Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Vinyl

We are all products of the times in which we live, to one degree or another, though some people transcend time. Listening to John Prine's 1971 debut album makes clear that he was at that time a product of it. If you want to understand the "zeitgeist of that time using music as your guide, this album is a good a place to start. Prine opens with an obvious song about weed but younger listeners might not get the Hoffman reference. "Spanish Pipedream"... Read More

Producer Nesuhi Ertegun suggested to Charles Mingus that he record a blues album. Obviously not a "my woman done up and left me" kind of "woe is me" blues album, but rather one that plied the dark, turbulent but often joyful waters in which Mingus navigated.In one interview with Ertegun Mingus said, “What I’m trying to play is very difficult, because I’m trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason why it’s difficult — it’s not difficult to... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

Backed by the all-star rhythm section of drummer Johnathan Blake, bassist Joe Martin and veteran pianist Kenny Barron, saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh steps up to the microphone and puts to analog tape his finest, most fully realized recorded musical performances. The quartet meshes as if it's been touring all year.The album title and title track as well as the cover and rear photos telegraph that what you'll be hearing is strictly "old school" straight... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

It's few and far between for a song by an unknown artist with no label distribution to premiere on television. When “Jar of Hearts” premiered on "So You Think You Can Dance" in June 2010, the stars aligned for Christina Perri. The Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter penned the song amidst a breakup with a former flame, longing to piece together what was no longer salvageable. Its hook-heavy arrangement and universal lyrical sentiment struck a chord in... Read More

genre Pop Singer-Songwriter format Vinyl

And here we have it: the most pathetic vinyl reissue of the year. It’s not the worst, but it’s the most pathetic because of how great it almost was. Like the recent Swordfishtrombones reissue, this edition of Tom Waits’ excellent 1992 album Bone Machine subjects an excellent remaster to a painfully mediocre lacquer cut. It really makes you wonder if anyone’s actually listening to these test pressings, or considering the vinyl market’s long-term viability.Earlier this... Read More

Many a western themed orchestral work ("western" as in cowboys), as well as probably some "eat beef" television commercial music keyed off of Antonín Dvořák's bold Symphony No. 9 (originally called Symphony No. 5 but not getting into that here). The Czech composer began writing it shortly after arriving in New York City on September 26th, 1892, but the set's annotator Alexander Moore makes clear that while the symphony is from the new... Read More

genre Classical format Vinyl

Don't mean to be a buzz kill but "Greatest Hits" compilations, though seemingly extremely attractive, always promise more than they actually deliver. Almost like assembled favorite scenes from a movie that can't begin to satisfy as does the actual movie, songs taken out of the historical context of the albums on which they originally appeared add up to less, not more, no matter how skillfully they are assembled—even if the recording artist is The... Read More

Grunge was the leading musical movement by the turn of the 1990s; its successor emerged from the Bay Area punk scene. Green Day became a household name around 1991 with a sound merging the intensity of hardcore punk with melodic power pop twists. Local label Lookout Records released their first two albums 39/Smooth and Kerplunk, the latter becoming the label’s best-selling release. Independent, limited distribution labels didn't typically sell out of initial 10,000 copy pressings in one day. Green Day started to outgrow its reach; a bidding war arose amongst major labels wanting to sign the band. Free meals, trips to Disneyland, and A&R reps tattooing the band’s name on their ass wasn’t enough to entice them. Producer Rob Cavallo devoured the band's demo and understood the group better than anyone; Green Day signed with Warner/Reprise in 1993. Frowned upon in the eyes of the punk establishment is the idea of "selling out." In Green Day’s eyes, it was merely an exercise in seeing how far they could take their artistry to a larger demographic. Signing with a major label helped the band bridge the gap between the DIY aesthetics of punk and the mainstream.

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genre Rock Punk Pop Punk format Vinyl

Years ago, a lawyer friend said to me half seriously that the Federal Trade Commission should adopt a “Truth In Rock Band Labelling Act,” the main provision of which would be that a nationally touring “icon” band could not advertise themselves as “The XYZ Icon Band” unless more than half of the original members including the lead singer and primary songwriter(s) were still in the band. If such a regulation had been enacted, the Rolling Stones would now be the... Read More

genre Rock format Vinyl

1977 was a turbulent year for Pink Floyd. With bassist/primary songwriter Roger Waters asserting more of a dictatorship role, the band slowly drifted from being a collaborative unit. The rise of punk rock made Pink Floyd and many of their progressive rock contemporaries to be considered “dinosaurs.” In turn, the murky production value and Orwellian political themes explored on their then-new album, Animals, was their response to the shifting musical climate. The connection between Pink Floyd and their audience was lost during their In The Flesh tour from the same year. Rather than enjoying the band’s spectacle of flying pigs and inflatables, the raucous audiences were more concerned with setting off fireworks and riding hallucinogenic highs. This tension culminated with the infamous final show of the tour at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, where Waters angrily spat at a member of the audience.

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"This artistic and experimental journey began with old and 'dirty' tape heads in The Green House Atlanta studio/rehearsal space and was produced alongside musician and friend, Aaron Hill. My intention was not to write a bunch of sad songs, but to create an album that, when listened to in a certain order, tells a story of one person's trials and tribulations, born from decisions made to replace the hurt of forlornment. As the story develops and... Read More

genre Folk Blues Rock format Vinyl

“Of all the shows on this tour, this particular show will remain with us the longest because not only is it the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do.”David Bowie made this closing statement at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in July 3rd, 1973. After spending ten years joining various groups, having to change his name to avoid confusion with The Monkees’ Davy Jones, penning novelty records, and straying from the “one-hit-wonder” stigma of “Space... Read More

genre Rock Glam Rock format Vinyl

One of Neil Young's finest, most reflective and at times sad and occasionally depressing albums, Harvest Moon released in 1992 finds the then 47 year old looking back. On the opener "Unknown Legend" he's remembering observing a waitress in a diner who a few years later he'd marry. About Pegi Young he sang "Never saw a woman look finer/I used to order just to watch her float across the floor". On "From Hank to Hendrix" he... Read More

genre Folk Folk Rock format Vinyl

Only covering the sound here and the news is not good for a few reasons. First, the sound is bass-heavy, generally "thick" and unpleasant and the perspective is flat. If you bought the UHQR or have an original pressing and don't want to spend $150, you are all set. The 192/24 Qobuz stream sourced from Bernie Grundman's digital file produced using the same tape he used to cut UHQR lacquers sounds far superior in every way to this vinyl edition. The... Read More

genre Rock Jazz Fusion format Vinyl

Recorded in 1961 and released in 1962, Mosaic comes from an immensely prolific period of Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers. Although the group’s lineup changed frequently, from mid-1961 through early 1964 it was unusually stable. The band was also one of Blakey’s very best: Wayne Shorter on tenor, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Cedar Walton on piano, and Jymie Merritt on bass. The only change was when Reggie Workman replaced Merritt in 1962,... Read More

genre Jazz Hard Bop format Vinyl

This is the first time in its eighty-year history that the full score of Rodger's and Hammerstein's landmark musical Oklahoma!, including every song, dance, and instrumental interlude, has been recorded absolutely note complete, including the original orchestrations. The result is revelatory.

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genre Broadway format Vinyl