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American Primitive Guitar

By | February 12th, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

American Primitive Guitar

In the late 1950s, fingerstylist John Fahey birthed an alter-ego named Blind Joe Death, a mythic bluesman who personified what music critic Greil Marcus has dubbed old, weird America. In shaping his eccentric personal mythology, Fahey once claimed to have built a guitar from a baby’s coffin. He christened his own music American primitive, though it was neither purely American (he incorporated Indian ragas, as well as classical, jazz, and Latin rhythms, into the form) nor primitive (he could neither read nor write music, yet his odd tunes were complex).… Read the full article

Duck Times Three

By | January 22nd, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , |

Duck Times Three

Listening to Duck Baker’s jaunty, insightful interpretations of Thelonious Monk compositions on Duck Baker Plays Monk, my mind immediately conjured Bach. Meaning the way that hearing, say, a well-loved piece for solo violin transcribed to the mandolin in the hands of a Chris Thile causes us to pause and rethink music that we believe we know so well—fresh, with ears ablaze, a knowing smile on one’s face. That’s how good he is. Though quietly so. Duck Baker Plays Monk is but one of three newly released—if not necessarily recorded—LPs from this multi-dimensional and highly prolific acoustic guitar picker (they span …… Read the full article

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Aretha, True and Free

By | January 14th, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , |

Aretha, True and Free

On the morning of August 16, I was awakened to news of Aretha Franklin’s passing as announced on New York City’s classical station, WQXR, followed by the sound of Aretha rolling out her stunning rendition of Puccini’s “Nessun dorma” live at the 40th Grammy Awards on February 25, 1998. Listening to this bravura performance, I began to consider the depth of Aretha’s roots; how, in my estimation, only two artists brook comparison to Aretha and, indeed, together define Aretha. The first would be Bessie Smith, the “Empress of the Blues” who sold millions of records over the course of the …… Read the full article

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Meiko: Playing Favorites

By | January 11th, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

Meiko: Playing Favorites

The best, most affecting singers tend to meet us at the intersection of Nuance and Intimacy Street, a corner the folk-leaning vocalist Meiko has clearly made her home. For this tight-knit collection of an even-dozen covers, Meiko and her two bandmates were ensconced in the same room at the Hirsch Center, a former church in Brooklyn, New York, around a Theoretica Applied Physics’ BACCH-BM Pro in-ear binaural microphone placed in the ears of a B&K 4128-C dummy head. Breath control and subtle shifts from syllable to syllable are Meiko’s milieu, as witnessed by how she exhales at the end of …… Read the full article

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Hamilton in High(er) Res

By | January 4th, 2019|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

Hamilton in High(er) Res

Hamilton: An American Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording). HDtracks.com and SuperHiRez.com (44.1/24) The situation on Broadway is lamentable. Theaters increasingly traffic in slick adaptations of popular books, movies, and characters, to which it applies a rigid formula that pervades every element of the production. Musicals, in particular, stick to formulaic stories, choreography, and even chord progressions. Every “new” song is instantly recognizable, which I suppose is the point. Over the years there have been notable exceptions. Once and The Book of Mormon come to mind.… Read the full article

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Dust-to-Digital

By | December 27th, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , |

Dust-to-Digital

In 2003, a cedar box appeared in my mailbox, with the words “Goodbye, Babylon” and an illustration of Babel’s famed tower on the front. I slid back the top of the box to find a thick book, a few clumps of Georgia cotton, and six CDs crammed with rare gospel songs from 1902 to 1960—blues, Sacred Harp, country & western, bluegrass, early jazz, a cappella quartets, you name it—the result of four years of hard work from Lance and April Ledbetter.… Read the full article

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Run Out Groove

By | December 21st, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: , , |

Run Out Groove

Formed in 2017, Run Out Groove is a vinyl-only and fan-engaged music label. Each month music lovers vote to decide which title will become the next limited edition one-time pressing. An imprint of Warner Music Group, Run Out Groove has access to recordings going back several decades—in other words, a treasure trove of music. As a result, the label is free to wander far and wide stylistically, with genres as diverse as garage/punk (MC5, The Stooges), alternative rock (Morphine, Luna), folk (Judee Sill), soul (Betty LaVette, Solomon Burke), and jazz (Bill Frisell).… Read the full article

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Peter Murphy: 5 Albums

By | December 12th, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

Peter Murphy: 5 Albums

With his baritone voice, haunting melodies, brooding stage presence, and dark lyrics, Peter Murphy was tailor made to perform goth rock, a musical style he helped usher in while a member of Bauhaus. Peter Murphy—5 Albums charts the beginning of the solo career Murphy launched after the collapse of that band; stylishly packaged to resemble a hardback book, the 5-CD set includes all his LPs on the Beggars Banquet label along with alternate takes and mixes at the end of each disc.… Read the full article

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The James Gang: The Best of the James Gang Featuring Joe Walsh

By | December 3rd, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

The James Gang: The Best of the James Gang Featuring Joe Walsh

The 1970 release of the James Gang Rides Again helped define 70s rock and served as a calling card for guitarist Joe Walsh, who went on to greater fame as a solo artist and member of the Eagles. This sonically impressive greatest hits reissue, featuring ten songs remastered from the original analog tape and pressed at the Quality Record plant in Salina, Kansas, showcases the band’s chunkiness. Walsh could crunch chords a la Deep Purple, but there was a homegrown Midwestern tone to this Cleveland band’s FM-radio-ready sound.… Read the full article

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Buddy Guy: The Blues Is Alive and Well

By | November 20th, 2018|Categories: Absolute Sound|Tags: |

Buddy Guy: The Blues Is Alive and Well

Chicago blues guitarist and vocalist Buddy Guy honed his chops during the 1960s as house guitarist for the legendary Chess Records. The electric blue pioneer’s blistering chops have influenced everyone from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix to Jonny Lang and John Mayer. His legend has only grown since his 1991 Grammy-winning comeback Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues. Guy’s new album features special guests James Bay, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards (if only the Rolling Stones’ 2016 blues homage Blue & Lonesome were half as strong as this album).… Read the full article

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