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Rock - Released October 15, 2021 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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By 1969 the Beatles' universe had become terminally messy: tensions between the four members were at an all-time high and the band was coming apart. As this collection's producer Giles Martin (son of the band's producer and confidante George Martin) says in the liner notes, by that time the foursome had become "a bit like a married couple trying to go on dates again." The personal struggles and financial tangles they'd been through as a band had done its damage and the magic was ebbing away. In an effort to get the foursome back to what it felt like to perform live—and perhaps foster a return of their famous camaraderie—Paul McCartney came up with the idea of filming the band playing an entirely new batch of songs. Launched at Twickenham Film Studios, the production soon moved to the band's own home studio in the basement of the Apple Corps headquarters on Savile Row. The group even reconvened on the building's rooftop for an impromptu concert that was filmed and recorded but also stopped after less than an hour by the police due to noise complaints. The resulting album, Get Back, with Glyn Johns as engineer and co-producer, was eventually shelved in favor of Abbey Road (released in September 1969). In 1970, after Lennon had officially left the band, the remaining trio finished the album, now known as Let It Be, switching out takes, dropping several songs and resequencing it with help from Phil Spector who overdubbed his usual grandiose orchestral arrangements onto four tracks. (In 2003 McCartney's dissatisfaction with Spector's additions—particularly on his tune "The Long and Winding Road"—led to a stripped-down version of the album closer to John's original concept, called Let It Be…Naked.) Now the Giles Martin-led Beatles reissue program which began in 2017 with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band has finally reached Let It Be and the results are once again rewarding for Beatles fans and newcomers alike. The five volumes are yet another tantalizing glimpse into the band's storied creative process. Although the reception for the album was largely mixed on release—some reviewers savaged it—the songs in retrospect are nothing short of amazing; this is by no means bottom-of-the-barrel Beatles. Tunes like "Get Back," "Let It Be," and "The Long and Winding Road" are as good as anything the band ever wrote or recorded. The first volume here contains the original album in a fresh 96 kHz/24-bit remix that like the other Giles Martin-directed mixes is sharper and brighter than the original but not fundamentally different. The biggest aural change has Ringo Starr's drums brought up and forward in the mix, like in the previous reissues in the series. Perhaps most important about this edition of Let It Be is that after years of being bootlegged, Glyn Johns' 1969 Get Back mix has finally been officially released in improved sound and can now be fairly compared to the 1970 version. Deliberately jumbled, with lots of studio patter left in, and meant to be a window into the band's loose, humorous way of making music (or what they hoped to project as such), it still feels sloppy and unfinished, which may be why The Beatles—who waffled throughout the process and initially wanted that ambiance—rejected it in en masse. Johns' mix opens with "One After 909" (written by Paul and John as teenagers) and then proceeds through looser versions of "Don't Let Me Down" (with fabulous accompaniment from keyboardist Billy Preston) "Dig A Pony," and "I've Got a Feeling" with Lennon adding his usual silly, sardonic asides throughout. George Harrison's "For You Blue" opens with the sound of ice cubes swirling in a drink. McCartney's much maligned "Teddy Boy," which didn't make the final cut of Let It Be but became part of McCartney's first solo album, is heard here with Lennon's famous mocking "Do-Si-Do" background comment left intact. Volume two features an exuberant rave up of "Maggie Mae" and "Fancy My Chances with You"—a tune John and Paul wrote together in 1958. The overall vibe in these sessions is not nearly as hostile as history would have it as evidenced by a take of "Let It Be" mashed up with "Please Please Me." A jammy take of "One After 909" is good fun, take 19 of "Get Back" features Paul laughing in rhythm with the tune, and George's instrumental jam up of "Wake Up Little Susie" which transitions into his song, "I Me Mine" with a blues break in the middle is a wonderful reminder of his essential but often forgotten part of the group. Early versions of tunes that were soon to appear on Abbey Road or the member's subsequent solo albums are featured on the third volume. A rehearsal shows George's "All Things Must Pass," the title track of his debut solo album, beginning to take shape. A slow take of "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," that mixes music with studio patter shows them working through an arrangement. Ringo, who is rarely heard, appears in an early piano-and-voice version of "Octopus's Garden" where teacups can be heard clanking in their saucers. In a jam of "Oh! Darling" Paul speaks a verse before he and Lennon go back to raggedly harmonizing, while Preston adds his spot-on, amazingly instinctual keyboard flourishes. In the same song, John announces that Yoko's divorce has gone through. Preston sings a version of "Without a Song," a tune he'd later release on his 1971 album I Wrote a Simple Song. The passionate unreleased 1970 Glyn Johns mix of "Across the Universe" on volume five is a reminder of the utterly unique pop universe that The Beatles had created. That's further confirmed in the same collection by a sparkling new mix of the single version of "Let It Be." Yet another entry—the last?—in Giles Martin's illuminating efforts to expand on the legacy, the new Let It Be provides deeper insight into the essential question around the Fab Four: How the hell did they do it? © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released June 25, 2021 | Geffen

