Kraftwerk – Minimum-Maximum (2005) [German Version] {2.0 & 5.1} {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Kraftwerk – Minimum-Maximum (2005) [German Version]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | SACD DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 120:47 minutes | Scans included | 7,39 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 2,63 GB
Features 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround sound
Genre: Electronic

The Godfathers of Glitch and the Kings of Kling-Klang come out of seclusion with a double live CD culled from various concerts on their 2004 tour. Minimum-Maximum is essentially a greatest-hits album with an audience applauding and occasionally shouting. Without them, of course, you’d never know the album was live, since Kraftwerk is the band that put the programming in pop music. Not much has changed with them since the 1980s. They’re still wired to the same sonic circuitry as on Electric Café in 1986, sculpting glistening electro-soundscapes that pulse but never quite groove. And they still sing in that flat, German-accented English and French with Speak and Spell electro-voices. But rather than sound dated, this has a timeless charm, especially since Kraftwerk are among the few Kraut rock groups with a sense of humor. With only two studio albums in the last 20 years, you have to give them credit for not caving in to current electronica and techno trends–Kraftwerk remain resolutely electronic. Even their samples sound synthesized. But also give them credit for some of the most relentlessly glistening electronic music ever crafted, and a sound that remains surprisingly pure. All the hits are here, from “Autobahn” to “Tour de France,” but nicely buffed to a high chrome finish.

For rock bands, hauling gear across countries and continents has not changed a great deal in the past several decades. The same can’t be said for Kraftwerk. Grappling with sensitive cables and other technical gadgets in extreme climates has become a thing of the past. For them, everything has become easier to manage and transport, so it’s natural that they’d become more enthusiastic about touring. Recorded during the group’s 2004 journey through Europe, Japan, and the U.S., Minimum-Maximum is a two-disc representation of their revitalized live show. Visuals are such a crucial aspect of their performances that the set will naturally fall short of making you feel as if you are there — whether it’s Moscow, Warsaw, Budapest, or San Francisco — while in your car or living room. More crucially, who really knows exactly how much live manipulation is going on with the elements of each track? Whatever the case, it all sounds good — sharp, vibrant, alive. The original arrangements are often altered slightly, the tracks are tactfully sequenced, and the crowd noise is kept to a minimum (either near the close of a track or in recognition of one as it begins), so the release is sort of a glorified greatest-hits collection. Along with some wise selections from 2003′s Tour de France Soundtracks, there’s plenty of the expected classic material, all of which has given life to so much industrial, dance, and rap music. (You could, in fact, walk into the average techno club or turn on a mainstream radio station the week this was released and hear traces of Kraftwerk in one form or another.) “Radioactivity” and “The Robots,” two of the more altered tracks, contain the greatest thrills; the former’s permafrost placidity spirals into a frictionless dancefloor charge, while the latter is more muscular than ever, acknowledging advancements made by acolytes Model 500 and Underground Resistance.

For the exact places of the recordings read here

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Josef Suk – BBC Symphony Orchestra – Jiri Belohlavek – A Summer’s Tale / Prague (2012) {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Josef Suk – A Summer’s Tale / Prague
BBC Symphony Orchestra – Jiri Belohlavek
SACD ISO (2.0/MCH): 3,83 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 1,23 GB | Full Artwork: 106 MB
Label/Cat#: Chandos # CHSA 5109 | Country/Year: UK 2012 | 3% Recovery Info
Genre: Classical | Style: Late Romantic, Early 20th Century

In my review of the excellent Chandos disc of Josef Suk’s orchestral music Suk: Ripening, Symphony in E major – Belohlavek in September 2010 I expressed the hope that there would be a follow-up disc – well here it is. Once again the performers are the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiri Belohlavek – now at the end of his tenure as the orchestra’s chief conductor – and like the earlier release this new one has been recorded in the spacious acoustic of Watford Colosseum in January this year by the capable team of Brian Pidgeon (producer) and Ralph Couzens (sound engineer).

The longer of the two works on this SACD is the symphonic poem ‘A Summer’s Tale’ (1907-1909). It succeeded the powerful ‘Asrael’ Symphony, a work that encapsulated the composer’s outpouring of grief following the tragic deaths of Dvorak (his father-in-law) and his wife Otilka within three months of each other. In this five-movement work the composer turns to nature for consolation and hope, though echoes of the ‘death motive’ from the ‘Asrael Symphony’ appear both in the opening movement ‘Voices of Light and Consolation’ and the phantasmagorical scherzo ‘In the Power of Phantoms’.

