James Taylor – Dad Loves His Work (1981) [MFSL 2011] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

James Taylor – Dad Loves His Work (1981) [MFSL 2011]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 39:04 minutes | Scans included | 1,70 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 944 MB
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab # UDSACD 2072
Genre: Rock

James Taylor helped pioneer the singer-songwriter movement of the late 1960s with songs of surprising musical sophistication and lyrics that were both introspective and gently poetic. For decades to follow, Taylor continued to produce music that was personal, accessible and enjoyable. Here, he has matured into a pop craftsman of the first order. On Dad Loves His Work the arc of his talent continues to rise. The radio-friendly “Hard Times” would make Smokey Robinson proud. “Summer’s Here” is jazzy, breezy and as warm as the season it celebrates. “Her Town Too,” co-written with John David Souther, marked another notch high up on the pop charts for J.T.

James Taylor bounced back from the spotty Flag with this all-original album led by his collaboration with J.D. Souther on “Her Town Too,” his biggest pop hit since “Handy Man,” and his biggest non-cover hit since his first, “Fire and Rain,” in 1970. Also included were “Hard Times” and “Summer’s Here,” not to mention the unusually impassioned “Stand and Fight.” After simmering this long, there wasn’t much hope Taylor would ever come to a boil, but that track indicated he could at least heat up now and then.

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James Taylor – Dad Loves His Work (1981) [Reissue 2003] {2.0 & 5.1} {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

James Taylor – Dad Loves His Work (1981) [Reissue 2003] {2.0 & 5.1}
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 & DST64 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 38:52 minutes | Scans included | 3,32 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | 38:37 min | Scans included | 805 MB
Genre: Rock

James Taylor bounced back from the spotty Flag with this all-original album led by his collaboration with J.D. Souther on “Her Town Too,” his biggest pop hit since “Handy Man,” and his biggest non-cover hit since his first, “Fire and Rain,” in 1970. Also included were “Hard Times” and “Summer’s Here,” not to mention the unusually impassioned “Stand and Fight.” After simmering this long, there wasn’t much hope Taylor would ever come to a boil, but that track indicated he could at least heat up now and then.

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Jackie McLean – 4, 5 and 6 (1956) [Analogue Productions Remaster 2012] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Jackie McLean – 4, 5 and 6 (1956) [Analogue Productions Remaster 2012]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 Stereo > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 45:16 minutes | Scans included | 1,90 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 963 MB
Genre: Jazz

In 1956 Jackie McLean was only beginning to assert himself as a true individualist on the alto saxophone, exploring the lime-flavored microtones of his instrument that purists or the misinformed perceived as being off-key or out of tune. 4, 5 and 6 presents McLean’s quartet on half the date, and tunes with an expanded quintet, and one sextet track — thus the title. Mal Waldron, himself an unconventional pianist willing to explore different sizings and shadings of progressive jazz, is a wonderful complement for McLean’s notions, with bassist Doug Watkins and drummer Art Taylor the impervious team everyone wanted for his rhythm section at the time. The quartet versions of “Sentimental Journey,” “Why Was I Born?,” and “When I Fall in Love” range from totally bluesy, to hard bop ribald, to pensive and hopeful, respectively. These are three great examples of McLean attempting to make the tunes his own, adding a flattened, self-effaced, almost grainy-faced texture to the music without concern for the perfectness of the melody. Donald Byrd joins the fray on his easygoing bopper “Contour,” where complex is made simple and enjoyable, while Hank Mobley puts his tenor sax to the test on the lone and lengthy sextet track, a rousing version of Charlie Parker’s risk-laden “Confirmation.” It’s Waldron’s haunting ballad “Abstraction,” with Byrd and McLean’s quick replies, faint and dour, that somewhat illuminates the darker side. As a stand-alone recording, 4, 5 and 6 does not break barriers, but does foreshadow the future of McLean as an innovative musician in an all-too-purist mainstream jazz world.

