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Back Cover

Gryphon Diablo 300

Warner Bros./Intervention IR-015
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****1/2
Sound Quality: ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

With its seemingly effortless flow of great melodies that stay in the head, and witty lyrics that are smart without being too clever or cynical, Marshall Crenshaw’s eponymous debut album was universally praised by critics on its release, in 1982. Crenshaw and Richard Gottehrer coproduced the album, which had a clean but somewhat bright sound, with an old-style reverb that highlighted the music’s debt to Crenshaw’s influences -- Buddy Holly, early Beatles, the Brill Building -- without sounding dated.

Daptone Dap-050
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****1/2
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

When Sharon Jones died in November 2016, at the age of 60, soul music lost one of its most dedicated and skilled practitioners. Jones had recorded a series of singles beginning in the mid-1990s when, in 2002, she released the first LP with her formidable backing band, the Dap-Kings. She was 45 at the time, and went on to make six more albums with them. All were recorded in eight-track analog at Daptone House of Soul Studio, in Brooklyn, with no drum machines or synthesizers.

Intervention IR-018
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

Joe Jackson’s Summer in the City: Live in New York was released in 2000 to little fanfare. Jackson’s third outing for Sony Classical, it followed Heaven & Hell (1997) and Symphony No. 1 (1999). Those albums had received mixed receptions, but Summer in the City reminded critics that Jackson’s pop-music talents were still intact. Indeed, just five months later he released Night and Day II, which revisited the sophisticated songwriting styles of his popular 1982 album.

Exile Productions/Caroline 2557718515
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Every few albums, Van Morrison releases something that stands out just a little from the rest of his 15 recordings of the last 20 years. Magic Time (2005) had a good batch of songs played by a terrific band, and Keep It Simple (2008) was stripped down and soulful, with a nod to Morrison’s blues side. Last year’s Keep Me Singing benefited from a Morrison who seemed more at ease, perhaps because his previous CD, Duets: Re-working the Catalogue (2015), included appearances by some of his contemporaries. He clearly enjoyed singing with P.J. Proby, Chris Farlowe, and Georgie Fame.

Womanly Hips WHRC001
Format CD

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Although Joan Osborne has written her share of good songs, she has from the beginning shown a talent for sensitive interpretations of work by others. Relish, her 1995 breakthrough, included tunes by Bob Dylan and Sonny Boy Williamson, and her strong feel for classic soul and blues was obvious on How Sweet It Is (2002), Breakfast in Bed (2007), and Bring It on Home (2012).

Blue Note B002681502
Format: CD

Musical Performance: ****1/2
Sound Quality: ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****

Last year, tenor saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd released I Long to See You, a quintet recording with guitarists Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz; it was challenging and musically satisfying, but still accessible. His new disc on Blue Note, Passin’ Thru, is credited to the Charles Lloyd New Quartet, though this group -- pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland -- has played together since 2007. The quartet lineup and approach are more traditional than on I Long to See You, but the music is bracing and alive, crackling with energy and creativity.

Norton ED-411
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment: ****

In 1965, Dion DiMucci had been with Columbia Records for three years and had scored some hits for the label, including “Ruby Baby” and “Donna the Prima Donna.” He was already an established rock’n’roll star when Columbia signed him, but the label’s long-term plan was to move him away from rock and into a career as a crooner. As Scott Kempner points out in his excellent liner note for Kickin’ Child: The Lost Album 1965, a collection of 15 previously unreleased Dion tracks, record executives in the early ’60s still thought rock’n’roll was something that would soon fade away.

Parlophone/Apple/Universal 0602557455328
Format: CD, DVD, BD

Musical Performance: *****
Sound Quality: *****
Picture Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: *****

On June 1 of this year, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band turned 50 years old. Let that sink in for a while. To mark the occasion, Apple and Universal Music have released a lavish boxed set comprising four CDs, one DVD, and one BD. The DVD and BD include a 1992 documentary, The Making of Sgt. Pepper (sic), plus high-resolution 5.1-and two-channel mixes of the album, along with the same treatment given to “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane.”

A&M/Intervention IR012
Format: LP

Musical Performance: *****
Sound Quality: ****
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

If, in 1969, the stomping bass line of “Christine’s Tune” didn’t clue you in to the fact that the Flying Burrito Brothers’ debut, The Gilded Palace of Sin, was going to be something different, “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow’s overdriven, fuzz-toned pedal-steel guitar solo should have clinched it. Gram Parsons, who co-led the band with Chris Hillman, had already helped introduce country music to rock with the International Submarine Band, and even more with the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, both from 1968. The Gilded Palace of Sin was a clearer statement of his vision.

Intervention/Mute IR-009
Format: LP

Musical Performance: ****
Sound Quality: *****
Overall Enjoyment: ****1/2

Vince Clarke had already made his mark in two bands when, in 1985, he formed the synth-pop duo Erasure with singer Andy Bell. A founding member of Depeche Mode, Clarke had written three of its early hits, “Dreaming of Me,” “New Life,” and “Just Can’t Get Enough.” He left shortly after the release of that band’s first album, Speak & Spell (1981), and, with singer Alison Moyet, formed Yazoo (known in the US, for legal reasons, as Yaz).