Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Libertino Records
Format: 24-bit/48kHz FLAC download

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

One of the ways I choose what I’ll review for the SoundStage! Network is to check the new releases listed on various music sites, including AllMusic.com. I read the summary review for a description of the band or musician, then I stream the album to see if I think it would be of interest to readers. If I do, I buy the disc.

Concord Records CRE01816
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Earlier this year, Esperanza Spalding debuted three songs she wrote, arranged, and recorded as part of a project she calls the Songwrights Apothecary Lab. She says the lab “seeks to respectfully dip into the healing seas of music/musicianship/song, and distill a few grains of piquancy which carry the life-renewing flavor of the unfathomable ocean of human resiliency.” Spalding’s new recording is named for the project, and Songwrights Apothecary Lab includes those original three songs, along with nine more compositions.

ECM Records ECM 2681
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

At age 81, jazz drummer Andrew Cyrille continues to make music. He’s not just coasting, either. The News, his third release for ECM Records, is challenging and fresh. Guitarist Bill Frisell plays on the album, as he did on Cyrille’s other ECM discs, The Declaration of Musical Independence (2016) and Lebroba (2018). Bassist Ben Street and pianist David Virelles complete the quartet for this album. Street was a member of the quartet on The Declaration of Musical Independence, and Virelles co-led a session, Continuum, with Cyrille in 2010.

Sunset Blvd Records CD-SBR-7003
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

When Marshall Crenshaw heard the live tracks from the early 1980s that comprise disc 1 of his new two-CD collection, The Wild, Exciting Sounds of Marshall Crenshaw: Live in the 20th and 21st Century, he was pleased to find that so many of the songs came from his album Field Day (1983), which he describes in his liner notes for this new set as his “ill-fated but legendary second album.”

Turn-Up Records TU-11
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Rock songsmith Richard X. Heyman has been making music since the mid-1960s, starting out as a drummer. His band, The Doughboys, was signed to Bell Records but their two singles for the label didn’t make a dent in the charts. However, the band continued to play, opening for big name bands and modifying their lineup and style in an attempt to find an audience. When they folded in 1968, Heyman went solo, backing a variety of musicians, including Link Wray and Brian Wilson.

Blue Note Records B003346902
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Detroit-based jazz saxophonist Dave McMurray has crossed genres throughout his career, appearing on record and in performance with a variety of artists, including Albert King, Nancy Wilson, Geri Allen, and Iggy Pop. He was an original member of Was (Not Was), a group that itself resisted categorization, so it’s not surprising that Don Was, a founder-member of the band and current president of Blue Note Records, would bring him to the venerable jazz label. McMurray’s first release for Blue Note was Music Is Life (2018).

Blue Note Records B003332501
Format: LP

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Jazz guitarist Julian Lage was only 15 when he made his first major recording, on vibraphonist Gary Burton’s Generations, in 2003. He contributed three tunes to the album, which was released the following year, and went on to make three more Burton albums. Lage has appeared on recordings by jazz composer John Zorn, trumpeter Dave Douglas, and many others—he was the guitarist on Charles Lloyd’s 8: Kindred Spirits (Live from the Lobero), released in 2020 to document the concert celebrating the saxophonist’s 80th birthday two years earlier. Lage has led or co-led more than a dozen sessions for various labels, but his latest album, Squint, is his debut for Blue Note Records.

Lester Records/BMG Rights Management (US) 538653062
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

It’s been 11 years since the Australian band Crowded House released its last album, Intriguer, but the group’s primary songwriter and singer, Neil Finn, has kept busy. The New Zealander added two solo albums to his discography, Dizzy Heights (2014) and Out of Silence (2017), as well as a collaboration with Australian songwriter Paul Kelly (Goin’ Your Way, 2013). In 2018, he made Lightsleeper with his eldest son, Liam Finn, and joined Fleetwood Mac after the band fired Lindsey Buckingham. Finn also released a digital live album, Live: Solo at the Seymour Centre, 2010, last year as a benefit for Support Act, an Australian charity providing crisis services for performers and other workers in the music industry.

BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd.
Format: 16-bit/44.1 kHz WAV download

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Chrissie Hynde, the lead singer and primary songwriter of the Pretenders, has sung a few Bob Dylan songs over the years. She appeared with Dylan when he performed at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1984, and sang a stellar version of “I Shall Be Released” at the singer’s 30th anniversary celebration in Madison Square Garden in 1992. The Pretenders have covered “Forever Young” on recent tours, and Hynde has slipped other Dylan tunes into her solo performances.

Exile Productions Ltd./BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd. 538667900
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Van Morrison has been pretty cranky about the pandemic. He released four songs last year, one recorded with Eric Clapton, in protest of the lockdowns ordered by the UK government. Morrison, like many of his peers, is a firm believer in the value of live music, but COVID-19 has largely kept him off the road. This has given him a lot of free time, some of which he has spent in the recording studio. The result is Latest Record Project, Volume 1, a 28-song collection spread across two CDs.