Jul 04

Kirill Kondrashin, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra / RSFSR Russian Chorus / Boys Choir of Moscow Choir School (2011)
Prokofiev: Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution & Shostakovich: The Sun Shines over our Motherland
Transferred from a Angel/Meloydia 4-Track Tape | FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 43:27 minutes | 1,67 GB
Recorded 1965 in Moscow, U.S.S.R. | Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Digital Booklet

Serge Prokofiev had been deeply engrossed in the writings of Vladimir Lenin when the All-Union Radio Committee approached him with the idea of a patriotic cantata, one that might incorporate “Revolutionary texts.” The germs of the idea began in 1934, but Prokofiev undertook the main body of the ten-movement work in 1936-1937. Prokofiev repressed the score, however, and it did not receive its premier until 5 May 1966 under Kondrashin. The sheer number of forces involved–which can easily involve up to 500 musicians–suggests another reason for the rarity of this colossus. The musical fecundity of Prokofiev’s style–with clear analogies to Alexandre Nevsky and to the G Minor Violin Concerto–mark the piece as an inspired rather than a merely propagandist vehicle. For the prologue or Introduction, Prokofiev utilizes the phrase “A specter is haunting Europe,” the first sentence from Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto. The 1966 recording by Kirill Kondrashin omits two movements–Stalin’s Oath and The Constitution–movements no longer “politically correct” during the period of anti-Stalin reaction, since the Soviet government wished to detach itself from his crimes.

After the Introduction, the dense music and inflammatory texts trace the philosophical seeds of the October Revolution through its various means of political realization and political action. Prokofiev incorporates various masses of sound–including an accordion orchestra–from the folk as well as the classical-concert world to embrace the total will of the people. “We choose to fight and do not seek appeasement” becomes the rallying cry of section four, “We March Closely Together.” The battle scene emerges with terrific force, imitating the sounds of gunfire and the inflamed spirit of the people: “We shall take bread and shoes from the capitalists. . . .We must mobilize and arm the workers.” A frightful peasant dance emerges from the tumult and pandemonium of war and slaughter, a dizzy dance of death and celebration, the voice of Lenin megaphoned over rattling machine gun fire and sirens, Socialist Realism at its most ardent. The throes of revolt clearly hearken to Tybalt’s Death from Romeo and Juliet, then the atmosphere clears with the sense of Victory: “Comrades, spring is coming. . .the ice is broken in all corner of the earth.” A Symphony–Allegro energico–ensues in the manner of scherzo that embodies the ecstatic affirmation of the Revolution’s aims. The cantata ends with a reprise of Philosophers of movement two, an assertion of the difference between those men who dream of a better world and those who bring such change to ecstatic fruition. That much of this music Prokofiev meant as satire escaped the Soviet censors, but its extraordinary sonority appeals to Kondrashin, who controls all his forces with ripe dignity.

Dimitri Shostakovich can hardly be called a “defender” or “apologist” for Soviet Communism, but he did compose his cantata, The Sun shines over our Motherland–after the poem by Yevgeny Dolmatovsky–in 1952, when the Russians were celebrating the 35th anniversary of the October Revolution. The scoring has an airy woodwind character that makes it kin to The Song of the Forests. It opens with a boys’ chorus to establish political innocence. Nevertheless, the squalid post-1948 political atmosphere–which promised more repressions for creative artists–made any “patriotic” project unpalatable for Shostakovich, and many find his twelve-minute cantata bland, to say the least. The sun becomes the dominant metaphor of the “philosophical light” of Soviet Communism that had led Russia away from the capitalist darkness. The men’s chorus and mixed chorus sings of the struggles of the past, and the subsequent battles and the hard work of the People for “the splendid life” of Russia in the bounteous rays of Nature. “We have become wealthy and strong beneath the sun of freedom.” A majestic hymn announces spiritual victory, but hindsight and the composer’s own Testimony impose a hollow sound on an otherwise resonant series of patriotic declamations.

Tracklist:
01-07. Sergei Prokofiev: Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution
08. Dmitri Shostakovich: The Sun Shines over our Motherland
Produced & Engineered by David Gaklin. Recorded 1965 in Moscow, Russia.

Note: HDTT does not supply recording information, and the banding of the tracks runs contrary to the liner notes: 1-7 Prokofiev; 8-Shostakovich. No individual timings for the Prokofiev movements are provided. The sound does hammer us with audiophile fidelity.

