SOME STUFFS: Audio Fidelity remasters Santana’s live album “Lotus”

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Due to the power and strength of this album, many people believe Santana’s 1974 live album Lotus was a Japan-only release. It was recorded in Japan but it was released in the U.S. as well. It was recorded during the era when the band were in Caravanserai mode so they were a few steps away from what made them famouis and getting deeper into jazz and jazz fusion. A few years later, they would step out of that phase and get into something more pop friendly but many had hoped they would return and get back into Lotus mode. Audio Fidelity are remastering it for release as a double hybrid SACD set, and this set is being done not only by Steve Hoffman but he gets assistance from Stephen Marsh. If you miss the time when Santana were wanting to continue the traditions of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, you’ll love this. This will be released on November 25th and is available for pre-order below through

RECORD CRACK: MFSL release new audiophile pressing of Santana’s “Abraxas”

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The album has sold millions of copies since it was released 46 years ago and you hear two of its hit singles continuously on the radio every day. In fact, wait an hour and you may end up hearing “Black Magic Woman” (and “Gypsy Queen”) or “Oye Como Va” at one point. Of course, I speak of Santana’s classic second album released in 1970 called Abraxas. If you have been collecting albums released by the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, you most likely have come across their 1991 pressing of the Abraxas CD at one point or another, as it remains one of the best remasters they’ve done. When MFSL, now known as MOFI, did a new pressing in 2008, it still sold very well.

This time, MFSL/MOFI are releasing it on vinyl again but in a way never done before: as a 2-record set and at 45 rpm. Only 2500 copies have been made and per the norm, once they sell out, it’s over, expect to pay high collector’s prices.

SOME STUFFS: Columboid to release “Magi” at the end of November

Columboid has a new album mixed, miastered, and ready to go, in fact you can listen to it in full right now before its November 30th release date. Six brand new songs, with two either running close to or going beyond the 8-minute mark, so you know it has to be a trip and if you don’t know why, get your good pair of headphones, press play, and find out how their music works on you. The Brooklyn band are ready to unleash some goodness so if you like what you hear, consider pre-ordering the album. They say things are leaning on the Cabaret Voltaire/This Heat/Throbbing Gristle side of things so now that you have been prepared, get a knife and slice into the goodness of Magi.

REVIEW: The OF’s “Escape Goat”

The OF photo TheOF2015_cover_zpskwvowaxm.jpg The adventures of The OF have returned with a new album taht has them even more adventurous than they were before and if Escape Goat (Green Monkey) is an accurate description of where they are right now, they are going to remain tripping around anywhere and everywhere for the next few years. The mixed bag of styles and textures are a bit like Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa with Sun Ra and Hellcows, the latter a Portland, Oregon band that I loved who twisted things from any and all sources, turning their music into unpredictable things before you’re left wondering where you are and eventually not caring. What I love about the sound of the production is that it sounds like an independent album, it’s direct without elaborate echo or reverb, it sounds slightly raw but very polished at the same time. It comes off like the kind of party album you might find accidentally but upon listening, you do not want to return it from the place you stole it from. “Bottom Feeder” sounds like a more elaborate version of The Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein”, complete with dual guitar/saxophone solos and its eleven minute duration doesn’t allow itself to slow down for anyone or anything. If you are to look at the cover, you might say “eight songs? Is that it?” With two 11 minute songs and one 13 minute song, “that’s it” is much more elaborate than you assume. Pat Nevin’s vocals and John Carey’s primary songwriting (Nevil co-wrote “Damn Dirty Hippy” with Carey) is slightly twisted upon first listen but let it soak in and it will be understood. Then when The OF get locked in instrumental mode, it’s about exploring different zones and wondering where they themselves will end out of. In other words, it’s the kind of uneasy rock that enjoys going on travels with you and themselves, and they’re not ready to be comfortable by staying in one spot. Escape Goat is that goat being spanked on a mountain on a road to who knows where, the fun part is to watch where it plans on ending up.

AUDIO: BallinJack’s “Found A Child (Platurn Edit)”

One of Oakland’s best DJ’s honors a much sampled jazz rock song from area code 206 (that’s Seattle) in one of his new edits. DJ Platurn takes on Ballinjack’s “Found A Child”, made famous by producers Matt Dike (one half of the Dust Brothers) and Michael Ross as one of the core samples in Young MC’s “Bust A Move”. Hear how Platurn flips things around in his new edit.

SOME STUFFS: Audio Fidelity to release quadraphonic mixes of Blood, Sweat & Tears & The Guess Who on hybrid SACD’s

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If you are into audiophile releases and remasters, then you have invested in a lot of time and money in discs created by Audio Fidelity. They’ve released four discs that are hybrid SACD’s, each with new 5.1 surround mixes, including for albums by George Benson, Mike Bloomfield/Al Kooper/Steve Stills, and the debut album by Blood, Sweat & Tears. Blood, Sweat & Tears will be part of a new remastering, but this time they’re dipping into the quadraphonic library. Yes, the self-titled second album will be a hybrid that will feature the original album remastered, plus the digital debut of the quadraphonic mix. This is the album that features radio staples like “You Made Me So Very Happy”, the much-covered “Spinning Wheel”, and “And When I Die”, along with worthy gems such as “Smiling Faces” and the awesome “Blues–Part II”. While Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) released their version of the album not once, but twice, this will be Audio Fidelity’s chance at this classic.

Also being released as a hybrid SACD with the quadraphonic mix is The Best Of The Guess Who. Released on RCA Records in 1973, this one went as high as #13 due to how popular they were, featuring the big hits “These Eyes”, “No Time”, “No Sugar Tonight”, “Share The Land”, and “American Woman”. If you had never heard the quadrphonic mix of these songs before, you’ll want a chance to pick it up.

Both will hit stores and online merchants on December 30th although as to be expected, sometimes they make it a few days earlier so keep checking.

RECORD CRACK: Frank Zappa’s “Apostrophe (‘)” album to be re-issued on vinyl

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It’s considered one of Frank Zappa’s most cherished albums, and now for those of you who have been trying to hunt down an older copy of it but have been unable to locate it, good luck my friend. Apostrophe (‘) will be reissued on vinyl by
USM on October 20th. Originally released 40 years ago, this is the album where Zappa is joined by the likes of George Duke, Jack Bruce, Ruth Underwood, Ian Underwood, Sugar Cane Harris, Jean-Luc Ponty, Ray Collins, Napoleon Murphy Brock, and many more. The album features such greats as “Cosmik Debris”, “Excentrifugal Forz”, the awesome title track, and the mega popular means of advice called “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow”. No word yet on who is remastering this new pressing but as soon as I find out, I’ll let everyone know.

REVIEW: Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s “Enfant Terrible”

 photo HedvigMTrio_cover_zps405abc84.jpg Before this album came to my attention, I had not been aware of guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen or her trio. Sadly, I wish I was, for Enfant Terrible (Rune Grammofon) features the kind of rock’n’roll I really enjoy hearing, the kind of gritty and distorted guitar-based hard rock that brings to mind loads of grungy artists who make this type of music louder and stronger with every passage. The songs may sound like there are distinct destinations when they begin but once they get past the middle section, anything goes. A perfect example of this is “Arigato, Bitch”, where it gets into blues dirges before it gets into some kind of trippy progressive section with math rock tendencies. Thomassen plays articulately throughout but when she wants to cut deep into the abyss, she truly goes off in her own world. In the past, guitar work like this, along with the bass playing of Ellen Brekken and drumming of Ivar Loe Bjørnstad would normally find its way in hard rock circles and only that. The music stays strong in that genre but it’s that drifting elsewhere that puts it on the level of Frank Zappa, Medeski Martin & Wood or The Roots. The all instrumental album carries a lot of mileage, and for me this will allow me to check out the albums I’ve missed before. If you’ve been on a Hedvig Mollestad Trio trip before, Enfant Terrible is a ride worth experiencing many times over.


BOOK’S JOOK: Chicago’s “25 Or 6 To 4” b/w “Make Me Smile”

  • Book’s Jook is a column dedicated to placing a record within my dream jukebox, if I were to have one. The Seeburg jukebox shown below is similar to the one I have wanted since I was a kid. To read more on why I started this column, click here.

    Last week I posted a new edition to my dream jukebox but as I was reaching the last sentence, I began to question myself. Should the “Colour My World”/”I’m A Man” 45 by Chicago be in there, because I realized I had a slightly more powerful record, also by Chicago, in mind. I decided to leave it alone and post the article but when I did, I came up with the conclusion I may have been wrong with my initial decision.