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In the history of rap, some questions remain unfathomable. Like knowing which Roots album is the best. What is certain is that their first, Do You Want More? !!! ??! (1995), comes back frequently in the shortlist alongside Things Fall Apart (1999), Phrenology (2002) or Game Theory (2006). With his rap-jazz jam tunes, his raw and thrifty construction, he is the perfect illustration of the formation's groove, a base around which an entire discography has been built. Composed mainly of remixes of the original tracklist already published, this tasty deluxe* reissue suggests how the Roots, while cultivating their uniqueness, knew how to be deeply rooted in the New York sound of its time. The versions of Proceed remixed by A.J. Shine or that of Silent Treatment by Kelo add classic samples of the time, a definitely old school side, while respecting the untouchable drums of Questlove, the only element never disguised. Also exciting to hear another version of Distortion To Static in freestyle and scratched choruses, or the new verses and ad libs placed on Lazy Afternoon. Good new with good old. © Brice Miclet / Qobuz* This deluxe edition, which was slated for release on March 12, will be available on June 25. It is drawn from the original recordings and features eighteen bonus tracks curated by Questlove; some of which have never been released and others that have never previously been available digitally. The 3LP deluxe vinyl edition features five bonus tracks — Proceed II Feat. Roy Ayers, Proceed III, Proceed IV (AJ Shine Mix), Proceed V (Beatminerz Mix), along with five remixes of Silent Treatment. While the 4LP edition features all of the above plus the additional eight bonus tracks : In Your Dreams Kid (I'm Every MC), The Ultimate (Original '94 Version), ...… (dot dot dot… on & on), Pffat Time, Swept Away (Original Draft), It's Coming, Lazy Afternoon (Alternate Version)", and two remix versions of" Distortion To Static".Original release October 24, 1994 (USA) and January 17, 1995 (Do You Want More?!!!??! - Tracks 1-16)
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Folk/Americana - Released March 19, 2021 | Light In The Attic Records

