Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Jan 03, 2014  |  6 comments
Frank Zappa’s sprawling 1969 soundtrack from a movie (he correctly supposes in a speech balloon) “….you will probably never get to see”, has ripened beautifully with age.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 13, 2013  |  5 comments
Chamber music at a corner dive? Not likely, but this Kickstarter financed double LP set bears witness to the unlikely success of what sounds like an impossible combination of Beethoven and beer at an ex-polka bar located in the recently gentrified but once less than savory area now known as Cleveland, Ohio's Gordon Square Arts District.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 12, 2013  |  39 comments
This ravishing beauty, originally released in 1960 or fifty three years ago, has been a long-time audiophile classic. It's also considering to be among the finest if not the finest performance on record or any other format.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 18, 2013  |  3 comments
I don't know what "defo" is, but judging by this record, life after it is achingly melancholic. Actually after writing that I did web search and learned that "defo" means something like "certainty". So who can argue that life after certainty would leave you anything but melancholic or worse?

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 24, 2013  |  8 comments
Warner Brothers put Randy Newman on a college tour in 1969 with Ry Cooder and Captain Beefheart. The idea was to familiarize college kids with the label's eclectic artistic mix.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 24, 2013  |  12 comments
In 1972 and '73 you'd hear this classic album playing in every hippie crash pad and college dorm room in America. It was a "chick" album guys could dig. Her friend James Taylor had encouraged the veteran song writer to sing her own songs.
Michael Fremer  |  Oct 17, 2013  |  29 comments
What would Mobile Fidelity do without a master tape? It doesn't exist. Or at least it can't be found. A Mo-Fi person asked me what I knew. I told them I knew the tape's been missing for years but that I'd check with the late Levon Helm's people to see what they might know. A search of Levon's tape library didn't produce it and a someone else I know checked with Robbie Robertson's people. No master.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 25, 2013  |  30 comments
How to follow up Highway 61 Revisited released in the summer of 1965? Dylan had an impending nine-month world tour to deal with and a band to assemble. He hooked up with an outfit called Levon and the Hawks and after a few weeks of rehearsing and well-received live performances in Texas, he took the group to Columbia Studios in New York.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 24, 2013  |  48 comments
Over the past few Record Store Days Sony/Legacy has been slowly rolling out on 180g vinyl, much of the Miles Davis catalog mastered from original analog tapes. This coming Record Store Day, November 29th, the label will release on vinyl Miles and Monk at Newport, Jazz Track and Kind of Blue. At that point, all nine mono vinyl titles will have been released. The same nine mono titles will debut on CD in a new box set MILES DAVIS: The Original Mono Recordings to be released on November 11th of this year


Michael Fremer  |  Sep 15, 2013  |  2 comments
Like Marshall Crenshaw’s debut, Cyndi Lauper’s first album would be difficult to top and neither she nor Crenshaw managed to do it. Better to peak early than not peak at all—not that either of them didn’t release some very good follow-ups.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 11, 2013  |  5 comments
I'll never forget the first time I heard well-recorded vibes on an audio system. It was at an E.J. Korvette's in Douglaston, NY on a pair of their XAM "house brand" speakers playing in the store's record department. I bought a lot of records there. The album was Terry Gibbs Quartet's That Swing Thing (Verve V6-8447) recorded live at Shelley's Mannehole in Los Angeles.

 |  Sep 04, 2013  |  18 comments
Probably not by accident was this second Blood, Sweat & Tears album not called Blood, Sweat & Tears 2, even though that’s what it is. Child Is Father to The Man the first BS&T album, a jazz infused production featuring on occasion a string section and heavily under Al Kooper’s influence, including the some would call grotesque album cover, was a critical success and a commercial flop.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 19, 2013  |  6 comments
The late Carl E. Jefferson's Concord Records, (now owned by Concord Music Group, which owns Fantasy, Prestige, Riverside, Stax, Specialty, Telarc, Hear Music etc.), founded in 1972 at a time when the pioneering jazz "majors" Blue Note and the above mentioned Prestige, Riverside, etc. had been bought and turned into catalog to be "asset managed" with little or no forward direction, remains, like Norman Granz's Pablo Records, among the most underrated and undervalued on the used LP market.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 19, 2013  |  15 comments
Note: What's directly below is a very personal review of Sony/Legacy's late 2000's In A Silent Way 180g vinyl reissue originally published on, followed by an update review of Mobile Fidelity's recent AAA reissue.-ed.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 19, 2013  |  5 comments
Only side one was actually recorded live at New York's now shuttered Half Note back in June of 1965; the other side was taped during an Autumn studio date at Van Gelder's place in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. The Kelly Trio, which included Jimmy Cobb and Paul Chambers — the rest of Miles Davis' former rhythm section — is joined by one of the world's most original jazz guitarist, the late Wes Montgomery, on a smooth set that goes down easy both because of the straight-ahead swing of the playing and Van Gelder's superb recording. The live side captures Montgomery's rich sound better than any other recording I've ever heard, and the studio side is only down a notch from that.