Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On (1973/1998) [HDTracks 24-192]

Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On (1973/1998)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 31:49 minutes | 1,23 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital booklet
Genre: Funk, Soul

The most commercially successful album of Marvin Gaye’s career, Let’s Get It On also stands among the artist’s most critically acclaimed work. The record–the best selling soul album of 1973–reached #2 on the Billboard Chart and yielded three massive singles: “Let’s Get It On”, “Come Get to This”, and “You Sure Love to Ball.” The album was included in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004.

After brilliantly surveying the social, political, and spiritual landscape with What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye turned to more intimate matters with Let’s Get It On, a record unparalleled in its sheer sensuality and carnal energy. Always a sexually charged performer, Gaye’s passions reach their boiling point on tracks like the magnificent title hit (a number one smash) and “You Sure Love to Ball”; silky and shimmering, the music is seductive in the most literal sense, its fluid grooves so perfectly designed for romance as to border on parody. With each performance laced with innuendo, each lyric a come-on, and each rhythm throbbing with lust, perhaps no other record has ever achieved the kind of sheer erotic force of Let’s Get It On, and it remains the blueprint for all of the slow jams to follow decades later — much copied, but never imitated.

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Marta Gomez – Entre Cada Palabra (2006) [HDTracks 24-96]

Marta Gómez – Entre Cada Palabra (2006)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 54:11 minutes | 1,07 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital booklet
Genre: Jazz

Chesky Records release. Colombian singer/songwriter Marta Gomez is a wonderful, enigmatic talent. Her voice has the lulling softness that evokes Brazil’s female vocal icons, yet there’s a depth to her writing that goes far beneath the surface. She’s also something of an expert on Latin rhythms — there are 13 different ones on this disc, all of them rooted in different cultures, from Colombian bambuco to Argentine chamame. But everything is so perfectly put together that you forget the academic side, pulled along by the music and voice. Recorded over just three days, it’s a small masterwork. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand Spanish, as Gomez evokes delicate moods in her work, each piece beautifully arranged and shaded, with a very live sound. Her last album saw her labeled as a jazz singer, but there’s little evidence of that here, possibly quite deliberately. Instead it’s an album of low-key Latin music that at times edges toward a more straightforward singer/songwriter stance — albeit a very classy one (think Joni Mitchell, for example). On the evidence of this and her previous disc, Gomez is a rapidly rising star of genuine quality and inspiration.

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Marta Gomez – Cantos De Agua Dulce: Songs Of The Sweet Water (2004) [HDTracks 24-96]

Marta Gómez – Cantos De Agua Dulce: Songs Of The Sweet Water (2004)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 53:35 minutes | 1,05 GB
Jazz Vocal | Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital Booklet

This is the record that brought this Colombian-born songstress widespread critical acclaim. Cantos De Agua Dulce charted on Billboard’s Top 10 Jazz Albums tally, the CMJ New World Chart and the World Music Europe Chart. On the strength of this recording, Gomez was nominated for Best Latin Jazz Vocalist of 2005 by Billboard’s Latin Music Awards and was described by the magazine’s reviewer as “… the essence of Latin cool”.

With her velvety voice and jazz infused arrangements, Marta Gomez takes South American indigenous folk music into a hip new realm. Marta not only traverses a whole range of rhythms based on South American folklore, she also writes melodies and refrains that translate across all languages. “With an exquisite voice, Marta manages to sound like a pure folk-traditionalist and jazzy pop adventurer at the same time”. — The Boston Herald

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Mark Knopfler – Shangri-La (2004) [HDTracks 24-96]

Mark Knopfler – Shangri-La (2004)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 66:22 minutes | 1,45 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Rock

The fourth solo excursion from acclaimed singer-songwriter-guitarist Mark Knopfler, Shangri-La is perhaps his most rocking album since his halcyon days in Dire Straits. A four- time Grammy winner who has sold some 110 million albums worldwide with that group and solo and whose signature guitar sound, instantly recognizable vocals and smart lyrics have made him one of rock’s most admired artists. On Shangri-La, his storytelling is as sophisticated and emotional as ever.

