Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Jun 28, 2014  |  18 comments
Peter, Paul and Mary brought gospel fervor to the staid folk revival of the early '60s. Though they got their live chops at Paul Colby's Bitter End, the brick wall of which serves as the cover's backdrop, it was this album that propelled them to pop music-like mainstream stardom.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 26, 2014  |  24 comments
Why has the blues been banished from popular music? Probably because young people today don’t have the blues. For one thing they seem generally more happy and well-adjusted than previous generations—certainly in matters of sex, though recently a youngster who couldn’t get any indulged his self-pity with a mass shooting. Perhaps had he learned to sing or even listen to the blues, some soothing could have stopped him.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 19, 2014  |  78 comments
Did you catch Train on The Howard Stern Show last week? The group performed a new, not particularly memorable single from their upcoming album and then at Howard’s request launched into a spectacular cover of “What Is And What Should Never Be” from Led Zeppelin II —an album originally released October 22nd, 1969.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 11, 2014  |  17 comments
Let's first diffuse the price outrage. This reissue of Leonid Kogan's epic performance of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto and Meditation by The Electric Recording Company, limited to 300 copies, costs £300 or about $504.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 04, 2014  |  2 comments
This 1957 Norman Granz-produced jazz version of the George and Ira Gershwin opera (with libretto and key lyrical contributions by DuBose Heyward) starring Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong backed by a string enriched orchestra is a treat for so many reasons.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 04, 2014  |  9 comments
With most artists, by the time you get to the third greatest hits album you're scraping the bottom of the barrel but not with Elvis Presley. In fact, it could easily be argued that Volume 3 was the "sweet spot" among the original RCA Elvis's greatest hits releases. It's also the first from Elvis's stereo era.

Michael Fremer  |  May 14, 2014  |  4 comments
Billed in the blurb accompanying this modestly packaged LP as a new album by an up and coming jazz singer crossing over to classic country after being turned on to Leonard Cohen by Nancy Wilson (the jazz singer not half of Heart) and later falling under the influence of Dolly, Kitty and John Prine, once you hear some of the readily available downloadable tracks from this just released set you'll be hearing another strong influence not cited as one along with Joni Mitchell and Allison Krauss: Norah Jones.

Michael Fremer  |  May 08, 2014  |  10 comments
Sam Records is a one man, Paris, France-based operation began in 2011. The one man is Fred Thomas, who has self-professed interests in both jazz and photography. He also obviously is a man who cuts no corners and who believes in authenticity.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 23, 2014  |  11 comments
In a truly just world every Jethro Tull fan would know and appreciate Rahsaan Roland Kirk but as with Muddy Waters and The Rolling Stones, these things take time. If you don't know Kirk's music and you're a Tull fan you surely know his "Serenade To A Cuckoo" covered by Ian Anderson on his debut Tull album This Was.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 05, 2014  |  9 comments
A thousand United Airlines commercials later and Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" still sounds fresh, lavish and grand. It epitomizes New York City in its golden jazz age and with every listen opens the mind's eye to yellow incandescent lit Art Deco granite skyscrapers and the general urban dazzle of pre-WWII America. I never get tired of listening to it, the later at night the better for some reason. It could only have been written in America by an American.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 03, 2014  |  55 comments
Given a choice of great mastering and pressing or packaging true to the original, which would you choose? Yes, I know, why not produce a definitive reissue that offers great mastering and pressing and the original triple gatefold jacket and the original limited edition booklet? But clearly that wasn't in the cards for whoever was in charge in order to bring this project to market within budget so it could be sold at a particular price point, which in this case is $39.00 for the double LP set.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 23, 2014  |  24 comments
Last Record Store Day Sony/Legacy reissued three Paul Simon albums: his eponymous solo debut (not counting 1965's U.K.-issued Paul Simon Songbook), There Goes Rhymin' Simon and this record. While all three are musically fine, if you're thinking of buying just one, my vote goes for this one.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 18, 2014  |  4 comments
True Coltrane wasn't yet producing "sheets of sound"—limiting himself maybe to just "pillowcases of sound", but he was still hot to Milt Jackson's cool so this was an interesting experiment—one that succeeded beautifully.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 18, 2014  |  9 comments
Recorded during a six show stint at tiny Cellar Door, a circa 100 seat Washington D.C. basement club November 30th through December 2nd, 1970, this 13 song collection recorded by the great Henry Lewy (thanked in the credits even though he passed away in 2006) presents Neil Young as intimately and as powerfully as you'll hear him on record.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 08, 2014  |  15 comments
The opening wash of gorgeously recorded massed strings might just paralyze you. "Who arranged those? " you might say to yourself but before you could scour the liner notes you hear familiar Sea Change-like guitar strums and you melt.

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