Elvis Presley – Essential Elvis Volume 2: Stereo ’57 (1988) [Analogue Productions Remaster 2013] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Elvis Presley – Essential Elvis Volume 2: Stereo ’57 (1988) [APO Remaster 2013]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 Stereo > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 60:13 minutes | Scans included | 2,42 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,13 GB
Genre: Rock

The second volume of Essential Elvis offers Elvis in binaural stereo from the January 1957 sessions that produced several hits. (RCA Victor generously filled the disc out with mono masters of the remaining songs to give the consumer a complete version of the sessions.) This is a lot of fun; the gaffes are numerous, obvious, and hilarious, and for ears raised on multi-track recording, it must be amazing to hear an entire record recorded live in the studio!

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Elvis Presley – King Creole (1958) [Audio Fidelity 2013] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Elvis Presley – King Creole (1958) [Audio Fidelity 2013]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 21:41 minutes | Scans included | 919 MB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 414 MB
Mastered by Kevin Gray | Audio Fidelity # AFZ-160
Genre: Rock

King Creole was the last movie that Elvis Presley made before he entered the army in the spring of 1958 — it was also his last film in black-and-white, as well as his final effort directed by a serious old-time filmmaker (Michael Curtiz); and, apart from a few isolated, quirky efforts like Flaming Star, Change of Habit, and Charro, this was the last of his serious movies, in which Presley was trying hard, pushing himself as an actor and, really, all through the score, as a musician. This is reflected in the soundtrack, which is one of the stronger film-related releases of his career. The original 11 songs included a hot title track by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller that was a dazzling showcase for Scotty Moore’s and Tiny Timbrell’s guitars as well as Elvis’ intense, exciting lead vocal. Leiber and Stoller’s “Trouble” and Claude Demetrius’ “Hard Headed Woman” have Moore’s and Timbrell’s electric guitars competing successfully with a five-man brass and reed section. Even “Dixieland Rock,” if not up to the level of those other two numbers, features good playing and a strong performance by Presley, and “Young Dreams” is a decent midtempo number. The slow ballads are where the soundtrack falls flat, “As Long As I Have You” coming up to standard but “Lover Doll” and “Don’t Ask Me Why” failing to excite or maintain interest; “Crawfish” can only have been included to bring the album up to the minimum acceptable length for an LP.

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Elvis Presley – Elvis Is Back (1960) [Analogue Productions Remaster 2012] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Elvis Presley – Elvis Is Back (1960) [Analogue Productions Remaster 2012]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 Stereo > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 31:57 minutes | Scans included | 1,3 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 629 MB
Genre: Rock n Roll

Elvis Is Back! is the tenth album by Elvis Presley, released on RCA Victor Records in mono and stereo, LPM/LSP 2231, in April 1960. Recording sessions took place on March 20 and April 3, 1960, at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. It was Presley’s first album to be released in true stereo. It peaked at number two on the Top Pop Albums chart and is listed, along with his debut and From Elvis in Memphis, in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. It was certified Gold on July 15, 1999, by the RIAA.

Although they have common recording origins, two of the three singles, “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” were very quirky by the standards of Elvis songs at the time — the former inspired by Elvis’s admiration for Tony Martin’s 1949 hit “There’s No Tomorrow,” while the latter was recorded at the request of Col. Parker as a favor to his wife. They add to the diversity of sounds on this record, which shows a mature Elvis Presley. “Dirty, Dirty Feeling” and “It Feels So Right” showed he could still rock out and challenge authority and propriety, while “Reconsider Baby” and “Like a Baby” offer some of his best blues performances; but “The Thrill of Your Love” (a very gospel-tinged number), “Soldier Boy,” “Girl of My Best Friend,” and “Girl Next Door Went a’ Walking,” also displayed the rich, deep vocalizing that would challenge critics’ expectations of Elvis Presley playing rhythm guitar throughout. He also comes off better than on any of his other albums since arriving at RCA, as a musician as much as a “star” (he’d always had a lot more to say about running his sessions than the critics who loathed his RCA years indicated). [The 1999 remastering of this classic album features the complete contents of the March 20, 1960, RCA Hollywood session plus the dawn-to-dusk April 2 Nashville session that rounded out the album, for a total of 18 songs, including the three singles and their B-sides from those sessions. The sound is extraordinarily close yet natural, giving the listener full value for the presence of Scotty Moore, Hank Garland (who also plays bass on a few tracks), D.J. Fontana, Boots Randolph, and Floyd Cramer.

