The Audio Geek!

New Music purchases in 2013

I thought I should document my music purchases for 2013. Not much of it is 'new' in 2013 rather more re-isssued releases, as my musical tastes tend to look backwards, not forwards....

The Allman Brothers Band 'Brothers and Sisters (Deluxe Edition)' Originally recorded 1972, Re-Issued 2013 2CD

I had the original album on vinyl many moons ago and saw this at my favourite CD store in the city and it filled a gap in the collection. Turns out that the music is every bit as good as I remember, and the sound quality of the CD is surprisingly sparkly and clean also.

You really can't listen to 'Wasted Words', 'Ramblin Man' and 'Jessica' too often. I need to go back and have another listen to their 'Eat a Peach' album.

Gregg Allman 'Low Country Blues' 2012 CD

I was in an Allman family mood, so I picked this one up on recommendation from the store owner above. I admit to not being familiar with Allman's solo efforts but this is a New Orleans / southern blues canter through a set of mostly covers with an all star backing band including producer T-Bone Burnett on guitar and Dr John on piano. I like Gregg Allman's voice and the classic tone of the Hammond B-3 organ and I enjoyed the sparse arrangements and production values. 'Low Country Blues' will encourage me to seek out other Gregg Allman solo efforts.

Bettye LaVette 'Interpretations - The British Rock Songbook' 2010 CD

I like Bettye LaVette's voice, the raspiness and the pain of a long life's journey seems to draw me in. Her work lends an element of sameness to whatever she is singing, but as I said I find the voice engaging.

My favourite tracks are a heavy rendering on The Beatles, 'The Word' and a haunting and heartfelt version of the George Harrison classic 'Isn't it a Pity'. Pink Floyd fans would be well advised to avoid this rendition of 'Wish You Were Here'. The phrase 'trying too hard' comes to mind. A swampy version of Ringo Starr's 'It Don't Come Easy' works very well to my ears.

While the music is generally excellent, the SQ is nothing special on this disc.

Boz Scaggs 'Memphis' 2013 HDTracks 44/24

I admit to having a bit of a Boz fetish and have most, if not all of his music since a tour to Australia in the mid 70s. 'Memphis' is well recorded, with a bunch a great players, and it delivers a great sense of Boz really stretching himself on a set of nine Memphis soul & R&B covers, and two originals. A most enjoyable album with the trademark Scaggs croon.

Bob Marley 'Legend' Originally released 1974, re-issued 2012 HDTracks 192/24

I am not really a reggae fan, but again this album was 'missing' in my collection and it's availability on HD Tracks in hi-res format seemed like a good enough reason to make a purchase. I haven't had a decent listen yet but I have found it a little more accessible (or mainstream) than I may have thought.

Paul & Linda McCartney 'Ram' Original recording 1971, remastered and re-issued 2012 HD Tracks 192/24

As a dyed in the wool Beatles fan (although not necessarily of McCartney), this is nevertheless a must-have album for the collection. Unavailable on CD now (used red book copies changing hands for $150 and up) I turned to hi-res again. Worth the entry price for the country scat-singing ditty 'Heart of the Country. The album is vintage McCartney, pretty meaningless songs about nothing, whimsy (or simply rubbish), but great melodies and arrangements. For example see Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey.

Howlin' Wolf 'The Memphis Sessions' Original tracks recorded 1950 onwards. Re-issued 2013 HD Tracks 96/24

Bit of a back story here. I might have told you that I have been doing some photography of a local blues band on the Mornington Peninsula called 'King Catfish'. They only play blues songs recorded in the 1930s/40s and 50s. So you get to hear a lot of Chester Arthur Burnett at a King Catfish gig. So in deference to the history of the blues (and a hat tip to King Catfish) I picked up this sort of best-of from Howlin' Wolf's Sun Studio days. A mono release of course, and a bit 'shouty' in places, but it is just an awesome piece of musical history. 

Muddy Waters 'Folk Singer' originally recorded 1964, re-issued 2013 HD tracks 192/24

Another 'classic' that I had to pick up. MFSL 'gold' copies are now getting pricey, so I thought I would go for the all-digital version rather than chase an expensive coaster. I haven't had a decent sit down and listen session with this yet but it is a treat that is in front of me and I am really looking forward to it.

Counting Crows 'August and Everything After - Live at the Town Hall' 2011, HD Tracks 96/24

The original studio album is one of my all-time favourite albums when released in 1993 and I just had to have this live set when I saw it. In some respects it is even more moody and melancholy in places that the original and being fresh and live it is even the better for it. The lead vocals of Adam Duritz and the jangling guitars throughout are particularly special.

Hugh Lawrie 'Didn't it Rain' 2013 CD

This is Hugh Lawrie's second album, which was a surprise to me as I didn't realise he had any at all! And I must say it is a bit of an acquired taste. Hugh's voice certainly does't thunder through this eclectic set of R&B, blues, jazz, southern US and South American inspired tracks. In fact he doesn't sing on all tracks, preferring to contribute on both piano and guitar. Given the musical variety, it is a bit hard to get into a 'groove' (pardon the pun) when listening to this album. As with most works these days, the guest musos and the delightfully named 'Copper Bottom Band' do a fine job in support.

As pleasant an exercise as this is, I can't help but think that it may have sunk without a trace if it didn't have 'HUGH LAWRIE' in capital letters on the album cover...

In addition to new discs, there were also a number of second-hand CD purchases from Second Spin and other downloads most of which are listed in the image below. A bit tricky to calculate as there are double albums, a couple of downloaded indie Eps, but about 50 or 51 albums all up. That surprises me as I would not have guessed that I bought one per week (on average) without this analysis. It also proves that whilst I may buy music, I am better at the shopping process than the listening piece.

Thanks to my hi-fi buddy Darwin for sowing the seed for this year end review.

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Those of you with sharp eyes will see a couple of old Emerson, Lake & Palmer albums in there. See, I told you I was backward looking. Perhaps some newer stuff may appear in 2014!