Recording of the Month

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Robert Baird Posted: Nov 29, 2012 Published: Dec 01, 2012 4 comments
David Byrne & St. Vincent: Love This Giant
4AD CAD3231 (LP). 2012. David Byrne, Annie Clark, prods.; Patrick Dillett, John Congleton, asst. prods., engs.; Yuki Takahashi, Jon Altschuler, asst. engs. DDA? TT: 44:23
Performance *****
Sonics ****

The world's Web-based culture has progressed to the point that you don't need to be in the same room, or even the same general region, to be inspired by or collaborate with someone else. Ideas can fly back and forth for years across time and distance. By all accounts, the Internet played a key role in the creation of this sparkling and unexpected bit of funky world pop. This pair of wonderfully hard-to-define talents, who over a three-year gestation period seem to have found a glorious common ground for songwriting and harmonizing, has succeeded in fashioning an utterly original shard of brass-band-meets-layers-of-drum-programming, all of it overflown by the delicate voice of Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, and the recognizable keen of the Talking Heads' former big-suited frontman, David Byrne.

Robert Baird Posted: Nov 30, 2013 Published: Dec 01, 2013 4 comments
Deadlines and the Dead don't mix. Let me explain . . .

Back when I was a cub reporter, green as ivy, I was, in retrospect, suckered into volunteering to review a Grateful Dead concert. I dutifully drove to the venue for the 8pm show, abstained from intoxicating substances, and was on track—until I realized that, after two hours, the band was still on just the third song. Jerry was deep into an epic, 2000-bar solo that was gaining rather than losing momentum. In Deadspeak, it was one of those nights.

Robert Baird Posted: Nov 25, 2014 3 comments
James Brown: Love Power Peace: Live at the Olympia, Paris, 1971
Polydor/Sundazed 5470 (3 LPs). 2014. James Brown, prod., mix; Ron Lenhoff, eng., mix; Bob Irwin, mastering. AAA.? TT: 92:50
Performance *****
Sonics ***½

In the one scene in the new James Brown biopic, Get On Up, that's actually about his music, JB, who began his career in music as a drummer, tells his horn section to "sound like a drum." It also shows him being dictatorial and harsh, traits that contributed to his losing several bands' worth of key musicians over the years. Perched on the edge of such a precipice were the shows in Paris, at the Olympia Theatre, in March 1971, one of which was recorded by King Records.

J. Gordon Holt Posted: Jul 11, 2013 Published: Feb 11, 1984 6 comments
BEETHOVEN: Violin Sonata in G, Op.96
ENESCU: Violin Sonata No.3, Op.25 (In Rumanian Style)

David Abel, violin, Julie Steinberg, piano
Wilson Audio W-8315 (LP). David Wilson, prod., eng. AAA.

Oh, what a breath of fresh air this is! An audiophile recording of real music that isn't bombastic, overblown, or high-powered.

Imagine, if you can, a private recital in your own home by two consummate artists who play these works for their own delight as much as for yours. Imagine sound so completely and disarmingly natural that after 30 seconds you're unaware it's reproduced. That's what this record is all about.

I could rhapsodize endlessly about this record, but I won't. Suffice it to say that if you think there's even a remote chance you'll like this music, you will be positively mesmerized by this recording of it . . .

Bernard Soll Posted: Mar 22, 2012 Published: Feb 01, 1988 0 comments
The Moscow Sessions
Barber: First Essay for Orchestra; Copland: Appalachian Spring; Gershwin: Lullaby (for string quartet); Glazunov: Valse de Concert in D; Glinka: Russlan and Ludmilla Overture; Griffes: The White Peacock; Ives: The Unanswered Question; Mussorgsky: Khovanshchina Prelude; Piston: The Incredible Flutist (ballet suite); Shostakovich: Symphony 1, Festive Overture; Tchaikovsky: Symphony 5
Lawrence Leighton Smith, Dmitri Kitayenko, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Sheffield Lab CD-1000 (3 CDs); TLP-1000 (3 LPs). CDs DDD. LPs AAA. TT: 180:40

The ecumenical collaboration between Sheffield Lab, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, conductors Lawrence Leighton Smith and Dmitri Kitayenko, an imposing gaggle of businessmen and bureaucrats, and partial sponsorship by The Absolute Sound's Fund for Recorded Music, if somewhat short of epoch-making, is, nonetheless, a positive example of free enterprise and socialism bedding down together, liberally (pardon the expression) lubricated with glasnost. Art, we are told, is universal. It transcends philosophical, racial, political, and religious differences of opinion. Yet, despite the implied altruism of this international cooperative effort, the actual genesis of the project was essentially pragmatic, fundamentally bottom line.

