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.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 15, 2003  |  0 comments

Oops. I mistakenly called this Basie Jam in the March Stereophile's "In Heavy Rotation" listing. How's that? This was sent to me, along with others in the series, as test pressings in plain white jackets. Of course I have written often about the original Pablo issue of this monster of a record, so I have no excuses. Anyway, Basie Jam, another Pablo great, has yet to be issued at 45 rpm, so many of you have figured out my mistake and sent me e-mails about it. Sorry.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 15, 2003  |  0 comments

Groups like Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band, and Pentangle thrived in relative obscurity, even at their peaks. They're probably more appreciated and better known today than they were back in the 1960s. Low, a contemplative, musically soft-spoken trio from Duluth, Minnesota and playing since the early '90s, succeeds today with a similarly small but dedicated following much as those fabled "folk" groups did back then: quality of fans over quantity. Low tours, forms musical alliances with other groups (an EP with Australia's Dirty 3, for instance), and issues records and CDs. The band also sells T-shirts and other merchandise online. Most importantly, Low's thoughtful, enigmatic music is in some ways merits comparison to the now-legendary groups mentioned above.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 15, 2003  |  0 comments

Dancing with dangerous abandon on a razor-sharp divide between classic country & western and trailer-park kitsch, Grey De Lisle's Home Wrecker offers a surprisingly wide palette of multi-dimensional musical pleasures, thanks to Marvin Etzioni's sly production and De Lisle's prodigious vocal prowess and songwriting grace.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 26, 2003  |  0 comments

One of the great "almost" bands of the 1960s, The Zombies had a career framed by two massive number-one hits: "She's Not There" in the summer of 1964 and "Time of the "Season" in 1969. It would be difficult to believe that any pop-music lover reading this has not heard those haunting minor-key tunes. This 20-track compilation demonstrates that The Zombies had much more to offer in between, but getting it all in one place has been difficult--and this compilation, good as it is, misses a few gems. If you want it all, try to find a copy of the four-CD, 119-track box set Zombie Heaven (ZOMBOX#7) issued in 1997 by Ace in the U.K.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 26, 2003  |  0 comments

Perhaps you've heard the story by now. It was too good/sad to be true when I caught it a few years ago on CBS's "Sunday Morning." Cassidy was a Washington D.C. cult phenomenon who, it was said, could sing anything from the roughest-edged soul to the most delicate folk. The painfully shy blonde had trouble in front of a live audience but she had her supporters, including Chuck Brown, the innovator of the short-lived D.C. soul/dance/P-Funk-like phenomenon called "Go Go." The idea seemed to be to build it into a genre, competing with what was happening in New York City, but rap and hip-hop overshadowed it. If you can find a copy of Go Go Crankin': Paint the White House Black--a Go Go compilation issued in 1985 on Island subsidiary, 4th & Broadway (Broadway 4001)--you'll get the picture. It's still great party music, and tracks like "Drop the Bomb" by Trouble Funk still pack a powerful punch.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 26, 2003  |  0 comments

Gabriel's new album is Up in name only: the album--his first in a decade (aside from some instrumental soundtracks)--is yet another exploration into life's mysteries and the dark places of Gabriel's mind. If truth-in-packaging laws applied to album titles, this would have to be renamed Down.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 17, 2003  |  0 comments

Sea Change, Beck's late-afternoon, mid-tempo reverie of an album, harkens back to the great old days of painstaking production, carefully drawn arrangements, and a concern for--and love of--sound and musical textures for their own sakes. Tempi are languid, notes are caressed, and gaping atmospheric spaces welcome listeners willing to be drawn in.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 01, 2003  |  0 comments

Explaining the platinum success of Alison Krauss (with or without Union Station) is about as difficult as doing the same for the Buckingham/Nicks incarnation of Fleetwood Mac: melodic pop tunes; sexy, intimate female vocals; and genre-bending arrangements. Fleetwood Mac mixed lots of ABBA into its blues/rock sound; Krauss threw in bluegrass and folk accents. It's as silly to dismiss Krauss because she's not real bluegrass as it is to think that she really is bluegrass! And if you don't think ABBA is at the root of the Buckingham/Nicks Mac, listen to the harmonies on ABBA's "S.O.S."--hell, listen to all of "S.O.S." and then throw on Fleetwood Mac or Rumours.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 31, 2003  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments begins building Full Service Web Site Thanks to strong support from both readers and advertisers,\\\'s site upgrade has been bumped up from the second quarter of 2003 to immediately.