October 24, 2009

Playlist 10-24-09

* J.S. Bach: Suites for Cello (Jaap ter Linden) (Harmonia Mundi 2CD)
* Handel: Organ Concertos, Op.7 (AAM/Manze) (Harmonia Mundi 2SACD)
* Handel: Water Music (Le Concert des Nations/Savall) (Alia Vox SACD)
* Hesperion XXI (Savall): MPR St. Paul Sunday 3-10-02 (FM CDR)
* Jordi Savall/Rolf Lislevand: Cadogan Hall, London 8-18-08 (FM CDR)
* Christin Plubeau/Arnaud Pumir: Église Saint Nicolas, La Hulpe 3-20-09 (FM CDR)
* Django Reinhardt: The Classic Early Recordings, Vol.2 (JSP CD)
* Sun Ra: Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, Vol.2 (Universe CD)
* Ornette Coleman: Beauty is a Rare Thing (d.3) (Rhino 6CD)
* Anthony Braxton: Quartet (GTM) 2006 (Important 4CD)
* Marilyn Crispell: Vignettes (ECM CD)
* Matthew Shipp: One (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Matthew Shipp: Piano Vortex (Thirsty Ear CD)
* Barre Phillips: Three Day Moon (ECM LP)
* John Lee Hooker: Chill Out (Pointblank/Virgin CD)
* Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul/Aretha Now (MFSL CD)
* Van Morrison: Avalon Sunset (Mercury CD)
* George Harrison: Brainwashed (Capitol CD)
* Big Star: Keep Your Eye on the Sky (Rhino 4CD)
* Chris Bell: I Am the Cosmos (Deluxe Edition) (Rhino Handmade 2CD)
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips: Vol.2, No.4: Cal Expo ’93 (GD/Rhino 2+bonus CD)
* Cocteau Twins: Iceblink Luck (Capitol CDEP)
* Sonic Youth: Goo (MFSL LP)
* Beck: Sea Change (MFSL CD)
* Robert Pollard: Elephant Jokes (GBV, Inc. LP)
* Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs (Matador CD)
* Wilco: The Palladium Ballroom, Dallas, TX 10-9-09 (SBD 2CDR)

Commentary:

Sure, the Beatles remasters are big news. But what I’m really excited about these days is the new Big Star box set (Rhino). Holy smokes, this music has never sounded better! In fact, I am truly shocked how much better this material sounds than on the 2004 Stax/Fantasy SACD, which I used to think was the ultimate representation of their first two albums. This box set, along with the recent Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs edition of Beck’s Sea Change, conclusively demonstrates that a 16-bit CD can sound very, very good — if done right. Sadly, it rarely is. (MP3? Fahgettabouttit!) If you love Big Star (and if you even know who they were, I’m sure you do), this box set is a mandatory purchase worth every dear penny. Unfortunately for me, its odd, eight-inch-square shape presents dire shelving problems, but that is nothing new (see photograph).

Equally revelatory is the deluxe edition of Chris Bell’s I Am the Cosmos (on the mail-order only Rhino Handmade), with vastly improved sound quality over the 1992 Ryko CD (or the 4 Men With Beards LP) plus a second disc of alternate mixes and other exquisite rarities. To further drain one’s wallet, Classic Records has reissued Big Star’s first two albums on super-deluxe two-hundred gram LPs while Concord has them available on standard, lightweight vinyl for a third of the price. I have not heard either of these (yet). And, finally, Bruce Eaton’s fine (if poorly copy-edited) exegesis of Radio City for Continuum’s 33.3 series is another indicator that 2009 is the year that Big Star finally gets its due, almost forty years after its brief, tragically ill-fated career. Not just highly recommended, fervently proselytized!

1 comment:

christopher said...

I love the Cello Suites ... But I have Yo-Yo Ma ... I can just hear a certain someone from years gone by screaming, "He plays like a PIG!!" But I like it.