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Elvis Presley – 24 Karat Hits! (1997) [Analogue Productions' Remaster 2012] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Elvis Presley – 24 Karat Hits! (1997) [Analogue Productions' Remaster 2012]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 39:53 minutes | Scans included | 2,46 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,12 GB
Genre: Rock n Roll

Had Elvis Presley done nothing else but record “That’s Alright, Mama,” his place in pop music history would be secure. With his first regional hit, Presley fused rhythm and blues with country, put a handsome white face out front for audiences to see, and in so doing legitimized beat music for white audiences. It is no understatement to call Presley the chief catalyst of the rock-and-roll era. During the 1950s, Presley’s records spent a collective 53 weeks in the number one chart position. Only the Beatles can boast similar sales success.
Presley’s monumental accomplishments continued until his untimely death in 1977. After a stint in the Army, he spent a decade making profitable but forgettable movies. Then in 1968 he reestablished his artistic relevance with a spectacular television special and several great albums. During the last decade of his career, Presley’s live show was the hottest ticket in America. A great singer first and last, Presley was equally adept at raunchy blues, lilting boogie, operatic pop, and country tear-jerkers.

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ZZ Top – The Complete Studio Albums: 1970-1990 (2013) [HDTracks 24-192]

ZZ Top – The Complete Studio Albums: 1970-1990 (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 370:49 minutes | 11,9 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Front covers
Genre: Blues Rock

This ten-album, must-have set includes ZZ Top’s acclaimed albums: ZZ Top’s First Album, Rio Grande Mud, Tres Hombres, Fandango!, Tejas, Deguello, El Loco, Eliminator, Afterburner and Recycler.

This sturdy American blues-rock trio from Texas consists of Billy Gibbons (guitar), Dusty Hill (bass), and Frank Beard (drums). They were formed in 1970 in and around Houston from rival bands the Moving Sidewalks (Gibbons) and American Blues (Hill and Beard). Their first two albums reflected the strong blues roots and Texas humor of the band. Their third album (Tres Hombres) gained them national attention with the hit “La Grange,” a signature riff tune to this day, based on John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillen.” Their success continued unabated throughout the ’70s, culminating with the year-and-a-half-long Worldwide Texas Tour.
Exhausted from the overwhelming workload, they took a three-year break, then switched labels and returned to form with Deguello and El Loco, both harbingers of what was to come. By their next album, Eliminator, and its worldwide smash follow-up, Afterburner, they had successfully harnessed the potential of synthesizers to their patented grungy blues groove, giving their material a more contemporary edge while retaining their patented Texas style. Now sporting long beards, golf hats, and boiler suits, they met the emerging video age head-on, reducing their “message” to simple iconography. Becoming even more popular in the long run, they moved with the times while simultaneously bucking every trend that crossed their path. As genuine roots musicians, they have few peers; Gibbons is one of America’s finest blues guitarists working in the arena rock idiom — both influenced by the originators of the form and British blues-rock guitarists like Peter Green — while Hill and Beard provide the ultimate rhythm section support…

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Beethoven: Emperor Concerto; Schumann: Fantasy – Yundi (2014) [Qobuz 24-96]

Beethoven: Emperor Concerto; Schumann: Fantasy – Yundi (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | 1 CD | Digital Booklet | 1.28 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz

Yundi Li was propelled on to the international stage when he won first prize at the XIV Chopin International Piano Competition at the age of 18, becoming the youngest and first Chinese winner in the history of the prestigious competition. He has since caused a sensation in the world’s leading concert halls.

During his tours, recitals and concertizing, performing some of the greatest masterpieces of piano literature, it seemed inevitable that this fine artist would eventually record Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. Yundi Li performed this work with conductor Daniel Harding and the Berlin Philharmonic. The recording also includes a performance of a fascinating solo work, Schumann’s Fantasie in C major. These are works that invite music lovers to compare different artists and interpretations.

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann
Performer: Yundi Li
Conductor: Daniel Harding
Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Reviews: “it is the Beethoven which is by some distance the more effectively realised. Yundi’s incisiveness of touch and certainty of manner is strikingly apparent in what is an unashamedly keyboard-led performance, the piano flatteringly lit by the engineers…The Schumann is not in the same league.”

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Iestyn Davies / Handel: Your Tuneful Voice – Handel Oratorio Arias (2014) [LINN 24-96]

Iestyn Davies / Handel: Your Tuneful Voice – Handel Oratorio Arias (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Digital Booklet | 1.24 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: Linn Records

Acclaimed countertenor Iestyn Davies and The King’s Consort perform an outstanding programme of Handel arias from some of the composer’s finest oratorios. Eleven varied solo arias include ‘O sacred oracles of truth’, the delicate ‘Tune your harps’, ‘Eternal source of light’ (with supreme trumpet playing from Crispian Steele-Perkins), the melodious ‘Your tuneful voice’ and the virtuoso ‘Mighty love now calls to arm’, as well as rarities including ‘On the valleys, dark and cheerless’ and an especial jewel, ‘Mortals think that Time is sleeping’.