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Jul 04

Kid Rock – Rebel Soul (2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 1:05:31 minutes | 749 MB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover | © Top Dog/Atlantic

Rebel Soul is a return to form for the multi-Platinum recording artist. It cements his place as the premier genre-hopping rock and roller of all time. The sensational masterpiece, produced by Rock, includes the moving hit single “Let’s Ride,” a rocking war anthem dedicated to the men and women of the military. Rebel Soul is steeped in country, southern rocks, blues and hip-hop. Other standouts include “The Mirror,” “Cocaine and Gin” and “Cucci Galore”.

Kid Rock went the respectable rock route on 2010’s Born Free and it didn’t pay back any dividends. He failed to garner any newfound love from buttoned-down critics and, more importantly, he didn’t sell many copies of the new album, so when it came time to record a follow-up he returned to his tried and true, embracing his impeccable sense of sleaze. And so Rebel Soul is as tawdry as Born Free was clean, a celebration of every tacky obsession Kid Rock has, from strippers to downriver brawling with Detroit white trash. Rock produced this record by himself and Rebel Soul has an appealingly cheap sound, as the singer never seems so bothered with finessing the performances into something sonically appealing. Rock has enough discipline to realize when his records would sound lazy — he flirts with the predictable, churning hard rockers, the kind that would have cluttered FM album rock stations back in his teenage years 20 years ago — giving them just enough spark so they don’t sound tired. And that, in a nutshell, is Rock’s gift: he’s a traditionalist aware of the shifting times, adjusting just enough to not alienate his fans while maybe capturing a couple new ones. Rebel Soul is a consolidation, not an expansion, and it’s pretty good on those terms. Rock knows his white trash obsessions could be adapted to any number of styles but he chooses the easiest route for Rebel Soul, hitting the common denominator hard and wallowing in the filth of “Cucci Galore” which, in his good sense, Rick Rubin refused to let Kid Rock record for Born Free. Rock knows that his appeal rests on bad taste and he wallows in it here, cherishing familiar three-chord rockers and finding ways to twist and invert songs you’ve heard before. He’s not always successful — “God Save Rock n Roll” is a procession of clichés that makes him sound about 20 years older than he is — but there’s an enthusiasm to Rock’s embrace of clichés that makes Rebel Soul kind of hard to resist. He’s planting his flag on that old-time rock & roll — “Mr. Rock n Roll” name-checks hits that are nearly 60 years old — but it’s not an act; Kid Rock believes in this stuff and he’s doing his damnedest to bring it into the 21st century. As he does so, he sounds a bit anachronistic — he’s pledging allegiance to an era that’s long gone — but he loves this sound, he loves these songs, he loves this tradition, and, without Rubin keeping him in check, he can indulge in all the bad taste he wants. And so Rebel Soul winds up as a last testament of backwoods, white-trash, red-state rock & roll: Kid Rock sticks to the tried and true, the sounds that always fueled FM rock in Michigan, and he sounds comfortable: not defiant but happy to be where he is, and Rebel Soul is appropriately rebellious and conservative, a dose of old-time rock & roll at a time when the style is starting to fade.

Tracklist:
01 – Chickens In The Pen
02 – Let’s Ride
03 – 3 CATT Boogie
04 – Detroit, Michigan
05 – Rebel Soul
06 – God Save Rock n Roll
07 – Happy New Year
08 – Celebrate
09 – The Mirror
10 – Mr. Rock n Roll
11 – Cucci Galore
12 – Redneck Paradise
13 – Cocaine and Gin
14 – Midnight Ferry

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Jul 04

Joey Alexander – Countdown (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:01:11 minutes | 603 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Artwork: Front cover | © Motéma – MustHaveJazz – Membran

The sensational child prodigy jazz pianist’s second studio album. Joey Alexander’s jaw-dropping ability and beyond-his-years artistry brought him to some of the grandest stages, from performing at the GRAMMYs and the White House, to appearing on the TODAY Show and 60 Minutes. Just over a year removed from his debut, the same maturity and dedication to his craft that made him a phenomenon is evident in his remarkable evolution on his sophomore release, COUNTDOWN. Now stepping forward as a composer, while still paying tribute to the jazz greats, Joey is poised to continue his ascent to becoming one of the biggest names in jazz.