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Isaac Hayes – The Isaac Hayes Movement (1970) [Reissue 2004] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Isaac Hayes – The Isaac Hayes Movement (1970) [Reissue 2004]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 36:10 minutes | Scans included | 1,46 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 751 MB
Genre: R&B, Soul, Funk

Although this is Isaac Hayes’ third long-player, he had long been a staple of the Memphis R&B scene — primarily within the Stax coterie — where his multiple talents included instrumentalist, arranger, and composer of some of the most beloved soul music of the ’60s. Along with his primary collaborator, David Porter, Hayes was responsible for well over 200 sides — including the genre-defining “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby,” “Soul Man,” “B-A-B-Y,” “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” and “I Had a Dream.” As a solo artist however, Hayes redefined the role of the long-player with his inimitably smooth narrative style of covering classic pop and R&B tracks, many of which would spiral well over ten minutes. The Isaac Hayes Movement (1970) includes four extended cuts from several seemingly disparate sources, stylistically ranging from George Harrison’s “Something” to Jerry Butler’s “I Stand Accused” and even Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself.” These early Hayes recordings brilliantly showcase his indomitable skills as an arranger — as he places familiar themes into fresh contexts and perspectives. For example, his lengthy one-sided dialogue that prefaces “I Stand Accused” is halting in its candor as Hayes depicts an aching soul who longs for his best friend’s fiancée. Even the most hard-hearted can’t help but have sympathy pains as he unravels his sordid emotional agony and anguish. Hayes’ lyrical orchestration totally reinvents the structure of “Something” — which includes several extended instrumental sections — incorporating equally expressive contributions from John Blair (violin). Both “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” and the comparatively short (at under six minutes) “One Big Unhappy Family” are more traditionally arranged ballads. Hayes again tastefully incorporates both string and horn sections to augment the languid rhythm, providing contrasting textures rather than gaudy adornment.

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Isaac Hayes – Shaft: Music From The Soundtrack (1971) [SACD 2004] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Isaac Hayes – Shaft: Music From The Soundtrack (1971) [SACD 2004]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 69:27 minutes | Scans included | 2,81 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,45 GB
Genre: Soundtrack, Soul

Isaac Hayes was undoubtedly one of the era’s most accomplished soul artists. With the Theme From Shaft, Hayes delivered an anthem just as ambitious and revered as the film itself, a song that has only grown more treasured over the years, after having been an enormously popular hit at the time of its release. This CD features cinematic moments of instrumentation, composed and produced by Hayes while being performed by the Bar-Kays – some down-tempo, others quite jazzy.

Of the many wonderful blaxpoitation soundtracks to emerge during the early ’70s, Shaft certainly deserves mention as not only one of the most lasting but also one of the most successful. Isaac Hayes was undoubtedly one of the era’s most accomplished soul artists, having helped elevate Stax to its esteemed status; therefore, his being chosen to score such a high-profile major-studio film shouldn’t seem like a surprise. And with “Theme from Shaft,” he delivered an anthem just as ambitious and revered as the film itself, a song that has only grown more treasured over the years, after having been an enormously popular hit at the time of its release. Besides this song, though, there aren’t too many more radio-targeted moments here. “Soulsville” operates effectively as the sort of downtempo ballad Hayes was most known for, just as the almost 20-minute “Do Your Thing” showcased just how impressive the Bar-Kays had become, stretching the song to unseen limits with their inventive, funky jamming. For the most part, though, this double-LP features nothing but cinematic moments of instrumentation, composed and produced by Hayes while being performed by the Bar-Kays — some downtempo, others quite jazzy, nothing too funky, though. Even if it’s not quite as enjoyable as Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly due to its emphasis on instrumentals, Shaft still remains a powerful record; one of Hayes’ pinnacle moments for sure.

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Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul (1969) [MFSL 2003] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul (1969) [MFSL 2003]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 45:37 minutes | Scans included | 1,84 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 990 MB
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab # UDSACD 2005
Genre: R&B, Soul, Funk