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Rock - Released November 6, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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After the demise of the much-beloved Uncle Tupelo in 1994, Jeff Tweedy regrouped with three of his four bandmates as Wilco and promptly cut A.M., a debut that sounded like he had been stashing a bunch of his best songs. It was followed by the expansive and successful Being There which dropped the alt-countryisms for a more mainstream rock tone, indicating aims for a larger canvas. Those ambitions further morphed into experimental impulses on Wilco’s third album, summerteeth, signaling a band transcending genre and turning consequential. Now remastered and re-released with a selection of demos, outtakes, alternative tracks and an entire 1999 live show, summerteeth's internal churn—a pain and passion struggle between happy pop music and troubled, downbeat lyrics—begins immediately with the tuneful but bleak "Can't Stand It," where "Our prayers will never be answered again." Uncomfortable autobiography mixes with gorgeous baroque pop in "She's a Jar," where Tweedy ends with, "A pretty war/ With feelings hid/ She begs me not to hit her." Even the violins and rising chords of "A Shot in the Arm," don't hold any joy, as he wishes for "Something in my veins bloodier than blood." It would all be just scary narcissism if it wasn't for exuberant melodies like "Pieholden Suite" where a banjo flickers through before a blast of Beatles-y brass, or the jumpy Anglo-pop of "ELT." The light-dark dichotomy persists even in the album's hookiest moment, the Magical Mystery Tour-esque outtake, "Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway (Again)" where "love’s a weed" and "a kiss is all we need," but in the end, "I'm a bomb regardless." summerteeth's musical success owes much to multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett's production and arrangement skills, and his added textures of Moog synthesizer, Farfisa organ, lap steel, drums and tambourine. In the post-Max Johnston and Ken Coomer, pre-Nils Cline and Pat Sansone version of Wilco, Bennett supplied the voltage that brought Tweedy's melodic though murky material to life. Never the excruciating struggle that the next album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot became, these are Bennett's finest moments on record, and along with Mitch Easter, he contributed to summerteeth's more defined mix and heightened sonics. While the demos are not revelatory being mostly guitar and voice—although Tweedy's dry, low tone on "Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway (Again)" is ominous—some of the alternates are choice, like the shrieking rant "Viking Dan." A funky, slow Fender Rhodes-led version of "Summer Teeth" is lounge jazz. The stripped down alternate take of "ELT" is the equal of the released take. And the "We're Just Friends / Yee Haw" soundcheck is a full tilt goof. The well-recorded live show is a telling snapshot of a band known for its roaring virtuosic performances, as they play most of their first three albums, delivering an especially strong "Passenger Side", "I Got You (At The End of the Century)" and "California Stars." A charismatic peek into an innovative, inspiring rock band evolving from eager contender to conflicted champion. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Rock - Released September 25, 2020 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Lou Reed, for Gen X at least, was the weird, slightly estranged uncle who could recite French poetry from memory while doing knife tricks with a personalized switchblade. When he came around, things could be exciting and a little uncomfortable, and even though you've never really known him very well, his legend loomed large. New York changed that. It was the first Lou Reed album that Gen X could justifiably claim as their own; released in early 1989, it was really more of a '90s album as it definitively put the '80s in the rearview. The bite of Lou Reed's lyrics was nothing new of course, but the generation coming of age in the late '80s had never had a new Lou album to attach themselves to; New York was released three years after the old-fart-trying-new-things vibes of Mistrial and more than eight years after The Blue Mask, the last Reed album to completely abandon "contemporary" sounds in favor of back-to-basics musicianship, crisp production, and strong, unforgiving lyrics that spoke directly to the spiritual affinities of a cynical generation. From the first notes of "Romeo Had Juliette," Reed's sonic mission was clear: By stripping his band down to two guitars, an electric upright bass, and a simple drum kit (played by co-producer Fred Maher and occasionally augmented with percussion by Mo Tucker), the attention was to be focused on the lyrics. Delivering a clear-eyed assessment of how devastating the '80s had been to the city he was so closely associated with, the lyrics on New York drop the listener into a city that is ravaged by AIDS, proto-gentrification, rampant inequality, and the "Statue of Bigotry," but still in touch with its expansive, egalitarian, no-B.S. heart. While today's ears may flinch at some of the lyrics ("spic" and "homeboys" particularly bristle), ears then flinched too. Reed knew what he was doing by writing plain-spoken and deceptively straightforward verses; by not mincing words and speaking like a "real" New Yorker (as if he had a choice), his astute observational skills and unassailable connection to the city give him both personal and poetic license to tell the intricate, intimate, and intense stories throughout New York. It's debatable whether New York actually needed a remastering—its sharp-edged mix was perfectly suited to a late '80s CD master and already was given plenty of air to breathe by the spare arrangements—but this new mastering does open up the album a bit more, mitigating some of the CD-era sheen while not muting any of Reed's slicing guitar work. The unreleased tracks are a similarly mixed bag, as the material is in various states of completion. "Dirty Blvd," for instance is presented in both a "work tape" that is little more than a riff memo as well as a "rough mix" that presents a meatier, more substantial version than the final album version that manages to somehow put Reed's voice even more in the listener's face. Meanwhile, non-LP track "The Room" is a disappointing, all-guitar instrumental piece that's out of context on such a lyrical album; it winds up sounding like leftover material used in the dissonant coda of "There Is No Time." The live material sounds like one of the all-New York sets that Reed performed around this time, but it is in fact culled from multiple concerts. While completists may balk at this, the final result is a quite strong collection of live performances. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 17, 2020 | Strut

