Friday, December 4, 2009

Michael Fremer Review

We thank Michael Fremer (look for this every Friday),senior contributing editor of Stereophile magazine- for this great review. 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.

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.

Art Pepper (reissue) The Way It Was

Contemporary/Mobile Fidelity 180g LP

Produced by: Lester Koenig
Engineered by: Roy Du Nann
Mixed by: Roy Du Nann
Mastered by: Rob M. LoVerde

Review by: Michael Fremer

For the most part, the best Art Pepper could do in 1972 when this set was issued was listen to and talk about old performances and old tapes. He recorded only one album during an extended period of inactivity stretching from 1968 to 1975.

In 1969, during a stay at Synanon he met Laurie Miller with whom he wrote the liner notes for this album that consists of unreleased sessions and outtakes from some that were. It’s an unusual choice for a Mobile Fidelity reissue since it’s hardly a classic album. It’s hardly an “album” at all, for that matter and all of the tunes are covers of standards.

However, it is significant in that all of side one, recorded in 1956, had been previously unreleased because there wasn’t enough material for an entire album and side two consists of outtakes from significant Pepper albums.

Side one is also significant because Pepper plays with not often recorded cool Los Angeles-based tenor sax player Warne Marsh who died onstage in 1987 at the age of 60 while playing “Out of Nowhere” at an L.A. nightspot. Backed by the the rhythm section of Ben Tucker on bass, Gary Frommer on drums and Ronnie Ball on piano, the group tears through “I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me,” “All the Things You Are,” “What’s New,” and “Tickle Toe.”

Pepper and Marsh trade lines and intertwine in a serpentine and intricate manor reminiscent of what Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan pull off seven years later so pleasingly on the 1962 RCA Living Stereo release Two of a Mind (RCA LSP-2624), though Mulligan was on baritone sax and the quartets were piano-less.

Side two includes two unreleased tunes featuring collaborations with two of Miles Davis’ rhythm sections, one, “The Man I Love,” from Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section (Contemporary S7532) recorded in 1957 and the other “The Way You Look Tonight,” from Art Pepper: Getting’ Together (Contemporary S7573), recorded in 1960, the former with Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones, the latter with Wynton Kelly, Jimmie Cobb and Chambers. In between is “Autumn Leaves,” an unreleased track from Art Pepper: Intensity (Contemporary S7607) also from 1960, with Dolo Coker on piano, Jimmy Bond on bass and Frank Butler on drums.

By today’s jazz standards, these tunes are straight ahead and nothing special compositionally. The magic is in the playing and the vibe. Pepper’s playing throughout is deft and his tone cotton candy light and bracingly cool compared to what his friends on the other coast were doing.

Sonically, side one shows its age though nothing Roy DuNann recorded sounded anything but convincingly natural and as dry as the martini to which Paul Desmond’s playing used to be compared. The rhythm section is all right channel, the saxes left with minimal fill in between but it’s so well done, it doesn’t really matter.

Side two sounds much more modern, with the Pepper taking center stage and the other instruments divided left and right. Compared to two originals I have on hand, this reissue is really better in every way: quieter, richer-sounding (meaning mastering engineer LoVerde knew that DuNann used to purposely boost high frequencies and master to lacquer dropping them by an equal amount as sort of a pre-Dolby noise reduction system) and the result is a very transparent, warm, full sound.

Again, if your collection is short on jazz, I can’t say this is an essential place to start filling in, but otherwise it’s an excellent reissue and well worth owning and enjoying.

This Date In Music History-December 4


Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon (1940)

Bob Mosley - Moby Grape (1942)

Chris Hillman - Byrds (1942)

Terry Woods - Pogues (1947)

Southside Johnny - Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes (1948)

Gary Rossington - Lynyrd Skynyrd (1951)

Brian Prout - Diamond Rio (1955)

Bob Griffin - BoDeans (1959)

Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) (1969)

Justin Welch - Elastica (1972)

They Are Missed:

On this day in 1976, guitarist Tommy Bolin died from a heroin overdose (age 25). Member of Zephyr (1969 to 1971), The James Gang (1973 to 1974) and Deep Purple (1975 to 1976).

Born today in 1944, Dennis Wilson, drums, vocals, The Beach Boys. Wilson drowned while swimming from his boat moored in Marina Del Rey, California on December 28, 1983 after a heavy day's drinking.

Founding Gin Blossoms guitarist, Doug Hopkins, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Tempe home in 1993. He wrote the group’s first two hits, "Hey Jealousy" and "Found Out About You."

Multi-instrumentalist, producer and one of the most accomplished composers of the rock era, Frank Zappa died of prostrate cancer in 1993. He was 52. Zappa recorded many albums with The Mothers Of Invention and solo including the 1969 album 'Hot Rats' and 1974 album 'Apostrophe.' Zappa recorded one of the first concept albums, 'Freak Out'. He married Adelaide Gail Sloatman, in 1967, they had four children: Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen.


