45 SACD & DVD-A Reviews Part 3 Jazz, Pop & Rock

by | Apr 1, 2005 | Jazz CD Reviews, Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

45 SACD & DVD-A Reviews This Month

April 2005 Pt. 3 of 3

(Jazz, Pop & Rock)

[Part 1]     [Part 2]click on any cover to go directly to its review

Bilocation 1- binaural sound on speakers
Jerry Granelli - SandhillRosa Passos, BrazilianDon Grusin
Jazz Kamerata SACDSara K. SACDBill FrisellPhonetics
Waraba (Lion) feat. the koraBela Fleck SACDEric Clapton
Peter Frampton
Sisters & Bros.Sheryl CrowSnow Patrol SACD

Bilocation 1 surround experienceBilocation 1 “This is a Journey…” – Binaural sound experience for surround speakers – music and location recordings – produced by Steve Marshall. DTS 5.1 DVD (no video). [For more information: www.bilocation.co.uk] ****:

A most unusual DTS (only) disc. There are several different processes which are designed to allow the amazing spatialization of binaural reproduction with headphones to be experienced with loudspeakers. Some, such as Lexicon’s, are part of a complete processor which cross-cancels the signals from the opposite channels so the effect is similar to wearing headphones as long as you keep your head in an extremely precise position in front of the two speakers. Others process the original binaural signal on the CD so that a similar effect can be had by the listener in front of the stereo speakers without additional equipment.

This disc takes original binaural recordings and processes them for five discrete channels of a surround system. The producer decided to use DTS rather than Dolby Digital because most recent DVD players and surround systems are DTS capable and the technology is able to work with higher resolution information. The goal is to create spatial effects with speakers that were previously possibly primarily with stereo headphones. In order to do so a great deal is made in the line notes of the importance of proper speaker placement. It is observed that many people just place their surround speakers wherever they seem to fit in. That may be OK for movie soundtracks but for music and for this disc especially, ti doesn’t work. The notes say that one can still hear the sounds coming from around one, but the overhead sounds will not be heard (true binaural can place sounds anywhere 360 degrees around you). A handy diagram (which is the same as suggested by Sony & Philips for any 5.1 system) shows the front left and right speakers 30 degrees away from the center line of the center speaker. Because of the terrific imaging of my Von Schweikert VR-2s, my left and right frontal speakers are somewhat further apart than that. The surround speakers are suggested to be placed at 100 to 120 degrees away from the frontal center line. That means considerably closer to the front than mine are placed, but perhaps just about right for those who have gone to the trouble of setting up 6.1 systems with center back surround speakers or speaker. The effect of immersion in the sonic experience was excellent even though my orientation was not exactly as in the diagram.

Another stipulation of the proper setup is the same as for the best results with any surround system – all speakers at the same distance from the sweet spot and all at about the same height. (Avoid the delay options in your preamp or receiver if you possibly can, and don’t worry about the center speaker if it is a foot or two further back the L & R.) It is also best to have all the speakers identical or nearly so, but that is not as important on the sounds contained on this disc as for straight music reproduction. Users are warned to be sure they are using a direct feed to the six channels and not ProLogic, Hall or similar other processes.

The recordings were made in both England and India at a variety of locations. There is no program offered (which might be helpful) – you just jump in and take the sound journey to unexpected places. One venue sounds like a huge reverberant dome, one puts you on the back of a galloping horse, another has a frightening thunderstorm and lightning crashing all around you. There is some Indian music recorded with greatest realism, and toward the end a helicopter flies overhead and you really want to look to see if anything is there. Successful reproduction of the lowest frequencies is important to the realism of the sounds; this disc will give your subwoofer(s) or full range speakers a good workout – it demonstrates how important those basement frequencies are in adding a feeling of spaciousness to any recording. As with listening to binaural on headphones, the proper environment aids the experience: lights lowered, sitting comfortably with your feet up. Bilocation doesn’t suffer from the extremely narrow sweet spot of most of the other processes; you can move around a bit and still feel like the sounds are happening all around you in three dimensions. There is no timing listed for the DVD and I have no idea of the length. During its playing I was somewhere else and not timing things!

