and opened a nightclub in 1997), this Grammy Award winning set of collaborations between the then 72 year old John Lee Hooker and Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, “Canned Heat,” Los Lobos, George Thorogood and Charlie Musselwhite, plus two stirring Hooker solos and one backed by drums and bass, brought the blues great to a new audience.

Album Reviews
Michael Fremer Jan 01, 2007 1 comments

There’s nothing not to like about this hard-driving, straight ahead jazz trio set first issued by Concord in 1984, led by the flamboyant, yet tasteful and ultra-clean pianist Alexander backed by the powerful Ray Brown and drummer Frank Gant.

Album Reviews
Michael Fremer Jan 01, 2007 1 comments

Going from Soft Lights & Sweet Music is like going from the merely excellent to the spectacularly suave and sublime, both musically and especially sonically. Though not as “clean,” and not nearly as detailed and revealing as the newer recording, there’s a liquidity, transparency and timbral rightness about the older one that just puts your mind and emotional state in a different world. Nonetheless, the piano has that boxy ‘50s sound and the bass is a bit muffled. There’s something to be said for the newer recording in terms of reality but for magic, it’s the older one. Sort of like old movies versus new ones.

Album Reviews
Michael Fremer Jan 01, 2007 1 comments

There’s so much to recommend here, starting of course with Gerry Mulligan. There’s also a great deal to live up to, given the legendary “Gerry Mulligan Meets….” series on Verve from the 1950’s, one of which (Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster) is reviewed elsewhere this month.