Album Reviews

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Malachi Lui  |  Apr 09, 2020  |  13 comments
(“Hype: to promote or publicize something intensively, often exaggerating its importance or benefits.” We all succumb to hype, either from others’ high recommendations or our own excitement and anticipation. Once something falls short of those expectations, we rush to denounce it as “overhyped;” not necessarily bad, but underwhelming for however much we expect. Today’s Vinyl Reports feature centers around such overhyped records.)

Jeff Flaim  |  Mar 31, 2020  |  17 comments
Brooklyn- based quartet Big Thief formed after all four of its members— Adrianne Lenker (guitar, vocals), Buck Meek (guitar, backing vocals), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums)— had graduated from the Berklee College Of Music.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 30, 2020  |  21 comments
If you're saying Monk's creative juices had begun to dry up by the time he signed with Columbia Records and released this 1963 label debut album you'll get no argument from me. But Monk, all of 46 when this was recorded, had a secret weapon: his rock'n'roll band of the hard-blowing Charlie Rouse on tenor sax, John Ore on bass and Frankie Dunlop on drums.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 25, 2020  |  7 comments
These two releases, one culled from a 2006 Rhino Tony Joe White compilation and the other a new one from APO (an Analogue Productions label) are naturals for a linked review.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 19, 2020  |  4 comments
What better time than now for the all-analog resurrection of this Chesky classic? Easter is three weeks away (though “Oh Great Mystery” is really about Christmas) and home lock down in a dreary time is here now.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 17, 2020  |  13 comments
I didn’t know who Mandy Moore was when the press blurb arrived in my inbox. Incredible Boomer ignorance. What my eyes latched onto was the blurb’s “laid down to tape” line. A web search quickly informed my Boomer/pop culture cluelessness! I should be embarrassed, but I don’t embarrass easily.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 14, 2020  |  6 comments
Charles Lloyd turns 82 tomorrow (March 15th). Two years ago, to celebrate his 80th, Dorothy Darr, his wife/manager and herself an artist, threw a year-long party for him and as a present made him work.

Lloyd and his group toured, with each stop a celebration. On his birthday the entourage pulled into his hometown of Santa Barbara, California and performed at the 150 year old Lobero Theater.

The annotation notes that Lloyd has played there more often than any other venue and more often than any other performer, so it was a true homecoming celebration with “kindred spirits” on-stage and in the audience.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 29, 2020  |  6 comments
Tenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh's follow up to The Turn, a duet album with guitarist Greg Tuohey arrived quite some time ago. I've been playing it repeatedly trying to get a grasp.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 22, 2020  |  2 comments
R. Crumb’s cover illustration first drew me to this record, which recently arrived with others sent by Third Man Records. It opened to a triple gatefold that provided a fairly complete backgrounder on the folk violinist Alexis Zoumbas who was born in Ioannina, the capital of Epirus the Northern Greece region adjacent to Albania between the Pindus Mountains and the Ionian Sea. The notes by producer Christopher King suggest listening to the opening track “Epirotiko Mirologi” with undivided attention, which means stopping reading the extensive annotation.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 20, 2020  |  22 comments
It takes a rocker with "brass in pocket" to deliver a jazz album. It takes more than that to produce a great one, which is what Hynde does on Valve Bone Woe, the title of which was her trombonist brother's "beatnik haiku" response to hearing about the passing of Bob Brookmeyer. Hynde here is no jazz pretender.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 05, 2020  |  10 comments
For every reason, from mastering to pressing to packaging and annotation—and pricing, Craft’s 5 LP Chet Baker Riverside box scores the highest marks.

The recent RSD mono release of It Could Happen to You—Chet Baker Sings signaled what this set might and turned out to be. For those fans who might have some of these albums on original or OJC reissues, you can be sure the audio here soundly beats those.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 16, 2019  |  19 comments
When first released in America in 1978 Dire Straits’ debut was an immediate sensation, though cautious record labels at first rejected signing the group until Warner Brothers bit. The original Vertigo release hit the U.K. earlier. Eventually, propelled by the catchy single “Sultans of Swing”, the album was Top Ten throughout Europe and much of the world.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 15, 2019  |  23 comments
Single-line guitarist Grant Green's fourth Blue Note album released in 1962 is as easy to listen to and relaxing as the title suggests. Kenny Drew is on piano with Ben Tucker, bass and Ben Dixon on drums in a set of six tunes with inspiration and/or vaguely religious themes, three of which are Green originals.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 04, 2019  |  12 comments
The French Record Company’s first release is a limited to 200 copies edition of a “never before released but should have been” 1958 recording of pianist Marcelle Meyer playing a Debussy program recorded for the Les Discophiles Francais label (DF 211-212).

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 29, 2019  |  3 comments
Chet Baker was 29 years old when he recorded this album of vocals with occasional trumpet back in the summer of 1958 released today, 61 years later for RSD Black Friday.. He sounds like a kid. Actually you could argue he sounds positively girl-ish, which back then must have driven them pretty crazy—even crazier than did his chiseled, pugilistic face.

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