Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Various Artists
"28 Top-Hits in Super Stereo" (Vinyl)

Another German-printed super hi-fi stereophonic gimmick record recorded and pressed by EMI for P4.

It is a (nearly) comical collection of popular tunes done in a traditional German folk style.  Instrumentals only.  While it's funny to hear 'Crocodile Rock' done like in a Burlesque, it's a little to obscure to justify keeping on the shelf right now.  I think there's a reason the record is in such good shape after all these years.
"Draw the Line" (Vinyl)

Released in 1977, this was Aerosmith's fifth studio album.
It features a memorable caricature portrait of the band by Al Hirschfeld on the album cover.  Later pressings slapped the album title on the front cover along with the band name.

The copy I have is actually a promo copy so it has the giant Columbia Records 'Not for Sale' sticker on it as well as a generic white label on the LP itself.

When people discover the music of Aerosmith, it's probably through one of their top-selling greatest hits collections.  Unlike many other bands who enjoyed certain periods of creative prosperity, Aerosmith has a knack for stretching out their hits over decades.  ("Dream On" in 1973, "Sweet Emotion" in '75, "Come Together" in '87, "Amazing" in '93.)  

For my money, all I really need of Aerosmith is a greatest hits compilation album that stretches from their early days through the heyday 90's.   This band has enjoyed an enviable combination of chemistry between guitarist Joe Perry and front man Steven Tyler, but their songs never possessed the bone-crushing power of Led Zeppelin or the memorable charm of Queen. They've always been left somewhere in the middle.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Earth, Wind & Fire
"Gratitude" (Vinyl)

Released in 1976, this double-LP album was a monster success for the ensemble, having been registered triple-platinum by the RIAA, spending weeks on top of the charts and earning them a Grammy nomination.

While the party-down feel-good aspect of Earth, Wind & Fire can't be undersold, nothing quite compares to hearing Maurice White & Co. tear it up live (which constitutes 3 of the 4 sides.)
Hearing a band this tight with such vocal power and energy is unlike anything else.
"Steppin' Out on Saturday Night" (Vinyl)

I can't find out a whole lot about this band or this album.  It was released in 1978 during the height of disco and it's influence is clearly noted.

The liner notes suggest this ensemble was created out of the pieces of many other bands, but I've never heard of any of the musicians in SAIL.

The album is a collection of soul/funk/disco tunes that seem to be generic enough.  Not staying in my collection.
Yellow Magic Orchestra
"BGM" (Vinyl)

Another entry from the Saito collection, this 1981 album was released by the Japanese electronic music pioneers. It includes the band's earliest recorded work using a couple of seminal pieces of equipment: the Roland TR-808 and Roland MC-4.

BGM stands for Back Ground Music. While maybe it would be suitable to have pumping in the background of your lavish penthouse pool party it wouldn't be very comforting during an  elevator ride.

Very interesting stuff and another facet of musical development in the age following the jazz fusion explosion of the late '70's.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

"Stereo a la carte 3" (Vinyl)

Phase 4 Stereo was a concoction brewed up by the London record label as a series of "gimmick" records to promote the new-fangled "stereo" hi-fi's that were beginning to gain popularity in homes.

This particular record is a collection of groovy swingin' arrangements of popular tunes ranging from "La Bamba" to "Lady be Good."

London (and Decca) recorded these on state-of-the-art 10-track consoles and meticulously mixed to highlight the stereo effect.

As an advertisement goes, it's pretty radical.  This particular album was released in German.  There's hardly a word on the front or back I can make sense of.
Keller Quartet
"J.S. Bach - 'The Art of the Fugue'" (CD)

Bach wrote his treatise of counterpoint for an unspecified instrumentation.   At the time of Bach's death, the work was left incomplete.  Since his death in 1750, debate has continued over the intended recipient of his piece and it's generally agreed that Bach wanted the harpsichord to perform this work.

But, that didn't stop the rest of us from getting in and mucking about.  Once the string quartet was canonized as a standard musical vehicle, performances of the work inevitably followed soon after.

This recording was made by the Hungarian Keller Quartet in 1997 and was released in 2000.
The quartet does a remarkable job capturing the sonorous and open qualities of Bach's Baroque sensibilities and captures some of the most in tune, non-vibrated chords I've heard from a string quartet.

If you're looking for a great CD to put on while you're productively bumbling around your home, this is probably it.
Spryo Gyra
"Morning Dance" (Vinyl)

Spyro Gyra's sophomore (and most commercially successful) album was released in 1979.  It contained one of the band's most successful chart-topping songs, "Morning Dance."

Another venture into the foray of late-70's jazz fusion groups, Spryo Gyra at least can claim that they came from a very unglamorous beginning playing bars and clubs in Buffalo, NY.  Unlike their California-born counterparts, there's a blue collar street cred to these boys.

The lineup on this album is considered their most successful.  While Gyra still performs today, there are only a handful of original members.
Charlie Fox & the Ring of Sound
"All" (Vinyl)

It's been another lengthy haitus this summer.  I think we're back for a while this time. I think.

This album is kind of a rarity, according to the Interweb. There's very little information easily found about this album.  There's also little information about Charlie Fox.  Or the Ring of Sound.

What is this? It's an album full of poppy jazz arrangements of popular favorites (including "Greensleeves" and "Eleanor Rigby") and apparently it's a fairly rare record even though prices on eBay range from $10 to $50 for a copy of the record.