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Rock - Released June 19, 2020 | Reprise

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Neil Young's "lost album," Homegrown, gets its debut 41 years late. Young shelved it because he "just couldn't listen to" the heartache, which followed the collapse of his romance with actress Carrie Snodgress. Meant to fall between Harvest and Comes a Time, the 1974 time capsule fits neatly in that space. "Separate Ways" and "Try," both featuring drums by Levon Helm, truly feel like an extension of Harvest: the former a noir-country lament and the latter an ambling plea for love lifted aloft by Emmylou Harris' backing vocals. Throughout, train-whistle harmonica is a Greek chorus, popping up on the gorgeous and hopeless "Star of Bethlehem" ("All your dreams and your lovers won't protect you") and stripped-bare "Love Is a Rose"—which would be made famous in '75 by Linda Ronstadt and here ends with urgent guitar chords like exclamation points of warning. There are moments of indulgence—you're safe to skip any title that's the name of a place—but also songs that stand with his best. The blistering "Vacancy" ("You poison me with that long, vacant stare") and high-lonesome "White Line," with Robbie Roberston, aren't to be missed. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Folk/Americana - Released June 5, 2020 | Global Jukebox

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Ambient - Released March 20, 2020 | Ndeya

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Jazz - Released March 13, 2020 | Transversales Disques

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 15, 2019 | Audika Records

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Legend has it that when Arthur Russell submitted his demos to Warner Bros in 1979, the tapes were rejected by a junior A&R executive with the critical note, "This guy's in trouble." As for his vocals and a general synopsis of his music he wrote, "Who knows what this guy is up to. You figure it out." What Russell was up to with his prolific and multi-faceted music was so far ahead of his time that he would die before being widely recognized as an innovator and a visionary by new generations of fans. Russell died from AIDS-related illness in 1992 at age 40 and spent his short life tirelessly pursuing songwriting and composition that would embrace avant-garde tendencies, radio pop, disco grooves, modern classical, and more. He left behind an impressive official discography and a truly staggering number of demos, home recordings, and other unreleased material. Iowa Dream is a collection of some of these tracks, focusing on demos made for Mercury Records in 1974, but including work from the early '70s until 1985. The collection follows a similar flow to 2008's excellent, country-tinged Love Is Overtaking Me, which also collected unreleased tracks. Russell's work from the early '70s aimed for the commercial success of Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Carole King, and other singer/songwriters that were dominating the charts. Songs like "Wonder Boy," "Everybody Everybody," and the tender piano ballad "You Are My Love" all tend toward this straightforward singer/songwriter vein. Some of the same country-folk twang that shone through on Love Is Overtaking Me continues in the traditionally modeled "I Wish I Had a Brother" and "I Never Get Lonesome." Though it doesn't move chronologically, Iowa Dream does an excellent job of illustrating Russell's hyperactive and genre-bending muse. Experimental tendencies show up on the spoken group vocals and frenetic horn arrangements of "Barefoot in New York," and his solitary post-disco production side comes through on mid-'80s songs like the Talking Heads-ish "List of Boys" and the wobbly filtered bassline of "You Did It Yourself." The rowdy title track begins with vocalizations of farm animals before launching into peppy pop made up of spirited cello, Farfisa organ, and zooming drum fills. The 19 tracks here are all over the place, true to form for Russell and his ever-expanding inspirations. These demos never landed him a major-label contract, but it's hard to imagine what a major label of the mid-'70s or early '80s would have done with music this far ahead of the curve. For all the fans who discovered Russell after his passing, collections like Iowa Dream are bittersweet time capsules, holding new evidence of his one-of-a-kind talents that still occupy a space all their own, even when unearthed decades later. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Ambient - Released October 11, 2019 | Freedom To Spend

