THE BEACH BOYS
The Pet Sounds Sessions
BRIAN WILSON'S masterpiece, Pet Sounds, has long been thought by many to be the greatest record ever made. By relegating the group to merely vocalizing, and using the top session player symphonic arrangements Wilson heard complete in his head, he composed and produced a thematically unified group of songs dealing with growing up and finding one's place in the world. Pet Sounds Sessions is the first time a true stereo mix of the album has been made available. The original mono mix is included, along with session tapes of the tracking dates, the instrumental backing tracks (also in stereo), takes of the vocals without instrumentation, plus various alternate versions. Two booklets, one filled solely with the reminiscences of the various group members, session musicians and observers complete this sublimepackage. Neophytes to the Brian Wilson experience may prefer to start with the original album, while initiates will hear in Pet Sounds Sessions much they may not have perceived, even after repeatedlistenings. Wilson's Spector-styled production techniques served to make the individualparts indiscernible in the whole. When the tracks are mixed in stereo with the vocals removed, one is finally able to appreciate how the seemingly incongruous musical components were woven into a seamless ensemble. Hearing the choir-like vocals in a cappella, with their rich, sophisticated harmonies and arrangements is positively spine-chilling. No other recording could withstand the scrutiny this four-disc box set invites. It is a fitting testament to Wilson's monumental genius, as well as a great way to revisit a familiar classic.
THE SUBJAZZ PROXY FEATURING GERALD WIGGINS
AT ITS BEST, acid-jazz brings to mind originators like Grant Green, Jimmy Smith and Richard "Groove" Holmes, who were among the first to combine inner-city soul rhythms with more traditional jazz elements. Too often, however, what's labeled acid-jazz ignores the adventurous spirit of the name and plays it safe, becoming contemporary snooze music that functions as background filler. On their latest release, Autumn Somewhere, the Subjazz Proxy avoids tedium by combining strong rhythm section work recalling a slowed-down, druggy Stax or Motown sound with more traditional jazz improvising on horn and piano.
Songs start with a deep drum and bass groove leading to trumpet and piano explorations that round out the quartet. It is these explorations that keep Subjazz Proxy from the predictability that marks so much of the genre. Trumpet, trombone and accordion drift over, around and through the rhythm, but rarely right in line with it. Noted swing pianist Gerald Wiggins brings an additional improvisational element to the album by adding color and texture around the horn work, not always sticking to the melody in case the listener might be getting too complacent. The 12 cuts on Autumn Somewhere manage to be atmospheric and moody without fading into the background, making it worth repeated listenings.
Flaming Burnout: Estrus Benefit Compilation
LAST JANUARY, Estrus Records' warehouse burned to the ground. A decade's worth of master tapes, equipment and artwork, as well as the label's entire mail order stock, was destroyed. Man's Ruin label owner/artist Frank Kozik has released this mammoth 30-cut benefit compilation, showcasing 30 of the world's best garage punk acts. As a show of support for Estrus, 100 percent of the profits from sales will go directly toward rebuilding the devastated label/mail order operation. What can you say about the music compiled on Flaming Burnout? It's simply awesome. The entire disc smokes from beginning to end. There's not a single dud among the musical fireworks on display here. A significant portion of these songs are exclusive to this collection, among them several cool covers. The Makers stomp through a demonic, thud-filled Neanderthal reworking of the Godfathers' "Damn Nation," Austin's Sugar Shack out-brutalized Black Flag on "Machine" and the Lord High Fixers smolder through "Buzz," originally by '60's rhythm-and-blues garage/punk legends The Pretty Things. There's something for everyone, guaranteed.
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