Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Nov 15, 2019  |  5 comments
The Beatles The Singles Collection arrived the other day and it was opened with great anticipation and the embedded YouTube video was quickly produced in a single take before listening to a note. As you'll see when you watch, the packaging is "top shelf" and imaginative and Kevin Howlett's booklet notes are illuminating and useful. Using original artwork from around the world was a nice touch that every Beatles fan with appreciate!

Malachi Lui  |  Nov 15, 2019  |  2 comments
In 1964 while working for Canada’s National Film Board (NFB), filmmaker Gilles Groulx set out to make a documentary about winter, but instead used his then $75,000 budget to create Le chat dans le sac (English: The Cat In The Bag), an art house film about two lovers in early-mid ‘60s Montreal. An avid jazz fan as well, Groulx (through Jimmy Garrison) contacted John Coltrane to soundtrack the film. Coltrane agreed, and Groulx supervised the session at Rudy Van Gelder’s Englewood Cliffs, NJ studio. Instead of composing new material for the film (which he hadn’t seen), Coltrane, at Groulx’s request, re-recorded some of his older compositions such as “Naima” and “Village Blues,” after which Groulx, master tape in hand, drove back up to Montreal.

Malachi Lui  |  Nov 05, 2019  |  45 comments
Kanye West's devotion to Jesus is nothing new; it's a recurring subject throughout his discography. On his 2004 single “Jesus Walks,” he raps, “Now I ain’t here to argue ‘bout His facial features/Or here to convert atheists into believers.” In recent traveling-church-service performances with the Sunday Service choir, however, he changes the second aforementioned line to “we here to convert atheists into believers.”

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 03, 2019  |  7 comments
You know what they say about audiophiles: only interested in what sounds good, music comes in distant second place or they repeatedly play the same few records, etc. You’ve heard the bad raps. Yet here’s a box set of vintage (read “old”) recordings digitized and processed that’s brought more inquiries into my inbox than many so-called “audiophile” recordings.

Malachi Lui  |  Oct 11, 2019  |  5 comments
As I approached the check-out counter at Music Millennium with a standard black vinyl copy of IGOR, I told the cashier about my endless obsession with this album. “Don’t get too obsessed with these things,” he said.

“I’m afraid it’s too late,” I replied.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 23, 2019  |  131 comments
2012 wasn’t all that long ago and culturally not that much has changed, yet from that year to the September 27th release this year of the 50th anniversary edition of Abbey Road is how long The Beatles made records.

Ty Webb  |  Sep 22, 2019  |  5 comments
Yarlung Records has garnered accolades for its innovative series of 45 rpm records that feature a variety of classical and jazz artists. Expectations are bound to be high for its new LP If You Love For Beauty, featuring the talented mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke together with t
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 03, 2019  |  15 comments
This is the 45rpm version of IMPEX's 2017 33 1/3 all-analog reissue of Michel Legrand's somewhat overlooked musical and sonic treasure featuring many of the greatest jazz artists of the era. Nothing other than Legrand's passing has changed since the original reissue review, so I'm just repeating it, other than to add that it sounds even "Legrander" at 45rpm, though if you already own IMPEX's 33 1/3 version, it's not really necessary to buy it again, unless you must! An enticement might be the now glossy laminated jacket and gatefold booklet with a very useful and informed essay by KCRW's Tom Schnabel.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 30, 2019  |  5 comments
I've referenced this record in a few Stereophile equipment reviews but somehow neglected to give it the deserved full review. The adventurous pianist Jamie Saft steps back in time here to produce an album that on "Vessels", the opening original tune, should immediately remind you of the classic '60s Coltrane quartet, though I'm not suggesting the players are in any way trying to copy Coltrane, Tyner, Garrison and Jones.

Malachi Lui  |  Aug 28, 2019  |  17 comments
Another IGOR review??? Yes.

My initial plan was to follow the original 3500-word review with a later update on the vinyl edition’s sound quality, but plans change. I got a bit of exclusive information from Jack White about “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?”, which I reported on, but even more happened with this LP. As advance copies of IGOR’s CD edition circulated, word spread that Tyler quietly dropped a physical-only (vinyl, CD, and cassette) “bonus track” entitled “BOYFRIEND.”

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 26, 2019  |  6 comments
This extraordinary blues festival staged on an athletic field at the University of Michigan, Friday through Sunday August 1-3 in-between the moon landing and Woodstock, was almost lost to time—except to the 10,000 or so mostly white high school and college kids lucky enough to have the good fortune (and taste) to attend.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 23, 2019  |  21 comments
Memphis based "garage rocker" Jack (Yarber) Oblivian, formerly with Johnny Vomit & the Dry Heaves among other groups, recently released this adrenalin charge on Black&Wyatt Records and someone (I don't know who) sent it my way thinking I might like it even though the sound is, let's say "primitive" (no top, not much bottom, just some stuff in the middle) in a good way (some recorded to 4 track M.C.I.) but all of it purposefully squashed in a way that sort of reminded me of Don Van Vliet ("Sweet Thang"), but maybe that's because in some ways the performances did too, though it's far more punk-rocky and less bluesy.

Malachi Lui  |  Aug 14, 2019  |  61 comments
Dexter Gordon led the Clubhouse session May 27,1965 with Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Barry Harris on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums. Two days later Gordon recorded Gettin’ Around, trading Freddie Hubbard for Bobby Hutcherson on vibes but otherwise maintaining the same lineup. However, until 1979 the former didn’t see the light of day. What happened?

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 01, 2019  |  20 comments
Counseloring at Camp Ma-Ho-Ge near White Lake, N.Y. the summer of 1968 was, in the summer of 1969, my ticket to drive to the back of Max Yasgur’s farm traffic free and without delay. I knew the back roads—not that I thought I’d need to use them when we set out for this music and arts festival we’d seen advertised all spring and summer on the walls of the New York City subway system. How could we not go? The advertised line-up was almost too good to believe.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 26, 2019  |  12 comments
If you'd have told me a few years ago when Vinyl Me, Please launched, that within a few years the curated based vinyl subscription service would be at the top of the vinyl reissue heap, I'd have said you've been inhaling too many PVC fumes. But here we are with a vinyl reissue that's perfect in every way.

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