MUSIC DISC REVIEWS

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Mike Mettler  |  Jun 01, 2018  |  2 comments
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INXS were riding high as the calendar got deeper and deeper into 1987. The alt-rocking Australian sextet had truly come into their own following the wider international penetration of 1985’s Listen Like Thieves. They were also burgeoning MTV darlings, mainly thanks to the magnetic presence of poster-boy frontman Michael Hutchence. That said, the band had enough musical acumen to override their video-centric image, best exemplified by the churning, layered groove of Thieves’ big hit, “What You Need,” itself born of the interlocked songwriting axis of lyricist/vocalist Hutchence and keyboardist/guitarist Andrew Farriss.

Mike Mettler  |  Apr 19, 2018  |  0 comments
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It’s quite fitting that when Alan Parsons—the well-respected English producer and engineer whose enviable behind-the-board C.V. includes the likes of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Hollies, Al Stewart, Pilot, and Ambrosia—finally ventured out on his own as a titular recording artist in the mid-’70s, his collective work was dubbed The Alan Parsons Project.

Mike Mettler  |  Feb 28, 2018  |  0 comments
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Ah, the ’70s—the literal age of excess, as documented by the “everything, all the time” lifestyle credo personified by pop-music superstars like the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. And yet, amidst all that glamour, glitz, and high drama also resided some damn fine music, too. Listen closely, and you’ll clue into a good bit of prescient social commentating by artists very much aware of the pitfalls of their experimentations, even while they basked in the afterglow.
Mike Mettler  |  Feb 14, 2018  |  0 comments
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When the phrase “beast mode” entered the vernacular, it was intended mainly as a descriptor for a singularly focused level of energy and drive as exhibited by certain football players. But it just as easily could have been used to describe the laser focus Def Leppard displayed in the face of innumerable odds while recording the 1987 juggernaut known as Hysteria. It may have taken them 34 months of on/off studio time and a hefty price tag of 2 million pounds to get to the finish line, but the ensuing album sold over 25 million copies worldwide and became the defining sonic template for the scores of pop-metal crossover hybrids that followed.
Mike Mettler  |  Jan 31, 2018  |  0 comments
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No other artist in the rock era has followed his own muse as deliberately and as singularly as Bob Dylan has. Right from the dawning of his career at the outset of the 1960s, Dylan has chosen his own lane and then merged into it full-on, regardless of any external pressures or expectations. Whether the message is parlayed with his voice backed only by an acoustic guitar or translated with full band accompaniment, the foremost poet of our times has known exactly what information he wants to share with us every step of the way, critics and cognoscenti be damned.
Mike Mettler  |  Nov 29, 2017  |  2 comments
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I hate to admit it, but I didn’t “get” Marillion when I saw them open for Rush at the Rosemont Horizon just outside of Chicago on March 21, 1986, playing their 1985 breakthrough album Misplaced Childhood in its entirety. While I was properly enamored with the uplifting performance of their touchingly seductive FM hit “Kayleigh,” I just wasn’t able to connect with the rest of the set for some reason. Apparently, I wasn’t alone in that feeling, since I also heard a good bit of the crowd boo/catcall Marillion throughout their performance, the first time I had heard such a thing occur at a live show.
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 04, 2017  |  0 comments
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Extras
These days, when it comes to surround sound mixing, most in-the-know producers and musicians’ respective collective first thought inevitably turns to the maxim, What would Steven Wilson do? Indeed, the man also known as the once and future king of hi-res and 5.1 production has long staked his claim as the No. 1 go-to guy for any artist interested in obtaining a top-shelf mix that takes full advantage of the vaunted six-channel, 96-kilohertz/24-bit (and sometimes higher!) audio spectrum offered via DVD and/or Blu-ray. (And yes, a hi-res download option is on the master main menu as well.)
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 23, 2017  |  0 comments
