Music Disc Reviews

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Mike Mettler  |  May 21, 2020  |  7 comments
One thing our ongoing pandemic lockdown continues to remind many of us music lovers of on a daily basis is just how much we all miss attending live concert events.
Mike Mettler  |  May 15, 2020  |  1 comments
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It would be easy to characterize Chuck Berry, who passed away at age 90 in 2017, as one cantankerously acrimonious fellow, but after revisiting Taylor Hackford's astute 1987 documentary Hail! Hail! Rock 'N' Roll, now available on Blu-ray for the first time via Shout Select, I'm reminded of how captivating, creative, and downright business-savvy the pioneering, guitar-playing singer/ songwriter actually was.
Mike Mettler  |  May 07, 2020  |  35 comments
Okay, you got me. I freely admit before all my fellow music lovers and audiophiles alike that I had a very specific ulterior motive when I noted in a recent Remaster Class column that the title track to Yes' September 1972 magnum opus Close to the Edge was my "second-favorite 5.1 mix." Following my primary intention of encouraging listeners to marvel at the fully enveloping scope of that song's truly amazing surround sound mix, I figured the next thing anyone reading said comment might wonder would be along the lines of, "Yeah, cool cool cool, that's great and all—but what's No. 1?"
Mike Mettler  |  Apr 24, 2020  |  1 comments
Yes may have hit the roundabout motherlode with November 1971's Fragile, but their true zenith came with the following album, September 1972's Close to the Edge. Edge was the perfect intersection of envelope-pushing, multi-movement compositions and beyond-heady lyrical mysticism, permanently cementing Yes' status as top-tier progressive rock progenitors.
Mike Mettler  |  Apr 17, 2020  |  3 comments
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Prince was determined. While he had made some inroads on both the sales charts and urban radio with his first four hot-button, mostly one-man-show albums of the late-'70s and early-'80s, an opening slot on The Rolling Stones' 1981 tour exposed the narrowmindedness of many concertgoers who outright booed and/or threw things at Prince and his band while they were onstage.
Mike Mettler  |  Mar 06, 2020  |  0 comments
Few artists have oh-so-quantifiably defined their own uncopiable sound as definitively as King Crimson did with their October 1969 debut, the full-title-mouthful In the Court of the Crimson King: An Observation by King Crimson. This five-track, beyond-progressive salvo brought together forward-thinking pastoral, orchestral, jazz, and blues-rock sounds into a distinctive blend that only served to widen the overall aural palette of the most formative decade in popular music.
Mike Mettler  |  Feb 21, 2020  |  4 comments
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Which one's Pink? It's a question the mighty members of Pink Floyd have answered more than once throughout their unmatched 50-plus-year career. No matter who's been at the helm—the wide-eyed lysergic-minded guitarist/vocalist Syd Barrett, the uncompromising iconoclast bassist/vocalist Roger Waters, or the melodic linchpin guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour — the mantra of delivering music that's always high fidelity, first class has been at the core of Pink Floyd's production values from the very beginning.
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 13, 2019  |  1 comments
Jethro Tull made a bold move with their fourth album, March 1971's Aqualung, by amping up the intensity that informed the eclectic, prog-folk acoustic/electric hybrid the British band had firmly established on their first three LPs. That move effectively catapulted Tull headlong into the slipstream of the first wave of FM radio-favored artists. In fact, one could even argue the opening six-note pattern of the iconic title track is as instantly recognizable as the recurring four-note riff that defines Deep Purple's seminal "Smoke on the Water" (sorry, just wond'ring aloud here).
Mike Mettler  |  Dec 06, 2019  |  2 comments
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The Beatles were, for all intents and purposes, over. While new, original music would follow in May 1970 with the release of Let It Be, the balance of the recording sessions for what ultimately became September 1969's Abbey Road is generally acknowledged as the in-studio swan song for those four Liverpool moptops who forever defined, if not outright created, the popular music artform in the 1960s.
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 18, 2019  |  1 comments
When Genesis tendered their fifth album, Selling England by the Pound, in October 1973, they finally cemented the promise that had been on display in fits and spurts on their previous LPs. (See the wide aural swath of "The Knife" from 1970's Trespass and the mind-expanding combo of "Watcher of the Skies" and "Supper's Ready" from 1972's Foxtrot as prime examples.)
Mike Mettler  |  Oct 11, 2019  |  0 comments
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And lo, there was a new breed of musician who had come to town, and they were duly christened singer/songwriters. In the wake of the burgeoning rock era's focus on volume-dealing power trios and instrumentally propelled multi-member ensembles (whether schooled or otherwise), there soon emerged another genre compelled by a more sensitive, more lyric-driven, and more acoustified approach.
Mike Mettler  |  Aug 23, 2019  |  0 comments
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The rock and roll circus was coming to town. In 1968, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, The Who's guitar wizard Pete Townshend, and Small Faces bassist Ronnie Lane had collectively decided to organize a perpetual traveling show that would consist of equal parts live performance, grand spectacle, and mobile art installation, all rolled into one never-ending carnival bacchanal.
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  |  3 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

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