Mark Smotroff

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 16, 2023  |  13 comments
Alice Cooper ascended to rock royalty with the raw punch and power of a pair of impactful back-to-back albums, November 1971’s Killer and June 1972’s School’s Out. Realizing that just reissuing the original LPs in simply remastered form was not going to be quite enough to properly celebrate the golden anniversaries of these two landmark records, the Warner/Rhino braintrust have seen fit to include a bounty of bonus materials on both 180g 3LP collections including live recordings, alternate takes, demos, and single mixes. Read Mark Smotroff’s combo review of a pair of now-expanded seminal Alice Cooper albums made better with their respective 50th anniversary vinyl editions. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 15, 2023  |  First Published: Jun 15, 2023  |  3 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  |  Jun 08, 2023  |  6 comments

How can an album that has been included in numerous greatest albums of all time lists made by an artist inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame remain so elusive that its original pressings are still in high demand? Luckily, Craft Recordings has made that point somewhat moot by releasing an all-analog 180g reissue of Albert King’s seminal August 1967 LP Born Under A Bad Sign. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why this new Craft edition is an absolutely essential addition to your blues LP listening collection. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  Jun 01, 2023  |  9 comments

Geffen/UMe has just released a new 180g 1LP version of Steely Dan’s sophomore album, July 1973’s Countdown to Ecstasy. Read our intrepid reviewer Mark Smotroff’s take on this new-to-2023 version of Ecstasy and how it compares to an original 1973 black-label copy as well as the album’s vintage quad edition. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 26, 2023  |  8 comments

Good news! Craft Recordings — the boutique vinyl arm of Concord Music, who control the catalogs of Fantasy, Riverside, Milestone, and many other related labels — has duly revived the Original Jazz Classics series as a brand imprint for the now times. One of the first titles being reissued by Craft under the vaunted OJC umbrella is out today, May 26, in a new, 180g 1LP all-analog remastered edition: Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see why this seminal mid-century collaboration between two jazz giants immediately belongs in your vinyl collection. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 19, 2023  |  2 comments

David Byrne’s The Catherine Wheel has long been a favorite release amongst his fervent fanbase, dating back to the album’s first, albeit abbreviated appearance on vinyl in December 1981. Finally, The Complete Score From the Broadway Production of “The Catherine Wheel” gets its full due on 2LP black vinyl, thanks to its Record Store Day 2023 release in a run of 6,500 copies. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to see if this expanded edition should become an essential part of your own Catherine Wheel listening experience. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 12, 2023  |  10 comments

On Record Store Day 2023, Rhino Records issued another entry in their fine series of super-deluxe multidisc vinyl box sets celebrating the road trips of the Grateful Dead, a 180g 5LP box set titled Boston Garden, Boston, MA 5/7/77 (a.k.a. Boston 5.7.77). This new edition is an important historical puzzle piece in the band’s storied legacy, effectively completing a trilogy of live releases culled from their epic spring 1977 tour peak. AP’s resident Deadhead Mark Smotroff got his hands on one these new limited edition collections, so read on to see his reasoning as to why it’s an instantly essential entry in the Dead’s live legacy on vinyl. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 10, 2023  |  2 comments

Cookin’ With Jaws and the Queen: The Legendary Prestige Cookbook Albums is a wonderful new 4LP stereo box set collection from Craft Recordings that offers cause for rejoicing among fans of soul jazz, and most specifically fans of saxophonist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis in particular. Culled from three classic 1958 Cookbook session recordings, the albums in this box are some of the backbone entries of a musical artform that would explode in popularity over the next 20 years, and ultimately onward into the 21st century. Read Mark Smotroff’s ready-to-serve review to see if the Cookin’ With Jaws and the Queen box set is indeed tasty enough to add to your regular LP-listening diet. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 05, 2023  |  First Published: 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. . .

Mark Smotroff  |  May 03, 2023  |  15 comments

Beatles fans generally fall into two camps when it comes to how they feel about Paul McCartney’s solo and Wings eras — they either love them, or they more or less loathe them. That said, one Wings album we’ve really grown to love over the years is April 1973’s Red Rose Speedway. We’ve explored different pressings of this LP all along the way, and it’s always hinted there might be something sonically stronger hidden within the grooves. And now, with the half-speed mastered Record Store Day 2023 180g 1LP release of Red Rose Speedway, we finally have an answer. Read Mark Smotroff’s review to find out why this new RSD 2023 vinyl edition is worth your spinning time. . .

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