Shangri-La, Mark Knopfler’s fourth solo release and his first since breaking his collarbone, shoulder, and seven ribs in a motorcycle crash in March 2003, finds the eternally laid-back Dire Straits frontman in familiar territory. Instead of constructing a song cycle about his brush with mortality — the wry “Don’t Crash the Ambulance” aside — he uses his warm baritone and effortless guitar work to ruminate on everything from the plight of the modern fisherman — the beautiful and rustic “Trawlerman’s Song” — to the entrepreneurial skills of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc (“Boom, Like That”). Knopfler has more or less abandoned the British folk and Celtic-influenced pop that began to surface on his previous two recordings, opting instead for a full-blown yet quiet and considerate collection of country-folk ballads and bluesy, midtempo dirges that revel in their uncharacteristic sparseness — one of the better examples of the latter is the gutsy, backwoods boxing tale “Song for Sonny Liston.” Knopfler spent seven months away from the guitar in physiotherapy, but his melancholic slow-burn tone is as peat-smoked as ever, and his penchant for wrapping Americana-gothic folk around subjects that are uniquely English — colliers, cockneys, the one-armed bandit man who meets his maker in the atmospheric opener, “5:15 A.M.” — is evident throughout. Dynamically, Shangri-La loses steam about three-quarters of the way through — the cringe-inducing “Whoop De Doo” and the sweet but dull “All That Matters” bring things to a sleepy halt — but Knopfler fans and lovers of Chet Atkins, Gordon Lightfoot, and J.J. Cale, as well as late-night poker players and early risers with an acerbic streak, will find much to love here.

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Lynyrd Skynyrd – Second Helping (1974/2014) [HDTracks 24-192]

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Second Helping (1974/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 37:21 minutes | 1,68 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Rock

Second Helping was originally released in 1974 and was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s second album. Feauring the hit single “Sweet Home Alabama” (which peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart), the album reached #12 on the Billboard album charts. It was certified Gold in 1974, followed by Platinum and 2x Platinum in 1987 by the RIAA.

Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote the book on Southern rock with their first album, so it only made sense that they followed it for their second album, aptly titled Second Helping. Sticking with producer Al Kooper (who, after all, discovered them), the group turned out a record that replicated all the strengths of the original, but was a little tighter and a little more professional. It also revealed that the band, under the direction of songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, was developing a truly original voice. Of course, the band had already developed their own musical voice, but it was enhanced considerably by Van Zant’s writing, which was at turns plainly poetic, surprisingly clever, and always revealing. Though Second Helping isn’t as hard a rock record as Pronounced, it’s the songs that make the record. “Sweet Home Alabama” became ubiquitous, yet it’s rivaled by such terrific songs as the snide, punkish “Workin’ for MCA,” the Southern groove of “Don’t Ask Me No Questions,” the affecting “The Ballad of Curtis Loew,” and “The Needle and the Spoon,” a drug tale as affecting as their rival Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done,” but much harder rocking. This is the part of Skynyrd that most people forget — they were a great band, but they were indelible because that was married to great writing. And nowhere was that more evident than on Second Helping.

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Lynyrd Skynyrd – Pronounced Leh-Nerd-Skin-Nerd (1973/2014) [HDTracks 24-192]

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Pronounced Leh-Nerd-Skin-Nerd (1973/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 43:09 minutes | 2,15 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Rock

