Album Reviews

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Mark Smotroff  |  Feb 16, 2024  |  2 comments

Craft Recordings’ new four-disc 40th anniversary deluxe edition box set celebrating the timeless, self-titled April 1983 debut LP from Violent Femmes, Milwaukee’s pioneering folk-punk trio, has as its centerpiece an AAA version of the original LP along with one additional LP full of demos and another LP with choice of-era live material, plus a bonus 7-inch single. Read Mark Smotroff’s review of this near-undefinable, infectious slab of post-new-wave, post-punk classic combined with a sizable collection of bonus material all adds up to a worthwhile analog spinning-and-listening investment. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Feb 09, 2024  |  5 comments

In February 1977, Elektra released Marquee Moon, the debut LP by New York’s groundbreaking art rock group Television — but finding a good-sounding vinyl copy of such an acclaimed album has historically been a bit of a challenge. But now, the new AAA 180g 1LP Rhino High Fidelity (RHF) edition of Marquee Moon may have just changed that distinction forever. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if this RHF edition finally helps Marquee Moon achieve the untethered, uncompromised, and uncompressed all-analog glory it so richly deserves. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Feb 02, 2024  |  13 comments

When Steely Dan’s Gaucho came out in November 1980 on MCA, it was at a time when that label was notoriously cutting corners, and quality control suffered. Fast-forward four-plus decades to the here and now, wherein we have a new 180 1LP edition of Gaucho to consider, one that’s been remastered by Bernie Grundman from a 1980 analog tape copy originally EQ’d by Bob Ludwig. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if this new vinyl edition of Gaucho is worth putting on your turntable. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 26, 2024  |  3 comments

Right from the opening notes, Green Day’s new Saviors LP sure sounds like it could be the kind of record for today’s generation that balances strong social sentiment with catchy songwriting. But just how good does it actually sound on vinyl? Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if Saviors makes the LP SQ grade. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 20, 2024  |  1 comments

Musician, composer, singer, and producer Zach Condon has somehow found a way to mesh the sounds of pump organs, real acoustic horn sections, ukuleles, drum machines, world-beat oriented percussion, and synthesizers into a distinctive blend that is immediately identifiable as the group called Beirut — a sound that bears a genuinely international flair processed through adventuresome recording situations. Read on to find out why ace reviewer Mark Smotroff feels Beirut’s new album Hadsel may be Condon’s most complete statement to date and why it’s so well-suited to spinning it again and again on vinyl. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 12, 2024  |  1 comments

Les McCann — the noted pianist/singer/composer who passed away at age 88 on December 29, 2023, just before the new year arrived — enjoyed a long, celebrated career that began in the late 1950s and continued well into the 21st century. We celebrate his legacy by taking a look at Never a Dull Moment! – Live From Coast to Coast 1966-1967, a 180g 3LP set released on Record Store Day back in November comprised of many dynamic, galvanizing live tracks culled from of-era performances in Seattle and New York City. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why Never a Dull Moment truly lives up to its name. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jan 05, 2024  |  1 comments

The May 15, 1953 performance at Massey Hall in Toronto by The Quintet, five of the most important mid-century change agents who transformed jazz music as we know it today — Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell, and Max Roach — is incredible on so many levels. Celebrating that historic concert’s 70th anniversary, Craft Recordings have issued a 180g 3LP package called Hot House: The Complete Jazz at Massey Hall Recordings, and it may well be the final word on this iconic moment in music history when five titans of jazz performed on the same stage together for the first and only time. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why the expanded Hot House belongs in your collection and on your turntable. . .

Mike Mettler, Mark Smotroff  |  Dec 30, 2023  |  12 comments

Looks like another year has gone by with a seemingly endless release-cycle parade consisting of scores of brand-new LPs from both known artists and untested newcomers alike, along with a myriad of archival vinyl reissues and overstuffed box sets galore — a good number of them presented in the much-preferred AAA form to boot. With the calendar set to turn over to 2024 any day now, that means it’s high time to assess the best of what we’ve heard on wax during the past 12 months. Read on to see AP editor Mike Mettler and chief LP reviewer Mark Smotroff’s respective lists of the top archival and new LP releases of 2023. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Dec 28, 2023  |  5 comments

The inherent quality of Jack White’s songwriting and production skills ultimately elevated The White Stripes’ much-celebrated April 2003 LP Elephant to the next level — and Analogue Productions’ new AAA 200g 45rpm 2LP version takes it even higher. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why Elephant sets yet another benchmark in the ever-expanding UHQR series. . .

Mike Mettler, Mark Smotroff, Ken Micallef  |  Dec 22, 2023  |  5 comments

That’s right folks, don’t touch that dial — it’s another tag-team album review, just in time for that last-minute holiday push. This time around, AP editor Mike Mettler, along with ace reviewers Mark Smotroff and Ken Micallef, are combining forces to proffer a three-man review of the new 50th anniversary 180g AAA 2LP 45rpm edition of Frank Zappa’s top-shelf September 1973 release, Over-Nite Sensation, an album all three of us regard with great affinity. We also review the limited-edition 3LP version of ONS too, which contains an extra LP of bonus tracks. Read on to see how this Zappa-loving triumvirate of Mike, Mark, and Ken get reety-awrighty with their analysis of a stone-cold classic LP in its new 45rpm incarnation. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Dec 15, 2023  |  3 comments

Los Lobos’ benchmark 1992 album Kiko reigns supreme on its 30th anniversary tri-gatefold 3LP Record Store Day set that features an expanded 2LP version of the original album plus a bonus third LP of outtakes and studio jams. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why you need to find a copy of this special 3LP edition of Kiko for your collection, ASAP. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Dec 08, 2023  |  0 comments

It’s almost an impossible task trying to “review” an iconic album like Bill Evans Trio’s October 1961 live masterpiece, Sunday at the Village Vanguard, but a new 180g 1LP edition under Craft Recordings’ revival of the Original Jazz Classics series umbrella is most definitely worth a closer look — and listen. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why this AAA edition of an all-time jazz classic belongs in your collection. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Dec 01, 2023  |  12 comments

The history of the storied 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 retrospective albums by The Beatles, alternately known as the Red Album and the Blue Album, is quite fascinating — and now they’re both newly available in expanded, 50th anniversary 180g 3LP editions with a number of additional tracks not on either of the original 1973 releases, one of them being the “final” Bealtes song, “Now And Then.” Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if either/both of the new Red and Blue 3LP sets belong in your collection and on your turntable. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Nov 21, 2023  |  1 comments

If it’s the holidays and we’re talking holiday-centric vinyl, then we should also be talking about Vince Guaraldi and his indelible work for the Peanuts animation franchise. To kick off the holiday season right, LMFP is serving up the first ever vinyl edition of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving in celebration of the TV special’s 50th anniversary. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if the new 180g 1LP edition of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving should be cued up alongside your turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and/or whatever else is on your festive table. . .

Mike Mettler  |  Nov 18, 2023  |  12 comments

Aja is the fourth (and first non-sequential) entry in Analogue Productions' comprehensive 200g 45rpm 2LP Steely Dan UHQR reissue series — and it’s possibly the most anticipated of them all. Does the UHQR edition of Aja stack up favorably with and/or sound better than the previous LP editions from the label likes of ABC, Mobile Fidelity, and Cisco? Read AP editor Mike Mettler’s in-depth review to find out if the Aja UHQR is worth every bit of those cool 1,500 dime dances it’ll run you tp pick it up (a.k.a. $150, in normal dollars parlance). . .

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