Does having commercial leanings make you a traitor to the purity of your art? Can you make money in music and still have integrity? These eternal questions came to mind upon the death of singer Al Jarreau. Often savaged by critics and fans for his success, Jarreau cut his own path and by the time he died, at the age of 76, of respiratory failure on Sunday, February 12, he'd had more than a few last laughs on his detractors.
Jimmy Scott: I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping and Dreaming
Eden River ERR-LP-01 (2 LPs). 2016. Ralf Kemper, prod., mix; Geoff Gillette, James Caruso, Sean O'Dwyer, Robert Kirkpatrick, engs.; Phil Ramone, mix prod.; Lawrence Manchester, Veith Semrau, mix. DDA? TT: 56:58
In 1992, just before Christmas, I sent out 24 copies of Jimmy Scott's newly released CD, All the Way, to friends, musical and otherwise. Most did not respond, but the eight or ten who did were on fire. "What is this?" "Who is this?" "How did I not know about this woman until now?"
At first glance the pairing of R. Stevie Moore (right), the Nashville born/New Jersey-residing DIY legend who over the past several decades has released literally hundreds of cassettesand, to be fair, some records he actually worked onand Jason Falkner (left), the always brilliant, sometimes cranky, LA pop auteur behind Three O'Clock, Jellyfish and The Grays (with Jon Brion), a couple of great solo records, and contributions to records by Beck, Aimee Mann and AIR, seems fairly odd. But once you listen to Make It Be, these two triangular pegs actually fit into their own unique space that's neither round not square.
Chad Kassem's Analogue Productions has wisely followed Russell's death with this superfine 200-gram, 331/3 reissue of this craggy 1970s landmark, Russell's best studio album until his final closing statement, 2014's Life Journey.
The Band: The Last Waltz 40th
Rhino RR 273925 (2 CDs). 1978/2016. Robbie Robertson, prod.; Ron Fraboni, John Simon, co-prods.; Terry Becker, Tim Kramer, Elliot Mazer, Wayne Neuendorf, Ed Anderson, Neil Brody, engs. ADD? TT: 2:09:11
To clear the air, if not the sinuses, let's dispose right now of the traveling-booger-matte controversy. If Robbie Robertson and the late Levon Helm are to be believed, in The Last Waltz, Neil Young performed "Helpless" with a very suspicious chunk of something hanging out of one nostril. When Young and his management became aware of the problem, the offending object had to be excised from the film stock using a matte laboriously inserted into every frame. At least, that's how the juiciest legend from one of rock's most legendary performances is usually told.
John McEuen: Made in Brooklyn
Chesky JD388 (CD). 2016. John McEuen, David Chesky, prods.; Norman Chesky, exec. prod.; Nicholas Prout, Mor Mezrich, Max Steen, engs. DDD? TT: 65:03
The invite from David Chesky was simple enough: "Hey Robert, John McEuen, David Bromberg and a lot of other people are going to make a record in this abandoned church that a friend of mine owns in Brooklyn, you wanna come by?" Knowing the resourcefulness, not to mention good ears, of David and Norman Chesky, owners of Chesky Records, I soon arrived in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to find Stereophile contributing editor Herb Reichert munching on cookies and listening through headphones to what was going into the computer. Ahh, that freelancer lifestyle.