Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

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ECM 2490-93 (475 5832)
Format: CD (4)

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

Drummer Peter Erskine had been active in jazz for 20 years when ECM released You Never Know (1994), the first of four discs he made for the label with a trio that included British pianist John Taylor and Swedish bassist Palle Danielsson. As It Was gathers all four of the Peter Erskine Trio’s ECM releases into a boxed set that’s part of the label’s Old and New Masters Series.

Atco/Atlantic/Rhino R2 555546
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***

If you don’t count his time with the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck has been making records since 1968, and I can’t recall a single album by him that is in any way political. But Loud Hailer (Britspeak for megaphone), Beck’s first studio album since Emotion & Commotion (2010), proclaims his opinions on current events.

My Music Empire MME101CD
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

The Posies’ Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow solidified their place in pop music in the early 1990s, when they appeared in a reconstituted version of Big Star that included original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens. By then, the Posies had themselves recorded three terrific power-pop records: Failure (1988), Dear 23 (1990), and Frosting on the Beater (1993). In the ensuing 17 years they released four more studio albums, with a few gaps along the way as Auer and Stringfellow pursued other interests.

Fantasy FAN-39674-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle have both been around for some 30 years, each making music at the intersection of country, folk, and rock. In 2014, when Colvin asked Earle to join her for some shows late in that year, they discovered that their voices harmonized naturally. Their first recorded collaboration, Colvin & Earle, suggests that their songwriting styles mesh, too.

Universal Music Canada 025476J442
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

In the fall of 1991, my wife and I went to see guitarist Eric Johnson at a club a few miles from our apartment. The opening act was The Tragically Hip, a band from Kingston, Ontario, about which I knew little beyond a single from 1989, “New Orleans Is Sinking,” which had gotten some airplay on a local rock station. The band was touring behind their second full-length album, Road Apples, released just a few months before we saw them.

Bushbranch/Surfdog 51279-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

For about ten years, beginning in late 1963, Eric Clapton was such a hugely influential blues and rock guitarist that he created, with Jimi Hendrix, the concept of the guitar hero. His recordings with the Yardbirds, John Mayall, Cream, Blind Faith, Delaney and Bonnie, and Derek and the Dominos helped define what it was to be a solo rock guitarist. He pushed himself to try new things, and every solo was exciting, fresh, and surprising.

ATO ATO0299
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****

My Morning Jacket’s fourth album, It Still Moves (2003), was the band’s major-label debut, and solidified the unique musical vision they’d established on their three records for Darla, an independent label. But Jim James, the band’s guitarist and leader, recently told the New York Times that he was never happy with the album’s sound. “‘It Still Moves’ is really the only record in our catalog that I’ve always felt I wanted to remix,” he said.

My Block/eOne Music EOM-CD-9439
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Life on Earth is Musiq Soulchild’s seventh solo album since he began recording, in 2000, and his first since leaving Atlantic for My Block Records, an indie run by producer Warryn Campbell. The singer, aka Taalib Johnson, mixes hip-hop, rhythm and blues, and jazz in a way that’s fresh and appealing to young listeners, while also accessible to old-school R&B fans like me. He writes songs that are melodically engaging, and even when he uses recent recording techniques, such as sampling and Auto-Tune, he doesn’t let them overwhelm or define his music.

Santana IV Records S4007
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

It’s tough being a fan of Carlos Santana. He is indisputably one of the great guitarists of the classic-rock era, but his recordings with the various iterations of his band have been wildly erratic. The original lineup of his eponymous band split up after three very good records, and some of the music that followed, such as Caravanserai (1972) and Welcome (1973), was up to the standard set by that original group. Other releases, such as Inner Secrets (1978) and Zebop! (1981), fell short.

Columbia/Legacy Records 88875175862
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***

Sound Quality
**1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***

When singer Jeff Buckley drowned in 1997, he had only released one studio album, but it was a truly remarkable record. Released in 1994, Grace was beautiful and ambitious, embracing rock’s varied past while looking forward to its future. Boomers like me may have been drawn to it because of our affection for Buckley’s father, Tim, but as a songwriter and performer the younger Buckley was his own man. Jeff Buckley’s sad death at 30 was a depressing echo of his father’s own death at the age of just 28.