On disc a work such as this, scored for a large late-romantic orchestra that here includes triple woodwind, six horns, three trumpets and percussion and organ part, demands the exceptional sound quality that SACD can deliver. Thanks to Belohlavek’s careful balancing of the orchestra and the excellent Chandos recording the full impact of the huge climaxes is never diminished. However, Suk also uses his forces with delicate subtlety in, for example, the work’s third movement ‘Intermezzo: Blind Musicians.’ The scoring here is for just two harps, two cors anglais, solo violin solo viola and strings and in Belohlavek’s hands the music achieves a magical transparency and haunting atmosphere in the ample Watford venue.

The symphonic poem ‘Prague’ depicts the city through its history in both peaceful and troubled times using two main themes. The emphatic first theme is based on the melody of the Hussite chorale ‘Ye warriors of God’ while the beautiful second is taken from the incidental music that Suk wrote for Zeyer’s play ‘Radúz and Mahulena’. ‘Prague’ has had a number of fine recordings including two by Libor Pešek. The first from 1982 was with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (23’23”) and the second, ten years later, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (25’22”). The earlier performance is thrillingly impetuous, the latter much less so, though it has richer sound and an undeniable grandeur. This new Belohlavek version (24’52”) gives us the best of both worlds by combining nobility of utterance and a passionate advocacy of this stirring music in glorious 5.0 multi-channel sound.
The committed playing of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in both works exemplifies their respect both for Belohlavek as arguably the finest interpreter of Czech music alive today and their enthusiasm for the composer’s regrettably still neglected output.

This SACD is a mandatory purchase for lovers of Suk’s opulent scores and audiophiles alike.

Copyright © 2012 Graham Williams and SA-CD.net

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Jon Anderson – Olias Of Sunhillow (1976) [Audio Fidelity 2014] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Jon Anderson – Olias Of Sunhillow (1976) [Audio Fidelity 2014]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 44:26 minutes | Scans included | 1,80 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 876 MB
Mastered by Kevin Gray | Audio Fidelity # AFZ-156
Genre: Progressive Rock

Inspired by the artwork of Roger Dean and the writings of Ver Stanley Alder, Jon Anderson developed an entire story around the idea of an interstellar exodus from Sunhillow, writing this album around the narrative (named for the spaceship’s architect, Olias). The idea may seem overly ambitious, but Anderson fills the record with enough magical moments to delight fans of Yes’ mystic side. The music is written and performed almost entirely by Anderson, who dubs vocals, plays guitar and harp, and adds percussion and the occasional synthesizer to flesh out his ideas so that at no point does the music lose its spellbinding effect for lack of sonic detail. Olias of Sunhillow is faithful to the spirit of Yes, though decidedly more airy than that band’s visceral style — its closest comparison would be Fragile’s “We Have Heaven” or Going for the One’s “Wonderous Stories” (which was clearly influenced by this record) on the vocal tracks, and Vangelis on the instrumental tracks. Although the album is effective in its entirety, “Sound Out the Galleon,” “Olias (To Build the Moorglade),” and “Solid Space” are some of the more memorable excerpts. The arrangements incorporate elements of the four tribes of Sunhillow, the most noticeable being Oriental elements that prefigure Vangelis’ own China (especially on the opening “Ocean Song”). While there are several songs that could have easily fit in Yes’ own catalog, and the lyrics continue to mine the mystical musings that Yes fans had come to enjoy, Olias of Sunhillow is not the missing Yes album some might hope it to be, though it does deliver on the promise that the Jon & Vangelis collaborations seemed to hold. If possible, pick up the LP version of this release, since the packaging is stunning and features terrific artwork by Dave Roe.