Les Berkley Posted: Mar 30, 2011 Published: Feb 01, 1989 0 comments
RAMEAU: Works for Harpsichord
Albert Fuller, harpsichord
Reference Recordings RR 27 (LP), RR 27-CD (CD*). J. Tamblyn Henderson, Jr., prod.; Keith O. Johnson, eng. AAA/DDD. TTs: 57:45, 63:57*

I have to admit that I gave Reference Recordings' last Baroque release somewhat short shrift: I was disappointed enough in the performance that even KOJ's usual superb recording was insufficient to redeem things. Here, however, Albert Fuller (who was also present the last time out) is in fine fettle, giving as good an account of these works as we could wish. Clearly he is more sympathetic to Rameau than he seemed to be toward Bach; the French emotionalism of the former is apparently more in accord with the performer's personality. I still enjoy the rendition given by a young Trevor Pinnock in the mid-'70s (Vanguard VSD 71271), and you will find the roots of Fuller's style on the old Bach Guild releases of Gustav Leonhardt, but the present recording stands on its own merits musically and is orders of magnitude better sonically than any of the previous versions. Fuller also sticks to real English in his liner notes, which he most emphatically did not do on the previous RR disc.

Gordon Emerson Posted: Apr 08, 2010 Published: Feb 08, 1990 0 comments
MEL TORMÉ/MARTY PAICH DEK-TETTE: In Concert Tokyo
Concord Jazz CJ-382 (LP), CCD-4382 (CD). Hatsuro Takanami, eng.; Carl Jefferson, prod. TTs: 44:15 (LP), 47:17 (CD)
Corey Greenberg Posted: Dec 28, 2003 Published: Feb 01, 1993 0 comments
FAIRFIELD FOUR: Standing in the Safety Zone
The Fairfield Four: Isaac Freeman, bass, musical director; James Hill, baritone, group manager; W. L. Richardson, lead, chaplain; Walter Settler, utility lead; Wilson Waters, tenor, treasurer
Warner Bros. 26945-2 (CD only). Lee Olsen, prod. ADD. TT: 38:13
Richard Lehnert Posted: Feb 07, 1994 0 comments
ZAPPA: The Yellow Shark
Ensemble Modern; Peter Rundel, Frank Zappa, conductors
Barking Pumpkin R2 71600 (CD only). Frank Zappa, prod.; Spencer Chrislu, Harry Andronis, Dave Dondorf, engs.; Todd Yvega, Synclavier asst. DDD. TT: 72:00
Thomas Conrad Posted: Feb 25, 1995 0 comments
TIGER OKOSHI: Two Sides to Every Story
Tiger Okoshi, trumpet; Mike Stern, electric guitar; Gil Goldstein, acoustic piano; Dave Holland, acoustic bass; Jack DeJohnette, drums
JVC JVC-2039-2 (CD only). Jim Anderson, eng.; Akira Taguchi, prod. DDD? TT: 65:20
Richard Schneider Posted: Feb 02, 1996 0 comments
WALTON: Belshazzar's Feast; Suite from Henry V; Crown Imperial (Coronation March)
Bryn Terfel, bass-baritone; Bournemouth Symphony Chorus (Neville Creed, Chorus Master); Waynflete Singers—semi-chorus L'Inviti (David Hall, Chorus Master); Andrew Litton, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
London 448 134-2 (CD only). Chris Hazell, prod., Simon Eadon, Jonathan Stokes, Philip Siney, engs. DDD. TT: 60.25
Wes Phillips Posted: Feb 20, 1997 0 comments
THEATER OF VOICES: The Age of Cathedrals
Paul Elliott, Alan Bennet; Theater of Voices: Neal Rogers, Mark Daniel, Hugh Davies, Tom Hart, Boyd Jarrell; Paul Hillier, dir.
Harmonia Mundi France HMC 907157 (CD only). Robina G. Young, prod.; Craig Silvey, eng. AAD? 1996. TT: 77:18
Performance ******
Sonics *****
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 02, 1998 0 comments
VARIOUS ARTISTS: Sacred Steel
Arhoolie CD450 (CD). 1997. Robert Stone, prod.; Chris Strachwitz, exec. prod. AAD? TT: 74:29
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Fred Mills Posted: Feb 08, 1999 0 comments
BECK: Mutations
DGC 25309-2 (CD), Bong Load 004 (LP). 1998. Nigel Godrich, Beck Hansen, prods.; John Sorensen, eng. AAD/AAA. TT: 49:17
Performance *****
Sonics ****
Richard Lehnert Posted: Feb 25, 2000 0 comments
KEITH JARRETT: The Melody at Night, With You
Keith Jarrett, piano
ECM 1675 (CD). 1999. Keith Jarrett, prod., eng.; Manfred Eicher, prod. DDD. TT: 55:18
Performance ****1/2
Sonics ****?

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