In 1956, four Sun Records stars — Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash — recorded what will later be known as the Million Dollar Quartet. Recordings from the impromptu session won't be released for 25 years.

Lloyd Price recorded the "Bandstand version" (with non-violent lyrics, as requested by Dick Clark) of "Stagger Lee" in 1958.

Gene Chandler's "Duke of Earl" was released on Vee Jay Records in 1961. It became his biggest hit reaching #1 and selling over one million copies worldwide.

The Beatles made their London-area debut on television in 1962 when they appeared in a live broadcast from Wembley on ‘Tuesday Rendezvous’, on ITV station Rediffusion. The Beatles performed live, doing lip-sync performances of "Love Me Do" and 45 seconds of "P.S. I Love You."

The Beatles released their fourth album 'Beatles For Sale' in 1964. The album featured: "No Reply," "I'm a Loser," "Rock and Roll Music," "I'll Follow the Sun," "Eight Days a Week," "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby," among others.

Also in 1964, the Beatles fan club in England announced its current membership now totaled 65,000.

The Kinks entered the Hot 100 in 1965 with a song that sets them apart from every other contemporary British band, "A Well Respected Man," a tune which marks the beginning of band leader Ray Davies' look of the British way of life. The song peaked at #13 in its 14 weeks on the charts.

In 1965, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was knocked out by an unground microphone during a concert in Sacramento, California. He recovered in seven minutes and the concert continued.

In 1965, Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters held the second Acid Test — a psychedelic multimedia happening fueled by liberal ingestion of the hallucinogenic drug LSD — at a home in San Jose. The Grateful Dead, having recently changed their name from the Warlocks, provided the music.

The Byrds started a three week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1965 with 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' the group's second #1.

In 1969, President Richard Nixon, Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew and forty U.S. governors embark on a magical mystery fact-finding mission to discover the causes of the generation gap. They viewed films of "simulated acid trips" and listen to hours of "anti-establishment rock music."

Don McLean's ‘American Pie’ entered the US Hot 100 in 1971. The eight and a half minute song would eventually sell over 3 million copies.

Tragedy struck Deep Purple in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1975, after their bodyguard Patsy Collins falls six floors down an elevator shaft in their hotel. Rumors persist that Collins had gotten into a fight with local promoters who owed the heavy-metal band money. Collins was still conscious after his fall and got into a taxi demanding to be taken to the hospital, but he died en route. Mysteriously, his body was never recovered.

In 1976, workers at EMI records went on strike, refusing to package the Sex Pistols single 'Anarchy In The UK.'

In 1980, Led Zeppelin declared that they will not re-form following the death of drummer John Bonham, although Jimmy Page and Robert Plant later tour together in the '90s. Their statement read: "We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."

Roy Orbison gives his final concert in Akron, Ohio in 1988. He will die 2 days later.

In 1990, Madonna appeared on "Nightline" to defend her "Justify My Love" video. She denied the video's explicit contents were intended to stir up controversy and get her publicity. The video was banned by MTV. She knew exactly what she was doing, she is one shrewd businesswoman.

In 2006, Yahoo revealed that Britney Spears was the most searched for term of 2006 with more online searches done about Spears than any other topic or person. No wonder it all went to her head....

Also in 2006, a page of Paul McCartney's working lyrics for the Beatles tune "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" " (from the Beatles’ "Abbey Road" album) nets $192,000 at Christie’s memorabilia auction in New York. A ‘68 Fender Stratocaster guitar once owned by Jimi Hendrix goes for $168,000. A handwritten poem by late Doors singer Jim Morrison sold for $50,400.

Pink Floyd’s 16-CD collection, "Oh, By The Way," was issued as an import-only release in 2007. It held 14 studio albums packaged in miniature reproductions of the original vinyl sleeves and was limited to an initial run of 10,000 copies.

Music News & Notes

Boyle's LP At The Top

As predicted my many, I Dreamed a Dream by Susan Boyle sold an amazing 701,000 copies its first week, the biggest sales week of 2009, in another chapter to the Scottish singer's fairy-tale rise to stardom.

In fact, the release had the best-selling first week since AC/DC's Black Ice entered Billboard with 784,000 in October 2008. It's also the biggest debut by a woman since SoundScan began tabulating sales in 1991. Pop singer Ashanti had held the record, her 2002 debut, had sold 503,000 copies.Amazingly, only one other debut has outsold Boyle's - Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle, which moved 803,000 in 1993.

