Saturday, November 5, 2011

Michael Fremer Album Review

So Beautiful or So What
(recent release)

Paul Simon

Hear Music 180g LP+ 96/24 FLAC download

Produced by: Phil Ramone and Paul Simon

Engineered by: Andy Smith

Mixed by: Phil Ramone

Mastered by: Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound



Re-Charged Simon Scores
by Michael Fremer
September 01, 2011

After a series of albums that tried too hard to advance the cause and so seemed self-consciously so, Paul Simon has produced his best since Graceland. The album title explains how he's managed. It celebrates the significant but demolishes it at the same time.

Again he's called on world musical roots and other branches to energize his compositions, but as in Graceland, the cores are sufficiently strong to sustain the weights of the add-on accouterments.

For instance on "Dazzling Blue" he adds a tabla and some rhythmic vocalizing you may have heard from Ravi Shankar but these are merely accents to a highly melodic, harmony drenched construction that's as attractive as anything found on Graceland or Rhythm of the Saints.

The opener, "Getting Ready For Christmas Day" takes its cue from a recorded sermon on Okeh records by Reverend J.M. Gates. It's a song about mortality that casts life in stark ephemeral terms using the run up to Christmas sung by Simon with the dark inevitable sermon from Gates.

"Rewrite" is about turning a life around using a script metaphor. "Love and Hard Times," perhaps the album's highlight, is among Simon's most intense and personal love songs that begins with a visit from God and Jesus who decide to not stay long, leaving "love and hard times." Whereas on "Hearts and Bones" he plays the observer of his own love affair (then with Carrie Fisher), on this song he makes it far more personal.

Simon's melodic gift isn't what it one was—or he's purposely chosen a more linear tack—though there are some glints of it, but that's more than made up for by his poetic gifts, which have never been more subtle and sublime.

The parts are good enough without them adding up to more than the whole, but they consistently manage that and combined with the music, which does the same, it produces a provocative, powerful package filled with beauty, wonder and mystery that has the weight and staying power of his greatest albums.

The sonics are strictly high resolution Pro-Tools so don't expect Roy Halee-like warmth and beauty, but this is a different time and the recording quality is very good. Dynamics are preserved, the stage is reasonably spacious and very well organized. The edginess is modern and kept to a minimum, but the textures are skeletal as are the images, which are lit with sonic neon.

Simon's voice is hollowed out and has a bit of ice attached and the sibilants can be etchy. You've heard much better, but trust me, you've heard a lot worse and with Phil Ramone mixing, it's put together with the same subtlety as the musical and poetic compositions.

As an extra bonus, you get a card for a 96/24 FLAC download instead of the usual MP3 dreck. Or you can buy the 96/24 files on HDtracks.

Thanks to Michael over at  for the exclusive rights to reprint this material.  Stop by for more reviews and features.

©2011 & Michael Fremer - - All rights reserved

Reprinted by Permission

Vinyl Record News & Music Notes

intriguing read about the evolving music landscape:

Turning the tables on traditional music marketing

By Clay Masters, NET News

Lincoln, NE – For some Nebraska musicians, building a global audience is becoming more important than having a bestseller. As the music industry evolves, the way music gets into the ears of fans is changing – from vinyl to CD to digital, and back to vinyl – and musicians are changing their strategies too.

On a Wednesday night at Duffy’s Tavern in Lincoln, Omaha band McCarthy Trenching starts its set. The band’s led by Dan McCarthy, who started putting his music out in the mid-2000s at the request of some friends.

Read the rest at kvnonews


sad to report, a major player in the vinyl record business in Louisville is closing its doors, i bet a lot of memories were made there.....

Louisville’s ear X-tacy has closed up shop after 26 years of service. President of ear X-tacy, John Timmons, issued this statement regarding the end of his business earlier today:

Dear Louisville, and all who have shopped, supported, and loved ear X-tacy over the years,

It has been a dream come true…actually, a dream exceeded, to be part of your musical lives here in Louisville for the last 26 years. My life was changed forever, and guided by the power of music since I can remember. Music has been the soul, the heart, the passion of my life for my entire 56 years. The record store experience has been the only child in my life. Now, it’s time for me to let it fly.

Thank YOU…for allowing me to be part of your musical universe. Louisville, you made me feel like I was truly HOME when I moved here in 1976. It’s been a great ride, but as George Harrison knowingly said, “All Things Must Pass.” It’s with sadness, but also with great pride I say to you now…

ear X-tacy is no more

Long live ear X-tacy!

Please keep the music alive. Support the incredible music scene and independent businesses we have here! Until you leave this great city, you cannot realize what a unique treasure we have here. Embrace it, celebrate it, and promote it. Love it.

Thank you all for making my dreams come true. Thank you for making ear X-tacy the wonderful place that it was. I thank all of the staff that made this store THE hub for music in Louisville for the past 26 years. Please take pride in knowing that YOU have been the heart and soul of what this store became. Thank you for sharing my dream and exceeding all of my expectations! To all of the musicians who have graced our store and stage, I cannot tell you what a thrill it’s been. From the local newbies to the incredibly huge national artists…THANK YOU for gracing our store and sharing you incredible musical talents with us all…that’s what I like to call: “earX-tacy”.