– John Sunier

Granelli & Eckert - SandhillsJerry Granelli – Sandhills Reunion – Jerry Granelli, drums, samples; with Rinde Eckert, voice; Francois Houle, clarinet; Jeff Riley, bass clarinet; David Mott, baritone saxophone; Christoph Both, cello; Christian Kogel, guitars; J. Anthony Granelli, bass, lap steel guitar – Songlines SGL SA 1553-2 – Multichannel Hybrid SACD, 48 miin. ****:

Sandhills Reunion is obviously a labor of love on the part of Jerry Granelli and all the participants; the sometimes bizarre and eclectic melange of musical styles defies categorization – is it rock, is it jazz or is it spoken word? Regardless, unless you’re a fan, or you happen to be lucky enough to catch the buzz by word of mouth, or maybe while auditioning an upcoming acquisition at an enlightened high-end dealer, chances are this strangely satisfying disc would slip quietly under the radar. Which is a real shame, because this undeniably, demonstration-quality disc deserves much more of an audience than it’s likely to get.

Blending the music of drummer Jerry Granelli and his associates with the words and voice of Rinde Eckert, Sandhills Reunion is a compelling, quasi-stream of consciousness tour-de-force that meanders through time, weaving modern day elements with continuing ruminations and reflections on the life of William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid. Occasionally brash, but mostly meditative and contemplative in tone, the musical background is a wash of guitars and electronically sampled landscapes that expertly blend percussion and seemingly disparate instrumental textures such as woodwinds and cello into a mostly haunting depiction of the Plains area where the stories unfold. Write/actor/librettist Eckert is the perfect choice to deliver these powerful meditations; his vocalizations skillfully navigate the boundaries of time while effectively weaving the past with the present.

Frankly, this sort of disc is not what I usually sit down for the evening with. But while it’s entertaining, it’s also very musically satisfying. The sound quality of the disc is superb, with a clarity and presence that totally belies its PCM origins, and offers a huge soundstage for the performers. The surrounds are used very effectively to add depth and layers to the instrumental and vocal textures. Even when there’s plenty of action going on all around you, Rinde Eckert’s incredible voice is firmly anchored in the center – he has a real knack for making even the mundane seem totally compelling. Very highly recommended!

Tracks: Like a Ghost in the Grass; Our Particular Tragedy; 20 Questions for an Outlaw; Nolan; River of Glass; Your Voice; Just Angela; Last Light; Little White Suit; Never to See You; Smart Women; Spun Like a Spur.

— Tom Gibbs

Passos & CarterRosa Passos & Ron Carter – Entre Amigos; Between Friends. Songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim et. al. Chesky Multichannel SACD 291-51:51 ****:

This one is a collection of eleven songs, seven by Jobim, and one each by Dennis Brian, Garoto & Luis Claudio, Bide & Marçal, and Noel Rosa. They are all Bossa Nova. In addition to Rosa Passos on vocals and Ron Carter on bass, the musicians are: Luis Guilherme Farias Galv|o (Lula), guitar; Paulo Braga, percussion; Billy Drewes, tenor sax and clarinet. They make music about sad things. Even when they are about happy things, they sound blue, down tempo, minor mode. I think a more apt title for this album might have been “Blue Rosa.”

That said, the album is not a downer. Like a poet who can dial up certain emotions within us as we read his words, not even aloud, Jobim’s songs in the hands of Rosa and Ron summon new emotional dimensions. Rosa’s got chops. She can break your heart in Portuguese. That is to say, her style is so direct, so simple, the lyrics might be in Vietnamese, but her phrasing would still bring a sigh to your chest. She sings of love lost, what else, as a mature woman (she was a youthful 50 when this was recorded.), not as a girl. You can feel the resignation, the acceptance, the ache in her heart. For art’s sake, she convinces us this heartache is something she’s been carrying around for years — it’s her Jones and she can’t let it go — while she’s a happy person.

I don’t want to put the knock on any other of the lady singers out there. But, often, if you listen to enough Pop, or Rock, the divas are trying to express their pain by getting loud and shrill. That doesn’t do it for me. On an emotional level, it is too desperate. On an artistic level, it lacks finesse. Frankly, since I passed twenty-five I haven’t found that kind of singing moves me. Oh, it speaks to separation anxiety alright, the panic of suddenly being abandoned and unloved. But in the same way I’d try not to invite a person going through panic attacks home for dinner, ‘cause that kind of trouble tries to draw you in; neither can I listen to it too often in the name of art.

And that’s what is attractive about Rosa Passos. She’s been there and done that. She’s a sadder and wiser girl now. And when you hear her sing “O Grande Amor,” you realize she’s not rejoicing in a great love, as the title might suggest; she’s heartbroken at having lost it. Oh boy, is she ever. And it is her understatement that generates the power of her singing without raising her voice beyond a near whisper. If you’re older than twenty-five, you know how that works.

Ron Carter is a jazz great who’s been around a long time lending the mastery of his instrument, and his towering musicianship, to many, many albums. Here he is, in synch with Rosa, finding the just right note, bending it with a blues flavor just so, adding his expressiveness to hers. This is an almost sublime partnership, with the other instrumentalists chiming in here and there with tasty licks. But it is Ron’s sensitivity to Rosa that really puts this one over.

This album was previously released in redbook CD format. Multichannel helps it fill out a room, and, not surprisingly, catches more of the detail. Rosa and Ron are in the room with us. Another great job by all the folks at Chesky Records. When will they give us a Christmas Album? When? Rosa also has a new album out on a competing label. She’s enjoying a vogue. Buy them both.

— Max Dudious [This review also appears in Positive Feedback online.]

Don GrusinDon Grusin – The Hang; Sovereign Artists 1950-9 DVD-A ****:

This album was recorded in front of a live audience and although most records seem to lose quality in this situation, this one is an exception—it’s palpable, immediate, and quiet. The music is lite jazz mixed with a latin flavor on some tracks. You might even recognize some audiophile oldies but goodies like “She Could Be Mine.” Almost half the tracks include vocals from different artists, while the other tracks are strictly instrumental cuts. The material is lively and upbeat and if you peruse the notes section you’ll see how The Hang came about and why this is so. Grusin gathered together many of the artists he’s played with over the years including more recent musicians and vocalists and they all came together to hang out and jam. The video clip showcases several of the artists and we learn about their feelings on the project. There is also some additional footage from the DVD video. The music is enjoyable and easy, and everything on this disc is so well-recorded it is hard not to sit back and just groove.

This disc offers a two-channel 96/24 track in addition to the 5.1 channel DVD-A and Dolby Digital mix. The sound quality is superb and should make an excellent demo disc for those who choose to use it this way. It’s a good example of intense use of the surround channels. The display over the music contains track information and featured artists, but there is also an option to display the sheet music. Warning: The sheet music is incredibly tiny and hard to read. When there are vocals on the cut, there is also an option to see the lyrics. One of the unique “features” on this disc is the menu graphics. Like the front cover of the disc, the menus are made up of strange hanging figurines (that move on some screens).

The People section of the disc allows you to select an individual performer and has a picture, what instrument they play, and an occasional web link. They are: Alex Acuna (drums, percussion); Patti Austin (vocals); Charlie Bisharat (violin); Nathan East (bass); Pete Escovedo (percussion); Dave Grusin (keyboards); Don Grusin (keyboards); Abraham Laboriel (bass); Harvey Mason (drums); Phil Perry (vocals); Frank Quintero (vocals, guitar); Nelson Rangell (sax, flute, piccolo); Natali Rene (vocals); Lee Ritenour (guitar); Oscar Seaton (drums, percussion); Ricardo Silveira (guitar); Sadao Watanabe (sax); Ernie Watts (sax); Ernie Watts (sax); Carly Thomas (background vocalist); Jude Crossen (background vocalist).

Songs included are: Let’s Not Talk About It; Makossa Beat; She Could Be Mine; Wait For Me; La Dama de la Ciudad; El Floridita; Number 8; Woman; The Chaser; Fresh Air; Catwalk; Road Town; Oo-Whee The Carnival; She Feels Good.

-Brian Bloom

Carlos Franzetti: The Jazz Kamerata, Plays the Music of Miles Davis – featuring Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, Claus Ogerman, Carlos Franzetti Jazz KamerataClare Fischer, Wayne Short, Steve Kuhn – Chesky multichannel SACD287; 60:21 *****:

I’m always raving about the taste of the Chesky label, and this ranges through the artists they have under contract (who, mostly, play in an understated, unornamented style), and the excellence of their audio engineering. Well, they’ve done it again with this album of covers by The Jazz Kamerata. The Kamerata is made up of a piano, a flute, a clarinet, a string quartet (two violins, one viola, and a cello), a bass viol, and a saxophonist who plays soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones on various numbers of this album. They get a very chamber-jazz sound. There are no drums, not at all like Bach in Jacques Loussier’s style; but rather something autumnal, something free-floating and dreamy. Dare I say French Impressionistic chamber jazz? Maybe a new kind of jazz, with its roots in Duke Ellington, who wrote complex harmonic arrangements that had to be played exactly as written, yet left enough room for his soloists to take (short) rides. The individual “cuts” (Can you have a cut without a stylus?) are all arranged by the leader, Carlos Franzetti, so they are products of his sensibilities, and they wind up having some similarities that might surprise their composers. These very laid-back presentations also remind me of the mellower ballads on the “Charlie Parker With Strings” albums. That is to say, there is a very harmonically sophisticated quality to this music, which comes across without being in-your-face. It is another of the Chesky albums you might put on repeat mode and listen to all day, sometimes, just to get to know it better.

This kind of music is not hard-driving straight-ahead bop. Even the pieces that were somewhat hard-edged originally have been treated by Franzetti to have his pensive, relaxed “sound.” The ten cuts, and their composers are: Circle – Miles Davis; Nefertiti – Wayne Shorter; Last Year’s Waltz – Steve Kuhn; Quiet Rising – Pat Metheny; Allison’s Dance – Carlos Franzetti; When Autumn Comes – Clare Fischer; Prism – Keith Jarret; Van Gogh – Eugenio Toussaint; Very Early – Bill Evans; Elegia – Claus Ogerman. I think that’s a pretty impressive line up. I think the tunes were selected to make a kind of suite. And to my surprise it works, even if it is a tad elegiac. O.K. So, what do we have? I think we have a jazz pianist, sax player, and bassist who front a back up group of strings, flute, and clarinet in playing some slick arrangements of thoughtful, almost melancholy jazz. It is very introspective, as many of the titles suggest. If you’re not careful you could spend many hours listening to this album. I have.

The members of the ensemble are: Carlos Franzetti, piano; Lawrence Feldman, Soprano, Alto and Tenor Saxophone; Theresa Norris, Flute; Paul Gallo, Clarinet; Laura Seaton-Finn, Violin 1; Leonardo Suarez Paz, Violin 2; Maurycy Banaszek, Viola; Stephanie Cummins, Cello; and Jay Leonhart, Bass. The piano and the saxophones usually front the band with string quartet, and woodwinds accompanying, and bass setting tempo. It works out quite well, especially in surround mode, making my office sound huge. The team of Chesky engineers, led by Barry Wolifson and Nicholas Prout, does its usual splendid job. David Chesky puts his sangfroid imprimatur on the project, while Norman crunches the numbers. All in all a good job was done by everyone.

This is a mood album, and a little sad, but who doesn’t get a little sad now and then? I recommend it. It’s a cleanser for the soul. When you pick up your copy, tell the guy Max Dudious sent ya’.

– Max Dudious [This review also appears in the current edition of Positive Feedback Online.]