Released at the tail end of the ’60s, Hot Buttered Soul set the precedent for how soul would evolve in the early ’70s, simultaneously establishing Isaac Hayes and the Bar-Kays as major forces within black music. Though not quite as definitive as Black Moses or as well-known as Shaft, Hot Buttered Soul remains an undeniably seminal record; it stretched its songs far beyond the traditional three-to-four-minute industry norm, featured long instrumental stretches where the Bar-Kays stole the spotlight, and it introduced a new, iconic persona for soul with Hayes’ tough yet sensual image. With the release of this album, Motown suddenly seemed manufactured and James Brown a bit too theatrical. Surprising many, the album features only four songs. The first, “Walk on By,” is an epic 12-minute moment of true perfection, its trademark string-laden intro just dripping with syrupy sentiment, and the thumping mid-tempo drum beat and accompanying bassline instilling a complementary sense of nasty funk to the song; if that isn’t enough to make it an amazing song, Hayes’ almost painful performance brings yet more feeling to the song, with the guitar’s heavy vibrato and the female background singers taking the song to even further heights. The following three songs aren’t quite as stunning but are still no doubt impressive: “Hyperbolicsyllabicsequedalymistic” trades in sappy sentiment for straight-ahead funk, highlighted by a stomping piano halfway through the song; “One Woman” is the least epic moment, clocking in at only five minutes, but stands as a straightforward, well-executed love ballad; and finally, there’s the infamous 18-minute “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and its lengthy monologue which slowly eases you toward the climactic, almost-orchestral finale, a beautiful way to end one of soul’s timeless, landmark albums, the album that transformed Hayes into a lifelong icon.

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Indigo Girls – Become You (2002) [2.0 & 5.1] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Indigo Girls – Become You (2002) [2.0 & 5.1]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 47:56 mins | Scans included | 3,08 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 976 MB
Genre: Alternative Rock

The Indigo Girls are an American folk rock music duo consisting of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. Become You is their eighth studio album, released in 2002.

Indigo Girls’ eighth studio album, released 15 years after their first, finds the duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers in a sense starting over. Using their regular backup band of keyboardist Carol Isaacs, bassist Claire Kenny, and drummer Brady Blade, but only a couple of guest musicians — in contrast to albums that featured lots more players, many of them well known — and returning to producer Peter Collins, who worked with them on their second, fourth, and fifth albums, they have stripped down their approach to something approaching the folk-rock style with which they began. The restrained instrumentation and arrangements focus attention on the songs themselves, and Ray and Saliers, as usual writing separately and alternating tracks, have similar things to say. Eleven of the 12 songs are addressed by an “I” to a “you” (the exception, “She’s Saving Me,” might as well be), and for the most part they deal in romantic complications, with the “I” looking back on a past romance or detailing the difficulties that may lead to a breakup. In the opening track and first single, Ray’s “Moment of Forgiveness,” for example, the narrator notes that two years have gone by since her lover left and asks, hopelessly, “When are you gonna come home?” Ray is characteristically more raw in her singing and in her expression; she also provides the album’s musical contrasts, whether it’s the “Games People Play”-style Southern soul of “Moment of Forgiveness” or the Mexican tone of “Nuevas Senoritas.” Saliers is more abstract, titling one of her laments “Deconstruction” and, in “She’s Saving Me,” even offers a more positive statement. But it is Ray’s title track, in which a daughter of the South confronts the region’s reprehensible mythology — not a song of romance — that is the album’s most wrenching and powerful statement.

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Indigo Girls – All That We Let In (2004) [2.0 & 5.1] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Indigo Girls – All That We Let In (2004)
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 45:42 minutes | Scans included | 2,84 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 972 MB
Genre: Alternative Rock