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    As much as I like the softer, more delicate side of Chicago’s music, it was the rockers that always got to me first, and “25 Or 6 To 4” is my all time favorite Chicago song. Say what you want about where Peter Cetera’s career went to in the 1980’s, but in 1970, he belted it out with passion and of course, his bass work was powerful and incredible. You can’t help but hear a song where I wondered “what are they talking about?” Is it about drugs? Is it about something else? Or is it some guy who is up at 3:35 in the morning, unable to finish a song and realized “maybe I should just write a song about how frustrated I am by not being able to complete this.” It made for a good story, whatever the story is. On top of that, you have the majestry of Terry Kath’s guitar work, and while the 45 single edit removes the part where he hits the wah-wah pedal for a wicked run towards the finish line, the single edit seems to shorten this song nice and promptly. The single edit does remove a verse, but my introduction to the song was through the edit and I was content until I bought my own copy of Chicago II and learned there was about 90 or more seconds extra.

    This 45 too was part of Columbia’s Hall Of Fame series, offering two hit songs on the same record so the B-side had another song from Chicago II, “Make Me Smile”. It sounded funny to me, not as full as “25 Or 6 To 4”, and I would later learn that the original safety masters were destroyed so it sounded like someone used a cassette dub of a cassette dub of a cassette dub, where the quality sounded muffled. This was a mean rocker too, with Kath handling the lead vocal duty, and I would learn that this too was a short edit of the original song. I would also later learn that the single edit of “Make Me Smile” actually spliced a part of the original and “Now More Than Ever”, which then made me learn those were part of the mini-opera known as “Ballet For A Girl In Buchanon”. These two songs were the ones that made me want to know how much more music Chicago had made, outside of the popular songs I heard on the radio. The old Chicago was far better than the then-latest Chicago but I wanted to like them all. I’m glad I did.


  • BOOK’S JOOK: Chicago’s “Colour My World” b/w “I’m A Man”

  • Book’s Jook is a column dedicated to placing a record within my dream jukebox, if I were to have one. The Seeburg jukebox shown below is similar to the one I have wanted since I was a kid. To read more on why I started this column, click here.

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  • If there is a place where my love of Chicago started, this is one of the first places. I was always told that my Uncle Wayne loved “Colour My World” and that it was one of the easiest songs to play on piano. My next door neighbor had a piano so when I was able to pay a visit, I tried it out. I realized it was very easy and in my mind, I knew how to play the piano. It was about the song that made me like it, from Terry Kath’s sensitive vocals to Walter Parazaizer’s flute solo, that just set it off for me.

  • This pressing is notable because it’s part of Columbia Records’ Hall Of Fame series, which was a part of their “Oldies But Goodies” series where music fans could have the hits “back to back”, or have two older hits on the same record. There was a special section near the regular 45’s where you could specifically buy the older material, and it seemed like a bargain because you were getting two popular sons on one 45 opposed to the hit plus “a piece of junk” on the B-side. This was a mentality before I got into collecting and realized the B-side can sometimes be where the true winner is. Anyway, it was a chance to have two Chicago hits on the same record, so I was happy.
  • The B-side of this record had a solid rocker, and I believe I heard this version of “I’m A Man” before I heard The Spencer Davis Group’s original version of it. While the label listed it simply as Chicago, this was done by Chicago Transit Authority from their debut album, I knew that before I even had the full album because my neighbor had the CTA album plus CHICAGO II. “I’m A Man” was awesome not only because it’s the one Chicago/CTA song sans horn section, but because of the drum break from Daniel Seraphine. I loved how jazzy it was, even though I wasn’t aware at the time of his jazzy roots, it just sounded like something I might’ve heard on one of my uncle’s jazz albums, yet there was something else about his drumming too. As a kid who admired the drums and wanted to play the drums so bad, I’d find myself playing this song over and over and doing air drums to it, properly accurate to the 45 edit on the record. When I bought the CTA album, I realized there was three extra minutes, which means more air drum learning.

  • The record seemed perfect: delicate ballad on the A-side, mean rocker on the B. At the time, Chicago’s bit hits were “Alive Again” and “No Tell Lover” and I wondered “how come the Chicago on my record sounds better than what’s on the radio?” In time, it would lead me to buy Chicago’s entire U.S. discography, all except Chicago 21. Yet. As I’m wrapping this article up, I was positive that this was my formal introduction to Chicago but I realized that it was not. It’s a respectful introduction but I now know that my parents showed me the yellow brick road with a different Chicago record. I’ll share that title next week Monday.