Category Archives: Hi-Res

Love – Forever Changes (1967/2014) [HDTracks 24-192]

Love – Forever Changes (1967/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 42:49 minutes | 1,56 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Rock

The third and final album by the original Love lineup, Forever Changes regularly draws epic praise. Rolling Stone described it as “elegant armageddon” when listing it as #40 in the “500 Greatest Albums Of All Time,” and, placing it in the context of the late ’60s in another rave review, called it, “one of the most distinctive masterpieces in that era of masterpieces.” A landmark work that’s the L.A.-based psychedelic folk-rock pioneers’ most fully realized studio effort, it was produced by band co-founder/frontman Arthur Lee and The Doors’ engineer/producer Bruce Botnick, and released by Elektra in early ’68. Highlights include “Alone Again Or,” “Andmoreagain,” “The Red Telephone,” and “Live And Let Live”.

Love’s Forever Changes made only a minor dent on the charts when it was first released in 1967, but years later it became recognized as one of the finest and most haunting albums to come out of the Summer of Love, which doubtless has as much to do with the disc’s themes and tone as the music, beautiful as it is. Sharp electric guitars dominated most of Love’s first two albums, and they make occasional appearances here on tunes like “A House Is Not a Motel” and “Live and Let Live,” but most of Forever Changes is built around interwoven acoustic guitar textures and subtle orchestrations, with strings and horns both reinforcing and punctuating the melodies. The punky edge of Love’s early work gave way to a more gentle, contemplative, and organic sound on Forever Changes, but while Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean wrote some of their most enduring songs for the album, the lovely melodies and inspired arrangements can’t disguise an air of malaise that permeates the sessions. A certain amount of this reflects the angst of a group undergoing some severe internal strife, but Forever Changes is also an album that heralds the last days of a golden age and anticipates the growing ugliness that would dominate the counterculture in 1968 and 1969; images of violence and war haunt “A House Is Not a Motel,” the street scenes of “Maybe the People Would Be the Times or Between Clark and Hillsdale” reflects a jaded mindset that flower power could not ease, the twin specters of race and international strife rise to the surface of “The Red Telephone,” romance becomes cynicism in “Bummer in the Summer,” the promise of the psychedelic experience decays into hard drug abuse in “Live and Let Live,” and even gentle numbers like “Andmoreagain” and “Old Man” sound elegiac, as if the ghosts of Chicago and Altamont were visible over the horizon as Love looked back to brief moments of warmth. Forever Changes is inarguably Love’s masterpiece and an album of enduring beauty, but it’s also one of the few major works of its era that saw the dark clouds looming on the cultural horizon, and the result was music that was as prescient as it was compelling.

Tracklist:
01 – Alone Again Or
02 – A House Is Not A Motel
03 – Andmoreagain
04 – The Daily Planet
05 – Old Man
06 – The Red Telephone
07 – Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale
08 – Live And Let Live
09 – The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
10 – Bummer In The Summer
11 – You Set The Scene

Continue reading Love – Forever Changes (1967/2014) [HDTracks 24-192]

Linkin Park – The Hunting Party (2014) [HDTracks 24-96]

Linkin Park – The Hunting Party (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 45:06 minutes | 0,99 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover

The Hunting Party is American rock band Linkin Park’s sixth studio album. The band chose to depart from their recent electronic rock sound and simply produce a rock record. A year in the making, the record produced three singles: “Guilty All the Same”, “Until It’s Gone” and “Final Masquerade”.