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Funk - Released June 7, 2019 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Following the piano compositions from Piano & A Microphone 1983 released in 2018, we now have a second posthumous, princely album. Originals is centred around the 1981-1991 decade which was particularly prolific for Prince and so there is a beautiful unity throughout the album which mainly comprises of recordings of songs written for others. Rogers Nelson was first and foremost a very accomplished, versatile artist who could play all the instruments in Purple Rain just as well as he performed on stage, like his idol James Brown, for whom he composed numerous songs. He also composed songs for many other outstanding performers in the “Prince world” and among the fifteen tracks in this album are The Glamorous Life written for Sheila E, the Bangles’ Manic Monday, Martika’s Love Thy Will Be Done and You’re My Love for country crooner Kenny Rogers. With its priceless, unreleased tracks, Originals gives a sneak-peak behind the scenes of the studio in which this legendary icon produced some of the very best melodies and sang them with real panache, without really knowing what would become of them. The perfect example of this has to be Nothing Compares 2 U, the real emotional peak of this opus. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 22, 2019 | Numero Group

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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released January 25, 2019 | Resonance Records

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Experts in quality archives, Resonance Records, have dug up an essential Eric Dolphy gem. After leaving Prestige/New Jazz Records, the saxophonist worked during the summer of ‘63 with producer Alan Douglas (famous not only for his recordings with Jimi Hendrix but also for being behind the glass for the album Money Jungle with Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach). This meeting resulted in two albums: Iron Man and Conversations. The sessions were concocted with the crème de la crème of avant-garde jazz at that time: William "Prince" Lasha on flute, Huey "Sonny" Simmons on alto saxophone, Clifford Jordan on soprano saxophone, Woody Shaw on trumpet, Garvin Bushell on bassoon, Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone, Richard Davis and Eddie Kahn on double bass and J.C. Moses and Charles Moffett on drums. Fast forward to January 2019: all the sessions from 1st and 3rd June 1963 have resurfaced, including some alternate takes. The tapes had been stored in a suitcase by Dolphy himself with other personal belongings just before he flew off on his last European tour, during which he died in Berlin on June 29th 1964 at the age of 36. The Californian had entrusted the suitcase to friends. Years later, it was recovered by flautist James Newton, who went through its content with Zev Feldman from Resonance Records and the pundits of the Eric Dolphy Trust in Los Angeles. With two and a half hours of music, Musical Prophet is a major document in Eric Dolphy's artistic evolution. A recording comparable to Out To Lunch!, his masterpiece for Blue Note released seven months later. But this is by no means a draft. Here, the group embark on trails both well-trodden and unexplored. Without cutting themselves off from their elders (Jitterbug Waltz by Fats Waller opens the album), they blow hot and cold and dare to explore all posibilities. Depending on the weapon of choice (alto saxophone, flute or bass clarinet), Dolphy expresses different qualities. Melancholic and introspective, almost as if irritated, if not panicky, he is constantly matched by accomplices who are just as quick as he is. And the musical freedom never erases the melodic framework. 56 years later, this emerging jazz has not lost any of its spontaneity and it would easily make some 2019 productions obsolete... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Metal - Released January 18, 2019 | (RED) Southern Lord

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Disco - Released November 23, 2018 | Rhino Atlantic

