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Music Reviews - Ray Brown, John Clayton, Christian McBride: Super Bass (SACD)

Cast your Fate to the Wind

“You might be inclined to pass off this disc, the second live outing for this ad-hoc group, as equivalent to such novelty efforts as Duelling Tubas, but in fact, this is the real thing, three of the best bottom feeders, so to speak, doing things on a bass that you never thought possible, (or even legal, for that matter). Another benefit of this disc, like Dean Peer�s solo electric bass CD, UCross, is that you�ll soon find all the vibrating objects in your listening room; I tightened up the track lights above my speakers this way, and got rid of a long-mysterious rattle…”

Music Reviews - Jazz/Concord and Rhythm Willie: Herb Ellis (DVD-Audio)

Herb Ellis DVD-A

“About as amiable as it gets, this session from 1974 has been remastered to DVD-A from the analog stereo tapes, and presents 9 standards, ranging from The Shadow of Your Smile to Love For Sale, with Herb Ellis playing most of the lead guitar at left, but with Joe Pass embroidering, underlining, and sweetening with much more than rhythm guitar. Ray Brown provides bass leadership, as is his wont, while Jake Hanna keeps the rhythm strong with his drum kit through all the electric guitar doodling…”

Music Reviews - Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus/Cast Your Fate to the Wind (SACD)

Cast your Fate to the Wind

“Ah, the memories of being a college DJ, playing those Ahmad Jamal and Vince Guaraldi seduction tunes, interlaced with a little folk music, Johnny Mathis, and so on. Cast Your Fate To The Wind was a huge hit on most charts in the pre-Beatles era, and the album that carried it was originally titled Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus, until the single hit the charts…”

Supersounds (Fall 2003) - Classical SACD and CD

Malher Symphony #6 SACD

“This new SACD is to my ears the best Mahler recording ever. Zander’s reading has passion and impulsion, and the sound is simply amazing. The louder you play it, the better it sounds, and I didn’t have the advantage of discrete multichannel, listening through the Pioneer Elite DV-AX10, which preceded 5-channel SACD. However, I’ll take state-of-the-art 2-channel over mediocre multi any time. By the time we finally got to the “hammers of fate” in the finale, I was totally immersed in this immense symphonic conception…”

Music Reviews - The Flaming Lips: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots

The Flaming Lips:  Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

“In 1999, The Flaming Lips (Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd, and Michael Ivins) achieved rare critical recognition following the release of their 10th album The Soft Bulletin. Hailed by rock pundits of all stripes and persuasions as both a surprise masterpiece and one of the most finely crafted pop albums of the 1990s, The Flaming Lips rocketed-out from the depths of indie-rock obscurity that had previously defined their 15 year career…”

Music Reviews - Rodney Crowell: The Houston Kid

Rodney Crowell:  The Houston Kid

“Whether these songs are autobiographical or not is really irrelevant. The stories Crowell shares on this record are told and played with such conviction that they live and breathe their own lives. Here we have an artist with a comfortable foot in the door of the country music establishment singing about a crack-addicted gigolo spreading HIV to whoever will give him enough money to get through the day. Not exactly Grand Ol’ Opry or Shania Twain cover material…”

Music Reviews - Ryan Adams: Gold

Ryan Adams:  Gold

“I have discovered where Tom Cochrane has been hiding the last little while. He’s gone to the 7 ½ floor of the Skydome Hotel, pushed aside the mini-bar and crawled inside the brain of one, Ryan Adams. He got Ron Sexsmith to crawl in there with him too, adding the exquisite song structure that ol’ Red Rider could never quite muster. The result is Gold, an impossibly good record with absolutely no Can-Con….”

Music Reviews - Kasey Chambers: Barricades and Brickwalls

Kasey Chambers: Barricades and Brickwalls

“If you get close enough to another person the two of you will often develop a secret speech pattern-a soft, sensitive tone that comes out subconsciously when you are sharing your most comfortable, precious moments. If it accidentally emerges in the presence of outsiders it sounds like baby-talk, but when it’s just the two of you it sounds perfect. Chambers sounds perfect…”

Music Reviews - Lightnin’ Hopkins: Goin’ Away

“The Texas blues begin and end with Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin’ Hopkins. Both were tremendous innovators, featuring a conversational singing style and masterful guitar work. Mance was too busy sharecropping to get to the studio before he turned fifty, but Lightnin’ had already been recording for the better part of twenty years by the time he got to Goin’ Away, at the age of 51…”

Music Reviews - The Beta Band: Hot Shots II

The Beta Band:  Hot Shots II

“For most of us on this side of the Atlantic, any awareness of the Beta Band most likely starts with the film High Fidelity. In one of the film’s most memorable scenes record store owner Rob Gordon (played by John Cusak) boasts to one of his employees that he will sell several copies of a Beta Band EP in the next several minutes. Not long after “Dry the Rain” begins to flood the store, jaded, know-it-all record geeks are asking after the band and picking up copies of the EP for themselves. “It’s really good”, one of them says to Cusak, who responds with “I know”…