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It was one of the most galvanizing live experiences of my life. The instant WNEW-FM announced Midnight Oil would be performing live on a flatbed truck on Sixth Avenue in the heart of New York City in front of the Exxon Building around noontime on May 30, 1990 to protest the mishandling of the March 1989 Exxon Valdez oil-spill disaster in Prince William Sound, Alaska, three colleagues and I sprinted the entire length of the two long city blocks from the Stereo Review and Audio offices at 50th and Broadway to get as close as we could. Success! Each of us wound up standing no more than 10 people deep from the flatbed’s perch upon our out-of-breath Sixth Avenue arrival.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 09, 2017  |  0 comments
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Let there be Kraut! So goes the Kampfschrei, or battle cry associated with the Krautrock movement of the 1970s. If you’re unfamiliar with this relatively experimental musical form, it probably won’t surprise you to learn Krautrock’s origins are rooted in, of course, Germany. Rather than follow the more blues-based framework that served as the springboard for much of the rock that came out of the U.K. and U.S. during that era, the progenitors of Krautrock sought to build their music more on the avant-garde and progressive fringes, laying down a free-form template for the post-punk, improv jazz, electronic, ambient, and even New Age tuneage that would follow. Incidentally, the scene also has been referred to as kosmische Musik, or cosmic music—and rightly so, since its practitioners often seemed to shoot for the stars.
Mike Mettler  |  Jul 12, 2017  |  0 comments
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“Outside, it’s America.” That’s U2 vocalist Bono, setting the stage for the explosive climax of “Bullet the Blue Sky,” one of the pivotal tracks on the band’s 1987 masterpiece, The Joshua Tree. As Bono purposefully charges his way through the denouement of the narrative, ace guitarist The Edge literally dive-bombs the aural equivalent of the lyrical floodlights—let’s call them “flood-licks”—through a series of unrelenting scorched-earth riffs while the track careens to its final U.S. caress.
Josef Krebs  |  Jun 23, 2017  |  0 comments
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Extras
The heart of I’m Your Man is a celebratory concert of the recently passed Leonard Cohen’s songs performed by an oddball assortment of top talent at the Sydney Opera House. Between each number come interviews with performers telling of the inevitable life-changing moment of hearing Cohen for the first time. In addition, the poet/singer-songwriter/Jewish Zen Buddhist monk himself delivers anecdotes on personal history, his long, arduous working process, and meaning behind certain ballads illustrated and illuminated by archive poetry recitations, artwork, and photos and footage from childhood and career.
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 07, 2017  |  0 comments
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Paul McCartney was on quite the rollercoaster ride as an artist in the 1980s. He started the decade strong with the mostly one-man effort McCartney II and its on-the-mark hits like the pure pop perfection of “Coming Up” and the still influential electronica of “Temporary Secretary.” (I can also confirm firsthand that the latter track has been an early-set highlight of Sir Paul’s recent 2015-16 Out There! and One on One tour outings.)
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 29, 2017  |  0 comments
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“Isn’t that amazing? I mean, there it actually is. I can’t believe it. I lived long enough to hear it right.” That’s Lou Reed, lifelong audiophile, commenting to his longtime friend and producer Hal Willner while listening to the in-studio playback of the remastered version of “I Wanna Be Black,” from his landmark 1978 album, Street Hassle.
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 17, 2017  |  1 comments
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If The Band didn’t slow down and get off the road—and get off the road soon—they were going to wind up killing themselves, to a man. “It’s a goddamn impossible way of life,” says Band leader/guitarist/chief songwriter Robbie Robertson of being stuck on the wheel of a crushing, never-ending tour cycle. That urgent “stop the road, I want to get off” mentality was one of the main driving forces behind The Band masterminding a farewell concert for the ages at the Winterland Arena in San Francisco during Thanksgiving 1976, dubbed from the get-go-then-get-gone as The Last Waltz.
Mike Mettler  |  Feb 10, 2017  |  1 comments
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The Seattle music scene was devastated. Andrew Wood, the promising and charismatic frontman of Mother Love Bone, was found dead of a heroin overdose in March 1990. His bandmates and close friends were in despair, and the one catharsis they found to deal with their pain in the ensuing year was in making new music together. As a result, out of the wake of Wood’s passing was born a 1991 Seattle supercollective dubbed Temple of the Dog, who became best known for their massive grunge-era alt-rock MTV hit, “Hunger Strike.”

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