Love, peace, music and ear X-tacy to you all,

John D. Timmons
President, ear X-tacy, Inc.


it's the album cover art, haven't we seen this thing before?

JACK STARR'S BURNING STARR To Release 'Land Of The Dead' This Month

"Land Of The Dead", the new album from U.S. power metallers JACK STARR'S BURNING STARR — the band led by former VIRGIN STEELE guitarist Jack Starr — will be released on November 11 via Limb Music. The CD was produced by Bart Gabriel (CRYSTAL VIPER, SACRED STEEL, LONEWOLF), and features cover artwork by Ken Kelly (RAINBOW, KISS, MANOWAR).

Read more at our friends at Blabbermouth


for shits and giggles on a saturday afternoon

Kittens Take Over Classic Rock Album Covers



this from our friends at

This Week's Bestselling Vinyl Records

1. Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
2. Candy-O by The Cars
3. Moving Pictures: Live 2011 by Rush
4. The Smile Sessions by The Beach Boys
5. Journey Greatest Hits by Journey
6. Songbook Limited Black Friday Release (Pre-Order) by Chris Cornell
7. Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay
8. Bad As Me by Tom Waits
9. Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd
10. Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart

CVR Blog Featured LP

Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed

180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed

Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd:

Shipping now - not to arrive until November 8
On its release in 1975 Wish You Were here topped the album charts in both the UK and the US. Reflecting the band's thoughts of the time on the music business, and exploring themes of absence, Wish You Were Here contains the classic cut Shine On You Crazy Diamond, a tribute to founder member Syd Barrett.

Since 1967 Pink Floyd have produced one of the most outstanding and enduring catalogues in the history of recorded music. The albums have been painstakingly remastered by James Guthrie (co-producer of The Wall). Artwork designed by long-time artwork collaborator Storm Thorgerson. As a part of their "Why Pink Floyd?" campaign, EMI has chosen to release three titles on collector's vinyl LP (throughout the year 2011 and into early 2012) including The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall. Look for more details to come!

Track Listing:
1. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part One)
2. Welcome To The Machine
3. Have A Cigar
4. Wish You Were Here
5. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part Two)

Buy It Today!


and in music history for november 5th:

The late Gram Parsons was born today in 1946 (died September 19, 1973)

In 1960, Johnny Horton was killed in an auto accident in Milano, Texas at the age of 33. He had the hit "Battle of New Orleans."

In 1965, the Who released the single “My Generation” in the UK , where it peaked at #2 on the charts.

In 1966, the Monkees went to #1 on US singles chart with “Last Train To Clarksville,” the group's first #1.

In 1967, Kenny Rogers and The First Edition make their TV debut on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Over the next three years, they will place seven songs on the Billboard Top 40 and have their own TV show in the Fall of 1971.

Also in 1967, 2,000 people attended an auction of Elvis Presley's personal belongings at his Circle G Ranch in Horn Lake, Mississippi, ten miles from Graceland.

In 1971, Elvis Presley kicked off a 15-date North American tour at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Minneapolis. Announcer Al Dvorin uttered what would become a well-known phrase: "Elvis has left the building" at the end of the show. He was asked to make the announcement in an effort to quiet the fans that continued to call for an encore.

In 1977, the manager of the Virgin record store in Nottingham, England was arrested for displaying large poster advertising the new Sex Pistols album, Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols. High street stores banned the album after police warned they could be fined under the 1898 indecent advertising act.

In 1986, Bobby Nunn, vocalist for the Coasters on their 1958 hit, "Yakety Yak", died of a heart attack at the age of 61.

In 1988, the Beach Boys had the number one record in the US when "Kokomo", from the movie Cocktail, reached the top. It made #25 in the UK. It had been 22 years since the group had their last US chart topper with "Good Vibrations". Their only other Top Ten hit in that time had been "Rock and Roll Music" in 1976.

In 1995, Queen released their first studio album since the death of Freddie Mercury. Mercury died November 24, 1991 of AIDS.

In 2002, Billy Guy, who sang baritone on the hits "Searchin'" and "Yakety Yak" as part of the 1950s vocal quartet the Coasters, died in Las Vegas from cardiovascular disease. He was 66.

In 2005, Link Wray, the electric guitar innovator who is often credited as the father of the power chord, died at his home in Copenhagen of natural causes. He was 76. His 1959 instrumental, "Rumble" was banned by many US radio stations, even thought it had no lyrics what so ever. Wray was noted for pioneering a new sound for electric guitars, as exemplified in his hit 1958 instrumental "Rumble", by Link Wray and his Ray Men, which pioneered an overdriven, distorted electric guitar sound. It's aslo said that he "invented the power chord, the major modus operandi of modern rock guitarist, and in doing so fathering," or making possible, "punk and heavy rock". Rolling Stone included Link at number 67 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time

birthdays today include (among others) Canadian rock singer-songwriter Bryan Adams (1959), pop rock's sweetest voice Art Garfunkel (1941), Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead (1971) and Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits (1947) (happy birthday MOM!)