Album Reviews

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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.
Malachi Lui  |  Jun 30, 2021  |  8 comments
As jazz vinyl sees a great resurgence, new labels issuing archival material and recent recordings contribute to a now-overwhelming catalog of available records. Run by former ECM producer Sun Chung, Red Hook Records bills itself as “a place for encounters, where musicians have opportunities [to] carve new adventurous ways of creative wayfaring [and] dissolve musical boundaries.” Red Hook’s release focus and target audience remains unclear; not all jazz buyers are audiophiles, and not all audiophiles accept newer recordings. The label’s inaugural release is Hanamichi,
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 03, 2017  |  12 comments
"Mood music" is how the annotation characterizes this album of medium-sized ensembles imaginatively arranged by the then still in his 20s French jazz enthusiast Michel Legrand. Previous to these 1958 sessions Legrand had released three "mood music" concept albums: I Love Paris (CL555), Columbia Album of Cole Porter (C2L4), Legrand in Rio (CL 1139) and I Love Movies (CL 1178). This was his first stab at a real jazz album andgiven the assembled cast of greats what a heady experience it must have been for him to both arrange and conduct in New York City those three days in early summer, 1958 .

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 03, 2019  |  16 comments
This is the 45rpm version of IMPEX's 2017 33 1/3 all-analog reissue of Michel Legrand's somewhat overlooked musical and sonic treasure featuring many of the greatest jazz artists of the era. Nothing other than Legrand's passing has changed since the original reissue review, so I'm just repeating it, other than to add that it sounds even "Legrander" at 45rpm, though if you already own IMPEX's 33 1/3 version, it's not really necessary to buy it again, unless you must! An enticement might be the now glossy laminated jacket and gatefold booklet with a very useful and informed essay by KCRW's Tom Schnabel.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 01, 2014  |  10 comments
Nothing Los Lobos recorded previous to 1992’s Kiko could have prepared anyone for this piece of sustained, surreal brilliance. Dreamlike sonic vistas, ominous lyrical horizons, mysterious musical crevices, and spring-like rhythmic compressions and extensions combine to create a dayglo, funhouse-like environment filled with familiar, but oddly drawn musical elements.
Michael Fremer  |  Jun 24, 2020  |  16 comments
Billed by his label as a “long lost masterpiece by Neil Young”, referred to by fans as “one of Young’s mysterious, great ‘lost albums’” and described by Young himself as “the one that got away”, Homegrown was recorded mostly between late 1974 and early ’75, with one track from late spring ‘74 and another from late summer of that year.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 15, 2015  |  18 comments
Chad Kassem's got a vinyl selling website, a reissue label, a pressing plant and well-oiled licensing deals so what's left to do but a self-produced double vinyl Christmas compilation pressed on red and green?

Malachi Lui  |  Sep 18, 2021  |  44 comments
Time and time again, Kanye West succeeds in the unexpected. With each album, he overcomes struggles regarding celebrity, ego, family, mental health, and religion, moving forward yet never fully conquering his demons. He married and had four kids with Hollywood socialite/tabloid fixture Kim Kardashian, though still maintained his unfiltered authenticity. A consistently provocative—off-putting, some might say—figure who lives at pop culture’s core, he encapsulates human nature’s duality and contradiction. Kanye West is a rough-edged perfectionist, a master of spectacle, and even if you hate him, the center of attention.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 04, 2018  |  16 comments
Silly me! I thought all Hans Zimmer lifted for The Gladiator soundtrack were bits and pieces of Holst's "The Planets". Everyone does that so no offense, but after playing this reissue I heard from where came the best parts of The Gladiator soundtrack. Surely this was on the CD player when Zimmer created his track. Don't get me wrong, it's still a masterful soundtrack and filled with sonic and musical jolts, but here's from where it originated.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 16, 2019  |  22 comments
When first released in America in 1978 Dire Straits’ debut was an immediate sensation, though cautious record labels at first rejected signing the group until Warner Brothers bit. The original Vertigo release hit the U.K. earlier. Eventually, propelled by the catchy single “Sultans of Swing”, the album was Top Ten throughout Europe and much of the world.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2014  |  33 comments
On his posthumous album The Sky Is Crying, Stevie Ray Vaughan covers "Chitlins Con Carne", the opening tune on this seminal 1963 jazz/blues release. The annotation includes a quote from brother Jimmie who said that the album was "...a tribute to Stevie's heroes...." among whom was Burrell. Despite his undeserved reputation as a "note-slinger", SRV's version evokes the delicacy, nuance and open spaces found on the original.

Ty Webb  |  Sep 28, 2020  |  2 comments
In this, the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birthday, Yarlung Records offers a recording worthy of the master, a delectation from the Janaki String Trio that was originally recorded in 2006 in Zipper Hall. The sonics are as inviting as the playing.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 15, 2016  |  6 comments
If you go into this ambitious acoustic Led Zeppelin covers project hard wired for Robert Plant and Jimmy Page you’re probably bound for disappointment but if you just relax into it, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you see in your mind’s eye. You’ll surely like what the production brings to your ears.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 30, 2021  |  0 comments
The always defiant, sometimes bitter and often angry Charles Mingus had a habit of declaring more than a few of his records as his best, including this one. He might be correct about The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady recorded January, 1963, though Tijuana Moods and several others are definitely in the running.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 05, 2018  |  3 comments
Buddy Holly's last album before "the day the music died" released in 1958 belongs in every rock-based record collection. It's not even a close call. And this reissue sourced from the original analog tapes still in superb condition and cut by Kevin Gray is by far the best sounding edition ever.

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