Acoustic Sounds

Music Reviews: Art Rock

David Bowie’s self-produced 1974 album Diamond Dogs is undoubtedly the worst of his run from Hunky Dory through Scary Monsters (Pin Ups doesn’t count). As a messy exit from his glam period, it compiles ambitious ideas with less than ideal execution, yet in a sense, it still seems unfairly maligned.Everyone knows the story by now: Bowie, on stage at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1973, “killed” Ziggy Stardust and thus freed himself for whatever came next. Ready for even... Read More

genre Rock Glam Rock Art Rock format Vinyl

Everyone reading this site has by now probably heard about Rhino High Fidelity’s controversial reissue of Television’s landmark 1977 debut Marquee Moon. This latest edition sounds good but nothing like the original, which raises the question: what's the difference between good and bad mastering? And who's responsible?

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Following a decade's worth of Asylum albums almost all of which were produced and engineered by the great Bones Howe, and none of which were originally commercially successful but they sure did sound good, and over time the audiences caught up with what he was doing, Tom Waits self-produced his Island debut Swordfishtrombones. Waits traded in his bar fly hipster small jazz combo recorded live in the studio thing for a far more experimental, heavily produced and... Read More

(There are two reviews of this record published simultaneously, one by Michael Fremer and one by Malachi Lui, the two working independently, for a young and an "I was around then" perspective).Chris Frantz writes in the updated booklet packaged with this new double LP set of the difficulties involved in mounting the complicated, unique, never before (or since) seen stage show that the late Jonathan Demme so well captured in the film "Stop Making... Read More

genre Rock Art Rock Post-Punk format Vinyl

Immortalized in Jonathan Demme’s 1984 film Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads’ 1983 tour was the theatrical rock tour that ended all theatrical rock tours before it and raised the standard for those following. Choreographed but natural, theatrical but not outlandish, designed but also not, the newly reissued Stop Making Sense still resonates in its societal commentary and continuing influence.

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And so it starts again with a ballad. One that Damon Albarn started 20 years ago as, literally, “Half A Song,” finished at the urge of bodyguard Darren ‘Smoggy’ Evans and now the opening track on The Ballad Of Darren, Blur’s first album in eight years. Albarn has written many ballads, probably a few too many: about love, about sadness, about England. Yet “The Ballad” stands out in how defeated it is, especially as the opener for such an anticipated record. It signals... Read More

A perfect black and white frozen New York City cover for an album released February of 1974 when winters there were still really cold and "pretzles" (sic) were 15 cents. The master tape images in the fold out containing Donald Fagen's notes show that the mixes were finalized on February 5th, lacquers cut at The Mastering Lab on the 6th and the record released for sale on the 20th. That's a pretty fast turnaround! Speaking of fast, compared to the... Read More

genre Rock Art Rock format Vinyl

Recorded in 1966 and released in January of 1967 The Doors' debut album, powered by the edited single "Light My Fire" reached #2 on the Billboard charts, while the single was the "summer of love"'s #1 hit. If you were alive then you heard the single that summer wherever you went—blaring from jukeboxes and car radios. When you bought the album you heard a long extended "Light My Fire" that for many listeners was as uncomfortably... Read More

In 1966 The Beatles came to Japan, playing the 15,000-seat Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, firmly planting the flag of western rock and roll in the island nation. What followed were a series of Beatles and Rolling Stones-esq copycat bands, often assembled by various record labels, playing everything from covers of American blues hits, to sparkly pop ballads written by in-house composers supplied by the record label. As the Japanese had difficulty pronouncing the term ‘Rock... Read More

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