Iestyn is joined in two glorious duets by soprano Carolyn Sampson, including the ecstatic ‘Welcome as the dawn of day’ and the ghostly ‘Who calls my parting soul from death’.

Recorded in the well-nigh perfect acoustic of Menuhin Hall with a large and colourful orchestra, who also contribute two

Composer: George Frideric Handel
Performer: Iestyn Davies, Rachel Chaplin, Crispian Steele-Perkins, Carolyn Sampson, …
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: The King’s Consort

Reviews: “Davies’s quick coloratura is dazzling in the final aria, ‘How can I stay when love invites?’”
“Davies’s phrasing is to be admired, spanning as it does long lines of breath control.”
“a first class anthology of Handel arias. The singing of Iestyn Davies is a delight from start to finish and he receives ideal support from Robert King and his players.”

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Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Chamber Orchestra of Europe – Schumann: The Symphonies (2014) [Qobuz 24-96]

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Chamber Orchestra of Europe – Schumann: The Symphonies (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Digital Booklet | 2.04 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz

For these revelatory performances – captured live at acclaimed concerts in Paris – he conducts the superb Chamber Orchestra of Europe, one of the world’s preeminent chamber orchestras. Taking a fresh perspective on familiar music, Yannick Nézet-Séguin challenges the conventional view on the composer’s symphonies.

“Of all the major symphonies, I’d say that Schumann’s are best performed by a slightly smaller ensemble… With a lean string section – not only in size, but also in its quality of playing – the music just works.”

The Canadian Maestro sees Schumann’s music as rooted in the bipolar nature of the composer’s troubled psyche, emphasising dramatic shifts of temperament – not only between movements but even within a single phrase

“He’s one of those composers whose personality is completely expressed in their music…those fluctuations between the melancholy and something very inward-looking are combined with a very manic kind of energy that wants to conquer the world. That’s what is so special about Schumann.”

This new cycle includes the second, revised version of Schumann’s second symphony, published as his Symphony No.4. “I try to respect whenever a composer makes a revision because he feels the need to, rather than because of any outside pressure. I’m personally convinced that the symphony’s message, and this feeling of one big movement, is better conveyed by the later version.”

This set is Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s first recording of a complete symphony cycle.

Composer: Robert Schumann
Conductor: Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Orchestra/Ensemble: Chamber Orchestra of Europe

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Wolfgang Muthspiel / Larry Grenadier / Brian Blade – Driftwood (2014) [HDTracks 24-96]

Wolfgang Muthspiel / Larry Grenadier / Brian Blade – Driftwood (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 43:01 minutes | 874 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Covers & Digital booklet
Genre: Jazz

Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel makes his ECM leader debut with Driftwood, a trio album of subtlety and depth featuring renowned US jazz players Larry Grenadier and Brian Blade.

Wolfgang Muthspiel – who recently made his first ECM appearance on Travel Guide as a member of a cooperative trio with fellow guitarists Ralph Towner and Slava Grigoryan – has enjoyed long, productive musical friendships live and on record with both Grenadier and Blade, leading to a sense of telepathic interplay on Driftwood. The trio creates a ravishing sound, captured with fidelity at Rainbow Studio in Oslo. Muthspiel has been praised by The Times of London for his “restless musical imagination”. Lyrical, grooving and atmospheric by turns, the guitarist’s compositions on Driftwood include tributes to his heroes Joe Zawinul and Michael Brecker.

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Stenhammar – Serenade & Excelsior (2014) [eClassical 24-96]

Stenhammar – Serenade & Excelsior (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | 1 CD | Digital Booklet | 1.01 GB
Genre: Classical | Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical

‘Finland has Sibelius, Norway has Grieg and Denmark Nielsen – so what about Sweden?’ This question, often put to Swedish musicians and music-lovers, is one that has no simple answer. Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927), a personal friend of both Sibelius and Nielsen, would seem to be the obvious candidate – but when his name is suggested the usual reaction is ‘Stenhammar who?’

The symphonic overture Excelsior!, written for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1896, was composed only four years after Stenhammar made his début as a composer. Stenhammar had not yet entirely found his own voice, but the work displays an infectious exuberance and enthusiasm, contrasting with the more reflective ‘Interlude’ from the composer’s final large-scale work, the cantata Sången from 1921.

Closing the disc is the Serenade in F major, often regarded as Stenhammar’s finest orchestral score.

This is the Royal Flemish Philharmonic’s first recoding for BIS.

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