November 18th, 2023Holiday Special: The 12 Days of Bargain Used LPs… Music of High Artistic Quality at Non-Crazy Prices Can Be Found!
By: John Marks
As we all know, some (by which I mean, an infinitesimally small percentage of the format’s total production) used LPs (or, some claimed-to-be unopened “New Old Stock” LPs), sell for crazy money. Which, of course, incentivizes much flipping through the used-LP bargain bins.Here’s one example: What I call a “record-store LP” (meaning, not an acetate, test pressing, or promo) of Led Zeppelin II sold, not too long ago, for $4,500.00.Of course, it was not just any old used... Read More
November 16th, 2023Re-Inventing the Classical Recital Program Three Recent Releases Highlight Adventurous Programming and Outstanding Performances
By: Mark Ward
It’s an interesting time in the classical recording industry, to say the least; some would say the industry is almost bipolar in its opposing tendencies.On the one hand you have the traditional major labels that I and many of you grew up with - like Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Philips (now all swallowed up by Universal Music Group), plus EMI (now part of the Warner Music empire), RCA and Sony (formerly Columbia/CBS) - putting out somewhat sporadic new releases that... Read More
October 9th, 2023More Buried Treasure Emerges in the Latest Batch of Deutsche Grammophon "Original Source" Vinyl Reissues - Part 2 I follow up on two more "Original Source" reissues hitting the shelves later this month
By: Michael Johnson
After my last harrowing adventure through Deutsche Grammophon’s “Original Source Series”, I was hoping this next batch would prove less problematic and more up to the standards of what I had appreciated about the first few releases in the series such as the excellent Abbado Rite of Spring. Fortunately, with these two particular titles set to release officially on October 20th, my fears were abated. My colleague Mark Ward has already reviewed the romantic era thrillers... Read More
October 4th, 2023More Buried Treasure Emerges in the Latest Batch of Deutsche Grammophon "Original Source" Vinyl Reissues - PART 1 Emil Berliner Studios Breathe New Sonic Life into DG's Legendary Back Catalogue via these Deluxe AAA Reissues
By: Mark Ward
The latest round of DG's "Original Source" vinyl reissues delivers an eclectic range of titles, from benchmark classics like Emil Gilels' Beethoven piano sonatas and Rafael Kubelik's Ma Vlast, to less familiar titles like Friedrich Gulda's Mozart piano concertos with Claudio Abbado, and Seiji Ozawa's take on Berlioz's phantasmagoric orchestral spectacular, the Symphonie Fantastique. Tracking Angle's Michael Johnson and Mark Ward drop the needle on the latest batch of eagerly-awaited OSS releases. PART 1 features Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique and Beethoven Piano Sonatas performed by Emil Gilels. PART 2, featuring Mozart Piano Concertos with Friedrich Gulda, and Smetana's Ma Vlast with Rafael Kubelik - both reviewed by Michael Johnson - will follow shortly.Read More
September 28th, 2023The Strokes’ Legacy Project With recent vinyl reissues, The Last Great Rock Band becomes a legacy act
By: Tracking Angle
As The Strokes' frontman Julian Casablancas goes through his mid-life crisis, a new 7” box set of the group’s first 10 singles and a lavish reissue of its 2001 debut LP Is This It hits the market. Legacy acts are the backbone of the music industry: the longer a band (or an artist) maintains its success, the wider the demographic it reaches. When the original fans get older, they’re better able to pay for more expensive concert tickets and a steady stream of... Read More
September 25th, 2023"Jazz Maturity....Where It's Coming From"——Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge "The records you didn't know you needed"--- #13 of an occasional series
By: Joseph W. Washek
By the early 1970s, time had passed jazz by. The Beatles had happened, James Brown had happened, and “The Sixties” had happened. Young people, both Black and white, weren’t interested in jazz. It was the music of old people who didn’t buy many records or go out to clubs and concerts. Jazz musicians were scuffling for the few available gigs, driving cabs, and working at the post office. Even icons like Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald were having difficulty selling records, and all released albums of pop/rock tunes. The fusion music of Return to Forever and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the smooth/funky jazz of Donald Byrd and Grover Washington Jr., and Keith Jarrett’s sui generis Koln Concert was the “jazz” that was selling.Read More
August 18th, 2023Emil Berliner Swings For the Fences With Another Batch of "Original Source" Titles Will their bold play pay off?
