Your basket is empty

Categories :

Albums

From
CD£134.99

Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Capitol Records

From
CD£78.49

Pop - Released January 1, 2011 | Capitol Records

Goodbye surfing, hello God! The title of Jules Siegel's 1967 magazine feature on Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys sums up how well the group was outliving the early-'60s beach fad -- and revolutionizing pop music in the process. During 1966, the twin shots of Pet Sounds in May and "Good Vibrations" in October announced first that the group had entered the vanguard of pop music and then, not content with mere critical praise, seized control of the singles charts with a chart-topper as catchy as it was complex and costly to record. Early on, though, "Good Vibrations" had actually been slated to appear on Pet Sounds, which reveals the long odds on whether Wilson could ever finish an entire album of his pocket symphonies (at least, in the time frame of a label circa 1966). Nevertheless, beginning in August of 1966, he began planning a new album project, first called Dumb Angel and later SMiLE. Working from the ideas in his head, he and his studio musicians and bandmates recorded continually during late 1966 and early 1967, putting down hours of tape during dozens of sessions. He labored over every note and, more than that, every tone, often asking his musicians or the Beach Boys themselves to revise when the results didn't match his conception of the music going on inside his head. Such care and control produced music that was far beyond Pet Sounds, and when the impressionistic themes and lyrics of collaborator Van Dyke Parks were added, SMiLE began shaping up as the most unique LP ever produced by a pop group. That much is perfectly clear after listening to Capitol's release of The SMiLE Sessions, the first official SMiLE release ever. (As most music fans know, the album was never completed, although elements of the whole have trickled out ever since.) Each version of the SMiLE Sessions set begins with a re-creation of what a mono release of SMiLE could have sounded like, with a track listing patterned after Wilson’s 2004 recording, Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE. Each version also includes some SMiLE sessions in stereo, in order to hear Wilson's working method in the studio. Peeling away the layers from these tracks, several instruments at a time, reveals more of the music's magnificence, how each element combined in ingenious ways to become the songs that have entranced Beach Boys fans over the years. The sessions and studio chatter also reveal how much of the SMiLE sessions were a family affair; far from the previous conception of Wilson holed away in the studio with a coterie of handpicked musicians, virtually all of the Beach Boys make themselves heard with suggestions and contributions both vocal and instrumental (and beside the infamous credits of Paul McCartney, even Brian's wife Marilyn, a singer in her own right, is heard on backing vocals). It's difficult to object to anything about The SMiLE Sessions, considering the time and care invested into the entire package (which becomes yet more lavish with the varying Deluxe Editions available). Still, Brian Wilson's 2004 re-creation of SMiLE hangs over this set, and not just because SMiLE lost much of its mystery and taboo after Wilson re-recorded it. The choice to studiously re-create his 2004 rendition may have eased the burden of a difficult and controversial compiling process -- although thousands of hours still had to be spent compiling these sessions -- but it also forced principal reissue producers Mark Linett and Alan Boyd into giving listeners a version of SMiLE that wasn't in stereo, even though roughly 80 percent of the tracks were available that way. (For the record, the liner notes state that mono was used because that would have been Wilson's original choice in 1967, and also because not enough of the basic tracks were available in stereo.) As it stands here, having a full SMiLE album in mono and a collection of sessions in stereo immediately positions The SMiLE Sessions as something less than a true bootleg beater -- which will undoubtedly lead fans back to extra-legal means (at least, any time they want to hear a virtual mixdown of these glorious recordings in true stereo). Quibbles aside, everything about this package is richly detailed, immensely pleasing, and overall a wonderful experience. All of the CD editions include copious bonus tracks, such as nine minutes of a cappella vocals ("SMiLE Backing Vocals Montage"), whose beauty and fragility will help listeners realize that the Beach Boys obsessed just as much over their vocalizing as their music. Deluxe editions add essays from several angles, reminiscences from those who were there, and original artwork and photos from the period. True, no one will ever know what effect a SMiLE release in spring 1967 would have had on music or pop culture, and with the music so circular and the lyrics so obtuse, it's likely that SMiLE would have become merely a curio of psychedelic excess rather than a work that transformed culture. But regardless, it shows Brian Wilson's mastery of pure studio sonics and his ability to not only create distinctive pop music, but give it great beauty as well. Those qualities have inspired musicians for decades, and it's clear they will continue to do so. [The SMiLE Sessions is available in several different editions, all of which begin with a re-creation of what a mono release of SMiLE could have sounded like. The two-CD packages add one disc of sessions tracks, while the Deluxe Edition box set includes a total of five CDs, two LPs, and two 7" singles -- including the one disc and double-LP of SMiLE in mono, three discs of SMiLE sessions in stereo, and one disc of sessions from the "Good Vibrations" single. The Deluxe Edition box set also features a 2' x 3' poster and a 60-page hardcover book, all packaged inside a three-dimensional shadow box lid.] © John Bush /TiVo
From
CD£78.49

Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | Capitol Records

From
CD£55.99

Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | Capitol Records

Booklet
From
CD£55.99

Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Capitol Records

Revolution Calling is a box set of the complete EMI recordings -- and one interactive video game -- by Queensrÿche, the thinking-man's metal cum progressive hard rock band from Seattle. The package is slick in that all eight releases -- nine discs in all -- come in a tight, handsome black box with paper LP-styled covers for each album and a double gatefold version for the two-disc game Promised Land -- a further extrapolation on an album of the same name. First the bad stuff -- because there isn't much of it. Given the design of the box, the liner notes that accompany it are, by and large, instructions for the game. There is an introductory essay that is perfunctory at best, but no information regarding the considerable amount of bonus material included here (for instance, their self-titled EP, a mere four tracks, is fleshed out on CD with ten more cuts that were released on a Live in Tokyo videodisc but are discussed nowhere in the notes). That said, it might also have been nice to include the at least some of the band's considerable video output. Also, on virtually every other disc in the package, there is at least one bonus track not credited to anything. On Empire, none of them are. That said, there is plenty to be said for this box as an essential purchase for any real fan of the band. All of the studio recordings are here, with copious amounts of bonus material. Recordings like Operation: Mindcrime and Empire sound like new recordings, as they are so crisp, so detailed and warm in their remastering. Of the early material, it was obvious that Queensrÿche from the beginning thought big (conceptually, that is) and tried to make something of a statement with each recording. While listeners will have their favorites, this set goes a long way to revising the generally dour opinion about Hear in the Now Frontier, which in the context of the other six outings is not so much of a letdown but yet another expansion. Queensrÿche are like Liverpool's Anathema in that their sound is one that is always layered with equal parts emotion, metallic crunch, and melodic invention as well as the acumen to change. Hear in the Now Frontier, while harder than Promised Land or Empire, is no less well conceived and executed. This is a picture of the history of hard rock that was shorted out by Nirvana, and it's too bad. If all these albums are taken individually, you get fine 24-bit sound painstakingly remastered, cool packaging, and bonus cuts. All seven albums and one video game taken together in a collection is a testament to one of the most creatively intelligent and bad-ass rock bands to come out of the 1990s. Highly recommended for forgetting how bad the rest of hard rock was back then. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
From
CD£55.99

Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Capitol Records

From
CD£55.99

Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 1993 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
From
CD£78.49

Pop - Released January 1, 1992 | Capitol Records

For an overview of Nat "King" Cole's years as a remarkably popular singer, this four-CD box would be difficult to top. Containing 100 songs spanning a 20-year period, this box has virtually all of Cole's hits, some of his best jazz sides, and more than its share of variety, including a humorous previously unreleased version of "Mr. Cole Won't Rock & Roll." Recommended to beginners and veteran collectors alike, its attractive booklet is also a major asset. © Scott Yanow /TiVo

Label

Capitol Records in the magazine
  • Katy Perry - If it ain't broke don't fix it
    Katy Perry - If it ain't broke don't fix it It comes as no great surprise that Smile, Katy Perry’s fifth album, doesn’t buck the trend of her previous work, which has been at the heart of the American pop scene for the last ten years.