Recording of the Month

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Jon Iverson Posted: Feb 08, 2004 Published: Feb 01, 2004 0 comments
THE BEATLES: Let It Be...Naked
Apple/Capitol CDP 5 95227 2 (2 CDs). 2003. George Martin, orig. prod.; Glyn Johns, orig. eng.; Paul Hicks, Guy Massey, Allen Rouse, reissue prods., mix; Steve Rooke, reissue mastering. AAD. TT: 57:00
Performance *****
Sonics *****
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 13, 2005 1 comments
U2: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Interscope B0003613-02 (CD). 2004. Steve Lillywhite, prod.; Carl Glanville, eng.; Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Chris Heaney, others, asst. engs. AAD? TT: 49:08
Performance ****½
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 12, 2006 0 comments
NEKO CASE: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Anti 86777 (CD). 2006. Neko Case, Darryl Neudorf, prods.; Craig Schumacher, Chris Schultz, engs. AAD. TT: 34:55
Performance ****½
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 11, 2007 0 comments
THE SHINS: Wincing the Night Away
Sub Pop SP 705 (CD). 2007. James Mercer, Joe Chiccarelli, prods.; Phil Ek, Sean Flora, Hiro Ninagawa, Brian Deck, Lars Fox, engs. AAD? TT: 41:52
Performance ****
Sonics ****
Richard Lehnert Posted: Feb 15, 2008 0 comments
PJ HARVEY: White Chalk Island B0009972-02 (CD). 2007. PJ Harvey, John Parish, prods., mix; Flood, prod., eng., mix. ADD? TT: 33:34 Performance ***** Sonics ***1/2
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 10, 2009 1 comments
RYAN ADAMS: Cardinology
Lost Highway B0012195-02 (CD, LP, 7" EP). 2008. Tom Schick, prod., eng.; Noah Goldstein, asst. eng. AAD?, AAA. TT: 40:29
Performance ****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 12, 2010 0 comments
Pat Metheny Orchestrion
Pat Metheny, guitars, orchestrion programming.
Nonesuch 516668-2/-1 (CD/LP). 2010. Pat Metheny, prod.; eng. AAD? TT: 52:06
Performance ****
Sonics ****
Robert Baird Posted: Feb 15, 2011 0 comments
Markus Schwartz, Haitian Rada & Petwo drums, miscellaneous percussion, loop sampler, conch, vocals; Jean Caze, trumpet, flugelhorn, conch, vocals; Monvelyno Alexis, electric guitar, percussion, vocals; Paul Beaudry, double bass, percussion
Soundkeeper SR1002 (CD). 2010. Barry Diament, prod., eng. DDD. TT: 43:16
Performance ****
Sonics *****

Think of flat, one-dimensional downloads of soulless, AutoTuned music that sounds more manufactured than played. Then feast on this.

Robert Baird Posted: Feb 03, 2012 1 comments
Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis
Atlantic/Analogue Productions APP 8214-45 (two 45rpm LPs). 1969/2011. Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, Arif Mardin, prods.; Ed Kollis, eng.; Kevin Gray, 45rpm mastering. AAA. TT: 76:40
Performance *****
Sonics *****

Coaxing a singer to "stretch" always sounds like a good idea—that is, until the singer is standing in the same recording booth used by Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, and suddenly her confidence, never brimming to start with, drops through the floor and she can't or won't sing a note. Add to this that Dusty Springfield was already a sticky perfectionist who'd self-produced most of her records and wasn't happy with the songs to be recorded—despite the fact that most of them were straight out of the Brill Building—and you have the recipe for an all-time classic record, right?

Robert Baird Posted: Jan 30, 2013 Published: Feb 01, 2013 2 comments
Clifford Brown/Max Roach: The Clifford Brown/Max Roach Emarcy Albums
Clifford Brown, trumpet; Max Roach, drums; Harold Land, Sonny Rollins, tenor saxophone; Richie Powell, piano; George Morrow, bass
Mosaic MRLP 3004 (4 LPs). 1954–56/2012. Bob Shad, orig. prod.; Michael Cuscuna, reissue prod.; Ryan Smith, remastering. ADA.
Performance *****
Sonics *****

Trumpeter Clifford Brown's death in a car accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on June 26, 1956—his second wedding anniversary—set up an eternity of unanswerables headed by the belief, among many, that had Brownie lived, his star would now be as high as or higher than that of Miles Davis.