(Pronounced ‘lĕh-’nérd ‘skin-’nérd) was Lynrd Skynrd’s debut album, originally released in 1973. It contains a number of the band’s most popular songs, including “Gimme Three Steps”, “Simple Man”, “Tuesday’s Gone”, and “Free Bird”. The album is ranked at #401 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The Allman Brothers came first, but Lynyrd Skynyrd epitomized Southern rock. The Allmans were exceptionally gifted musicians, as much bluesmen as rockers. Skynyrd was nothing but rockers, and they were Southern rockers to the bone. This didn’t just mean that they were rednecks, but that they brought it all together — the blues, country, garage rock, Southern poetry — in a way that sounded more like the South than even The Allmans. And a large portion of that derives from their hard, lean edge, which was nowhere more apparent than on their debut album, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd. Produced by Al Kooper, there are few records that sound this raw and uncompromising, especially records by debut bands. Then again, few bands sound this confident and fully formed with their first record. Perhaps the record is stronger because it’s only eight songs, so there isn’t a wasted moment, but that doesn’t discount the sheer strength of each song. Consider the opening juxtaposition of the rollicking “I Ain’t the One” with the heartbreaking “Tuesday’s Gone.” Two songs couldn’t be more opposed, yet Skynyrd sounds equally convincing on both. If that’s all the record did, it would still be fondly regarded, but it wouldn’t have been influential. The genius of Skynyrd is that they un-self-consciously blended album-oriented hard rock, blues, country, and garage rock, turning it all into a distinctive sound that sounds familiar but thoroughly unique. On top of that, there’s the highly individual voice of Ronnie Van Zant, a songwriter who isn’t afraid to be nakedly sentimental, spin tales of the South, or to twist macho conventions with humor. And, lest we forget, while he does this, the band rocks like a motherf*cker. It’s the birth of a great band that birthed an entire genre with this album.

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Lorde – Pure Heroine (2013) [HDTracks 24-48]

Lorde – Pure Heroine (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 37:13 minutes | 465 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Pop, Rock

Lorde is the stage name of Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor. From New Zealand, she is a singer-songwriter whose debut album, Pure Heroine, was released in September 2013. She receieved four Grammy Nominations for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards: Song of the Year for “Royals”, and Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for Pure Heroine.

Signed to a major label at an early age, she was groomed in the darkness of studios, the label knowing the potential they had in their singer/songwriter. She wrote on her own, then she was paired with a sympathetic producer/songwriter, live performances taking a back seat to woodshedding. If this story in the early years of the 2010s brings to mind Lana Del Rey, it’s no coincidence that it also applies to New Zealand singer/songwriter Lorde, whose 2013 debut, Pure Heroine, contains all of the stylized goth foreboding of LDR’s Born to Die and almost none of the louche, languid glamour. This is not a small thing. Lana Del Rey is a self-created starlet willing herself into stardom but Lorde fancies herself a poet, churning away at the darker recesses of her soul. Some of this may be due to age. Lorde, as any pre-release review or portrait helpfully illustrated, was only 16 when she wrote and recorded Pure Heroine with producer Joel Little, and an adolescent aggrievance and angst certainly underpin the songs here. Lorde favors a tragic romanticism, an all-or-nothing melodrama that Little accentuates with his alternately moody and insistent productions. Where Lana Del Rey favors a studiously detached irony, Lorde pours it all out which, in itself, may be an act: her bedsit poetry is superficially more authentic but the music is certainly more pop, both in its construction — there are big hooks in the choruses and verses — and in the production, which accentuates a sad shimmer where everything is beautiful and broken. There is a topical appeal here, particularly because Lorde and Little do spend so much time on the surface, turning it into something seductive, but it is no more real than the studied detachment of Lana Del Rey, who Lorde so strongly (and intentionally) resembles. Born to Die is meant to be appreciated as slippery, elusive pop; Pure Heroine seems to hint at the truth…but the truth is, Lorde is a pop invention as much as LDR and is not nearly as honest about her intentions.

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Les Baxter – The Primitive And The Passionate (1962/2011) [HDTracks 24-192]

Les Baxter and His Orchestra – The Primitive And The Passionate (1962/2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 31:04 minutes | 1,21 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Easy Listening, Jazz

The Primitive & The Passionate showcases conductor and composer Les Baxter’s signature “exotic” flair and brilliant orchestrations. The 1962 release features refreshing renditions of “Laura,” “A Taste of Honey” and “Little Girl Blue.” This mesmerizing hi-res release has never sounded smoother.

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Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull {Deluxe Edition} (2013) [HDTracks 24-44,1]

Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull {Deluxe Edition} (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 50:52 minutes | 706 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital booklet
Genre: Alternative Rock, Southern Rock

Kings of Leon are fresh off three acclaimed headlining performances at American festivals, Bottle Rock in Napa, CA, Hangout in Gulf Shores, AL, and, most recently, this past weekend’s Governor’s Ball in New York City, during which the festival cancelled the band’s Friday night performance due to Tropical Storm Andrea. The band, upset over the cancellation, worked through the night with festival organizers and management to figure out a way to come back on Saturday. The festival found a place for them on the main stage right before the Saturday headliner, during which the fans were treated to the live premiere of Mechanical Bull’s first single, “Supersoaker”.

