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Mark Smotroff’s Top Picks For 2018 on Blu-ray, Vinyl, Tidal and CD (Part 2)

Mark Smotroff finishes his 2018 best of look back…

Here is the second of my round ups of some favorites which I’ve reviewed this year on AudiophileReview.com.  You can read the reviews by clicking on the italicized sub-headers at the start of each entry. So much good music to explore, so lets just jump into the fire…

Deluxe Editions and Boxed Sets

Cheek To Cheek – I’m admittedly on a Louis Armstrong kick these days so this fine CD and Tidal streaming compilation was a welcome discovery.  Buy it for the charming hits but sit down for a serious listen to their stunning Porgy & Bess end to end.  A bargain joy, I’ve given copies of this three CD set to several friends over the year all of whom have loved it. Maybe you will too.  

AR-TechnicolorParadise225.jpegTechnicolor Paradise – Numero Group’s fine multi-disc compilation of early exotica rarities may well be the ultimate package for your space age lounging needs. So much fun here! 

King Crimson Live in Chicgo and Vienna – If you are going to explore some modern day progressive improvisational-based music, King Crimson should be among the first stops (if not “the” first stop!) on your journey. The current band is arguably the finest incarnation of the group since the early 1980s and they are on fire on these CDs and Tidal streams.  These recent live recordings are incendiary.

AR-BigPinkBackCoverCrop225.JPGMusic From Big Pink – Hearing The Band’s legendary 1968 album remixed nto Surround Sound was a game changer for me. Perhaps it will wow you as well. The new Stereo mix is fabulous as well! 

The Ultimate Imagine – The super deluxe boxed set honoring John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s Imagine album is a labor of love. Whether its the Surround Sound or Stereo remixes, or the outtakes and alternates, beginning to end this package is first class and essential for the Beatle fan on your list.  I reviewed it in three parts which you can get to from this link

AR-KinksVillageGreenBox225.jpgThe Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society – The 50th Anniversary Deluxe Remasters on Mono & Stereo Vinyl are the best presentations to date  (outside of a difficult to find pricey original UK pressing) of this often overlooked work from 1968. Now recognized as a classic work, this album’s peers include The Band’s Music From Big Pink, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper and White Album, Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland and The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle.  Part 2 of the review is at this link. Fantastic, essential music.

The White Album – Over the course of this three part review series I explored the majesty of The Beatles’ first post-Sgt. Pepper masterwork.  Arguably their finest hour, this superdeluxe boxed set (on CD and high resolution Blu-ray Disc) offers the whole album in stunning new high resolution 5.1 Surround Sound and Stereo along with a wealth of outtakes and alternate mixes.

AR-BeatlesWhiteALbum225.jpgVoyager Golden Record – This is such a stellar package. With the latest rover landing on Mars succesfully, this is the perfect gift for the interstellar vinyl enthusiast on your list.  Even though this technically came out at the end of 2017, my review ran in January so I include it here. 

The Roxy Performances This seven (count ’em, 7!) CD collection of Frank Zappa’s complete run of shows at The Roxy in Los Angeles (circa 1973) is essential listening for the Zappa fan.  This is the music that led to the creation of Zappa’s tremendous live album Roxy & Elsewhere. But if that wasn’t enough for you, The Roxy Performances has it all waiting here for you. Great googly moogha!

AR-egyptstat55.jpgEgypt Station — Yes, I could have included this in part one of this review series but since I am also encouraging you to get the super deluxe edition vinyl of Sir Paul McCartney’s latest album here, figured it would  fit better in this portion. This is a fine record and one of those collections that grow on you with each listen.  So… really, you’ll want to spring for the deluxe edition tri-fold version of the LP as the cover art is really nice and production values high… it is kind of a throwback to the 1970s heyday of LPs when bands and labels were one-upping one another with spectacular packaging (think Tommy, Europe 72, Woodstock, etc.). Egypt Station is a winner in that vein (heck, even the deluxe CD “concertina-style” package is pretty great!). 

AR-ConfessinBluesPackaging225.jpgConfessin’ The Blues — Curated by none other than The Rolling Stones, this fabulous primer is designed to introduce new listeners to the American music form which shaped the sound of The Rolling Stones and a slew of rock and blues artists who came up the ranks during the electric blues explosion of the 1960s and 1970s.  Containing SO, many classics, Confessin’ The Blues includes key tracks by the biggest names in Blues and Rock music history like Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Big Bill Broonzy and Robert Johnson and less well known but equally influential artists like Slim Harpo, Jimmy Reed, Big Maceo, Eddie Taylor, Lightnin’ Slim, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Amos Milburn and many others.  Plus it comes in a super deluxe version made on five lovely 10-inch LPs housed in a package that looks like a vintage 78 RPM deluxe package from the early 1950s, with artwork by Rolling Stone Ron Wood himself.  A winner set. 


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