A couple of weeks ago the jazz pianist Joey Alexander turned 13. Given the unusual arc of his young career, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he celebrated onstage with his trio, at the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival. After the performance, he was presented with a cake in the shape of a grand piano, and thousands in the crowd sang “Happy Birthday,” basking in a moment that Joey himself seemed to take in stride. His debut album, “My Favorite Things,” earned him two Grammy nominations and an invitation to the awards, where he played a trio number (during a pre-telecast) and a solo piano piece. The tune that he performed solo — bringing Taylor Swift and the Weeknd to their feet — was “City Lights”, an original composition. It opens his second album, “Countdown”. Set over a mid-tempo vamp in Latin rhythm, “City Lights” is Joey’s attempt to capture the bustling energy of New York, where he has lived with his parents since moving from Indonesia two years ago. You can hear the influence of Chick Corea in the track, and possible echoes of an effervescent Latin-jazz pianist like Michel Camilo.

Tracklist:
01 – City Lights
02 – Sunday Waltz
03 – Countdown
04 – Smile
05 – Maiden Voyage
06 – Criss Cross
07 – Chelsea Bridge
08 – For Wee Folks
09 – Soul Dreamer

Musicians:
Joey Alexander – piano
Larry Grenadier – bass
Ulysses Owens Jr. – drums
Chris Potter – sax on “5”

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Jul 04

John Scofield – Country For Old Men (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 1:02:37 minutes | 1,37 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Digital booklet | © Impulse Select

John Scofield goes country! With the help of drummer Bill Stewart, organist & pianist Larry Goldings, and bassist Steve Swallow, Scofield renders 12 classic country tunes through the prism of vigorous modern jazz. Country icons including Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton and George Jones are hereby reinterpreted by Scofield by focusing strongly on the melody of each song, accentuating his playing with a noticeable twang, which lends the music the requisite bucolic sensibility.

Following last year’s Grammy-winning Past Present, the improvisationally wily but sociably funky jazz guitarist John Scofield now presents a tribute to the country songs of American icons including Hank Williams, Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton, with pianist/organist Larry Goldings, bassist Steve Swallow, and drummer Bill Stewart pitching in. Williams’ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry quickly becomes a fast bebop bass-walk, but Scofield always keeps his long, zig-zagging solo within earshot of the tune. Parton’s Jolene begins as a dark and dramatic theme statement, and takes on the elemental rhythmic insistence of the classic John Coltrane quartet, while a fine account of Shania Twain’s You’re Still the One exhibits a tenderness caressed by Scofield’s signature tonal creativity. Occasionally there’s a disconnect between the convivial lilt of some of these tunes and the jazz grooves, but Scofield at full jazz-improv pelt is always something to behold.

Tracklist:
01 – Mr Fool
02 – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
03 – Bartender’s Blues
04 – Wildwood Flower
05 – Wayfaring Stranger
06 – Mama Tried
07 – Jolene
08 – Faded Love
09 – Just A Girl I Used To Know
10 – Red River Valley
11 – You’re Still The One
12 – I’m An Old Cowhand

Musicians:
John Scofield – guitar, ukulele on “12”
Larry Goldings – piano, Hammond organ
Steve Swallow – bass
Bill Stewart – drums

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Jul 04

Judas Priest – Battle Cry (2016) 
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 01:15:33 minutes | 1,03 GB | Genre: Rock, Metal
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover | Label: Columbia

Battle Cry combines newer fan favorites with “headbanging classics” from Judas Priest’s extensive catalog. Battle Cry was recorded live on August 1, 2015 at the Wacken Festival in Germany.

Judas Priest’s tour in support of their 17th studio album was one of the most extensive of the group’s entire career, consisting of 130 shows in 33 countries and offering a set-list that touched upon selections from nearly all of their classic albums. Fans can now relive the live Priest experience through “Battle Cry”.