Boyle also got a generous boost from the Thanksgiving week sales, even though she faced stiff competition. Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas (218,000) came in second place with 218,000 units sold and American Idol star Adam Lambert's album, For Your Entertainment sold 198,000 to enter at #3. Rihanna's Rated R was fourth with 181,000, and Lady Gaga's eight-song The Fame Monster came in fifth with 174,000, trailed by her debut and its reissue, The Fame, with 151,000.


Clash’s London Calling: 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition Coming Dec 14th

A classic in every punk-rock sense of the word, The Clash’s London Calling is turning 30 this month. What better time to re-release one of the greatest, most influential albums of all-time!

London Calling: 30th Anniversary Legacy Edition will hit shelves Dec 14th; the package features a remastered version of the 1979 album, a DVD that includes Don Letts’ documentary The Last Testament: The Making of London Calling, three music videos and home movies of the band recording the album in London’s Wessex Studios.

Also, beginning January 7, 2010, U.K. Royal Mail will be issuing a new series of stamps featuring classic album covers from various British artists. The cover of The Clash’s London Calling made the cut, so if you’re a U.K. resident or in correspondence with somebody who is, get ready to start mailing some very cool looking letters and cards.


No More Supertramp

Roger Hodgson has revealed that he doesn't see a Supertramp reunion ever happening but there is always a chance something will come together sometime in the future. He told Australia's Undercover that

"We’ve looked at it and talked it over. I have looked at it many times. It is hard to reinvent us. I would never say never but Rick has pretty much retired right now and I’m in the prime of my life. The reaction I am getting from fans is “please don’t reunite."


Kings Of Leon In 'Detox Mode' Ahead Of New Album

Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill has revealed the band are still in “detox mode” in between albums. Followill said the the group were winding down following an 18-month tour in support of their 2008 album 'Only By The Night'. But the drummer admitted he and his bandmates had one eye on recording the follow-up to their fourth LP.

"We're taking it easy now," Followill told Billboard, adding: “We might be in the studio tomorrow. We get bored pretty easy."

Followill, who married fiancée singer Jessie Baylin last month, has previously revealed that the band were writing new songs.

He said they had “eight or ten ideas kicking around” for the album, which is expected in 2010.


Was (Not Was) To Release 3-Decade Retrospective Set "Pick Of The Litter (1980-2010)"

Was (Not Was), dubbed "the funkier art-funk band" by The New York Times, have spanned three decades with their mutant mix of jazz, rock, R&B and funk. On February 23, 2010, Micro Werks will release "Pick of the Litter (1980-2010)," a 19-song disc that opens with the ZE/Antilles 12" single "Wheel Me Out" and closes with a trio of tracks from later years which featured Mel Tormé, Leonard Cohen, Kim Basinger and Ozzy Osbourne. The compilation contains the band's hits and cult hits, among them "Knocked Down, Made Small," "Tell Me That I'm Dreaming," "Walk the Dinosaur," "Spy in the House of Love" and "I Feel Better Than James Brown."

Spearheaded by producer/bassist Don Was (Fagenson) and lyricist/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist David Was (Weiss), the collective was rooted in the Motor City of Motown, the MC5, the Stooges and George Clinton. According to Brian J. Bowe, the Michigan writer who annotated the "Pick of the Litter (1980-2010)" collection, "the Motor City was burning, baby, and these two had creativity to burn."

"Don and I started recording in the Pleistocene Era, with Fred Flintstone producing, which in those days meant the guy who pushed the vulture's beak down on the hardened wooly mammoth pucky," says David Was. "Fidelity was crap, but at least we were able to record our earliest rantings for posterity."

Track List:

1."Wheel Me Out" (1980)
2."Out Come the Freaks" (7" Version) (1981)
3."Tell Me What I'm Dreaming" (1981)
4."The Sky's Ablaze" (1981)
5."Should I Wait") - Sweet Pea Atkinson (1982)
6."Knocked Down, Made Small (Treated Like a Rubber Ball)" (1983)
7."Walk the Dinosaur" (1988)
8."Spy in the House of Love" (7" version) (1988)
9."Dad I'm in Jail" (1988)
10."Somewhere in America There's a Street Named After My Dad" (1988)
11."Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (Promo Edit Single) (1990)
12."I Feel Better Than James Brown" (1990)
13."I Blew Up the United States" (1990)
14."Semi-Interesting Week" (2008)
15."From the Head to the Heart" (2008)
16."Hello Operator . . . I Mean Dad . . .I Can't Even Remember Who I Am" (Rehearsal Version) (1989)
17."Shake Your Head" (Steve "Silk" Hurley Remix) featuring Kim Basinger and Ozzy Osbourne (1992)
18."Elvis' Rolls Royce" featuring Leonard Cohen (1990)
19."Zaz Turned Blue" featuring Mel Tormé (1983)