Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd.
Format: 16-bit/44.1 kHz WAV download

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Chrissie Hynde, the lead singer and primary songwriter of the Pretenders, has sung a few Bob Dylan songs over the years. She appeared with Dylan when he performed at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1984, and sang a stellar version of “I Shall Be Released” at the singer’s 30th anniversary celebration in Madison Square Garden in 1992. The Pretenders have covered “Forever Young” on recent tours, and Hynde has slipped other Dylan tunes into her solo performances.

Exile Productions Ltd./BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd. 538667900
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Van Morrison has been pretty cranky about the pandemic. He released four songs last year, one recorded with Eric Clapton, in protest of the lockdowns ordered by the UK government. Morrison, like many of his peers, is a firm believer in the value of live music, but COVID-19 has largely kept him off the road. This has given him a lot of free time, some of which he has spent in the recording studio. The result is Latest Record Project, Volume 1, a 28-song collection spread across two CDs.

Universal Music Enterprises B0033090-02
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

In 2019, guitarist Peter Frampton announced that the brief tour he was preparing to begin later that year would be his last. He had received a diagnosis of a progressive muscle disorder that, he was told, would eventually limit his ability to play and sing. He released an album to coincide with that tour, All Blues, which took him back to his roots as a guitarist, especially his stint with Humble Pie in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Blue Note Records
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC download

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***1/2

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

It has been nearly 20 years since Norah Jones debuted with Come Away with Me (2002), a record whose total sales (over 27 million) could have led to a series of similarly pleasant, brisk-selling releases. Instead, she moved more firmly into a challenging singer-songwriter role, subtly altering her approach to songs from album to album, and collaborating with musicians as diverse as Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and producer-musician Danger Mouse.

Blue Note Records B003327702
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

It’s tempting to assume jazz organist Dr. Lonnie Smith’s return to Blue Note Records in 2016 with Evolution meant he was enjoying a late-career rebirth. In fact, Smith has recorded steadily and consistently since the mid-1960s, when he was a member of guitarist George Benson’s group. His credits include 29 albums as leader and countless other appearances on recordings by other musicians, including saxophonist Lou Donaldson, a fellow Blue Note alum.

BFM Jazz 621 834 676 2
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Drummer Steve Gadd has played on so many records, in so many genres of music, that his discography seems to run on forever. To say he’s been in demand over the years is an understatement. He’s also led his own bands; one of these, Steve Gadd Band, is composed largely of musicians who, like him, were members of James Taylor’s touring group. That lineup’s fourth release, Steve Gadd Band (2018), won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.

Sony Music/Legacy Recordings 19439839452
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****1/2

Overall Enjoyment
****1/2

Willie Nelson’s 2018 tribute to Frank Sinatra, My Way, showed his affection for the singer’s work, but on the 11 songs Nelson chose to cover he avoided simply retracing the Chairman of the Board’s footsteps. “Summer Wind” had its own relaxed charm, “It Was a Very Good Year” showed a different shade of melancholy from Sinatra’s, and “My Way” was a summing-up that avoided the swagger that marred Sinatra’s own take on the song (it’s one of the few Sinatra numbers I’ve never liked).

In response to my recent love letter to integrated amplifiers, I received some interesting feedback that came in the form of a question: isn’t there some contradiction in the fact that I use integrated amps almost exclusively in my dedicated two-channel system while relying on separates in my main home-theater system? Why not use an A/V receiver in my media room instead of an A/V preamp and multichannel amp if I’m so enamored with one-box solutions?

Omnivore Recordings OV-408
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC download

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

Matthew Sweet has carried the power-pop banner high ever since his breakthrough third album, Girlfriend (1991), making tuneful, guitar-driven records that sometimes show as much appreciation for bands like Hüsker Dü as they do the glories of AM rock radio. Some of his albums, such as 100% Fun (1995) and Blue Sky on Mars (1997), contain their share of loud, overdriven guitars, but others, like In Reverse (1999), make overt references to the lush ’60s pop production styles of the Beach Boys and the Beatles.

Arts & Crafts Productions AC195CD
Format: 2 CDs

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Gord Downie’s solo album Introduce Yerself was released in October 2017, just ten days after the death of the iconic frontman and creative genius of The Tragically Hip. I assumed we had heard his final album, but Downie’s brothers later revealed that additional recordings were being prepared for release, and now we have Away Is Mine. Downie and Skydiggers guitarist Josh Finlayson, who had played on several of Downie’s previous solo recordings, cowrote the music for Away Is Mine and Downie wrote the lyrics.