Tracklist:

1. (Intro) Battle Cry (Live from Battle Cry) 00:32
2. Dragonaut (Live from Battle Cry) 04:12
3. Metal Gods (Live from Battle Cry) 04:14
4. Devil’s Child (Live from Battle Cry) 05:18
5. Victim of Changes (Live from Battle Cry) 08:59
6. Halls of Valhalla (Live from Battle Cry) 06:08
7. Redeemer of Souls (Live from Battle Cry) 04:10
8. Beyond the Realms of Death (Live from Battle Cry) 07:01
9. Jawbreaker (Live from Battle Cry) 04:05
10. Breaking the Law (Live from Battle Cry) 02:48
11. Hell Bent for Leather (Live from Battle Cry) 04:26
12. The Hellion (Live from Battle Cry) 00:37
13. Electric Eye (Live from Battle Cry) 04:36
14. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming (Live from Battle Cry) 11:02
15. Painkiller (Live from Battle Cry) 07:25

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Jul 04

Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls (2014) [Deluxe Edition]
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 83:46 minutes | 1,03 GB | Genre: Rock, Metal
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover | Label: Columbia

To be released in the US on July 15th, 2014 via Epic Records (as a standard version and a deluxe edition with five bonus tracks), ‘Redeemer of Souls’ is Judas Priest’s latest collection of epic metal – “raising the bar is consistent for us and ‘Redeemer’ hits the ground running” – it matches up perfectly to earlier Priest classics as evidenced by the album’s leadoff single ‘March of the Damned’ – the band mean business once again.

“Welcome to my world of steel” sneers Rob Halford on the punchy, surprisingly spartan “Dragonaut,” the opening salvo of the venerable New Wave of British Heavy Metal legends’ 17th studio long-player, and their first outing without founding guitarist K.K. Downing, who left the group in 2011. The antithesis to 2008’s overblown Nostradamus, Redeemer of Souls feels quaint in comparison, eschewing the largely fantasy-driven conceptual style of the ambitious, yet undeniably cumbersome, two-disc set in favor of a more refined, classic rock approach that edges closer to the group’s late-’70s offerings like Sin After Sin and Stained Class. New guitarist Richie Faulkner, with his golden mane and tight, controlled riffing, suggests a wax Downing just sprung to life and simply walked out of Madam Tussaud’s museum and into the band’s rehearsal space, and his tasteful, yet undeniably meaty playing alongside Glenn Tipton goes a long way in helping to restore some of the classic Judas Priest luster, especially on standout cuts like the aforementioned “Dragonaut,” the nervy and propulsive “Metalizer,” and the rousing title track. Still, this is a band that’s well into its fifth decade of being “Hell Bent for Leather”; they’ve explored, both successfully and occasionally at great cost, nearly every shadowy nook and suspicious looking crevice of the genre, and the album’s stalwart yet shopworn 13 tracks reflect that journey. That said, Redeemer of Souls is also the loosest (attitude-wise), leanest (arrangement-wise), and most confident-sounding collection of new material the band has released in ages, and while it will forever tread beneath high-water marks like British Steel and Sad Wings of Destiny, it most certainly deserves to be ranked alongside albums from that era.

Tracklist:
01 – Dragonaut
02 – Redeemer Of Souls
03 – Halls Of Valhalla
04 – Sword Of Damocles
05 – March Of The Damned
06 – Down In Flames
07 – Hell & Back
08 – Cold Blooded
09 – Metalizer
10 – Crossfire
11 – Secrets Of The Dead
12 – Battle Cry
13 – Beginning Of The End
14 – Snakebite [Bonus Track]15 – Tears Of Blood [Bonus Track]16 – Creatures [Bonus Track]17 – Bring It On [Bonus Track]18 – Never Forget [Bonus Track]

Produced and mixed by Mike Exeter and Glenn Tipton.
Mastered by Dick Beetham.

Personnel
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitar, synthesizer
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums

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Jul 04

Jim James – Eternally Even (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 00:41:27 minutes | 971 MB | Genre: Alternative
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Front Cover | © ATO Records

“If you don’t vote it’s on you, not me,” Jim James sings on his second solo album. It’s an election-year entreaty geared towards too-pure leftoid lintheads, but the song is no screed, befitting a guy whose music usually turns inward. James floats his humidly ethereal soul mumble over seven minutes of a languid beat, cottony strings and chill organ bleat. Throughout Eternally Even, the My Morning Jacket mainman renders his change gospel with conversational grace, Bill Withers warmth, Sly Stone optimism and Neil Young conviction.

