Music Disc Reviews

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Mike Mettler  |  Jul 27, 2022  |  0 comments
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Elton John could do no wrong as the calendar came to the close of 1971. Madman Across the Water, his third album in that calendar year alone, came out in November, and it was considered to be the best entry in his Trident Studios orchestral trilogy, featuring production by Gus Dudgeon and arrangements by Paul Buckmaster. (The previous two releases in said trilogy were April 1970's self-titled Elton John and October 1970's Tumbleweed Connection.)
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 10, 2022  |  1 comments
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I continue to feel blessed I was able to see Pink Floyd's Division Bell Tour, their last jaunt around the world, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on July 17, 1994. Even though I was in the nosebleeds, way up near the top of the back of the stadium, I quite enjoyed the band's overall visual spectacle and the live quad sound system to their intended effects.
David Vaughn  |  Mar 04, 2022  |  0 comments
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In all honesty, I had never heard the name Bernie Dresel until I was sent The Pugilist, the latest disc from his jazz band, The BBB Featuring Bernie Dresel, to review. The outfit is a collection of studio musicians who play together at Los Angeles-area jazz clubs, but chances are you've heard their various talents before. For example, Dresel has 25 movie credits to his name, with A-list soundtracks such as Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek (2009), and Spider-Man: Far from Home, just to name three. Other members of the band also have extensive backgrounds with various Hollywood productions, and this ultimately brought them together back in 2014.
Mike Mettler  |  Feb 25, 2022  |  0 comments
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R.E.M. were the undisputed kings of American-bred alt-rock by the time the mid-1990s rolled around. Emerging from the college-town kudzu of Athens, Georgia, with the game-changing jangle of July 1981's "Radio Free Europe" single and August 1982's subsequent Chronic Town EP, the underground quartet perfected a more fully realized signature sound on their April 1983 full-length debut, Murmur.
Mike Mettler  |  Jan 14, 2022  |  0 comments
By the time November 1980's Gaucho rolled around, Steely Dan were more than ready to close up shop and take a self-imposed two-decade hiatus. Indeed, Gaucho's sparkly veneer was a fitting then-final coating on the acclaimed jazz-leaning but genre-defying band's first decade, fully encapsulating the dark-humored observational worldview of its principal creators—bassist/ guitarist Walter Becker and keyboardist/vocalist Donald Fagen—to a literal T.
Matt Hurwitz  |  Dec 03, 2021  |  1 comments
1968 was a busy year for The Beatles. They had traveled to India to study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, launched their own record label, Apple, and spent months at EMI's studios at Abbey Road recording their mammoth double-album, The Beatles (aka The White Album). But even before that album was released, they were planning what would end up as their post-breakup album and film, Let It Be. That disc was recently reissued by Apple/Capitol/Universal in a super deluxe edition, remixed by Giles Martin and engineer Sam Okell, complete with previously-unreleased bonus tracks, and the film has now been given a reimagining by Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson, in the form of The Beatles: Get Back on the Disney+ streaming service.
Mike Mettler  |  Nov 19, 2021  |  1 comments
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Could May 1970's Let It Be possibly be The Beatles' most underrated core studio album—and is such a thing even possible? To be sure, when Let It Be initially dropped as the free-thinking 1960s gave way to the much grittier 1970s, the album was seen as an imperfect endpoint for a once-in-a-lifetime epoch in popular music—whereas September 1969's Abbey Road, which was actually completed after the Let It Be sessions but was still released eight months ahead of that album, actually serves as a better-suited final exclamation point and nod to their fans as the final, definitive statement of the fully active Beatles era.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 27, 2021  |  0 comments
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As acclaimed as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 1970 magnum opus Déjà vu is, it somewhat helplessly plays perpetual second fiddle to the sea change garnered by the stacked-harmonic conver- gences in evidence on 1969's Crosby, Stills & Nash, which preceded it by 10 months. Granted, CSN was a breath of fresh vocal-arrangement air and instinctual instrumental accompaniment, but Déjà vu fostered the initial intersection of the volatile four-way street of headstrong artistic personalities with the addition of Neil Young into the fold.
Mike Mettler  |  Jul 23, 2021  |  1 comments
Elton John was in the zone. The piano prodigy and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin were in the midst of an almost decade-long creative mindmeld, and October 1973's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the apex of their collaboration. The initially unintended double album's 17 songs covered the gamut from nostalgic reverie for days gone by (the title track, the indelible "Candle in the Wind") to pumped-up '70s-style electric-boot rockers ("Bennie and the Jets," "All the Girls Love Alice"), and everything in between.
Mike Mettler  |  Jul 09, 2021  |  0 comments
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Al Stewart is the kind of seasoned artist known for being well worth the wait. The Scottish-born and London-bred Stewart initially focused on mining a folk-driven vein when he made his debut with October 1967's orchestrally buttressed Bed Sitter Images, and it took the burgeoning singer/songwriter five more albums and another eight years until he truly hit his stride with March 1975's Modern Times.
Mike Mettler  |  May 21, 2021  |  2 comments
The Who had pioneered—and seemingly perfected—the art of the rock opera with May 1969's all-seeing Tommy, but the ever-provocative British quartet's chief visionary Pete Townshend wasn't done with his honing of the overarching story-arc concept just yet. October 1973's magnum opus Quadrophenia—the 81-minute, 17-song cycle chronicling angst-driven youth-culture clashes and a yearning to break free from a preordained societal rut—reinforced how guitarist/ vocalist Townshend was a musical architect of the highest order.
Mike Mettler  |  Apr 23, 2021  |  0 comments
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Neil Young is an international treasure. Perhaps he should adopt Frank Sinatra's signature mantra "I did it my way" as his own, because his artistic vision is, frankly, unparalleled in the history of popular music. Neil always does what he wants, releases new and archival material whenever he wants, and often chooses to lay it all down in whatever genre strikes his fancy. Even better, he takes great pains to ensure we the listeners get to hear all of it in the highest resolution possible.
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 19, 2021  |  0 comments
Eric Clapton was in pain. Deep pain. He was hopelessly in love with Pattie Boyd, the wife of his close friend George Harrison, and there was little he could do about it. Hence, Clapton did what any relatively desperate artist would to express his innermost feelings about the situation—he created an alternate identity (Derek), gathered a semi-fictional band around him (The Dominos), and channeled all of his heartache into a triumphant, sprawling double album, November 1970's Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 05, 2021  |  0 comments
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Show of hands, please—how many of you rate August 1973's Goats Head Soup as your favorite Rolling Stones album? Anyone? No? Can't say I blame you. Any record following The Stones' May 1972 career-defining double-album masterpiece Exile on Main St. would have an impossibly high bar to overcome, no matter what made the final cut. Fact is, Goats Head Soup had a master chef's menu stacked against it from the outset. And time has very much not been on its side, as Goats Head Soup has long served as a relatively underappreciated entry in The Rolling Stones' somewhat uneven mid-1970s studio-album canon.
Mike Mettler  |  Feb 26, 2021  |  0 comments
Performances
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It's hard to fathom counterculture icon and multitalented musician nonpareil Frank Zappa left this mortal coil almost three full decades ago in December 1993, given the sheer range of archival and new releases that continue to arise from the vaults of his legendary Utility Muffin Research Kitchen (UMRK)—a.k.a., Zappa's onetime home studio. Fact is, many of them were personally sequenced, mixed, and/or produced by the man himself before his untimely passing at age 52.

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