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South Of Heaven'
South Of Heaven (Awaiting Repress)When it comes to death metal, no band is more convincing than Slayer. For other bands, focusing on death, Satanism, the supernatural, and the occult became a clichÉ; but Slayer's controversial reflections on evil always came across as honest and heartfelt. The group's sincerity is the thing that makes South of Heaven so disturbing and powerful -- when the influential thrashers rip into such morbid fare as Spill the Blood, Mandatory Suicide, and Ghosts of War, they are frighteningly convincing. With their fourth album, Slayer began to slow their tempos without sacrificing an iota of heaviness or incorporating any pop elements. South of Heaven would be Slayer's last album for Def Jam. When Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons (brother of Joseph Run Simmons of Run-D.M.C.) parted company, Slayer went to Rubin's new company Def American, while LL Cool J, Slick Rick, and other rappers recorded for Simmons at Def Jam.
- Alex Henderson (All Music Guide)1. South of Heaven
2. Silent Scream
3. Live Undead
4. Behind the Crooked Cross
5. Mandatory Suicide
6. Ghosts of War
7. Read Between the Lies
8. Cleanse the Soul
9. Dissident Aggressor
10. Spill the Blood$24.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Seasons In The Abyss (Awaiting Repress)After staking out new territory with the underrated South of Heaven, Slayer brought back some of the pounding speed of Reign in Blood for their third major-label album, Seasons in the Abyss. Essentially, Seasons fuses its two predecessors, periodically kicking up the mid-tempo grooves of South of Heaven with manic bursts of aggression. War Ensemble and the title track each represented opposite sides of the coin, and they both earned Slayer their heaviest MTV airplay to date. In fact, Seasons in the Abyss is probably their most accessible album, displaying the full range of their abilities all in one place, with sharp, clean production. Since the band is refining rather than progressing or experimenting, Seasons doesn't have quite the freshness of its predecessors, but aside from that drawback, it's strong almost all the way from top to bottom (with perhaps one or two exceptions). Lyrically, the band rarely turns to demonic visions of the afterlife anymore, preferring instead to find tangible horror in real life -- war, murder, human weakness. There's even full-fledged social criticism, which should convince any doubters that Slayer aren't trying to promote the subjects they sing about. Like Metallica's Master of Puppets or Megadeth's Peace Sells...but Who's Buying, Seasons in the Abyss paints Reagan-era America as a cesspool of corruption and cruelty, and the music is as devilishly effective as ever.
- Steve Huey (All Music Guide)1. War Ensemble
2. Blood Red
3. Spirit In Black
4. Expendable Youth
5. Dead Skin Mask
6. Hallowed Point
7. Skeletons Of Society
9. Born Of Fire
10. Seasons In The Abyss$24.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Dead FingersTaylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor singing together is a match made in heaven. You might know Taylor from previous solo albums or bands but most likely from Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. He was the guitar player who also wrote and sang Snake Hill and Air Mattress on the album Outer South. If youve seen Maria Taylor play then you have most likely seen Kate in her band either playing keys, drums, or bass, and most importantly, harmonizing the soft beautiful background melodies. Nowadays, Kate and Taylor have joined forces in the band Dead Fingers.
In a time when guy-girl duos are becoming quite popular, this one is not just some gimmick, however perfect the timing and package may be. In fact, this Alabama duo are recently married and the two just recorded their first self titled full-length with Bruce Watson (RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough , AA Bondy), and it is being released on Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum Records.
While showing a wide range of styles, ranging from duet styled songs like those of John Prine and Iris DeMent, X, or Lee Hazelwood and Ann Margaret, to straight up great classic rock bands like the Stones, Beatles, or even Traveling Wilburys, this band should find a nice home with fans of more current duos like She and Him, Jenny and Johnny and Civil Wars.1. Closet Full of Bones
2. Another Planet
3. 4 Stone Coaches
4. Hold On To
5. Ring Around Saturn
6. Please Don't Let Me Go
7. Against The River
8. On My Way
9. Lost In Mississippi
10. Never Be My Man
11. Wheels and Gasoline$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
My Funny Valentine (Awaiting Repress)Numbered, Limited Edition
Historic Recording Captures Elegant Ballads Performed at February 1964 Concert
Audiophile Reference-Standard Sound: Album Boasts Lifelike Tones, Balances, Images, and Ambience
Davis Taps Divine Inspiration: Compositions Marked by Deep Emotions, Spontaneous Brilliance, Sensitive Beauty, and Sublime Poignancy
Miles Davis' My Funny Valentine marks several historic turning points. For Davis, the live album represents the final time on record he'd perform standards rather than original compositions. It also stands as one of the last documents made by the same band that created Seven Steps of Heaven. As such, the work teems with bebop melodicism yet steers clear of Davis' oft-controversial avant-garde leanings. Most significantly, however, the set captures the ballads performed at a benefit concert from New York's then-new Philharmonic Hall just months after President Kennedy's assassination. Tapping into a seemingly divine inspiration, Davis never sounded so elegant or poetic.
Boasting gorgeous sound and pressed on 180g LP at RTI, Mobile Fidelity's choice reissue of the trumpeter's scintillating work bookends the label's release of Four & More from the same show and features similar enhancements relating to depth, presence, dynamics, clarity, and ambience. Presented in reference-standard fidelity, the record boasts balances, tonalities, and airiness that duplicate the experience of witnessing live jazz in an acoustically ideal hall. The images of each individual instrument, the decay of the notes, the inner reaches of the piano, and symmetry of the horns-all are rendered with palpable detail. This is the very definition of reach-out-and-touch-it realism.