Robert Baird Posted: Jan 26, 2014 Published: Feb 01, 2014 2 comments
James Booker: Classified: Remixed and Expanded Rounder 11661-9175-1 (2 LPs). 1983/2013. Scott Billington, John Parsons, prods.; Jay Gallagher, eng.; Jonathan Wyner, transfer eng.; David Farrell, remix. ADA. TT: 68:12 Performance ***** Sonics ****½

Before anything else, there's his musicality. No one has ever played the piano like James Carroll Booker III. If the piano is New Orleans' preeminent musical instrument, then Booker is its most talented virtuoso. A child prodigy who went on the road as part of Little Richard's band when he was 14, the Ivory Emperor, the Bronze Liberace, Li'l Booker, Little Chopin in Living Color (as he was variously known throughout his life) was breathtakingly gifted.

Margaret Graham Posted: Jul 16, 2014 1 comments
Bach-Malloch: The Art of Fuguing
The Sheffield Ensemble and California Boy's Choir, Lukas Foss, cond., recorded live at First Presbyterian Church, Hollywood.
Town Hall Records S-20 & S-21 (each 2 LPs, 1979), Sheffield Lab 10047-2-G (CD, 1995). Lincoln Mayorga, prod., Ron Hitchcock, eng., Lincoln Mayorga Doug Sax, CD mastering eng. AAA (LP), AAD (CD).

These 2-disc albums are of unusual interest for several reasons. First, although both are of exactly the same program material, there were recorded with completely different microphone techniques. One was done with the usual (for commercial recordings) multi-microphone set-up and mixdown (S-20). The other (S-21) was done with a single stereo mike—the technique preferred by most audio perfectionists. [This is the version on the 1995 CD reissue—Ed.]

Margaret Graham Posted: Aug 16, 2013 Published: Jan 01, 1983 0 comments
669rotmwild.jpgEARL WILD: The Art of the Transcription
Earl Wild, piano, recorded live at Carnegie Hall on November 1, 1981
Audiofon 2008-2 (2 LPs). Julian Kreeger, prod., Peter McGrath, eng. AAA

It takes nerve for a performer to allow an entire concert to be recorded for release on disc. It also takes extraordinary confidence in one's technique. Mistakes that are overlooked in the live experience become snags for the ear in the recorded version. One starts to listen for them and loses the musical experience in its totality.

J. Gordon Holt Posted: Jun 09, 2014 Published: Jan 01, 1985 1 comments
Performance Recordings is the closest thing to a one-man label. James Boyk is president, A&R director, musical director, recording engineer, production manager, jacket notes author, and the star performer. He is also Artist in Residence and lecturer in music and engineering (specifically sound recording and reproduction) at Cal Tech. And he happens to be one of digital's most ardent detractors, having conducted, and widely publicized, several controlled listening tests that proved to his satisfaction that digital recordings are destructive to musical sound. (I will not question his methodology or conclusions here; suffice it to say that James is as stalwartly pro-analog and anti-digital as it is possible to be.)
Richard Lehnert Posted: Apr 26, 2012 Published: Jan 01, 1988 0 comments
Branford Marsalis: Renaissance
Branford Marsalis, tenor & soprano sax; Kenny Kirkland & Herbie Hancock, piano; Bob Hurst & Buster Williams, bass; Tony Williams, drums
CBS FC 40711 (LP). Dennis Ferrante, Bob Margoleff, Howard Siegel, engs.; Delfeayo Marsalis, prod. DDA. TT: 57:09

These are heady days for those who believe that jazz may have reached its height in the mid- to late '60s, before its disastrous 15-year romance with fusion. With such strong new talents as the Marsalis and Brecker brothers and Chico Freeman embracing the spirit of that time, and fusion-scarred veterans like Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson returning to the basics of acoustic trios, quartets, and quintets in recent recordings and concerts, jazz has attained a new and cherished seriousness valued all the more for its unexpectedness.

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