Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Oct 15, 2017  |  8 comments
Musical cults in the rock world can't compare to what goes on in classical music—as anyone who's perused some of the used record prices on popsike.com surely knows. That's certainly true of the late, legendary cellist Jacqueline Du Pré.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 09, 2017  |  7 comments
The turbulent and tragic Judee Sill story provides the ingredients from which musical cult followings are made: two critically acclaimed Asylum albums (she was the first artist David Geffen signed to the label) that despite great expectations sold poorly, a fight with Geffen over lack of support after which the label dropped her, a return to heroin addiction, and a drug overdose death in 1979 at age 35.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 27, 2017  |  6 comments
The young jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant’s arrival on the jazz scene began when she entered and won the 2010 Thelonious Monk competition, which annually spotlights a different instrument. That year was a vocal contest. Singing was not the 21 year old’s intended career choice.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 21, 2017  |  7 comments
Originally released on CD in 2011 this recorded-to-tape Gillian Welch gem finally has an AAA vinyl release. Welch explains the motivation for the vinyl version in a Washington Post profile .

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 09, 2017  |  18 comments
21st Century Procol Harum neglect is one of our time's most serious musical scandals if you axe me. That it took until now to get a high quality reissue of this most excellent album, while other less stellar records are one their 3rd or 4th reissue is a leading indicator of the neglect and lack of appreciation for this super group.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 09, 2017  |  3 comments
Bassist, group leader and composer Stephan Crump assembled Rhombal, a two-horn, bass and drums quartet to explore a series of compositions he’d written for his late brother. “…it’s a commemoration of a death well-confronted, of a spiritual evolution I witnessed in my brother during out last days together, and of how close we left each other after what had been, for many years, a very troubled relationship.”

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 03, 2017  |  10 comments
"Mood music" is how the annotation characterizes this album of medium-sized ensembles imaginatively arranged by the then still in his 20s French jazz enthusiast Michel Legrand. Previous to these 1958 sessions Legrand had released three "mood music" concept albums: I Love Paris (CL555), Columbia Album of Cole Porter (C2L4), Legrand in Rio (CL 1139) and I Love Movies (CL 1178). This was his first stab at a real jazz album andgiven the assembled cast of greats what a heady experience it must have been for him to both arrange and conduct in New York City those three days in early summer, 1958 .

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2017  |  39 comments
It’s not an insult to call singer Lyn Stanley’s fourth album “formulaic”. Not when the formula includes bringing onboard some of today’s best studio and touring jazz musicians and arrangers, recording in the best studios and hiring the greatest engineers. Another part of the formula is the cover art: highly stylized, glamorous black and white photos of Lyn.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 29, 2017  |  23 comments
"Why buy vinyl cut from a file when you can buy the file itself?". That's easy! If you've worked to get your analog front end to sound glorious, magical and the way you want your records to sound and it sounds better to you than your unyielding, unadjustable digital box, you might have the answer.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 23, 2017  |  8 comments
Alto saxophonist Paul Desmond (Paul Emil Breitenfeld) best known for his work with Dave Brubeck made solo albums of greater musical consequence than his string-accented confection, including his duet album Two of A Mind (RCA LSP-2624) with Gerry Mulligan, also on RCA-Victor. Nonetheless, this album pleases every play.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 09, 2017  |  16 comments
A heavenly pairing of Bacharach's suburban pop melodic intent and Costello's insightful lyrics that well-capture the required Bacharach late afternoon bedroom melodrama produced this 1998 gem of a soap operatic collaboration.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 18, 2017  |  8 comments
The new reissue record label Run Out Groove recently launched with a limited to 2668 copy edition of a gloriously noisy, high energy MC5 compilation sourced from the group's Elektra and Atlantic catalogues. The Detroit-based group (The Motor City Five), which made music that was an invigorating amalgam of garage rock, punk rock and blues with a hint of progressive jazz thrown in, released but three full length albums during its less than a decade long run.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 18, 2017  |  2 comments
España is Chasing the Dragon's latest and most ambitious Direct-to-Disc record. It's difficult enough to record Direct-to-Disc a string ensemble, or a big band or a big band with vocalist, all of which the label has done successfully managed.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 09, 2017  |  9 comments
In the early 1960s Brazilian music washed up on American shores riding on an effervescent, sunlit wave of girls from Ipanema and up-tempo tunes like “Desafinado”, popularized by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd on the breakthrough album Jazz Samba.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 26, 2017  |  2 comments
Charles Lloyd's young group, together but a year, played this set September 8th 1966 at the Monterey Jazz Festival, opening with the title tune—actually the two-in-one "Forest Flower-Sunrise" and "Forest Flower-Sunset", both lilting, hypnotic and mesmerizing "hippie-like" tunes that presaged in its mood the next year's "Summer of Love" Monterey Pop Festival.

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