Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

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Work Song WSD009CD
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

For more than 35 years, Joe Jackson has refused to be pigeonholed, making records that embrace everything from new-wave rock (Look Sharp! and I’m the Man, both from 1979) to the Latin-jazz influences that crop up on Night and Day (1982) and Body and Soul (1984). He’s recorded a uniquely orchestrated Symphony No.1 (1999), a tribute to Duke Ellington (The Duke, 2012), and a collection of jump-blues tunes.

Columbia Records 88875123262
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

David Gilmour certainly takes his time between recordings. He has released four discs since 1978, and there was a more than 20-year gap between his second LP, About Face (1984), and his next outing, On an Island (2006). He was at the helm for two Pink Floyd records during that period, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994), both of which sold well but received largely poor notices.

Prestige/Analogue Productions APRJ 7180
Format: LP

Musical Performance
****1/2

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

Although, in his liner note for Rudy Van Gelder’s 2005 remastering of Gene Ammons’s Boss Tenor, Bob Porter calls this 1960 recording a “masterpiece,” he points out that Ammons was not in great shape at the time: “That it came off as well as it did is something remarkable. Take a look at the cover photo. Gene Ammons is as high as a Georgia pine.” Indeed, Ammons looks as if he’ll nod out at any moment.

dBpm/Anti- 87438-2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

I am always tempted to throw words like “daring” and “experimental” at Wilco, but my favorite discs by them are so tuneful it is easy to forget the thorny guitar sounds that sometimes populate them. Summerteeth (1999), Sky Blue Sky (2007), and The Whole Love (2011) are filled with melodies that stay with you the way the great AM hits of the ’60s did, but with enough noise and edge to make them bracing and challenging.

Blue Note/Music Matters MMBST-81595
Format: LP

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
*****

Overall Enjoyment
*****

The current availability on vinyl of many classic albums from Blue Note Records pleases jazz fans like me, but it can be a little confusing to shop for them. About a year ago, when I looked online for a LP of Somethin’ Else, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s 1958 recording for the label, I had a choice of pressings. I’d intended to buy the reissue that was part of Blue Note’s 75th anniversary celebration, but instead bought a 2008 pressing mastered by Ron McMaster (Blue Note 7 46338 1).

Interscope 20023337 02
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

On tour, Tame Impala is a five-piece band, but in the studio it’s all Kevin Parker. He plays every instrument and sings all vocals on his recordings, and produces, engineers, and mixes the results. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Parker’s inspiration for Lonerism (2012), Tame Impala’s second full-length album, was Todd Rundgren’s epic 1973 recording, A Wizard, a True Star. Rundgren similarly keeps a firm hand on every aspect of his recordings, on which he, too, has occasionally played all of the instruments.

Columbia 88875 08914 2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

When I saw the cover of Leon Bridges’s debut CD, Coming Home, I thought I was looking at a compilation of tunes by a little-known regional soul singer from the 1960s whom I’d somehow missed. I expected to find a Wikipedia page that would tell me of his passionate following in England among Northern Soul fanatics. Turns out that Bridges has just turned 26, and hails from Fort Worth, Texas.

TOSOD Music
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Rickie Lee Jones moved to New Orleans a few years ago, and the city’s spirit and rich musical heritage have obviously inspired the music on The Other Side of Desire, her first disc since 2012’s The Devil You Know. She recorded it in studios there, with local musicians. She writes warmly of New Orleans in her liner notes and she seems to have been revitalized by her time there -- The Other Side of Desire is Jones’s first disc of all new songs in ten years.

Concord CRE-35380-00
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

James Taylor hasn’t recorded an album of new songs since 2002’s October Road, although he released a Christmas album in 2004 (reissued by Columbia in 2006), and a collection of material by other songwriters, Covers, in 2008. In his liner notes to his new disc, Before This World, Taylor says he took 2013 off to write. He found somewhere to isolate himself, and began writing lyrics to melodies that had begun as demos he recorded with his band in 2010.

Capitol Records/ATO Records B002282802
Format: CD

Musical Performance ***1/2
Sound Quality **1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***

 

My Morning Jacket is the kind of band I tend to like. They are beyond category, encompassing everything from prog to Americana, and the band’s guitarist, Jim James, writes tunes that are both challenging and hummable. For me, the group showed its depth and versatility when it played “Ophelia” and “It Makes No Difference” for an appearance on Love for Levon, a tribute concert to Levon Helm that is available on DVD. While retaining their own identity, they showed an understanding and deep appreciation of the Band that many of the acts on the bill with them lacked.