Kings of Leon hit it big in 2008 with their album Only by the Night and the accompanying one-two punch of singles “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody.” The success of those singles propelled them into the upper echelon of arena rock bands and found them at a crossroads between the post-punk-influenced sound of their previous albums and the anthemic, U2-influenced approach that they’d begun to explore on Only by the Night. Perhaps not surprisingly, the band’s follow-up, 2010′s Come Around Sundown, while by no means a disappointment, seemed strained, as if the band was trying too hard to balance its early sound with its later hits, all while digging even deeper into its Southern roots. Which is partly why the band’s sixth studio album, 2013′s Mechanical Bull, comes as sweet relief. While still retaining Kings of Leon’s penchant toward bombastic, hooky choruses and driving guitars, Mechanical Bull feels breezier and less labored than Come Around Sundown. Even the title feels like a cheeky double entendre that references both the band’s Southern upbringing (lead singer Caleb Followill and his bandmate siblings were raised in Oklahoma and Tennessee) and the gear-like machinations of the rock industry. Front-loading an album with the leadoff single can often be a sign of weakness in a release, but not in this case. Kicking off with the passionate “Supersoaker” merely sets the tone for this album. In fact, two of the best cuts come midway through, with the yearning “Wait for Me” and the bluesy, Primal Scream-esque “Family Tree.” Elsewhere, “Rock City” brings a heavy Mott the Hoople vibe to the fore and the raging “Coming Back Again” finds the band delving into War-era U2. Having grabbed their career by the horns with Mechanical Bull, it’s clear that Kings of Leon aren’t letting it get away from them anytime soon.

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Keith Jarrett – Concerts: Bregenz / Munchen (1982/2013) [HDTracks 24-96]

Keith Jarrett – Concerts: Bregenz / München (1982/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 150:20 minutes | 2,9 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital booklet
Genre: Jazz

After Bremen/Lausanne, after The Köln Concert, after the epic Sun Bear Concerts, the next development in Jarrett’s solo concerts was the all-embracing music captured here. Two 1981 improvised concerts from Austria and Germany are featured, recorded respectively at the Festspielhaus Bregenz and the Herkulessaal Munich, venues noted for outstanding acoustics. While the Bregenz concert has hitherto been available as a single CD, this set marks the first appearance of the complete Munich performance on compact disc. The 3-album set includes extensive text booklet with liner notes by Keith Jarrett, an essay by Swiss critic Peter Rüedi, and poetry by Michael Krüger.

By the early ’80s, Keith Jarrett was definitely under siege, accused of arrogance, singing along too loudly, rambling eclecticism, and other “heinous” jazz crimes, especially in the wake of the massive success of the Köln Concert seven years before, and the issue of the massive, unprecedented Sun Bear Concerts box set in 1978. Indeed, around this time, Jarrett would verbally attack music critics at his solo concerts, and the reflected paranoia is obvious in Peter Ruedi’s defensive booklet essay included here, “The Magician and the Jugglers.” This multi-disc set was recorded during two concerts over four days in the spring of 1981 in Bregenz, Austria, and Munich, Germany. This recording is not to be confused with the earlier, more consistently inspired Solo Concerts: Bremen/Lusanne from 1973, which made Jarrett a star, yet the pianist was far from tapped out in these performances. He is often in his best lyrically funky form, where he makes the most out of a single ostinato idea — particularly at the beginning of the Bregenz concert and in the middle of the Munich concert — and his touch and exploitation of the dynamics and timbres of a grand piano are always a pleasure to hear. Even the passages of stasis or seemingly aimless rippling do not cancel out the treasurable moments and have real worth — though for some, the string plucking near the end of the Munich show may be somewhat gratuitous. In any case, this is far more interesting and elevated music-making than that of the New Age navel-gazing imitators who were cropping up in Jarrett’s wake in the early ’80s en masse, and adds immeasurably to the historically unique portrait of the artist.

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