NEIL YOUNG: Are You Passionate? Reprise 48111-2 (CD). 2002. Neil Young, Booker T. Jones, Duck Dunn, Poncho Sampedro, prods.; John Hanlon, eng.; Aaron Prellwitz, Alex Osborne, asst. engs.; Tim Mulligan, mix, mastering; John Hausmann, Denny Purcell, mastering; John Nowland, A/D transfer. AAD? TT: 65:29 Performance ****? Sonics ****
HESPÈRIAN XXI: Villancicos y Danzas Criollas de la Iberia Antigua al Nuevo Mundo (1550-1750)
La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Hespèrian XXI, Jordi Savall
Alia Vox CD 9834 (CD). 2004. Nicolas Bartolomée, prod.; Nicolas de Beco, eng. DDD. TT: 77:03 Performance ****½
Michael Brecker Pilgrimage
Michael Brecker, tenor sax, EWI; Pat Metheny, guitars; Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, keyboards; John Patitucci, bass; Jack DeJohnette, drums
Heads Up International HUCD 3095 (CD). 2007. Michael Brecker, Gil Goldstein, Steve Rodby, Pat Metheny, prods.; Darryl Pitt, exec. prod.; Joe Ferla, eng. DDD. TT: 77:57
Willie Nile: House of a Thousand Guitars
Circle P/River House RHR9904 (CD). 2009. Willie Nile, Brad Albetta, Frankie Lee, Andy York, prods.; Stewart Lerman, Rich Pagano, prods., engs.; Rich Lamb, eng. AAD? TT: 52:36
Johnny Cash: American VI: Ain't No Grave
Lost Highways/American Recordings B0013954-02 (CD). 2010. Rick Rubin, prod.; David Ferguson, eng.; Greg Fidelman, Jimmy Tittle, Paul Fig, Dan Leffler, asst. engs. AAD.? TT: 32:23
The Twilight Singers: Dynamite Steps
Sub Pop SPCD 844 (CD). 2011. Greg Dulli, prod.; Brenndan McGuire, Ben Mumphrey, Steve Nalepa, Mike Napolitano, others, engs. AAD? TT: 43:03
Unleash "Retarded," the unforgettable first track of Up In It (1990), the Afghan Whigs' first Sub Pop albumthe one with the eerie stitched-up hand on the coverand immediately the madness seeps out. No one has ever done the angry leer and tormented spat quite like AW singer/songwriter Greg Dulli. As the charismatic leader of one of the nastiest, hardest-edged live acts ever to prowl a 1990s indie-rock stage, he and the Whigs were one of the Yo MTV 120 Minute generation's most striking actsone that combined buzzy guitar thunder with odd but welcome leanings toward classic R&B that persist to this day in the Twilight Singers. The assault of the Cincinnati-based Whigs was led by Dulli, a seemingly normal Ohio boy whose unhinged wailing, self-flagellating lyrics, and shrieking, Cobra-like stage persona made him a rock star: dangerous candy for the girls, unhinged fury for the fellas.
Ryan Truesdell: Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans
Ryan Truesdell, conductor; 35 musicians including those mentioned in text, plus: Scott Robinson, Charles Pillow, reeds; Greg Gisbert, trumpet; Marcus Rojas, tuba; Romero Lubambo, guitar; Lewis Nash, drums
ArtistShare AS0114 (CD). 2012. Ryan Truesdell, prod.; James Farber, eng. DAD. TT: 74:18
It is dreamlike when the opening track, "Punjab," begins so softly, with the tapping of a tabla. Exotic woodwinds, perhaps English horn and bassoon, murmur in the left channel, whisper in the right. It is dreamlike because Gil Evans died in 1988, yet this unfamiliar music sounds like him, and when suddenly that deep, solemn brass figure looms out of the right channel, it could only be him. More instruments enter, and more motifs, with brighter colors from alto saxophone and flute. Like all the greatest Gil Evans music, "Punjab" creates its own world of high drama and mysterious allusion. It belongs in the exalted company of such Evans masterpieces as Out of the Cool and Sketches of Spain. And it is new.
Doug MacLeod: There's a Time
Reference RR-130 (HDCD). 2013. Doug MacLeod, Janice Mancuso, prods.; Keith O. Johnson, Sean Royce Martin, engs. DDD? TT: 58:00
Like a lot of other once-pure forms of American music, the blues today has become a swirl of influences, mixing folk, rock, rhythm & blues, and even Latin flavors into a music that its aficionadosthat fervent contingent known as "blues nuts"have grudgingly accepted as being a part of the music they adore. But if blues fans thought Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan muddied the wellsprings of the Devil's own music, it'll be only a matter of time before rappers mix blues in with their beats, and thenhorror of horrors!dance music begins to "borrow" from da blues. Rather than resist these changes, blues fans should willingly embrace any new energies brought into the music; rather than ruin, these fresh ideas and passions may actually revitalize a musical form that many already see as a museum piece.
A useful test CD has recently come my way, courtesy of the Stereophile editorial staff in Santa Fe (a copy was provided to each of the contributing equipment editors). Digital Test was produced in France by Pierre Verany (PV.788031/788032, 2 CDs), and is distributed in the USA by Harmonia Mundi. It provides a wide variety of tests and useful musical selections, but the subject of special interest here is its test bands for evaluation of laser-tracking and error-correction capability.
There are two interrelated parameters which, in the absence of drop-outs or information gapswe'll get to them shortlycan affect the ability of a player to track the CD "groove" (or "whorl," as the quaintly translated disc booklet calls it): linear "cutting velocity" and track pitch. The standards for the first establish a range of 1.2 to 1.4 meters/second (the rotation speed of the disc varies from 500 to 200rpm from the inside to the outside of the disc to maintain this linear velocity); for the second, the spacing between adjacent tracks, from 1.50 to 1.70 micrometers (µm).