Album Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Mar 14, 2020  |  6 comments
Charles Lloyd turns 82 tomorrow (March 15th). Two years ago, to celebrate his 80th, Dorothy Darr, his wife/manager and herself an artist, threw a year-long party for him and as a present made him work.

Lloyd and his group toured, with each stop a celebration. On his birthday the entourage pulled into his hometown of Santa Barbara, California and performed at the 150 year old Lobero Theater.

The annotation notes that Lloyd has played there more often than any other venue and more often than any other performer, so it was a true homecoming celebration with “kindred spirits” on-stage and in the audience.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 04, 2014  |  2 comments
Recording engineer Mike Valentine produced and recorded an old-fashioned audiophile demo disc using 50 year old Neumann tube microphones and a high resolution Nagra digital recorder all connected together with ZenSati cables from Denmark. One track was recorded using a 1/2" Studer analog deck running at 30 IPS.

Nathan Zeller  |  Mar 30, 2021  |  16 comments
Lana Del Rey is living proof that what’s old will come around, and what’s new isn’t always better. AnalogPlanet readers and writers alike are quite familiar with this sentiment. Nothing beats the magic of the vinyl record. As most music consumers jump between formats, I often ask myself, “Why move past something that works so well?” Lana Del Rey, an enthusiast of all things vintage, asks the same question, only with music.

Joseph W. Washek  |  Sep 14, 2021  |  5 comments
In December 1965, Sam Charters (1929-2015) went to Chicago to record Blues musicians who were playing in the clubs of the Black neighborhoods on the south and west sides. Charters, a white man, had written "The Country Blues" published in 1959. It was the first book about rural blues and while it contained many factual inaccuracies, it was entertaining romantic storytelling and helped foster the interest of young White folk fans in acoustic Blues. The glaring failing of "The Country Blues" was Charters’ insistence that “real blues” was dead, that Lightnin’ Hopkins was the last living blues singer (!), that postwar electric Blues was diluted, crude, loud, monotonous and that, “The blues have almost been pushed out of the picture and the singers who have survived at all have had to change their style until they sound enough like rock and roll performers to pass with the teenage audience.” Opinionated, though he may have been, Charters remained open minded and observant and within a few years, realized that the music being played in the small bars in the Black neighborhoods of Chicago was an urban, modernized version of the rural southern blues he admired so much and served the same social purpose for its audience. 

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 29, 2020  |  12 comments
As I reached my home the other day after an early morning run a neighbor pulled over in his car and asked how I was doing. I said, “great, under the Covid-19 circumstances”. Noting my Biden/Harris lawn sign he said “The Democrats have been taken over by the progressives. Doesn’t that bother you?” I said “No, I’m fairly progressive myself. The GOP has been taken over by Trump, who isn’t sure he’ll hand over the reins of power if he loses the election, doesn’t that bother you?”

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 02, 2020  |  13 comments
This March 25, 1962 recording of Ella Fitzgerald performing live at Berlin’s Sportpalast is remarkable for several reasons, starting with the then 44 year old’s exuberant, high energy performance backed by the trio of Paul Smith on piano, Wilfred Middlebrooks on bass and Stan Levey on drums.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 03, 2021  |  18 comments
Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas album is a secular holiday delight sure to please every listener, even atheists and agnostics. Originally released in 1960, the sound here is warm and inviting as a Yule log burning in the fireplace—once you get past the opener "Jingle Bells", which is somewhat brighter, brasher and more in your face than the rest, though having Ella in your face is hardly problematic.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 05, 2014  |  48 comments
The Internet has diminished the number of "record fairs" but there still are some. When I go to "record fairs" l like to "play against type". If I see a vendor who looks like Elvis Presley (and there is/was one), I know his 50s rock records are going to be good but expensive so I'd rather rummage through the boxes of $1 records he's put on the floor under his table. That's where he puts the "junk" about which he knows nothing.

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  |  Nov 21, 2015  |  16 comments
"Jenny Sings Lenny" as Mr. Cohen playfully referenced this album in a cartoon included in the original release's liner notes but for some reason omitted here, both technically and musically has never sounded better.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 03, 2015  |  28 comments
Long time Gerry Rafferty fans were thrilled for the long-suffering artist when he finally had a hit single under his own name with “Baker Street”, taken from his late ‘70s release City to City.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 09, 2020  |  30 comments
Another murder most foul to revisit. Where were you on December 8th 1980 when the terrible news broke that John Lennon had been assassinated? A girlfriend and I were having dinner with Chuck and Nancy (not Schumer and Pelosi) and with Arnold and Maria (yes, Schwarzenegger and Shriver).

Michael Fremer  |  May 10, 2012  |  19 comments

Twenty five years later, it’s easy to forget that Graceland, the album many consider to be Paul Simon’s finest musical achievement, was mired in controversy because of the continuing disgraceland that was apartheid South Africa. Nelson Mandela was still jailed and protests erupted on college campuses and in the halls of government around the world.

Michael Fremer, Malachi Lui  |  Aug 29, 2021  |  6 comments
This July, Billie Eilish released her highly anticipated second LP, Happier Than Ever. After some contention as to who would review this release, AnalogPlanet editor Michael Fremer and contributing editor Malachi Lui agreed to both comment on it. Below is their conversation about the record.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 01, 2014  |  38 comments
Dylan's previous album Bringing It All Back Home arguably contains the first rap song ("Subterranean Homesick Blues") and is associated with the first rock video—the one where he holds up those cue cards with some of the lyrics—but this album made Dylan a rock star. The cover photo remains iconic and enigmatic: Dylan as The Mona Lisa?

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