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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 16, 2007 0 comments
Conceptually audacious, elegantly designed, executed with space-age precision, and remarkably compact, Grand Prix Audio's direct-drive Monaco turntable ($19,500) aims to turn the tables on the belt-drive designs that have dominated analog playback for three decades.
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Michael Posted: Nov 01, 2007 0 comments

I can’t get enough of these Candid reissues from Pure Pleasure. The original label was short-lived and the distribution limited. Candid was originally a subsidiary of Archie Bleyer’s Cadence Records (Bleyer had an unlikely ‘50’s hit single with “Hernando’s Hideaway” from the Broadway hit “Damn Yankees” and scored big with The Everly Brothers). The label was sold to pop crooner Andy Williams, a seemingly unlikely customer, who reissued some of both Cadence and Candid titles on his label Barnaby, distributed by Columbia Records.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 01, 2007 0 comments

Natalie Merchant’s first solo outing after leaving 10,000 Maniacs, issued in 1995, was among her finest records. For those who may have found her earlier work overblown and precious, the understated, acoustic setting, provided by a trio of then relative unknowns, proved ideal for a set of introspective set pieces dealing with issues of loss, jealousy, escape, sacrifice, loneliness, stardom and martyrdom delivered with cozy intimacy. No wonder it became a big seller.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 01, 2007 0 comments

Buying stereo records issued by obscure labels during the 1960s was always a challenge. First of all, you had tofind them. Most of the local stores in my area only carried mono for “the kids,” so that meant a trip to The Green Acres Shopping Center in Valley Stream, Long Island to hit Sam Goody’s where there was a small but useful “stereo” section where you could find rock.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 01, 2007 0 comments

Funky, bluesy electric guitarist Mel Brown, now 78, is still at it. He was 27 back in 1967 when Impulse released this showcase for his super-clarified style of electric funk/jazz blues guitar.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 01, 2007 0 comments

Spoon’s been at it for more than a decade (their first major label CD, the outstanding A Series of Sneaks) was issued by Elektra in 1998, after which the label promptly dropped them), yet after all of this time, when they played New York’s Roseland recently, front man Britt Daniel announced that this relatively small former dance hall, with a capacity of around 3500 (standing room only) was the largest headlining concert the band had played.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 01, 2007 0 comments

Look: if you don’t like The Sweet, Humble Pie, Deep Purple, Neil and Crazy Horse, T-Rex and of course Led Zep and boogie rock generally, Jack White’s brand of retro-crunchrock isn’t going to be to your liking, but if that kind of stuff appeals to you and considerations of modernity don’t apply to your musical meanderings, this record will hit the spot. And how long has it been since that spot’s been hit?

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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 01, 2007 0 comments

French minimalist acoustic musician Colleen has established an unlikely strong international cult following in the wake of releasing four full-length albums, three of which were available in limited edition vinyl.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 01, 2007 0 comments

Tony Bennett recorded a live album with Count Basie and his orchestra in Philadelphia that was issued in 1959 by Columbia Records (In Person! Tony Bennett, Count Basie and His Orchestra CS 8104 “6 eye”). In 1961 Peggy Lee released a live album on Capitol recorded at Basin Street East in New York City.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 01, 2007 0 comments

Don Sebesky’s glib big band charts for “California Dreaming” and for a few other tunes on this 1966 Creed Taylor Production may exude almost comical “action television series” theme music swagger (I’m thinking “Mannix”), yet Wes Montgomery’s physical daring and sense of lyrical beauty quickly overcome any reservations you might have about being seen enjoying a blatantly commercial enterprise like this.

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