Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Fonograf/Capitol B002716202
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Beck’s last album, Morning Phase (2014), was subdued, reminiscent in some ways of his Sea Change (2002), but more hopeful. Beck rarely repeats himself, so it’s not surprising that Colors is different from its predecessor, and its upbeat bounce makes it different from any other Beck album. His songcraft makes it still recognizably Beck, and the lyrics sometimes carry a more complex message than the music suggests, but the swirling keyboards and shiny guitars give it the sheen and sweetness of hard candy.

ECM 2533 (B0027130-02)
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

The cover of Gary Peacock’s newest CD, Tangents, shows a group of trees, bare but for a few yellow leaves, in late fall or early winter. At 82, Peacock is in the winter of life, but if Tangents is any indication, playing music keeps him young and mentally alert.

Wincraft Music/Thirty Tigers WM002
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Steve Winwood’s tenth solo album is a two-CD collection of live performances by his current band that reaches back through a career that began in 1963, when he joined the Spencer Davis Group at age 15. Four years later he cofounded Traffic, and in 1977 went on to a highly successful solo career. Greatest Hits Live touches on all phases of his years in music, and brings new, fresh takes to his best-known songs.

MPS 0211965MSW
Format: LP

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Alphonse Mouzon, who died last year at age 68, was a jazz drummer and record-label owner who played on Weather Report’s first album, and appeared on recordings by Larry Coryell, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and many others. He had recorded four LPs as a leader for Blue Note when the German label MPS released Virtue in 1976, and he returned to MPS two years later with In Search of a Dream.

Columbia 88985447852
Format: CD

Musical Performance
**1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***

Arcade Fire’s fifth album, Everything Now, follows a gap of four years since Reflektor, which brought in LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy as coproducer and upped the quotients of dance beats and electronics. At more than 85 minutes, Reflektor was too long -- even favorable reviews called out its length and lack of stylistic focus. Still, it was a typically ambitious outing for a band that’s never been content to simply repeat a formula.

Parlophone/Warner Bros. 561025-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Paul Weller’s consistency throughout his 13 studio recordings over the last 25 years is remarkable. He set high standards with the Jam, the band he fronted from 1972 to 1982, but his solo career embodies the restless experimentation and curiosity that marked his next band, the Style Council.

Dualtone 80302-01793-25
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

“If you tried to give rock and roll another name,” John Lennon once said, “you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” It’s hard to think of another figure in American popular music whose influence has been so pervasive. The Beatles, the Kinks, and countless other bands covered his songs, and the Rolling Stones probably wouldn’t exist without him. If you’re a rock’n’roll guitarist and you can’t play a Chuck Berry riff, you should put the instrument under your bed.

“The Timex Shows Vol. 1: The Frank Sinatra Timex Show and An Afternoon with Frank Sinatra”

Eagle Vision EV412787
Format: DVD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***

Picture Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

ECM 2525
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Although Bill Frisell has appeared as a sideman on recent ECM recordings, such as the Andrew Cyrille Quartet’s The Declaration of Musical Independence (2016), he hasn’t led a session for the label since Lookout for Hope (1988). Small Town is co-credited to him and to double bassist Thomas Morgan, but Frisell gets top billing -- for him, it’s effectively a return to ECM.

Eagle ER416592
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Procol Harum has been around intermittently since 1967 -- they broke up in 1977, and reformed in 1991. For their first decade, the band released a new LP every year or two, but since getting back together they’ve taken much longer between releases. Novum is Procol Harum’s third studio album since 1991, following a gap of 14 years since the last one, The Well’s on Fire. Gary Brooker is the only original member left.