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Produced with the involvement of Nile Rodgers and approval from the estate of partner Bernard Edwards, this box set remasters and recirculates Chic's first three albums and the contemporaneous We Are Family, in essence a Chic LP fronted by labelmates Sister Sledge. Another disc compiles edits and mixes of Chic-headlined singles of the same era. (The Chic Organization's commissioned works for labels other than their Atlantic home base, namely Norma Jean's self-titled album and Sheila & B. Devotion's "Spacer," aren't included.) During this period, the band surfaced and instantly reigned in clubs and on the Billboard dance chart, and with "Le Freak" and "Good Times," took their slick and funky disco-soul hybrid to the top of the Hot 100. The recordings created everlasting aftershocks throughout commercial and underground music, consequently making guitarist Rodgers, bassist Edwards, drummer Tony Thompson, and a team of vocalists led by Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin (with invaluable assistance from Luther Vandross) unwitting instigators of rap, dance-pop, and house music. The albums, all of which went either gold or platinum and have depth beyond the hits (start with the stunning "At Last I Am Free" and heavenly "Thinking of You"), are packaged individually in replica sleeves, joined by a booklet with lengthy essays from Paul Morley and Touré. The vinyl edition adds a reproduction of the 12" debut, "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" b/w "São Paulo," issued on Buddah prior to the band's switch to Atlantic, as well as a third essay, written by Ashley Kahn. Regardless of format, the box is a straightforward alternative to the outtakes/remixes-packed The Chic Organization Box Set, Vol. 1: Savoir Faire (2010) and two-disc summary The Chic Organization: Up All Night - The Greatest Hits (2013), both of which are wider in scope but were not distributed in the U.S. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Funk - Released September 14, 2018 | Warner Records

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Two years after his premature death, Prince’s Ali Baba cave has offered up its first treasure. With the aptly named album Piano & A Microphone 1983, it’s with the simplest devices that his art is heard. At only 25 years old, Prince had already released five albums (For You, Prince, Dirty Mind, Controversy and 1999) and was just about to release the album that would turn him into a global star, Purple Rain. The multi-instrumentalist spent his days and nights in the studio and we find him here alone at the piano for a medley of personal compositions and two covers: Joni Mitchell’s A Case Of You and the gospel song Mary Don’t You Weep. The intimate context of this recording only amplifies the intensity of this unpublished work. Just close your eyes and you’ll find yourself alone with Prince…With his elastic voice and skilled playing, the musician from Minneapolis proves to those who doubted him that he was a true artist; both entertainer and composer, showman and improviser. His stripped back version of Purple Rain touches on the sublime and the track Strange Relationship gives an insight into the evolution of his productions, as four years later the track appeared, more muscular this time, on the album Sign o’ the Times. While Piano & A Microphone 1983 may be primarily aimed at Prince fans, novices – if there are any left – will no doubt enjoy discovering this impressive artist. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 14, 2018 | Because Music

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Jazz - Released June 29, 2018 | Impulse!

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“It’s like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid.” Saxophonist Sonny Rollins didn’t weigh his words to describe this previously unreleased session recorded by John Coltrane in March 1963 and released for the first time in June 2018. When it comes to original content, so-called gems and other rarities, labels are masters at scraping the bottom of the barrel and pumping up the cash register with anecdotal, at times completely useless content. In this case however, it’s a completely different story. Although the posthumous discography of John Coltrane, who passed away in July 1967, is already massive, this Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album is turning out to be a prime addition! The most tender of all tenderloins! The ultimate treat! The only negative would be this Lost Album appellation, as no document proves that Trane, or even his producer Bob Thiele, had in any way considered to turn this impeccable session into a proper album… The scene takes place in March 1963. Four days before the saxophonist, surrounded by his legendary Praetorian guard – pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, bass player Jimmy Garrison – recorded an essential album with singer Johnny Hartman. In the afternoon of Wednesday 6th, the quartet dropped by Rudy Van Gelder’s famous studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Just a few hours before going back to Manhattan to perform on stage at the Birdland. The tapes of this session have been retrieved by the family of Naima, Coltrane’s first wife. Fourteen tracks are playable. Fourteen, including two original songs, Untitled Original 11386 and Untitled Original 11383, on which Garrison performs a double bass solo! This marvel is available in a simple edition (seven tracks selected by John’s son, Ravi Coltrane) or Deluxe (all fourteen tracks!). The bond between the four men jumps out like rarely before. Coltrane alternates between deep sequences that foreshadow incoming wild swerves (Untitled Original 11386 and his legendary Impressions), and lyrical moments (the classic Nature Boy). Notes flood down, combining perfectly with McCoy Tyner’s percussive style… Although Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album doesn’t provide any new information on Coltrane’s quartet, it is still a completely indispensable archive, both for its musical and sound quality. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz