Music Disc Reviews

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Mike Mettler  |  Jul 17, 2019  |  0 comments
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Bob Dylan has long seen the value in releasing extensive historical collections befitting his anointed artistic legacy. The latest entry in the Dylan archival canon is a massive 14-CD box set via Columbia/Legacy, The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings, a 148-song, 10-hour collection that focuses on the first, late-1975 leg of the touring Revue. The box contains all five of Dylan’s full first-leg sets that were professionally recorded between November 19 and December 4, 1975 as spread over 10 discs…
Mike Mettler  |  Jun 07, 2019  |  0 comments
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When Tom Petty unexpectedly passed away in October 2017 following a triumphant 40th anniversary tour with The Heartbreakers that had wrapped up barely a week earlier in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, the outpouring of grief on an international scale was beyond palpable. Petty's loss at age 66 was a gut-punch, to be sure, especially considering the successive sonic triple threat of 2010's Mojo, 2014's Hypnotic Eye, and 2016's Mudcrutch 2.
Mike Mettler  |  May 24, 2019  |  2 comments
Brain Salad Surgery, Emerson, Lake & Palmer's grand progressive opus of November 1973, was the one LP I knew I could play for my fraternal grandparents to show them rock music was as legitimate an aural artform as classical or jazz. When I first cued up the original Manticore/Atlantic vinyl on their stereo console during an early-1980s visit, I began with the one-two tandem of ELP's reimagining
Mike Mettler  |  May 01, 2019  |  1 comments
Queen’s fourth studio effort, November 1975’s A Night at the Opera, was a masterstroke of mid-1970s multitrack recording. We dissect the ins and outs of the groundbreaking album's fair share of multiple-format releases over its 44-year lifespan (and counting).
Mike Mettler  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  1 comments
If the Moody Blues' most brazen, brave, and bold November 1967 mixture of conceptual rock and broad classical arrangements known as Days of Future Passed both saved their career and opened newer doors of sonic perception for them (and us) to walk through, then their mind-expanding July 1968 follow-up, In Search of the Lost Chord, truly cemented their position as purveyors of some of the headiest of mixes to essentially usher in a new era of progressive music. Indeed, the magnificent Moodies' late-'60s and early-'70s stereo mixes are often credited with helping to sell the true advantages the then-burgeoning FM format had over AM radio in the United States.
Mike Mettler  |  Apr 09, 2019  |  0 comments
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Rush was on a roll. After the celebrated Canadian trio had finally broken through the FM ether with 1976's dystopian statement piece 2112, they took the next evolutionary sonic turn with 1977's expansively majestic A Farewell to Kings. The following year, Rush rotated the screws once again by taking their proto-prog metal to the headiest of limits on 1978's Hemispheres, their final mind-altering statement of the Me-So-Introspective Decade before shedding their muso-skins yet again with 1980's forward-thinking Permanent Waves.
Mike Mettler  |  Feb 01, 2019  |  0 comments
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The nomenclature of the key line that appears within the credits of the original October 1968 double-vinyl release of Electric Ladyland tells quite the prescient tale: “Produced And Directed By Jimi Hendrix.” The most crucial word in that phraseology, of course, is Directed, as the ace guitar slinger spent a good bit of his in-studio time in 1968 thinking in purely cinematic terms.
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 06, 2018  |  2 comments
2018 50th Anniversary Capitol CD

Right in the swirling midst and mists of psychedelia, hard rock, and acid rock, The Band’s July 1968 debut, Music From Big Pink, was a literal breath of rustic fresh air. In fact, Big Pink was seemingly dropped onto the music scene from out of nowhere—even though it was mostly born and bred in the basement of a cozy little rosy-hued house in upstate New York (one that frequently entertained a certain motorcycle-injury-recovering songbard by the name of B. Dylan as a regular creative contributor to the proceedings).

Mike Mettler  |  Oct 18, 2018  |  1 comments
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Calculating how many times key entries in the Yes catalog have been remastered, remixed, repackaged, and reissued can sometimes feel akin to tallying how many official live albums The Grateful Dead have released over the years—well, okay, maybe not quite that many, but still…. It can also be somewhat arduous to keep up with all the ongoing Yes release permutations without a scorecard, let alone decide which ones are worth purchasing.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 31, 2018  |  0 comments
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Always the pauper, never quite the prince. Such was the case for Love, the racially integrated Los Angeles psychedelic/folk-rock hybrid who were always on the cusp of breaking through the ether during those heady revolutionary times of the late 1960s, but just couldn’t totally get there. While the sounds of other SoCal Sunset Strip brethren like The Doors and The Byrds made the leap into mass consciousness, Love’s impact initially came at more of the cult-favorite level—though their multicultural influence has only grown over the ensuing years, especially within the British alternative scene of the early ’90s.
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.

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