Review Explosion

Sort By: Post DateTitle Publish Date
Mark Smotroff  |  Apr 18, 2024  |  0 comments

It’s not often you get new titles from three legendary artists of yesteryear like gospel icon Sister Rosetta Tharpe, piano virtuoso Art Tatum, and soul-jazz organ pioneer Brother Jack McDuff all released on the same day. But this year, all three of them are being celebrated on Record Store Day 2024 — this year’s first installment of which happens to fall on this upcoming Saturday, April 20 — with newly unearthed, previously unreleased, multidisc live concert recordings on 180g black vinyl. Read Mark Smotroff’s review of all three of these releases to see which one, or ones, belong on your “must have” RSD 2024 shopping list. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Mar 22, 2024  |  3 comments

Our first 2024 installment of Review Explosion Short Cuts includes a trio of fine new 1LP releases from the cool Radiohead side project knows as The Smile, the latest, hi-fi-sounding album from indie faves Guided By Voices, and the debut LP from East L.A. “souldies” pioneers Thee Sinseers. Read Mark Smotroff’s combo-platter review to see if any, or all three, of these new LPs belong in your collection. . .

Mike Mettler, Mark Smotroff  |  Dec 30, 2023  |  14 comments

Looks like another year has gone by with a seemingly endless release-cycle parade consisting of scores of brand-new LPs from both known artists and untested newcomers alike, along with a myriad of archival vinyl reissues and overstuffed box sets galore — a good number of them presented in the much-preferred AAA form to boot. With the calendar set to turn over to 2024 any day now, that means it’s high time to assess the best of what we’ve heard on wax during the past 12 months. Read on to see AP editor Mike Mettler and chief LP reviewer Mark Smotroff’s respective lists of the top archival and new LP releases of 2023. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Nov 15, 2023  |  4 comments

Our latest Review Explosion Short Cuts serving tackles a trio of fine new LP sets thematically connected by a common love of British rock of the 1960s and ’70s. Included herein are an archival 2LP live set from The Flaming Lips circa 2003, a recent 1LP studio offering from the ever-prolific Guided By Voices, and the first official solo sojourn LP from acclaimed Irish singer/songwriter/producer Thomas Walsh. Read on to glean Mark Smotroff’s take on these wonderful LP sides that are collectively chock full of melody and imagination. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Nov 10, 2023  |  45 comments

In retrospect, Tom Waits’ trajectory from singer/song writer to down-beaten jazz-fueled street person scowling at the piano in the 1970s made perfect sense. But when he came out of the gate in the early 1980s, his transformation was almost as dramatic as David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust reinvention. Five new of-era 180g 1LP reissues from Island/UMe — namely, 1983’s Swordfishtrombones, 1985’s Rain Dogs, 1987’s Franks Wild Years, 1992’s Bone Machine, and 1993’s The Black Rider — all seek to remind us of just how fertile this period was in Waits’ overall canon. Read Mark Smotroff’s Short Cuts combo review to see if any or all of these new wonderful Waits reissues belong in your collection. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Nov 02, 2023  |  2 comments

ECM has just expanded their vinyl reissue campaign under the new Luminessence banner, a series that purports to have accessed analog masters for these new 180g 1LP editions. Read Mark Smotroff’s Short Cuts combo review of four key Luminessence titles — from Naná Vasconcelos, Kenny Wheeler, Gary Burton, and Old and New Dreams — to see if any or all of them belong in your collection. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Oct 21, 2023  |  4 comments

Created with direct input from label founder Marshall Chess, VMP’s The Story of Cadet Records almost entirely AAA 180g 8LP super deluxe box set is a welcome addition to the analog fold. The eight albums offered herein — including rare titles from the likes of Muddy Waters, Etta James, and Ramsey Lewis — are a healthy cross-section snapshot of the expansive sounds Cadet was pursuing as the mid-1960s exploded both socially and musically. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why The Story of Cadet Records is worth the investment. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Sep 29, 2023  |  3 comments

