MUSIC DISC & DOWNLOAD REVIEWS

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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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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.”
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 14, 2016  |  1 comments
Welcome back, my friends… well, you know the rest. That opening line—made famous in “Karn Evil 9 – 1st Impression, Part 2” from 1973’s Brain Salad Surgery—certainly applies to the re-emergence of the remastered catalog for Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the groundbreaking British progressive trio that defined adventurous recording and outrageous live performance during their 1970s heyday. Actually, ELP vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Greg Lake prefers using the word original instead of progressive to describe the band’s signature sound—and the man does have a point.
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 26, 2016  |  0 comments
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There are supergroups, and then there are The Traveling Wilburys. The wink/nudge humor behind the band name and the multiple nicknames of its five members is all George Harrison, the late Monty Python–loving Beatle, who put together a cream-of-the-crop collective for a pair of fabulously harmonious albums, 1988’s Vol. 1 and 1990’s Vol. 3. Harrison coined the word “Wilbury” in reference to in-studio recording gaffes attributed to faulty equipment, of which he told producer Jeff Lynne: “We’ll bury ’em in the mix.”
Mike Mettler  |  Sep 28, 2016  |  1 comments
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These days, even the most seasoned recording artists find it difficult to gain traction with their new material. Case in point: U2, whose deeply personal 2014 release Songs of Innocence fell by the wayside with the listening public, likely due in large part to the instant backlash the band faced when the album suddenly appeared as an automatic download in everyone’s personal iTunes library without warning that September. Much collective online hand-wringing occurred until Apple acquiesced and shared instructions for how people could permanently remove the “offending” files. (Why getting any type of new music legitimately for free was such a problem for consumers used to downloading songs without paying for them continues to mystify me, but that’s another story for another time.)
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 08, 2016  |  0 comments
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For certain musicians, creativity is sometimes fueled by a deep desire to impress their peers. That was certainly the case with Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and Paul McCartney of The Beatles, two members of an exclusive cross-continent mutual-admiration society who made adventurous music for the masses with an additional “can you top this” flair.
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 15, 2016  |  3 comments
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Phil Collins required rehabilitation, and stat. Not only did the noted drummer/vocalist have to deal with a bout of sudden deafness, a lingering hand injury, and recover from back surgery, he also needed to tend to the state of his image. No one could fault the man’s acuity behind the drum kit—a reputation initially forged by his creative deployment of odd time signatures with progressive rock giants Genesis and the fusion improv collective Brand X—but his level of ubiquity on the charts as a solo artist in the ’80s and beyond ultimately served to tip his musical-reputation scales in a not-so-favorable direction.
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 10, 2016  |  0 comments
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When the last notes of “Trouble No More” rang out at The Beacon Theatre in New York in the wee hours of the morning on October 29, 2014—closing an epic show comprised of three full sets and a two-song encore that had commenced over 4 hours previously on the night of October 28—most agreed The Allman Brothers Band had capped their long, storied 45-year career by hittin’ all the right notes. With thousands of performances under their collective belts, the Allmans triumphantly closed out the tab on being one of the most thrilling, adventurous, and aurally exciting live bands of the rock era.
Steve Guttenberg  |  Apr 29, 2016  |  1 comments
I met singer-songwriter Amber Rubarth when she was recording her first Chesky Records album, Sessions From the 17th Ward, back in 2012. I instantly fell in love with her music and the sound of her voice, but more than that, I was amazed by how relaxed she was making an entire album in just two days. Most of the tunes were hers, and they were consistently good, but her covers of Tom Waits’ “Hold On” and Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman” blew me away. No wonder legendary record producer Phil Ramone said Rubarth was “part of the new old-soul generation.”
Mike Mettler  |  Apr 27, 2016  |  0 comments
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When the calendar turned to 1980, it was time for Bruce Springsteen to grow up. “How people connect and relate to one another, or don’t—I want to be a part of that, not just looking at it from the outside,” Bruce says at the outset of the new documentary on the Blu-ray Disc that lies at the very center of The Ties That Bind – The River Collection box set. And that statement is, in essence, the manifesto for the direction taken by The Boss and his merry E Street Bandmates on The River, which found the brash ’n’ brazen New Jersey singer/songwriter staring down the dawn of a new decade with a cautious combination of equal parts hope and trepidation. The River could have easily taken a wrong turn and just kept going—and, in fact, it nearly did—but Bruce held steadfast to deliver a double album that put him on a path of “writing for my age” from that point forward on each successive album.
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 29, 2016  |  1 comments
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Revisionist history is just as much a part of rock & roll as guitars, cars, and odes to love and lust are. Some albums initially looked upon as noble but failed experiments more often than not semi-mysteriously improve with age and hindsight when viewed through the prism of time, wherein listeners finally catch up to the scope of the artists’ originally over-their-heads intentions.

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