By: Michael Johnson
When the new batch of Deutsche Grammophon Original Source records arrived from the label for review, fellow Tracking Angle writer Mark Ward alerted me that I was on deck. And while I can’t hope to match his tour deforce review outlining the first four titles in this series, I have been eager to put into words my thoughts on the ongoing results of this monumental undertaking.While I didn’t formally review the first four titles, I did listen to all of them, and they... Read More
July 30th, 2023Classic A Cappella: The King's Singers' "Contemporary Collection" Records "Off The Beaten Track"
By: Mark Ward
In our occasional series of unusual but noteworthy records, this 1975 collection of works specially written for the brilliant vocal sextet of the King's Singers - still going strong after over 50 years - remains one of their most adventurous outings. Captured in vintage EMI analogue sound, the works recorded cover a multitude of both traditional and more experimental vocal techniques by top composers of the era, all performed at the highest level. If you think "a cappella" singing begins with the Barden Bellas, prepare to be surprised by this time capsule of vocal virtuosity.Read More
July 1st, 2023Rewriting History: Deutsche Grammophon’s Groundbreaking “Original Source” Vinyl Reviewed Cut Directly from the 4-Track Master Tapes, Deutsche Grammophon Mines Sonic Gold from its Legendary Back Catalogue
By: Mark Ward
The oldest and most respected of all classical music record companies, Deutsche Grammophon, has turned to analogue and vinyl technology to remaster gems from its 1970s catalogue. In the process it has redefined its sonic history and legacy, and pointed the way forward for the other classical music majors like Decca, Warner-EMI, and Sony-Columbia to do justice to the incomparable gems in their back catalogues. We examine how Deutsche Grammophon tackled this challenging project, and review the first four records in what will be an ongoing series of releases in the months ahead.Read More
June 20th, 2023Starting a Jamaican Music Collection Part 3b—The Deejays. The Start of Rap? delving into the best of Jamaican deejay music.
By: Willie Luncheonette
In "Starting a Jamaican Music Collection Part 3a—The Deejays. The Start of Rap?" we covered four deejays—Sir Lord Comic, Count Machuki, King Stitt and U-Roy. We also posed the question "Did the deejays in Jamaica start the musical genre known as rap?" Let's dive right into this question and also highlight five more first wave deejays.It must have been startling in the late 1960's to hear rhyming, fast talking, and jive laced lyrics all... Read More
June 16th, 2023"The Greatest Recording Ever Made": The Decca/Solti "Ring" Cycle Revisited - PART 3: Listening to the Decca "Ring" A Deep Dive into the Many Available Versions of the Decca "Ring", from Original Pressings and Audiophile Reissues to the Latest Remastering
By: Mark Ward
Frequently cited as "the greatest recording ever made", Decca's first studio recording of Wagner's seminal masterpiece remains a lodestar in the annals of the recording industry, over 60 years since the first sessions took place in Vienna in 1958. Part 3 goes over the different versions that have been issued - on vinyl, CD and SACD - including the brand new 2022 remastering on vinyl and digital. Then I conduct a detailed listening comparison and make some recommendations. Plus a breakdown of some other recordings of the Ring, and a survey of non-vocal, purely orchestral records of music from the Ring on vinyl and CD.Read More
June 13th, 2023"The Greatest Recording Ever Made": The Decca/Solti "Ring" Cycle Revisited - PART 2: Creating a "Theatre of the Mind" A deep dive into the story of how Decca came to make the first studio recording of Wagner's epic cycle "Der Ring des Nibelungen"
By: Mark Ward
Frequently cited as "the greatest recording ever made", Decca's first studio recording of Wagner's seminal masterpiece remains a lodestar in the annals of the recording industry, over 60 years since the first sessions took place in Vienna in 1958. Part 2 of this in-depth look into the making of this historic set of records begins with Decca's struggles to record a complete cycle "live" at Bayreuth in 1955, an experience that paved the way for the eventual studio recording in Vienna three years later. You'll discover how producer John Culshaw assembled a crack team of Decca's sound engineers to tackle a myriad of practical, technical and aesthetic challenges, while conductor Georg Solti marshaled the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and an unmatched cast of singers into creating a true classic of the gramophone.Read More
June 10th, 2023"The Greatest Recording Ever Made": The Decca/Solti "Ring" Cycle Revisited - PART 1: The Operas and their History A Deep Dive into Wagner's Epic Cycle of Four Operas, Its Place in Musical History, and the Making of this Groundbreaking Recording
By: Mark Ward
Frequently cited as "the greatest recording ever made", Decca's first studio recording of Wagner's seminal masterpiece remains a lodestar in the annals of the recording industry, over 60 years since the first sessions took place in Vienna in 1958. Recently reissued in a brand new remastering on vinyl and CD/SACD, we take a look at the work's pivotal place in not only classical music but also popular culture, discuss the making of this set, and assess the sound quality of its many incarnations. Part 1 covers the history of opera up to the "Ring"; the cycle's creation, and how it radically changed not only opera and classical music, but also theatre and popular culture in the 20th century and beyond.Read More