Sara K.Sara K. – Play On Words; Chesky SACD278 Multichannel SACD *** 1/2:

This record is from 1993 and all the songs are original compositions by Sara except for “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” by Lerner and Lowe. Sara has a rich voice that is well-suited to blues (like track two) and works well with the other folk songs on the record (as many of them are). The music is primarily guitar based although other instrumentation plays an important accompaniment to most of the songs. The highlight of track three is the saxophone—it’s one of the best on the disc. Track four shifts right back to the blues and the sound is amazing. Chesky’s standard CDs sound better than most labels’ SACDs, so the impressive quality of sound on this disc is nothing new. In fact, if this disc isn’t already in most audiophiles’ collections I’d be surprised. Mellow, inoffensive, Joni Mitchell-style music with a twinge of the blues, and an exemplary recording is what you get on this disc. If that’s your bag, then you’ll love it. Songs included are: Horse I Used To Ride; Stop Those Bells; If I Could Sing Your Blues; Turned My Upside Down; Maritime; Wouldn’t It Be Loverly; Man-Child; Burnin’ Both Ends; Second Wind; History Repeats Itself.

-Brian Bloom

Bill FrisellBill Frisell – Richter 858 – Bill Frisell, guitars and electronics; with Hank Roberts, cello; Jenny Scheinman, violin; Eyvind Kang, viola – Songlines SGL SA 1551-2 – Stereo-only SACD, 45 min. **:

Prior to listening to this disc, I took a few moments (as usual) to inspect the packaging and read through the accompanying booklet, which, by the way, is extraordinarily well done. Contained within are reproductions of the eight abstract paintings by Gerhard Richter that form the basis for the music guitarist Bill Frisell composed in this album. All are reproduced on high-quality, glossy stock, and are accompanied by extensive notes on the paintings themselves and their relationship to the music composed for each work. The disc itself is also a CD-ROM, which allows you to view the paintings in much larger scale and in detail, along with MP3s of the music as well. Being an abstract painter myself, and quite the fan of the entire abstract genre, I found the visuals exciting and compelling – they looked terrific on the screen of a 23″ Mac flat screen display.

Unfortunately, I cannot wax with the same enthusiasm for the music itself, which is beyond abstract in every sense of the word. This music is definitely an acquired taste, and multiple repeat listening sessions never warmed me to it. Regardless of what a great package this disc presents, be warned – this music is difficult at best, and may not suit all listeners. Definitely try before you buy, if at all possible.

— Tom Gibbs

Benoit Delbedq UnitBenoit Delbecq Unit – Phonetics – Benoit Delbecq, piano; with Mark Turner, tenor sax; Oene Van Geel, viola; Mark Helias, bass; Emile Biayenda, drums – Songlines SGL SA 1552-2 – Multichannel Hybrid SACD, 48 min. ***:

Another venture in abstraction from the Songlines label, this disc of traditional abstract jazz didn’t ever really congeal for me, despite repeat attempts at making that supreme connection. There wasn’t enough interplay between the musicians – way too much focus was on the individual players. And when it happened that what seemed like something roughly resembling a groove occurred – it was always too short in duration for satisfaction. Your mileage may vary, but this is definitely for the more musically adventurous listener and may be an acquired taste. Try it before you buy it.

Tracks: Le meme jour; Multikulta; Zao Wou-ki; Pointe de la courte dune; The Elbow Room, Vancouver; 4MalW; Yompa; Au Lourve.

— Tom Gibbs

Waraba (Lion)Jean-Jacques Avenel, doublebass & kora – Waraba (with Yakouba Sissokho, kora; Lansiné Kouyaté, balaphon; Moriba Koita, ngoni; Michel Edlin, flute/alto flute/bass flute) – Songlines multichannel SACD SGL SA1549-2, 62:12 ****:

I’m not heavily into what goes for world music today, aside from a bit of Brazilian, East Indian and Balkans music. However, I find certain African instrumental music absolutely riveting – especially if it includes the native balaphon xylophones and/or the 21-stringed harp-lute known as he kora. In fact I own a small balophon myself. It’s pentatonic, but Koyate has at his disposal both pentatonic (5-note octave) and diatonic instruments so he can do more sophisticated melodic lines. The ngoni is a small lute with from three to five strings, changed little from the Egypt of the Pharaohs. French bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel (veteran of Steve Lacy, Butch Morris, David Murray among others) fell in love with the music of the Manding world – Gambia, Guinea, Mali and Senegal. He was so into it he purchased a kora and studied playing it from recordings. Later he met Sisokho and Kouyate who were playing in France and joined by flutist Edlin and lute-player Koita his group came together. Waraba means Lion in one of the Manding languages.