Tracklist
1. Hide in Plain Sight (05:09)
2. Same Old Lie (05:54)
3. Here in Spirit (04:16)
4. The World’s Smiling Now (04:53)
5. We Ain’t Getting Any Younger Pt. 1 (06:27)
6. We Ain’t Getting Any Younger Pt. 2 (03:04)
7. True Nature (03:40)
8. In the Moment (04:09)
9. Eternally Even (03:53)

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Jul 04

James Lloyd – Here We Go (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 46:24 minutes | 554 MB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Front cover | Label: Shanachie Entertainment
Recorded: Tune Inn Recording Studios, Canfield, Ohio

Hitmaker James Lloyd has written, produced and played on more than 30 Top 10 Smooth Jazz radio hits. As a founding member of the legendary Pieces Of A Dream, James has been the heart and soul of that Smooth Urban Jazz super-group for more than 20 years.
Renowned for his brilliant keyboard stylings and soulful compositions, James has produced #1 hits for the likes of Walter Beasley, Najee, Eric Darius, Gerald Albright, and of course, Pieces of A Dream. And now he is about to perform the same magic under his own name.
The first single, the spirited “Play It Forward,” is already climbing up the Smooth Jazz charts, soon to be followed by a funky “No Holds Barred,” featuring the Grammy-nominated saxophonist Gerald Albright. Other highlights include Smooth Jazz superstar and Grammy-winner Najee on the soulful “Moving Right Along,” the sensuous ballad “Granted Wish” and much more.

Keyboard maestro James Lloyd has been the heart, body and soul of Pieces Of A Dream since its inception almost forty years ago. Now he is breaking new ground with the album ‘Here We Go’ that was released March 17 on the enduringly excellent Shanachie label. By age sixteen Lloyd had worked with Joe Williams and Count Basie while less than a year later he was touring and recording with Grover Washington Jr. The rest, as they say, is history and he continues to demonstrate the sublime touch he retains for contemporary jazz that is sometimes smooth but always edgy.
The wonderfully foot stomping title cut is, in both name and mood, the ideal number with which to launch this, his solo debut CD yet it is a mark of the man that an A-Lister such as Lloyd should consider inviting not one but two guest performers to the project.
The first to step up is every sax-player’s saxophonist, Najee, who adds his magic to the deliciously mid tempo ‘Moving Right Along’. It is an absolute shoo in for my top twenty smooth jazz tracks of the year and later the invariably superb Gerald Albright teams with Lloyd for the big, ballsy and totally infectious ‘No Holds Barred’. In fact James first met Gerald when Pieces Of A Dream were opening for Anita Baker and Albright was in her backing band. Here, years later, they are at the very top of their respective games.
Lloyd takes a jazzy turn with the tongue in cheek ‘Y-Town, Y-Not?’ that celebrates the city of Youngstown Ohio, the place where he and his wife now call home. The Youngstown connection continues all the way to the outrageously ‘in the pocket’ ‘Within Reach’ that was co-written by local musician Marcellus Hayes while elsewhere the full-on happy vibe of ‘Play It Forward’ proves to be an unadulterated delight.
Lloyd eases down the tempo and finds a killer groove with the spine tingling ‘Granted Wish’. Written for his wife and almost ten years in the making it is a tune with which Lloyd strikes pure gold and he keeps the mood relaxed for ‘Almost There’ that was composed by former Pieces Of A Dream keyboard player Cherie Mitchell. Later, as he pays his respects to the undisputed ‘Queen Of Hip Hop Soul’, the wonderful Mary J. Blige’, he conjures up a bluesy, swinging, R & B treat in a way that only he can.
Talking of paying his respects, Lloyd brings down the curtain on ‘Here We Go’ with the funk drenched ‘For The Duke In Me’ which tips a hat to the late great George Duke. It is a fitting end to a stupendous collection that even at this early stage must be regarded as being up there with the best of 2015.

Tracklist:
1 Here We Go 04:16
2 Moving Right Along 04:18
3 Play It Forward 04:09
4 Granted Wish 04:34
5 No Holds Barred 04:03
6 Almost There 04:09
7 Y-Town, Y-Not? 06:54
8 Within Reach 04:28
9 Much O’Blige’d 04:21
10 For The Duke In Me 05:12

Personnel:
James Kieth Lloyd – Piano, Keyboards, Programming
Gerald Albright – Saxophone
Randall Bowland – Guitar
Marcellus Hayes – Keyboards, Programming
Robert “Boots” Pickard – Keyboards, Programming
Kevin Ricard – Percussion

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