Our seventh Short Cuts installment of Review Explosion is all about Pharoah Sanders — namely, the rare 1977 spiritual jazz album Pharoah that’s now a part of a new 2LP Luaka Bop box set that also includes a separate Harvest Time Live 1977 LP, plus a look at the fine 180g 1LP Third Man-Pressed Verve by Request reissue of 1972’s Black Unity. Read on to get Mark Smotroff’s take on both of these quite worthwhile reissues. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Sep 01, 2023  |  2 comments

With so many pressing plants being fairly maxed out these days in terms of their production capacity, it’s been nice to see how Detroit’s Third Man Pressing has stepped up to the plate to deliver respectable, audiophile-grade vinyl pressings at fairly reasonable SRPs. Read Mark Smotroff’s combo review of three new Verve by Request 180g 1LP reissues from jazz greats Archie Shepp, Yusef Lateef, and The Ahmad Jamal Trio — all of which have been recently pressed at Third Man — to see if they make the grade. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Aug 04, 2023  |  5 comments

We got that jazz-jones thing already going again, so we’re back with another jazz-centric triple-play review. Read Mark Smotroff’s Short Cuts combo take on a trio of jazz classics — both old and newly discovered alike — from Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd, Wynton Kelly Trio & Wes Montgomery, and Sun Ra. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Aug 03, 2023  |  1 comments

Collecting original pressings of rare albums can be exciting, frustrating, and even debilitating at times. The good news is, there are a lot of really excellent reissues coming out these days that seem only to be getting better and better. Read Mark Smotroff’s triple Short Cuts review of new 180g 1LP reissues of classic titles from Alice Coltrane, Dorothy Ashby, and Gabor Szabo to see if any of them just might whet your eclectic jazz-listening whistle. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jul 20, 2023  |  7 comments

Welcome back to the third installment of our ongoing Review Explosion series, Short Cuts edition! This time, we have three new jazz releases sharing some common threads that connect the artists in question, yet are about as different as night and day. Read on to see what Mark Smotroff has to say about a pair of excellent new AAA Bill Evans Trio and Miles Davis Quintet OJC studio 180g 1LP reissues, plus a legendary lost archival live John Coltrane With Eric Dolphy 2LP set — but note that the latter release comes with one important caveat. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jul 01, 2023  |  4 comments

Welcome to our second installment of Review Explosion Short Cuts! Here in Vol. 2, we tackle three more LP releases worthy of your attention: 1) Billy Joel’s Live At The Great American Music Hall, 1975, a 2LP RSD 2023 title that had proven somewhat elusive to obtain until recently; 2) the 20th anniversary 2LP reissue of acclaimed soul giant Solomon Burke’s Grammy-winning 2002 album Don’t Give Up on Me; and 3) Blood Harmony, the latest 1LP release from Larkin Poe, those great blues-rockin’ guitar-slingin’ sisters of Southern origin. Read Mark Smotroff’s triple-play review to get the full scoop on all three of these highly recommended LPs. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 15, 2023  |  5 comments

Our latest Review Explosion Short Cuts extravaganza focuses on three prime, and quite diverse, Record Store Day 2023 releases — namely, an LP’s worth of Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine’s late-’60s psychedelic explorations, a live 2LP release from the ever-brilliant funky-quirky Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band, and a solo 1LP Prefab Sprout production from Paddy McAloon, the main driver of one of England’s greatly underrated pop outfits. Read on to get Mark Smotroff’s take on a trio of fine RSD 2023 releases you are going to want to track down for your own listening enjoyment, forthwith. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 05, 2023  |  13 comments

ECM Records is back! Well, they never really went away in the eyes and ears of many audiophiles, but now the legendary ambient jazz label has decided to rejoin us here in the vinyl pool, and the idea couldn’t have come at a better time. Read on to glean Mark Smotroff’s capsule reviews of five current ECM LP releases from John Scofield, Avishai Cohen, Tord Gustavsen, Enrico Rava & Mark Turner. . .

Pages

X