The wonderful sound of the kora is difficult to describe; it sounds like no other variation of the harp. To my ears it sounds more like the harp angels are supposed to play than the concert harp. It has a gourd resonator and the balaphons have a series of them – perhaps this contributes to the very natural and organic sounds they produce. There’s no drums in the ensemble and no chanting. Avenel’s strong bass playing actually provides the closing thing to percussion in spurring on his band members. In fact the music never approaches the repetitive style found in much African and Latin-American music, because the focus of this basically world music group is on the structured improvisations. The tunes are divided between originals composed by group members and ancient tunes of the griots – the musician storytellers of the Manding society. Avenel plays both kora and his bass simultaneously on “Pi-Pande” via overdubbing. There are ten tracks, with the closing traditional tune “Tubaka” running nearly ten minutes. The session was recorded in Paris on multitrack analog tape and transferred very successfully to surround DSD. This disc should find a place in the collections of fans of jazz, world and ethnic music – as well as multichannel-able audiophiles.

– John Sunier

Bela Fleck - DriveBela Fleck, banjo – Drive (with Sam Bush, mandolin; Jerry Douglas, dobro; Stuart Duncan and Mark O’Connor, fiddles; Tony Rice, guitar; Mark Schatz, bass) – Rounder/Mobile Fidelity Stereo-only SACD UCSACD 7003 ****:

Originally done for Rounder 17 years ago, Bela Fleck says his fans constantly talk about this album and he’s pleased to have it reissued in this SOTA form. Some of the top players in acoustic and bluegrass music back up the musician who has taken the lowly banjo places it had never visited before. So “Drive” is a great name for the disc! It’s not your typical acoustic session, nor it is your typical bluegrass, but then Fleck never is. While his recent more electronic work has been a kick, I think I agree with his fans about this session being more musical and more fun. Considering these musicians had never played together before, the previously unreleased bonus track is amazing (it’s the last track). They’re basically just tuning up and checking micing but they’re hot! You won’t get a lot of pseudo-surround with ProLogic II et al. because of the close micing with lots of mics, but the recording absolutely glows in its pristine two-channel form as all those pluckers are arrayed out in front of you.

Tracks: Whitewater, Slipstream, Up and Around the Bend, Natchez Trace, See Rock City, The Legend, The Lights of Home, Down in the Swamp, Sanctuary, The Open Road, Crucial Country Breakdown, Shuckin’ the Corn.

– John Henry

Eric Clapton - 461 Ocean Blvd.Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard; Polydor B0003638-36 Hybrid Multichannel SACD ****:

When I noticed there were bonus tracks on this disc I went and did a search for this album on Amazon.com to see what would come up. Sure enough, there are five different versions of this record listed: one standard CD, one remastered CD, one DTS surround CD, one deluxe CD with an entire disc of live and outtake tracks, and this SACD version. Of these, the version under review is the only one with the bonus tracks, offers surround or stereo, and will play in any CD player. I suppose it is possible the DTS version sounds better, but I haven’t heard it and have no reason to believe it does. As it is, this disc sounds good, but not great. [We’re all learning that just because a disc is released as an SACD doesn’t mean it is necessarily SOTA fidelity – though the ratio seems better with the jazz and classical genres…Ed.] The music is another story—this is another of Clapton’s classic records. It’s a mix of blues and reggae covers, and originals presented with stylized guitar work and that wonderful mellow, smooth, folksy rock ’n’ roll flavor of which only a few artists are capable.