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John Pizzarelli – John Pizzarelli Trio: Live At Birdland (2x SACD, 2003) [2.0 & 5.1] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

John Pizzarelli – John Pizzarelli Trio: Live At Birdland (2x SACD, 2003) [2.0 & 5.1]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 131:41 minutes | Scans included | 7,63 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | 131:32 mins | Scans | 2,35 GB
Genre: Jazz

This is a wonderful, warm-hearted, and effortlessly virtuosic live recording by one of the finest living exponents of pre-bop small-ensemble jazz. With pianist Ray Kennedy and bassist Martin Pizzarelli (and on two songs joined by vocalist Grover Kemble), singer and guitarist John Pizzarelli runs through a generally lightweight but thoroughly charming set of standards, homages, funny stories, and the occasional original tune; the fast tunes are light and frothy, the ballads smooth and gentle, and even the moments that are less than utterly inspired work together with the album’s highlights to create a very satisfying whole. John Pizzarelli has a suit sponsor, which tells you something about what to expect of him as a singer: his voice is smooth and warm, offering a nice combination of Chet Baker’s timbre and Dean Martin’s fullness; as a guitarist you need to know that he favors seven-string guitars and flat-wound strings, leading him naturally to a swinging Django Reinhardt-meets-Freddie Green kind of sound. As for the trio’s instrumentation, it’s true that when you can comp with this kind of authority you don’t technically need a drummer. But on a few tracks a drummer would have filled out the band’s sound nicely. Highlights include the group’s fun, slightly greasy take on “Frim Fram Sauce” and a great ode to Art Tatum called “Tea for Tatum,” as well as a fine original blues composition titled “Headed Out to Vera’s.” Pizzarelli’s own “Oh, How My Heart Beats for You” and “Day I Found You” are also wonderful. But the album’s standout track is a limpidly gorgeous rendition of another original, “Better Run Before It’s Spring.” Pizzarelli is obviously having a blast in the intimate setting of the legendary Birdland club, and so will any jazz lover who takes the time to listen. Very highly recommended.

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John Pizzarelli – Dear Mr. Sinatra (2006) [2.0 & 5.1] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

John Pizzarelli – Dear Mr. Sinatra (2006) [2.0 & 5.1]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 39:00 minutes | Scans included | 2,41 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 774 MB
Genre: Jazz

John Pizzarelli, one of the most celebrated performers bringing popular standards to a new generation, pays homage to Frank Sinatra with the release of Dear Mr. Sinatra. Early in his career, Pizzarelli opened for Sinatra on tour. His father, the jazz guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli, played on many of Sinatra’s seminal recordings. Focusing on songs that were specifically written for ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ and also featuring The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Dear Mr. Sinatra is in many ways the most personal of all the Sinatra tributes available.

Frank Sinatra, though not a jazz singer, was long respected by jazz musicians for his natural ability to get the best out of a song while developing a trademark approach to singing that had great appeal. While many recorded tributes to Sinatra since his death have been abysmal at best, vocalist and guitarist John Pizzarelli knows a little something about swinging and finding the essence of each song. Backed by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, with whom Pizzarelli toured prior to the making of this CD, along with arrangements by John Clayton, Don Sebesky, Dick Lieb, and Quincy Jones, he sought to focus primarily on songs written with Sinatra in mind, though taking new approaches to each of them. Dear Mr. Sinatra opens with an over-the-top rendition of “Ring-A-Ding-Ding.” Clayton’s sensitive writing for reeds provides the perfect backdrop for Pizzarelli’s warm vocals in “If I Had You.” The singer works magic in another fine Clayton chart, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” delivering the goods in a sensitive interpretation. Pizzarelli is backed only by pianist Tamir Hendelman in the miniature scoring of “The Last Dance,” which serves as a perfect finale. Only three of the tracks clock in at over four minutes, so there’s not much of a focus upon instrumental solos, though Pizzarelli’s guitar is featured in “Witchcraft.” With a total time just under 40 minutes, the program is a little short by CD standards, but the performances by John Pizzarelli and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra in this warm tribute to Old Blue Eyes are consistently of high caliber and hit the mark every time.

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Jerry Goldsmith – Star Trek Nemesis: Original Soundtrack Recording (2002) [2.0 & 5.1] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Jerry Goldsmith – Star Trek Nemesis: Original Soundtrack Recording (2002) [2.0 & 5.1]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 47:51 minutes | Scans included | 4,0 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 927 MB

The score for any Star Trek film relies heavily upon the introduction of the classic eight-note motif that has shadowed the pop culture phenomenon since its arrival on the big screen in 1979. For Star Trek: Nemesis, the series’ tenth installment, Jerry Goldsmith delivers the theme with all of the pomp one could hope for on the rousing “Remus.” What follows is a fairly typical yet immensely enjoyable sci-fi soundtrack, filled with pounding dissonance, wonder, and the occasional moment of tender camaraderie — the quietly powerful “Ideals” — that one would expect from this legendary saga and composer.

