Conceived on computer, this music may be classified in different styles: Electro-Jazz, Trip Hop or Dub. More specifically, Obviously Grimy is heavily influenced by the work of Amon Tobin, Bill Laswell, Massive attack ou Tricky.
After a string of mediocre albums throughout most of the 1970s, Muddy Waters hooked up with Johnny Winter for 1977's Hard Again, a startling comeback and a gritty demonstration of the master's powers. Fronting a band that includes such luminaries as James Cotton and "Pine Top" Perkins, Waters is not only at the top of his game, but is having the time of his life while he's at it. The bits of studio chatter that close "Mannish Boy" and open "Bus Driver" show him to be relaxed and obviously excited about the proceedings. Part of this has to be because the record sounds so good. Winter has gone for an extremely bare production style, clearly aiming to capture Waters in conversation with a band in what sounds like a single studio room. This means that sometimes the songs threaten to explode in chaos as two or three musicians begin soloing simultaneously. Such messiness is actually perfect in keeping with the raw nature of this music; you simply couldn't have it any other way.
Brett Dean is not shy about revealing what his music is ‘about’. Whether inspired by certain individuals (as in Epitaphs), or by an ecological or human disaster (as in his String Quartet No. 1, on the now all too topical plight of refugees), Dean’s works are usually – perhaps invariably – driven by extra-musical narratives. Rather than tease out any innate structural puzzles or tensions, his music typically falls into short little dramatic narratives – no movement on this disc lasts as long as eight minutes, many of them rather less than five. The most obviously successful work here is Quartet No. 2, ‘And once I played Ophelia’, effectively a dramatic scena. Its soprano soloist is no mere extra voice (as in Schoenberg’s Second Quartet) but the leading protagonist. Allison Bell’s genuinely affecting performance is backed by the Doric Quartet’s expressionist scampering and sustained harmonies, the strings occasionally coming to the fore in the manner of a Schumann-style song postlude.
Singer and keyboard player Gianni Leone tried a solo career with the new name of Leo Nero after the demise of his band Il Balletto di Bronzo, and the result was a very good album, Vero, released by Harvest in 1977 and recorded a year before in New York. The album is totally played and sung by Leo himself, and despite some commercial pop songs, it has some good moments reminding of his old band's sound, like in "La Discesa Nel Cervello", "Il Castello" and the intense closing track "Una Gabbia Per Me". Obviously the sound is mainly keyboard based, but Leone played drums, minimoog bass lines and even guitar on some tracks.
A new recording of Weber's piano concertos was obviously long overdue, and this one fits the bill more than adequately, coming as it does generously coupled with the much better known Konzertstück and in first-rate sound quality from HMV. Not the least of its virtues is the light it casts on the origins of the piano idiom of Chopin and Liszt and, in the case of the Konzertstück, on the very foundations of the romantic concerto. I wouldn't envy any historian out to determine who was responsible for which innovation in the first two decades of the nineteenth century, but certainly to hear so many fully-formed romantic textures in music dating from 1810-21 is an instructive, not to say startling, experience.
The late 1950s were tough on Judy Garland, but this live recording, cut on April 23, 1961, at Carnegie Hall, would (rightfully) bring the legendary icon back into the spotlight. Live would go on to win five Grammys, be Garland's bestselling record, and confirm that, yes, on certain levels, she still had it. Her vocals are as strong as ever on these tunes, and Garland has fun with an audience obviously enraptured by her charms. She's self-deprecating where necessary–on "You Go to My Head" she "forgets" the lyrics but pretends to improvise. Mostly she just shines, especially on tunes she made famous, such as "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Stormy Weather," and "Over the Rainbow." This is easily one of pop music's greatest live recordings and a fine testament to Garland's recorded legacy. This two-CD set has been remastered for EMI's 40th-anniversary reissue to coincide with the ABC film based on daughter Lorna Luft's memoir Me and My Shadows.
There are many factors that contribute to a great and worthwhile album; the actual performance (in this case by orchestra and soloist) is obviously important, but also significant is recorded sound quality, programming, interesting and informative liner notes, and (although less important) nice packaging doesn't hurt, either. This CD of Rachmaninov's First and Fourth piano concertos and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini gives listeners all of these things. The liner notes provide an exceptionally useful timeline highlighting the chronology of two concertos, showing where revisions were made and when the final version emerged relative to the initial sketches. The Orchestre Philharmonique de l'Oural does a superb job of providing a lush and sensual backdrop for all three works heard here.