Track 2 is a wonderful, slow and easy blues track that highlights Clapton’s guitar playing. In contrast, track 3 is a more upbeat number that gets your head bobbing while still managing to sound effortlessly easy. Track 5 may be a Bob Marley cover, but may even be more associated with Clapton. Clapton preserves the funkiness and reggae groove, but makes it more of a rock ‘n’ roll number. This album is much less country western/folk sounding in comparison to “Slowhand,” and more even overall. “Let It Grow” is one of my favorite slow rock tunes, and sounds as good as ever on this disc. Of the bonus tracks, all the tunes are heavy on the blues, but “Walkin’ Down The Road” is exceptional. For once, the bonus tracks aren’t just filler and make this disc even better.

The range on the disc goes from funky to polite to hard rocking! The sound is mostly up front, but some of the tracks utilize the surrounds—although the use is rather mild. In any case, this disc is a keeper. Songs included are: Motherless Children; give Me Strength; Willie And The Hand Jive; Get Ready; I Shot The Sheriff; I Can’t Hold Out; Please Be With Me; Let It Grow; Steady Rollin’ Man; Mainline Florida; Bonus tracks: Walkin’ Down The Road; Ain’t That Lovin’ You; Meet Me (Down At The Bottom).

-Brian Bloom

Frampton Comes Alive!Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive! 2-disc Deluxe Edition; A&M Records B0001017-26 Multichannel SACD-only *** 1/2:

The album insert on this set includes a review given by Cameron Crowe for Rolling Stone Magazine in 1975. In it he concludes that “[this record] is a testimony to Peter Frampton in his natural habitat.” It is understood that after years of growing with bands like Humble Pie, Frampton was ready to move on into a solo career. From the studio records released, a group of songs became staples throughout the live performances. This two-disc set contains a collection of live performances that show the artist doing what he does best—guitar, vocals, and working the audience. The first two performances took place on June 13, 1975 at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, California. A bulk of the material comes from a performance the following day in San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom. To fill out more material, the band recorded shows at the Island Music Center in Long Island, the Philadelphia Spectrum, Providence College in Rhode Island, and at State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

One of the most well-known of the live songs is that of the almost 14-minute-long “Do You Feel Like We Do.” The tune developed over many live performances including a solo by keyboardist Bob Mayo and the eventual use of the Talkbox by Frampton. It is clearly one of the high points of this set. In addition to this track, some of the other notables are “Show Me The Way,” “Baby, I Love Your Way,” and Frampton’s cover of “Jumping Jack Flash.” Extra songs that are included in this set (and not the original release) are: Just The Time Of Year; Day’s Dawning; White Sugar; and Nowhere’s Too Far For My Baby. When it was originally released, the album was so popular that it went to number one and became the biggest selling record ever.

The material was remixed specially for this release, but still falls short of the better- sounding discs. The vocals and music sound somewhat distant and give the listener the feeling they are fairly far back from the stage. The surround effects help to enhance the feeling of being in an arena. This record is one of the classic live rock albums of the 70s, but some of the material sounds a little flat and dated. Still, everyone will have some favorites off this record. Unfortunately these discs are NOT hybrid discs and therefore will not play in conventional CD players such as your car. Songs included are: Introduction/Somethin’s Happening; Doobie Wah; Lines On My Face; Show Me The Way; It’s A Plain Shame; Wind Of Change; Just The Time Of Year; Penny For Your Thoughts; All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side); Baby, I Love Your Way; I Wanna Go To The Sun; Nowhere’s Too Far For My Baby; (I’ll Give You) Money; Do You Feel Like We Do; Shine On; White Sugar; Jumping Jack Flash; Day’s Dawning.

