Saturday, May 2, 2009

Classic Rock Videos

Pink Floyd- Pigs On The Wing (Part 1 and 2)

Michael Fremer Album Review

I am very proud to continue our new feature (look for this every Friday), music reviews that are written by the senior contributing editor of Stereophile magazine- Michael Fremer. It has been a pleasure to speak with Michael and learn more about audio sound and equipment. In fact, his new DVD, "It's A Vinyl World, After All" has hit the shelves and is selling out very quickly. This is a must have for anybody who loves vinyl, it is a true masterpiece.

Additionally, make sure to stop by his site, and bookmark it for further exploration. I certainly want to thank Michael for the exclusive rights to reprint his fantastic material.


Frank Sinatra (reissue)
Nice 'n' Easy

Capitol/Mobile Fidelity MFSL 1-317 180g LP

Produced by: Dave Cavanaugh
Engineered by: N/A
Mixed by: N/A
Mastered by: Shawn R. Britton at Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs

Review by: Michael Fremer

I recently drove to Boston to visit three old friends I’d not seen for 30 years. I met them when I was in my mid-twenties and they were even younger. While most of my other friends and I sought shallow “hipness” through aggressively consuming what was new and avidly rejecting what was old, these guys didn’t filter their likes through time. They seemed to be as enthusiastic about Cab Calloway in 1972 as his fans must have been back in 1931 when he sold a million copies of “Minnie the Moocher.”

Had it not been for these guys, I wouldn’t have gotten to see Cab live when he was in his 60s and still great, though of course past his entertaining and popularity prime. We were part of a special club of appreciators at his small nightclub appearances. I even played one of Cab’s great old songs “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House” on my radio show and everyone dug it.

Listening to this new Mobile Fidelity reissue of Sinatra’s 1960 classic had me thinking of how a younger generation might react to hearing it in 2009. There’s nothing like this now and don’t tell me it’s Michael Feinstein or Harry Connick, Jr. or Michael Buble, because it ain’t.

Sinatra voice is bigger, bolder and stops time in ways the others can only wish they could. The arrangements by Nelson Riddle and the musicianship of the studio cats all playing live are also difficult to duplicate today as is the intimate, warm sound—as warm and intimate as the live-in-the-studio performances. These were events captured live to tape, not studio creations that live only on tape.

Other than the title tune, Sinatra covers a collection of standards associated with him when he was a teen heart throb: familiar songs like “That Old Feeling,” “ Fools Rush In,” and “Try A Little Tenderness,” better know to a boomer audience as an intense, over the top, passionate Otis Redding cover and perhaps unknown to a younger generation. Sinatra does “I’ve Got A Crush On You,” which many will know from the slightly salacious version found on his later Reprise double LP Sinatra Live at The Sands.”

Nelson Riddle’s spare, yet simultaneously opulent arrangements feature cascading string stings, warm brass and caressing woodwinds surrounding Sinatra’s closely miked voice. As with label mates Nat Cole and Peggy Lee, few singers can survive this kind of dry, close miking. Sinatra’s phrasing and breath control are astonishing—that is if you even take note of it, so well covered are the technique artifacts.

This was two years into the stereo LP era and the orchestral mixes were fairly hard left/right with plenty of room in the middle provided for the vocals. The recording and mixing produced warm, soft, buttery images with the original pressing having an added, unnecessary reverberation, particularly on Sinatra’s voice, that’s wisely been reduced on the reissue. Clearly, the reverb is a mastering artifact and not mixed into the master tape, though I’m open to being proven wrong on this.

I compared a few original pressings with Mobile Fidelity’s ‘80s reissue and this new one. First of all, if you have the early Mo-Fi, you have something that’s bright, hard and jacked up on top and not representative of the classic Capitol sound. Listen to the superb original and you’ll know that all the quiet Japanese “Super Vinyl” in the world can’t make up for wrong-headed equalization.

Tonally, the new Mobile Fidelity mastering is more in the spirit of the original: it’s slightly soft and forgiving, with silky strings and buttery brass. With less reverb applied, Sinatra’s voice is warm and three dimensional, though on my system at least, it’s been made a bit too warm in the lower octaves, which cuts back ever so slightly the clarity, presence and immediacy of the original. There’s a bit of cloudiness heard on this reissue when Frank descends to the lower registers not heard on the original.

There’s no denying one fact though: the reissue features dead-quiet backgrounds no original I’ve gotten a hold of can match. I could make a case for finding a clean original at a garage sale but I can more easily make the case for this superb sounding reissue.

So I’m thinking of a 20 something reading this and all I can write is, “Yes, this is old, dated music that when auditioned in the context of today’s noisy, angular and loud music sounds cobwebbed from another era.

Hopefully sufficient numbers of young analog lovers today are capable of reaching back and appreciating the greatness of a bygone era now as I managed with Cab Calloway all those years ago.

Hopefully they (you) will pick up this superb sounding vinyl reissue and imagine listening in wondrous rapture to “The Voice” back in 1960 when this album was released. It’s a time long gone, but it was magical nonetheless and certainly worth revisiting on vinyl.

Does it matter that a superfluous gatefold that adds coffee shop “retro” graphics along with recording dates, publishing and composing credits and more detailed notes but doesn’t find room for the original’s striking black and white shot of Frank going over some sheet music in a darkened studio replaces the original jacket’s simpler presentation?

Does it matter that a black label sporting a pair of logos: one an understated edition of the famed Capitol dome, and the other a new one for Sinatra featuring a fedora topped microphone, replaces the iconic “rainbow rim” Capitol original?

Not really. It’s more about the music and the mastering. The music needs to introduction and the mastering more than meets expectations and that’s an understatement.

Usually there are reasons for graphic changes on reissues. Sometimes it’s the estate of the late entertainer. In the case of Sinatra that’s easy to imagine. Sometimes it’s the label and sometimes it’s both.

On the other hand, the reissue includes the original’s short annotation to which are added more extensive ones, both of which are credited to the late Pete Welding. Did he write both? Could be but I doubt it.

A superb crowd-pleasing reissue from Mobile Fidelity.

SOURCE: Reprinted By Permission

Pick up Michael's DVD's Here:

Music News & Notes

Cat Having Visa Problems- Again

It's reported that Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) is having trouble getting into the United States again. He was supposed to play small shows in New York and Los Angeles in support the release of his new album, "Roadsinger," but he will not be able to gain access to the country in time due to "paperwork" issues.

This isn't the first time Islam has had problems getting into the United States. He went through an extended fight a few years ago around the time of the release of his first comeback album. Hey, here's an idea- go back to being Cat Stevens!


Matador Remasters OK

I had reported that there was a problem with the company losing the masters, but this note from Matador explains everything:

Matador Vinyl Masters Actually Just Fine

"Matador's former vinyl pressing plant, 33 1/3 (originally the vinyl arm of WEA Manufacturing) went bankrupt in June 2006. Many labels, including Matador, lost vinyl LPs, jackets and masters in this bankruptcy.

This was 3 years ago and we have long since made new masters, re-pressed records at other plants and in general moved on, but a recent Comcast story about the bankruptcy ran without a date and was picked up by Pitchfork who added the adjective "recently" in reporting it. Although Pitchfork ran a correction and Comcast added in the historical context, it was too late and the story had run wild as an internet meme.

The crucial point to take home is: the bankruptcy and the loss of our masters took place 3 years ago, and is now ancient history! We have always released, and continue to release, just about every record on vinyl, and our sales in the format are quite healthy at the moment, thank you very much."


Pete Seeger Celebration

This Sunday, May 3 in Madison Square Garden, an amazing group of musicians will get together to wish veteran folkster Seeger a happy 90th with "The Clearwater Concert: Creating the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders."

Slated To Peform:

Bruce Springsteen
John Mellencamp
Dave Matthews
Eddie Vedder
Richie Havens
Taj Mahal
Steve Early
Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine)
Warren Haynes
Arlo Guthrie
Ani DiFranco
Bella Fleck
Kate & Anna McGarrigle
Ben Harper
Billy Bragg
Bruce Cockburn
Emmylou Harris
Joan Baez
Kris Kristofferson
Tom Chapin
Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Del McCourey
Ramblin' Jack Elliott
Tom Paxton
Tommy Sands
...and many more

All proceeds form the show will go to the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. American Express cardholders can get advanced tickets starting March 23. Public sale of tickets starts March 30.

Seattle Electronic Jazz Label Cheshire Records Formed

Seattle, WA, United States, 05/02/2009 - The creation of record label Cheshire Records has been announced. The label, formed by electronic music producer and jazz pianist Jonah Dempcy, will specialize in electronic and improvised music.

Cheshire Records is a record label formed in April 2009 by Seattle-based electronic musician and jazz pianist Jonah Dempcy.

The label has already announced a number of upcoming releases from artists such as house duo UltraCat and hiphop project The Insider.

Talking about the label, Jonah said, "I decided it was time to branch out. After running Revolution Void records for nearly 10 years, I felt like I had released enough of my own music and it was time to collaborate. My intention is to release music from the various music projects I'm involved in as well as music from artists I respect, whether it be electronic music, jazz, avant-garde or whatever. If the music is good, I'll release it."

The label will initially release a series of web exclusive tracks under Creative Commons licenses. But, physical releases are planned, particularly 12" vinyls.

"What I'd really like to do," Jonah says, "is release limited edition short runs, really unique printings with great cover art, great quality. I want to print them on 280 gram vinyl and maybe even have each one signed. Then, rather than managing distribution of a large quantity of records, it becomes more of a specialty item for DJs who want a collector's item. Everyone else can download the MP3 but collectors will want it on vinyl."

A website at is planned to host the site where fans can listen to free audio tracks and eventually purchase physical merchandise. The website is intended to launch in the summer of 2009. Until then, news of the label can be found on Jonah's primary music website,

Strong Will Music Teams Up With 101 Distribution to Release 'The Dusty Project'

Swedish producer/engineer Jolle has released a new remix disc titled "The Dusty Project" on Strong Will Music with music from some of Hip-Hop's trendsetters including Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, Snoop Dogg, Pharoahe Monch, Evidence (Dilated Peoples) and Planet Asia.

Phoenix, AZ (Vocus/PRWEB ) May 1, 2009 -- Swedish producer/engineer Jolle has released a new remix disc titled "The Dusty Project" on Strong Will Music with music from some of Hip-Hop's trendsetters including Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, Snoop Dogg, Pharoahe Monch, Evidence (Dilated Peoples) and Planet Asia. The project, which includes all new original beats, produced by Strong Will Music's in-house production team, has been distributed by 101 Distribution and is now available for retail on various Internet websites.

Strong Will's Jolle says, "I made all the remixes, from my library of vinyl. I wanted to reissue all that old stuff, with my music. With remixed songs from underground 12-inches, I wanted that grimy sound so I used the accapellas direct from the vinyl."

"The Dusty Project" is the latest release from the Strong Will Music camp. Last year the Swedish beat squad delivered ''Strong Will & Mind, Vol. 1,'' and they are scheduled to drop another as-yet-untitled remix collection with 101 Distribution later this year.

For information or to purchase "The Dusty Project," go to