Audiophile Digital

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Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
Mayfield was one of the very first soul artists to imbue his songs with serious political content. And this self-produced, solo debut from 1970 melded contemporary soul and R&B with production values rarely glimpsed before, resulting in Mayfield’s immediate elevation to the front rank. Overshadowed by masterpieces from Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye from the same period, Curtis expanded on the ground-breaking work he’d created with the Impressions in the previous decade. Sounding dated only in that it lacks the abrasiveness of the post-rap era, Curtis succeeds instead because of its intensity, beauty, intelligence and grandeur.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
On Main Street, this has been made available as a separate purchase for those who didn’t buy the luxury box set. It is probably more Stones than you’ll ever need or want unless you’re truly part of their hardcore following: a documentary running to over two hours dealing with the making of a single album. Admittedly, some consider Exile to be their best, so it’s no conceit to honour it in the way one would document Sgt Pepper or Blonde On Blonde. Using amazing footage, and contemporary and new interviews, it tells the entire saga of their most louche period.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
Not that I needed reminding that the J Geils Band was one of the best live acts I’d ever enjoyed, this nearly two-hour long set from the Monkey Island period is the 200-proof, real deal. Frontman Peter Wolf demonstrated the showmanship that enabled him to work an audience; harpmeister Magic Dick and axemaster Geils were on top form; and the remainder of the band constituted the tightest rhythm section north of Memphis. They ran through their most famous material, including a raunchy take on the Supremes’ ‘Where Did Our Love Go’, while a peppering of instrumentals leave no doubt this was the best house party/bar band ever. Sound Quality: 80% .
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 07, 2010
A trend I have no complaints about is that of live CDs which come with a DVD of the same concert, viz. McCartney in NYC, Steve Stills, etc. As I first saw King and Taylor together nearly 40 years ago, this set brought a lump to my throat: for baby boomers, there’s no more comfortable pair of slippers. They’re simply the gentlest, warmest pair of singer-songwriters imaginable, they clearly adore each other, and they deliver a combined self-penned 15 classics.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 07, 2010
Americans are now able to buy this enthralling Blu-ray, just hitting UK cinemas. Enthralling? The saga of an all-girl rock band from the 1970s who were sold initially and primarily for their post-pubescent sex appeal? As it turned out, they rocked as hard as the boys, giving us the magnificent Joan (‘I Love Rock’n’Roll’) Jett in the process. Apparently, this slickly-made film has gone down well with Cherie Currie, on whose reminiscences it is based, while Jett and the rest of the Runaways shouldn’t be too unhappy with it: as biopics go, it’s easily on a par with the young John Lennon movie, Nowhere Boy. Beyond the Hollywood teen angst, they really, truly could rock.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 07, 2010
Because their first two albums were so spectacular, nothing the Band released after them seemed to possess quite the same level of musical magic. But this, their seventh release, following a lengthy gap after the so-so Moondog Matinee, was a genuine return to form. Two tracks in particular, ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Acadian Driftwood’, were so purely Band-ish that they could have nestled comfortably with the masterpieces that made up their eponymous sophomore release. Sonically, it’s slicker-sounding than its predecessors, the Band recording for the first time with 24 tracks.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 07, 2010
Alas, this lacks ‘Time Has Come Today’, the majestic 1968 hit and their greatest claim to fame, but the seven tracks here remind us that the Chambers Brothers were an R&B act first, and hippie anthem creators/psychedelic soul brothers second. The recording quality is magnificent – not that live recordings from the Fillmores were ever bad – but the sense of space and air, and the precise locations of instruments and players really benefit from the higher-res offering. Percussion and bass make this flow, and the showstopping take of ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ recalls a Stax Revue. Possibly the best $6 I’ve spent on-line this year.

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