-Brian Bloom

Sisters & Bros.Eric Bibb, Rory Block & Maria Muldaur – Sisters & Brothers – Telarc SACD-63588 Hybrid Multichannel SACD *** 1/2:

In some ways this is a tribute album, not to another artist, but to music—music that influenced them all. Eric Bibb is the son of folk singer Leon Bibb, and grew up surrounding by country blues. Block was no stranger to the Greenwich Village folk scene and heard many a concert in Washington Square. Muldaur knew Rory when she was a kid and has been a performer for a long time. The three artists came together to record in an old barn that’s been converted to a recordings space in Unity, Maine. The material on this record is quite varied. The disc starts off with a gospel/revival tune and transitions to blues, then R&B, lounge-style jazz, soul, folk, and country. This record is full of spirit infused by the artists who really have a passion for the music they are performing. Track 5 is written by Bibb and Muldaur, and boy, does it sound sweet. The jazz accompaniment is first rate and so well recorded. Track 8 is one of the blues tunes and serves as a great example of the unique blending of the male and female vocals of this group.

In addition to the trio, Chris Burns joins them on keyboards, Michael “Mudcat” Ward is on bass, and Per Hanson plays drums. The sound of this record is excellent. The instrumentation is easy, fluid, clean, and right there! This disc is a perfect example of how really good DSD digital can sound. There is heavy use of the surround channels for instruments and vocals as well. On the first, fourth and sixth tracks (and maybe more) the vocals are side-biased. There is one in the center and the other on one side rather than spread evenly across the front, etc. It’s a noticeable thing, but obviously a recording choice, and not bothersome. Songs included are: Rock Daniel; Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down; Get Up Get Ready; Lean on Me; Bessie’s Advice; Good Stuff; Rolling Log; Gotta Serve Somebody; Travelin’ Woman blues; Little Rain; Maggie Campbell; Give a Little More; My Sisters and Brothers.

-Brian Bloom

Sheryl Crow SACDSheryl Crow – The Globe Sessions; A&M B0003057-36 Hybrid Multichannel SACD ****:

It seems that Crow is developing musically from album to album. This is a more accessible record than her second album (self-titled) and is leaning more towards pop/rock and upbeat material than her previous efforts. Still, “My Favorite Mistake” shows her ability to write catchy music and lyrics that rock. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl, and “It Don’t Hurt” is a pleasant country rock song. There have always been electronic effects added to the acoustic songs (dating back to her first record), but this one seems much more electric than ever before. The material is really good throughout and the record produced quite a few hit songs–although a cover of Guns ‘N’ Roses song is questionable at best. The use of the surround channels varies per track on this disc. Early tracks use the surround mainly to expand the soundspace, but in later tracks, there is more information including some instruments. Sound quality is good and there is more clarity than you might expect, but it still falls short of the best CDs in terms of fidelity. Songs included are: My Favorite Mistake; There Goes The Neighborhood; Riverwide; It Don’t Hurt; Maybe that’s Something; Am I Getting Through (Part I & II); Anything But Down; The Difficult Kind; Mississippi; Members Only; Crash And Burn; Sweet Child O’ Mine.

-Brian Bloom

Snow Patrol SACDSnow Patrol – Final Straw; A&M B0002376-36 Hybrid Multichannel SACD
*** 1/2:

Describing the sound of this band is a bit difficult. They definitely have some roots in modern rock and might be compared to bands like Blur (or even L7), but their sound is unique. The songs have a droning quality with monotonous vocals that wash over the listener. There is a great deal of electric guitar and pounding bass that drives the songs and some of the songs seem to have an almost Techno/House influence. The whining harmonies on track three work with the flow of the tune and buoy it up to a higher level. Track five—though still rock—is more pop oriented and again, utilizes similar harmonies used in track three. A lot of the material can sound alike, and this is either good or bad depending on how you look at it. “Run” is my pick for the best song on this disc. Even though the music is current, it brings back memories of The Catherine Wheel and best realizes what the band is trying to accomplish. If there were more songs like this the album would be an easy recommendation. This track, the next, and the last are a respite from the harder tunes. This disc makes moderate use of the surrounds and they don’t disrupt the focus up front. Sound quality is very good overall, though the voice is occasionally overshadowed by the louder/larger instrumental passages. Songs included are: How To Be Dead; Wow; Gleaming Auction; Whatever’s Left; Spitting Games; Chocolate; Run; Grazed Knees; Ways & Means; Tiny Little Fractures; Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking; Same.

-Brian Bloom


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