Music Reviews - At the Drive-in: Relationship of Command

At The Drive In

“Every once in a while an album comes along in which the listener is overwhelmed with the sensation that if there was no release for this music, the artist may have died. This notion is the very height of pretension, and I love it. The concept of rock `n roll as an explosive medium is basically a lie-the number of bands that can twist your guts and make it feel good are few and far between, and their lifespan is almost always more insect than human…”

Music Reviews - Hollow Bamboo: Ronu Majumdar, Ry Cooder and Jon Hassell

Hollow Bamboo

“If you’re a fan of what is almost certainly Water Lily’s most popular release, the Grammy winning A Meeting By The River, than this 2000 release from the small Santa Barbara label is something of a no-brainer. Similar in approach to Meeting, Hollow Bamboo pairs eastern musical masters with western ones, this time pairing Ry Cooder (guitar and Turkish Oud), Rick Cox (guitar), and Jon Hassell (trumpet) with Bamboo Flute virtuoso Ronu Majumdar, and Abhijit Banerjee on Tabla. As he did on Meeting, Ry Cooder’s son Joachim adds percussion on several tracks as well…”

Music Reviews - Ella and Oscar

Ella and Oscar

“During the 1970’s this Los Angeles based label made countless recordings with ageing jazz legends. Spin through the jazz bins at a well stocked used record store and you’ll probably find more than a few Pablos with their distinctive black and white artwork. There’s also a distinctive Pablo sound, usually characterized by excellent, albeit dry, studio damped, sonics. Some might argue that these records were on the sterile side, capturing performances by artists well past their prime, legends just going through the motions. In some cases I think that’s probably true…”

Music Reviews - Gord Downie: Coke Machine Glow

“I always thought if Gord ever made an album outside of the [Tragically] Hip machine he would go country, smoothing out the band’s rough edges. Instead he delivers a mixed bag of treats, some familiar, some fantastic, but each satisfying. The minimalist production values and understated musicianship push Downie’s vocals to the forefront, which I imagine was the point of the exercise. His lyrics have always been personal, but Coke Machine Glow feels more direct. Instead of telling stories, these songs take on the illusion of conversation…”

Supersounds (Fall 2000) - New Sounds From Old Tapes

Supersounds

” I’ve probably touched on this theme before in relation to great jazz recordings being reissued, but it doesn’t stop amazing me how good many of these recordings from the late 50s and early 60s sound. As a recording engineer, I’m pretty familiar with what it takes to get good sound, whether one is recording classical music, jazz, or anything else. As I’ve said to people before, Rudy Van Gelder is my recording god, because he got such great sound consistently in his New Jersey studio, and made the transition to stereo so effortlessly…”

Music Reviews - Radiohead: Kid A

Radiohead: Kid A

“When first listening to the album it is important that you hear it as a complete work, start to finish. Some songs flow immediately into others (reminiscent of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’) and your impressions of them are directly affected by the preceding song. The album just doesn’t seem to have the same emotional effect when the songs are heard in isolation…”

Music Reviews - Doug MacLeod: Whose Truth, Whose Lies?

Doug McLeod: Whose Truth, Whose Lies?

“This is one of the best albums of the year. Doug MacLeod is John Fogerty with a mean slide, singing acoustic blues originals that sound like they’ve been around forever. Equal parts playful, vengeful, and forlorn, MacLeod is a fully developed songwriter in his prime….”

Music Reviews - The Conga Kings

The Conga Kings

“When the boss handed me this one I couldn’t help but giggle. On the cover sit the three kings of conga, Giovanni Hidalgo, Candido, and Patato Valdes, posed around a drum just exactly how my grandfather would have asked them to. His normal set of directions: straigten that spine, slide your butt up to the edge of the seat, and just when you think you can’t possibly be more uncomfortable, smile as wide as you can. Smile so hard that your eyebrows go up whether you told them to or not…..”

Music Reviews - The Beatles: 1

The Beatles 1

“The Beatles most recent offering is a collection of twenty seven songs that they released as singles, all #1’s. I like a greatest hits compilation such as this, because it fits so well into a CD jukebox, not that I own one. The idea is to stuff a CD changer full of discs of greatest hits compilations. Nakamichi released a machine several years back that can hold as many discs as you have, since it can be daisy chained to increase its capacity, I suppose, indefinitely. — Odd way to start a record review of the greatest band ever…?”

Music Reviews - No Doubt: Return of Saturn

No Doubt:  Return of Saturn

“The 1995 release Tragic Kingdom took three years to top the charts, and upon achieving multi-platinum status No Doubt embraced their hard-earned fame. They didn’t resent the public for ignoring their punk/ska roots, and they didn’t force ten years worth of old material down young teeny-boppers throats when they flocked to their concerts. Consciously, the band opted to milk their fifteen minutes for as much as they could, and now five years later their conversion to top-forty pop is complete with the release of Return of Saturn…”


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