Nearly 20 years on, and Indigo Girls are still spinning their dualistic tales of love, anger, and life. Over the years, the formula has had its bouts with rigidity — for a while there, it even threatened to reach obsolescence (think of the phoned-in late-’90s effort Shaming of the Sun). But Emily Saliers and Amy Ray did a wise thing with 2002′s Become You, returning to the threads of personal experience that had made their folk-rock tapestry so strong in the first place (and reducing their sound). All That We Let In continues Indigo Girls’ throwback arc, opting for just their longtime band with a few well-placed guests. (For example, pedal steel player Mark Van Allen and cellist David Henry make Saliers’ darkly searching “Come On Home” a particularly velvety moment.) All That We Let In has some fun before getting to the serious stuff, opening with a pair of strong tracks taking different routes to a rootsy hook. Carol Isaacs’ organ shines on the warm and inviting “Fill It Up Again,” which despite musing about getting dumped does so with the promise of refueling and hitting the open road. And despite it being the same old trick, darn it if it isn’t comforting to once again hear the intertwined yearn of Saliers and Ray’s harmonies. Ray’s “Heartache for Everyone” opts for a skipping ska off-beat, in its own way suggesting the 1986 Housemartins jingle “Happy Hour.” “Perfect World” is a well-crafted Indigo Girls single, broadcasting its message of universal hope with earthy lyrical allusions and tasteful touches of accordion and recorder. There are still demons in their world, which they take on with typical pluck. “Dairy Queen” deals again with relational drama, while “Tether” is live-wire raw with its Crazy Horse distortion and desperate foment. “Do we tether the hawk, do we tether the dove?” Ray and guest vocalist Joan Osborne wonder. A neighbor spits out his chaw. “We need a few less words dear,” he says. “We need a few more guns.” Like the best Indigo Girls work, All That We Let In continually dwells on the dynamic of internal, emotional tumult and outward-looking, world-wondering fervor. Its strongest example of this comes in the album’s twilight. As Saliers’ inner Joni Mitchell resurfaces for the heartening but bittersweet prodigal friendship number “Something Real,” Ray’s trademark activist fire smolders mournfully in “Cordova”‘s darkness. It’s the album’s truest stretch, and proves Indigo Girls haven’t lost a step even as they look back to their musical roots.

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Ike Quebec – It Might As Well Be Spring (1964) [Analogue Productions Remaster 2010] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Ike Quebec – It Might As Well Be Spring (1964) [APO Remaster 2010]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 Stereo > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 35:41 minutes | Scans included | 1,44 GB
or FLAC 2.0 Stereo (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 710 MB
Genre: Jazz

Working with the same quartet that cut Heavy Soul — organist Freddie Roach, bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Al Harewood — Ike Quebec recorded another winning hard bop album with It Might As Well Be Spring. In many ways, the record is a companion piece to Heavy Soul. Since the two albums were recorded so close together, it’s not surprising that there a number of stylistic similarities, but there are subtle differences to savor. The main distinction between the two dates is that It Might As Well Be Spring is a relaxed, romantic date comprised of standards. It provides Quebec with ample opportunity to showcase his rich, lyrical ballad style, and he shines throughout the album. Similarly, Roach has a tasteful, understated technique, whether he’s soloing or providing support for Quebec. The pair have a terrific, sympathetic interplay that makes It Might As Well Be Spring a joyous listen.

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Ike Quebec – Blue & Sentimental (1962) [Analogue Productions Remaster 2011] SACD-R

Ike Quebec – Blue & Sentimental (1962) [APO Remaster 2011]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 Stereo > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 50:29 minutes | Digital booklet | 2,03 GB | Genre: Jazz

Ike Quebec’s 1961-1962 comeback albums for Blue Note were all pretty rewarding, but Blue and Sentimental is his signature statement of the bunch, a superbly sensuous blend of lusty blues swagger and achingly romantic ballads. True, there’s no shortage of that on Quebec’s other Blue Note dates, but Blue and Sentimental is the most exquisitely perfected. Quebec was a master of mood and atmosphere, and the well-paced program here sustains his smoky, late-night magic with the greatest consistency of tone. Part of the reason is that Quebec’s caressing tenor sound is given a sparer backing than usual, with no pianist among the quartet of guitarist Grant Green, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones. It’s no surprise that Green solos with tremendous taste and elegance (the two also teamed up on Green’s similarly excellent Born to Be Blue), and there are plenty of open spaces in the ensemble for Quebec to shine through. His rendition of the Count Basie-associated title cut is a classic, and the other standard on the original LP, “Don’t Take Your Love from Me,” is in a similarly melancholy vein. Green contributes a classic-style blues in “Blues for Charlie,” and Quebec’s two originals, “Minor Impulse” and “Like,” have more complex chord changes but swing low and easy. Through it all, Quebec remains the quintessential seducer, striking just the right balance between sophistication and earthiness, confidence and vulnerability, joy and longing. It’s enough to make Blue and Sentimental a quiet, sorely underrated masterpiece.

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