Staged as a benefit to support voter registration in the South, the February concert came amidst the height of the Civil Rights movement, a cause dear to Davis' heart. Yet unforeseen circumstances raised the stakes. Having professed his admiration for Kennedy years prior, Davis appears to approach the compositions on My Funny Valentine (and, in particular, the title track) as homage to the fallen leader, a collective soliloquy comprised of pieces shot through with deeply emotional passages, spontaneous brilliance, sensitive beauty, and sublime poignancy. Elegiac moods permeate the performances; Davis and his Harmon mute paint with intricate brushstrokes.
Pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Tony Williams are their leader's equal, and would continue with Davis until later in the decade, helping form what's now known as the "second great quintet." But the secret weapon on both My Funny Valentine and its sister Four & More arrives in the form of tenor saxophonist George Coleman, whom jazz experts Brian Morton and Richard Cook deem "one of the unsung heroes of modern jazz." His lines are subtle and sophisticated, straight ahead but capable of unanticipated direction, and here, he comes into his own. As does the entire band.
Indeed, the combination of introspective chemistry, lyrical reach, and telepathic communication demonstrated by the quintet on My Funny Valentine arguably exceeds that on any of Davis' myriad other live efforts. One listen confirms something special transpiring, and on this Mobile Fidelity reissue, those properties are rendered in a manner that's as transparent to the source as humanly possible. Do not miss this.
This title is not eligible for discount.1. My Funny Valentine
2. All of You
3. Stella By Starlight
4. All Blues
5. I Thought About You$34.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Uptown SpecialUptown Special, the fourth album by producer-songwriter-musician Mark Ronson, is a tale of several cities, a wide range of collaborators, and a road trip deep into the American South. However the story of Ronson's latest project really starts back when he was New York's hottest DJ.
In the late 1990s into the early 2000s the New York club scene was percolating with booming hip-hop and glitzy R&B. In those days before he emerged as a multi-talented musical force Ronson manned the turntables of many great parties. "It was a fun time to be playing music," he says. "At clubs like Cheetah you didn't have to play a hip hop record until 1a.m. You could play early '80s classics by Chaka Khan, Boz Scaggs and Michael Jackson and rock the crowd. I'd play Steely Dan's 'Black Cow' at 11:30 and it world work. Then, at 1am you'd play 'Hypnotize' by Biggie and the crowd would go wild. I come back to those memories."
This mix of vintage R&B and pop with contemporary hip-hop is what made Ronson a star DJ. "I never get tired of hearing records like Earth, Wind & Fire's 'Can't Hide Love' next to 'Rock the Boat' by Aaliyah," says Ronson. "I wanted this record to feel like hearing that kind of musical mix on great New York club night."
Uptown Special has all of the flavor of a night with Mark rocking the ones and twos with funk, soul, and psychedelic pop in a style that echoes classic productions by Quincy Jones and Steely Dan, and funneled through its creators sophisticated understanding of arrangement and melody. Of his three previous albums Mark feels like Uptown Special is closest in spirit to his 2003 debut, Here Comes the Fuzz, which came directly out his DJ experience. "The difference," Mark says "is I was reaching for things musically I wasn't quite ready to execute. With all the experience I've gained over the years I had the maturity and knowledge to really pull this together."
The first single, "Uptown Funk," features GRAMMY® award-winning superstar Bruno Mars on vocals and drums, who sings with passion and plays drums with fire that will bring funk back on the radio. Joining Mars on the track is Mark on guitar, Mars' bassist Jamareo Artis and Jeff Brasker on keys. Mark produced Mars' massive hit single, "Locked Out of Heaven," where they developed a close musical kinship. "As a live performer no one out here now puts on a show like Bruno," says Mark. "This record has that same intensity. When you hear him sing you are always aware of how much he puts into a performance." Mark was so taken with the single's power that it inspired the album's title.
Though Ronson is now based out of London, most of Uptown Special was recorded in the United States with stops in Los Angeles, Memphis and Mississippi. Most of the music was recorded with live musicians with Mark anchoring the sessions on guitar, while surrounded by a complimentary mix of gifted young players and R&B vets. Several musicians, who worked with Mark on his historic production of Amy Winehouse's multi-platinum Back To Black and his own breakthrough album, 2007's Version, rejoined him for this album, including drummer Homer Steinweiss, bassist Nick Movshan and guitarist Tommy Brenneck. Also making guest appearances on 'Uptown Special' are bassist Willie Weeks (who played on Stevie Wonder's classic Innervisions) guitarist Carlos Alomar (who created the familiar guitar riff on David Bowie's "Fame") and drummer Steve Jordan (member of the John Mayer Trio).
Mark Ronson's Uptown Special is a unique blend. It's an album with a serious literary pedigree matched to down home greasy funk. It features a progressive pop vocalist from Australia and one reared in Mississippi, the spiritual root of American music. Hot young contemporary players dominate while some tracks are spiced with legendary musicians. It's a mix that reflects the musical taste and life experience of its creator.1. Uptown's First Finale
2. Summer Breaking
3. Feel Right
4. Uptown Funk
5. I Can't Lose
7. Crack In The Pearl
8. In Case Of Fire
9. Leaving Los Feliz
10. Heavy And Rolling
11. Crack In The Pearl pt. II$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now