Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Vinyl

The first time I ever saw a Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) symphony on my music stand, I was an 18-year-old student at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was the Symphony No. 1 in D Major (sometimes subtitled “Titan”) and I was tasked with playing the delicate low English horn notes in the opening measures. From that point on Gustav Mahler’s orchestral works would hold a special place in my musical growth, heralding the finale concerts of various... Read More

genre Classical format Vinyl

When Anthony Wilson is not on the road playing jazz guitar, he sometimes steps into a recording booth and exits Clark Kent-like as a sensitive ‘70s era singer/songwriter.For those more accustomed to Wilson backing Diana Krall or leading jazz ensembles on a series of Groove Note releases or providing orchestrations and/or playing on dozens of studio dates (for instance on Paul McCartney’s “Kisses on the Bottom”), his sumptuously packaged, sensitively drawn 2019 Songs... Read More

(Revised Sept 17, 2022)Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking: “What’s this now, another audiophile reissue of Kind of fu*king Blue?!” But here’s the thing: not only is this new one—pressed by Acoustic Sounds at 45rpm across two slabs of 200-gram UHQR Clarity vinyl—the best of the bunch; there almost certainly won’t be a better one for the foreseeable future.Not much need be said at this point about the 1959 Miles Davis classic: the best-selling jazz album of all time;... Read More

genre Jazz Cool Jazz format Vinyl

As I paid $25 for an original US copy of Lou Reed’s 1978 live album Take No Prisoners, my local record shop owner said, “Enjoy it, man, I’ve never seen this record before. Plus it’s a promo.” Indeed it is: not only is there a sticker from Arista denoting it a DJ copy originally loaned for promotional use only, but there’s also a bold red hype sticker reading “SPECIALLY PRICED TWO-RECORD SET—All the raw excitement of Lou Reed-Live,” with quotes from the Chicago... Read More

Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema, the duo that formed Royal Trux in the late '80s, don't look or sound like one of the smartest bands of all time. I saw them open for Pavement at the Roxy Theater in Atlanta in 1997. The two looked like they had escaped from the pages of an R. Crumb comic book. Singer Jennifer Herrema 's long pale arm was wrapped with black leather straps like some kind of profane arm-tefillah. Neal Hagerty had his back toward the... Read More

Charles Lloyd is a force of nature. At 84, he’s not only active but very nearly at the top of his game, blowing blues, ballads, and up-tempo rousers—holding whole notes and raining sheets of sound—with grace, verve, and beauty. He has also been a superb gatherer of talent over the decades. His breakthrough album as a leader, Dream Weaver, featured Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee, and Jack DeJohnette, in 1966, before any of them were known. In the past decade, unlike some... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

October 1st, 2022

Tangled Up In "Blue Train" The new reissue is the one to have

By: Michael Fremer

Blue Train is old enough to be on Social Security, yet this reissue (with an additional album of alternative takes) seems to have created a stir probably greater than when it was first released January, 1958. Rudy Van Gelder recorded it in his Hackensack, New Jersey home studio, September, 15th 1957, 65 years ago to the day I’m writing this.Blue Train is the only album Coltrane recorded for Blue Note. He’d signed with Prestige and did this “one off” built upon a... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

The drummer Tyshawn Sorey has made his mark mainly as an experimental musician, composer, and conductor—a McArthur Genius Grant winner who spans the gamut between contemporary classical and avant-garde jazz, with stints as sideman to the likes of Marilyn Crispell, Roscoe Mitchell, and Anthony Braxton. But lately he’s taken small steps toward the mainstream, playing in Vijay Iyer’s trio and now, with Mesmerism, leading his own trio on an album of standards. Except for... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

(This review, written by Carl E. Baugher, originally appeared in Issue 5/6, Winter 1995/96.)If Coolio ain’t careful, he's gonna give gangsta rap a good name. ‘Course, he’d be the first to tell you he’s not a gangsta rapper anyway and, despite the album title, that’s a fact. This collection of intelligent, positive, smoothly gliding, retro soul/R&B, hip-hop is impressively varied and wide-ranging.It all adds up to way more than one normally gets in... Read More

(This review originally appeared in Issue 5/6, Winter 1995/96.)What a shock to the audiophile system: an all-analog reissue of a CD-only release. When I first reviewed this engaging set back in 1992 I remarked that it sounded like a good recording was buried under the digital glaze, but who could be sure? Did I ever expect to see it issued on AAA vinyl? No. But here it is, courtesy of Classic Records.Sonny Landreth is a killer slide guitarist, electric guitarist,... Read More

There was a time when you could buy a label's output and be confident you'd made a quality record purchase without hearing the music. Labels that managed this late '60s/early '70's feat included Elektra, Warner Brothers/Reprise, Island and David Geffen's Asylum Records. You could buy with confidence Love's debut, The Doors, Jackson Browne's Saturate Before Using, Traffic's Mr. Fantasy, Cat Stevens' Mona Bone Jakon, for... Read More

(This review, written by Carl E. Baugher, originally appeared in Issue 5/6, Winter 1995/96.)Here’s the most powerful rock album of the year. Not necessarily the best, mind you, but definitely the most powerful. Alice In Chains has long been the heaviest of the hard n’ heavy bands out of Seattle. This eponymously titled release is their most ambitious and, arguably best in a string of excellent albums. It combines the range and creativity of "Jar Of Flies"... Read More

(This review, written by Carl E. Baugher, originally appeared in Issue 5/6, Winter 1995/96.)It’s taken him some 20 years or so but Bruce Springsteen has finally delivered his masterpiece. Make no mistake: he’s done a ton of good work over the years. But, this is the album he’s been working towards his whole career. And there’s not a single rock song on it! Here’s evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt that the lineage which runs through Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan... Read More

(This review originally appeared in Issue 7, Spring 1996.)Rachel’s’ 1995 release Handwriting LP (Quarterstick 30 LP) is on my top 10 of ‘95 list and this enchanting record may end up on the ‘96 list. The music here was composed by pianist Rachel Grimes for a dance and theater piece based on the life of turn of the century Viennese painter Egon Schiele.The stage work was written and directed by Stephan Mazurek for Chicago’s Itinerant Theater Guild, which he heads. The... Read More

(This review originally appeared in Issue 5/6, Winter 1995/96.)I thought Pop Staples’ version of J.B. Lenoir’s “Down In Mississippi” (Pointblank/Charisma 92147-2) was powerful—and it was, but the version Terry Evans puts down here shakes the firmament. As I write this, two neo-Nazi idiots—soldiers from Fort Bragg, NC—have just been arrested for cold-blooded murdering a Black couple walking down the street in their own neighborhood (not that it would have mattered... Read More

genre Blues format Vinyl

(This review originally appeared in Issue 7, Spring 1996.)The question is, how far are you willing to climb to reach a pure source? Do you want the water as it exits from a fissure in the rocks? Or is a filtered five gallon bottle delivered to your back door good enough for you?Which are you more comfortable with? PJ Harvey? Or Alanis Morissette? Fresh or packaged? What you’ll get here is drawn straight from the pure stream of Will Oldham’s cosmic ether. Oldham is a... Read More