LATEST ADDITIONS

Michael Fremer  |  May 01, 2003  |  0 comments

On her 18th album--and her first in eight years--Joan Armatrading offers a mostly light-hearted exploration of love and affection on Lover's Speak, a set of 14 melodic, hard-rocking, well-crafted songs. Whether leading with her husky, low-end growl or vulnerable, breathy falsetto, the 52-year-old veteran performer's distinctive voice remains remarkably supple--her mid-'70s power barely diminished by time.

Michael Fremer  |  May 01, 2003  |  0 comments

At a party the other day, I heard a guy complaining about the sad state of rock’n’roll, pop, or whatever you want to call it. “Where are today’s Beatles,” he demanded to know. “Listen to the crap on the radio,” he went on. I tried to remind him that aside from the odd ‘60’s cultural inversion that made what was good, popular, (Beatles, Stones, Byrds, Motown, etc.), much of what was good was not popular (Dylan for instance), and that by the end of the decade what we consider “popular,” (Hendrix, Clapton, Cream, Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, etc.) were essentially “underground” acts, way outside of the mainstream “Top 40.”

 |  Apr 16, 2003  |  0 comments

Eighty Eight's, the new jazz label from Yasohachi "88" Itoh (Eighty-Eights.com, a division of Sony Music Japan's Village Records), charged out of the starting gate this past winter with an ambitious series of eight audiophile-quality jazz recordings. Itoh is well known to '70s audiophiles for his legendary East Wind series of "Direct Cutting," direct-to-disc recordings. Among the most highly sought after of the series is The L.A. 4's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte (EW 10003, 1977). The title tune is a jazz rendering of the Ravel piece arranged by The L.A. 4's guitarist, Laurindo Almeida. The other three of the quartet are Bud Shank (flute/saxophone) and the superb rhythm team of Ray Brown and Shelly Manne. Groove Note recently reissued Just Friends (1978), another L.A. 4 recording, on SACD and on two 45-rpm, 180-gram vinyl discs. (That will be reviewed here shortly.)

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 16, 2003  |  0 comments

Lonely and Blue, the rarest and most valuable of Roy Orbison's Monument LPs--his first for the label--has been given splendid sonic and packaging care by Classic Records, in both monophonic and stereo editions. According to Classic's Mike Hobson, this is the first time the original master tapes have been used since the original pressings were issued in 1961. At a January 2003 Consumer Electronics Show press conference, Hobson told how the masters were discovered in Nashville and gave every indication of having not been "cracked" since they were used to generate the original LP. What Mobile Fidelity used for its gold CD, or Sony for its gold CD, remains a mystery, then, but when you hear this issue, you'll have no doubt the original tapes were used--especially if you've become accustomed to those CDs.

 |  Mar 16, 2003  |  0 comments

This collection of mostly home recordings, originally issued on Atco in 1983, strips away the rock-star glam and reveals Pete Townshend's inner geek: a techno-dweeb who plays with recording equipment. Gotta love that! On the first LP's inner sleeve Townshend does a version of what audiophiles like to do: he lists his gear history. For example, "Studio One Ealing 1964: Above parents home. 2 Vortexion mono tape machines. 1 microphone (a Reslo)." Or "Studio Six Twickenham 'Home' 1969: Built my first separate control room/studio in two tiny adjacent rooms. Bought Dolby A301s for my REVOXES and later a small NEVE desk and a gorgeous 7'4" BOSENDORFER grand piano. The WHO did some work here when I went 8 track in 1971."

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 16, 2003  |  0 comments

By the end of the '70s, rock was dead, prog-rock had grown grotesquely self-indulgent, and the angry punk/new wave deconstruction had begun. It was a long-overdue musical cleansing. The Sex Pistols and The Clash were at opposite ends of the dividing line: one unabashedly stupid, the other worldly and literate. The late Joe Strummer was anything but working class, but he kept his upper-class roots tightly wrapped beneath a veneer of growling anger and disgust. He was hardly alone in towing the image line.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 16, 2003  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments
Dense, compact, and built to run O-rings around the competition, SME's flagship turntable makes every other design I've encountered—with the possible exception of Rockport's System III Sirius—look almost homemade. I don't mean to insult the many fine, well-engineered designs out there, but I've seen nothing else to compare with SME's tank-like approach to spinning a record. Comparing the Model 30/2 to a tank isn't exactly fair: the machining is done to higher than mil-spec tolerances. I don't think anyone else building turntables today is capable of this level of construction quality, never mind design ingenuity and fit'n'finish.
 |  Mar 16, 2003  |  0 comments

The Beatles and The Stones took '50s American blues, country, and R&B, absorbed it, transposed it, and gave it back to a generation of white middle-class American kids from whom the originals had been purposefully kept. Pat Boone redid Little Richard's "Tutti Fruiti" to make it "acceptable" to white America, and, well, surely you know the rest of the story, so I won't repeat it here.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 16, 2003  |  0 comments


Perhaps, in a perfect audiophile world, Shel Talmy would have arranged to remix these three-track originals to analog for the LP release and to digital for the CD. But this isn't a perfect world. However, compared to my original American Decca "stereo" pressing of The Who Sings My Generation (Decca DL 74664), this is perfection. The original stereo edition was an electronically reprocessed, boxy-sounding compressed mess. While purists may have preferred it in mono, the stereo remix found in My Generation (Deluxe Edition) is respectful and keeps most of the action centered, avoiding hard-left and -right separation. I did get a chance to hear an original UK Brunswick mono pressing, and this reissue has nothing to be ashamed of.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 16, 2003  |  0 comments

LPs are back, but they can be expensive--I don't have to tell you that. One of the great frustrations of their return is finding a bin full of unknowns and not knowing which might be worthwhile. That's why you come to this site. But where do I turn? To find this moody, evocative album I turned to a guy working the crowded floor at Rocks In Your Head, a densely packed Prince Street LP emporium in NYC's Tribeca area.

Pages

X