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Jennifer Warnes – The Well (2001) [Reissue 2005] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Jennifer Warnes – The Well (2001) [Reissue 2005]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 53:33 minutes | Scans included | 2,16 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 1,06 GB
Genre: Pop, Rock

Jennifer Warnes became a household name in the ’70s with her hit “Right Time of the Night” and scored equally big with the Righteous Brothers’ Bill Medley on “The Time of My Life” from the film Dirty Dancing. She also wowed critics and fans alike with Famous Blue Raincoat, her album of Leonard Cohen songs. In all, she’s sold over 35 million records worldwide, but she’s hardly a household word in the post-Madonna world. Warnes has returned to the recording scene for the first time since 1992 with The Well, a collection ten songs co-produced with Martin Davich. And what a collection it is. As a singer and a songwriter, Warnes knows her strengths well. She understates lyrics and musical phrases as a way of getting them to open up on their own through her gorgeously wrought singing. She’s no acrobat; she doesn’t reach for the note that breaks the pitch-meter. Instead, she allows her voice to come up from the heart of the lyric she’s singing. She wears the song and allows the song to adorn her as well, whether plaintively, as on the title track, one of her co-writes with Texas legend Doyle Bramhall, or her lilting, haunting, spiritual tome “Prairie Melancholy.” When doing takes on the songs of others, such as Tom Waits’ nugget “Invitation to the Blues,” she imbues them with the soft, bluesy swing inherent in the original, but adds depth and dimension with her dry, reportorial storytelling (with fine guitar work from Doyle Bramhall). The songs on The Well seem spare and open, layered lightly, and full of room for Warnes’ warm voice to reveal the wealth of emotions in the tunes themselves. But what’s interesting is without it being noticeable to the listener, there are small but lush string sections, a few horns here and there, and a full-on four-piece rock band. Her reading of Billy Joel’s “So It Goes” is virtually a reinvention of the song. She offers this song from a heart that has been cracked enough times, to paraphrase her friend Cohen, that it has been flooded with light. But it’s the songs with Bramhall that are the masterpieces here; they reveal the subtle, bluesy textures of Texas and the strength in expressing one’s vulnerability to forces one does not understand, such as on “The Panther.” As if to underline the evidence, there is a vocal duet between them on Eddy Arnold’s country swing gem “You Don’t Know Me” that rivals Ray Charles’ version for pure, expressive passion. With her stunning rendition of Arlo Guthrie’s “Patriot’s Dream,” she is backed by a folk music symphony orchestra, with Guthrie himself lending a guest vocal as well as Blondie Chaplin and Kenny Edwards, with a Carmen accordion appearance by Van Dyke Parks. The set ends with a piano trio reprise of the title track that wraps all the magic up into a circle, as if these songs were a cycle of mystery, sensuality, and imagination from the very beginning. And, of course they were; Warnes isn’t capable of anything less. Welcome back, Jennifer Warnes; you’ve been missed.

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James Taylor – October Road (2002) [2.0 & 5.1] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

James Taylor – October Road (2002) [2.0 & 5.1]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 51:28 minutes | Scans included | 3,51 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | 51:20 min | Scans | 1,02 GB
Genre: Rock

James Taylor’s 15th studio album of his first new recordings in 32 years is, if possible, even more familiar and self-referential than ever. By now, it is an article of faith that you could take practically any track from any Taylor album and put it on another one without disturbing the mood, and that is as true of the songs here as it is of those on the other 14. That warm (if slightly deepened) tenor, singing in its odd accent which combines New England and the North Carolina Piedmont, and that acoustic guitar, with its sparkling, unhurried fingerpicking, remain the most prominent elements in the sound. But even more, October Road finds Taylor seemingly intent on evoking his own past. The title track, of course, recalls his song “Country Road,” and “Caroline I See You,” (even if it refers specifically to his wife), inescapably echoes “Carolina in My Mind.” Also, Taylor deliberately recycles themes from his earlier work. “October Road” begins, “Well I’m going back down maybe one more time,” while “My Traveling Star” ends, “And shame on me for sure/For one more highway song.” Throughout, on what seem like the most personal songs he has written in decades, Taylor appears to be commenting on a second chance he feels he has received, and though he couches the negative aspects in humor (“Mean Old Man,” whose subject is the singer, ends with a dog joke, and “Raised Up Family,” which contains recriminations, tosses in a musical reference to Gilligan’s Island), there are strong hints of a man who feels he’s been rescued. As such, it is perhaps fitting (if seasonally curious for an album released in the summer) to conclude with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” a holiday song from wartime that reaffirms the importance of family in a world gone awry.

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James Taylor – JT (1977) [MFSL 2011] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

James Taylor – JT (1977) [MFSL 2011]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 37:54 minutes | Scans included | 1,52 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 732 MB
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab # UDSACD 2070
Genre: Rock

On his last couple of Warner Brothers albums, Gorilla and In the Pocket, James Taylor seemed to be converting himself from the shrinking violet, too-sensitive-to-live “rainy day man” of his early records into a mainstream, easy-listening crooner with a sunny outlook. JT, his debut album for Columbia Records, was something of a defense of this conversion. Returning to the autobiographical, Taylor declared his love for Carly Simon (“There We Are”), but expressed some surprise at his domestic bliss. “Isn’t it amazing a man like me can feel this way?” he sang in the opening song, “Your Smiling Face” (a Top 40 hit). At the same time, domesticity could have its temporary depressions (“Another Grey Morning”). The key track was “Secret O’ Life,” which Taylor revealed as “enjoying the passage of time.” Working with his long-time backup band of Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, and Russell Kunkel, and with Peter Asher back in the producer’s chair, Taylor also enjoyed the playing of music, mixing his patented acoustic guitar-based folk sound with elements of rock, blues, and country. He even made the country charts briefly with “Bartender’s Blues,” a genre exercise complete with steel guitar and references to “honky tonk angels” that he would later re-record with George Jones. The album’s Top Ten hit was Taylor’s winning remake of Jimmy Jones’ “Handy Man,” which replaced the grit of the original with his characteristic warmth. JT was James Taylor’s best album since Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon because it acknowledged the darkness of his earlier work while explaining the deliberate lightness of his current viewpoint, and because it was his most consistent collection in years. Fans responded: JT sold better than any Taylor album since Sweet Baby James.

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James Taylor – JT (1977) [Reissue 2002] {2.0 & 5.1} {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

James Taylor – JT (1977) [Reissue 2002] {2.0 & 5.1}
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 & DST64 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 37:28 minutes | Scans included | 3,20 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | 38:01 min | Scans included | 744 MB
Genre: Rock

On his last couple of Warner Brothers albums, Gorilla and In the Pocket, James Taylor seemed to be converting himself from the shrinking violet, too-sensitive-to-live “rainy day man” of his early records into a mainstream, easy-listening crooner with a sunny outlook. JT, his debut album for Columbia Records, was something of a defense of this conversion. Returning to the autobiographical, Taylor declared his love for Carly Simon (“There We Are”), but expressed some surprise at his domestic bliss. “Isn’t it amazing a man like me can feel this way?” he sang in the opening song, “Your Smiling Face” (a Top 40 hit). At the same time, domesticity could have its temporary depressions (“Another Grey Morning”). The key track was “Secret O’ Life,” which Taylor revealed as “enjoying the passage of time.” Working with his long-time backup band of Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, and Russell Kunkel, and with Peter Asher back in the producer’s chair, Taylor also enjoyed the playing of music, mixing his patented acoustic guitar-based folk sound with elements of rock, blues, and country. He even made the country charts briefly with “Bartender’s Blues,” a genre exercise complete with steel guitar and references to “honky tonk angels” that he would later re-record with George Jones. The album’s Top Ten hit was Taylor’s winning remake of Jimmy Jones’ “Handy Man,” which replaced the grit of the original with his characteristic warmth. JT was James Taylor’s best album since Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon because it acknowledged the darkness of his earlier work while explaining the deliberate lightness of his current viewpoint, and because it was his most consistent collection in years. Fans responded: JT sold better than any Taylor album since Sweet Baby James.

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