Album Reviews

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Mike Mettler  |  Jul 26, 2023  |  29 comments

Just how good is Peter Frampton’s excellent new Frampton@50: In the Studio 1972-1975 180g 3LP box set from Intervention Records? The following three numbers tell the tale in shorthand: 100, 50, and 75. Find out what they mean and why this all-analog vinyl collection of three key entries from Frampton’s early solo career sets new standards for box set presentation by reading AP editor Mike Mettler’s in-depth review. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jul 21, 2023  |  9 comments

The cover image is iconic. The opening strains of the recording are iconic. Even the original label design is iconic. Fifty years on, we now celebrate Mike Oldfield’s landmark progressive masterwork debut album, May 1973’s Tubular Bells, with an expanded 180g 2LP half-speed-remastered edition overseen by Oldfield himself. Read on to get Mark Smotroff’s take on this this avowed timeless classic. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jul 14, 2023  |  4 comments

Universal ushers in a new era of limited-edition Pete Townshend solo 180g 1LP reissues with a pair of Abbey Road Studios half-speed-mastered editions: 1) Rough Mix, Pete’s September 1977 collaboration with Ronnie Lane, and 2) April 1980’s Empty Glass. Read Mark Smotroff’s combo review to see how these two new half-speed-mastered versions stack up with the originals. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jul 07, 2023  |  2 comments

The once-buried archival recordings that comprise Frank Zappa’s new 180g 2LP set Funky Nothingness are not just the components of a lost album, but more of an insightful transitional link into FZ’s compositional mindset. This new album also connects many musical dots between the aftermath of FZ’s October 1969 landmark jazz fusion masterpiece Hot Rats and October 1970’s Chunga’s Revenge — and beyond. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see just how quickly Funky Nothingness should jump to the front of your LP listening queue. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 29, 2023  |  7 comments

Tears For Fears’ synth-centric March 1983 debut album The Hurting set the stage for the broader scope of their ensuing worldwide mega-breakthrough. This key album is now being properly feted with a 180 1LP reissue from Mercury/UMC, as half-speed mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. Read Mark Smotroff’s review of the fine new 40th anniversary edition of The Hurting to see just how Tears For Fears laid the groundwork for their still-innovative soundscapes. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 23, 2023  |  2 comments

For the first time in many decades, XTC’s October 1978 sophomore album Go 2 is available again on vinyl, this time as a limited-edition 200g 2LP set via Ape House that includes the ever-elusive companion Go+ EP of dub remixes on its own disc. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why this new, expanded edition of Go 2 is worth both the time and listening investment. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 16, 2023  |  13 comments
Alice Cooper ascended to rock royalty with the raw punch and power of a pair of impactful back-to-back albums, November 1971’s Killer and June 1972’s School’s Out. Realizing that just reissuing the original LPs in simply remastered form was not going to be quite enough to properly celebrate the golden anniversaries of these two landmark records, the Warner/Rhino braintrust have seen fit to include a bounty of bonus materials on both 180g 3LP collections including live recordings, alternate takes, demos, and single mixes. Read Mark Smotroff’s combo review of a pair of now-expanded seminal Alice Cooper albums made better with their respective 50th anniversary vinyl editions. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 08, 2023  |  6 comments

How can an album that has been included in numerous greatest albums of all time lists made by an artist inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame remain so elusive that its original pressings are still in high demand? Luckily, Craft Recordings has made that point somewhat moot by releasing an all-analog 180g reissue of Albert King’s seminal August 1967 LP Born Under A Bad Sign. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why this new Craft edition is an absolutely essential addition to your blues LP listening collection. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 01, 2023  |  9 comments

Geffen/UMe has just released a new 180g 1LP version of Steely Dan’s sophomore album, July 1973’s Countdown to Ecstasy. Read our intrepid reviewer Mark Smotroff’s take on this new-to-2023 version of Ecstasy and how it compares to an original 1973 black-label copy as well as the album’s vintage quad edition. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 26, 2023  |  8 comments

Good news! Craft Recordings — the boutique vinyl arm of Concord Music, who control the catalogs of Fantasy, Riverside, Milestone, and many other related labels — has duly revived the Original Jazz Classics series as a brand imprint for the now times. One of the first titles being reissued by Craft under the vaunted OJC umbrella is out today, May 26, in a new, 180g 1LP all-analog remastered edition: Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why this seminal mid-century collaboration between two jazz giants immediately belongs in your vinyl collection. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 19, 2023  |  2 comments

David Byrne’s The Catherine Wheel has long been a favorite release amongst his fervent fanbase, dating back to the album’s first, albeit abbreviated appearance on vinyl in December 1981. Finally, The Complete Score From the Broadway Production of “The Catherine Wheel” gets its full due on 2LP black vinyl, thanks to its Record Store Day 2023 release in a run of 6,500 copies. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if this expanded edition should become an essential part of your own Catherine Wheel listening experience. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 12, 2023  |  10 comments

On Record Store Day 2023, Rhino Records issued another entry in their fine series of super-deluxe multidisc vinyl box sets celebrating the road trips of the Grateful Dead, a 180g 5LP box set titled Boston Garden, Boston, MA 5/7/77 (a.k.a. Boston 5.7.77). This new edition is an important historical puzzle piece in the band’s storied legacy, effectively completing a trilogy of live releases culled from their epic spring 1977 tour peak. AP’s resident Deadhead Mark Smotroff got his hands on one these new limited edition collections, so read on to see his reasoning as to why it’s an instantly essential entry in the Dead’s live legacy on vinyl. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 10, 2023  |  2 comments

Cookin’ With Jaws and the Queen: The Legendary Prestige Cookbook Albums is a wonderful new 4LP stereo box set collection from Craft Recordings that offers cause for rejoicing among fans of soul jazz, and most specifically fans of saxophonist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis in particular. Culled from three classic 1958 Cookbook session recordings, the albums in this box are some of the backbone entries of a musical artform that would explode in popularity over the next 20 years, and ultimately onward into the 21st century. Read Mark Smotroff’s ready-to-serve review to see if the Cookin’ With Jaws and the Queen box set is indeed tasty enough to add to your regular LP-listening diet. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 03, 2023  |  15 comments

Beatles fans generally fall into two camps when it comes to how they feel about Paul McCartney’s solo and Wings eras — they either love them, or they more or less loathe them. That said, one Wings album we’ve really grown to love over the years is April 1973’s Red Rose Speedway. We’ve explored different pressings of this LP all along the way, and it’s always hinted there might be something sonically stronger hidden within the grooves. And now, with the half-speed mastered Record Store Day 2023 180g 1LP release of Red Rose Speedway, we finally have an answer. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to find out why this new RSD 2023 vinyl edition is worth your spinning time. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Apr 21, 2023  |  3 comments

The Jazz Detective label has done truly great work in preparing Chet Baker’s new 180g 2LP set, Blue Room: The 1979 VARA Studio Sessions in Holland, for its Record Store Day 2023 release on April 22. Read on to see why Mark Smotroff feels should be near the top of your own RSD 2023 acquisition wishlist. . .

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