Breaking away from Rick Rubin, with whom they had a three-album association, Brad Delson and Mike Shinoda co-produce this time around and retreat from the moody electronica that characterized many of those records. Instead, The Hunting Party is designed as a return to rock, evoking the group’s earliest records. Reconnecting with the past is a standard move for a heavy band 15 years into its career, but The Hunting Party is effectively aggressive, partially due to how far into the ether Linkin Park strayed on Living Things and, especially, A Thousand Suns. Written and recorded over the course of a year, The Hunting Party nevertheless packs a visceral punch. Hints of the murky, meditative darkness linger — especially on “Until It’s Gone,” which builds upon its atmosphere to reach melodramatic heights; “Final Masquerade” is subtler in its approach -– but there’s good reason why Page Hamilton and Tom Morello both guest on the record: this is a grinding, metallic workout. Far from sounding as if they’re grasping at straws, Linkin Park seem rejuvenated, proving there is value in the cliché of returning to roots.

Tracklist:
01 – Keys To The Kingdom
02 – All For Nothing (feat. Page Hamilton)
03 – Guilty All The Same (feat. Rakim)
04 – The Summoning
05 – War
06 – Wastelands
07 – Until It’s Gone
08 – Rebellion (feat. Daron Malakian)
09 – Mark The Graves
10 – Drawbar (feat. Tom Morello)
11 – Final Masquerade
12 – A Line In The Sand

Producers: Brad Delson and Mike Shinoda. Recording engineer: Ethan Mates.
Recorded May 2013 – April 2014 at Larrabee Sound Studios and EastWest Studios in Los Angeles, California.

NOTE: Track “3″ is a 44k recording mastered to 96/24.

Continue reading Linkin Park – The Hunting Party (2014) [HDTracks 24-96]

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III (1970) {Deluxe Edition 2014} [HRA 24-96]

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III (1970) {Deluxe Edition 2014]
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 84:39 minutes | 1,94 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HighResAudio.com | Front cover

The nine bonus tracks featured on Led Zeppelin III’s companion audio continue to offer a window into the band’s recording process with seven studio outtakes of songs from the album as well as three previously unheard compositions: “Jennings Farm Blues” (an instrumental forerunner of “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp”), “Bathroom Sound” (an instrumental version of “Out On The Tiles”), and their take on the blues classics “Keys To The Highway/Trouble In Mind”.

On their first two albums, Led Zeppelin unleashed a relentless barrage of heavy blues and rockabilly riffs, but Led Zeppelin III provided the band with the necessary room to grow musically. While there are still a handful of metallic rockers, III is built on a folky, acoustic foundation that gives the music extra depth. And even the rockers aren’t as straightforward as before: the galloping “Immigrant Song” is powered by Robert Plant’s banshee wail, “Celebration Day” turns blues-rock inside out with a warped slide guitar riff, and “Out on the Tiles” lumbers along with a tricky, multi-part riff. Nevertheless, the heart of the album lies on the second side, when the band delve deeply into English folk. “Gallows Pole” updates a traditional tune with a menacing flair, and “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” is an infectious acoustic romp, while “That’s the Way” and “Tangerine” are shimmering songs with graceful country flourishes. The band hasn’t left the blues behind, but the twisted bottleneck blues of “Hats off to (Roy) Harper” actually outstrips the epic “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” which is the only time Zeppelin sound a bit set in their ways.

Tracklist:
01 – Immigrant Song
02 – Friends
03 – Celebration Day
04 – Since I’ve Been Loving You
05 – Out On The Tiles
06 – Gallows Pole
07 – Tangerine
08 – That’s The Way
09 – Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
10 – Hats Off To (Roy) Harper
11 – The Immigrant Song (Alternate Mix)
12 – Friends (Track – No Vocal)
13 – Celebration Day (Alternate Mix)
14 – Since I’ve Been Loving You (Rough Mix)
15 – Bathroom Sound (Track – No Vocal)
16 – Gallows Pole (Rough Mix)
17 – That’s The Way (Rough Mix)
18 – Jennings Farm Blues (Rough Mix)
19 – Key To The Highway/Trouble In Mind (Rough Mix)

Continue reading Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III (1970) {Deluxe Edition 2014} [HRA 24-96]

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II (1969) {Deluxe Edition 2014} [HRA 24-96]

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II (1969) {Deluxe Edition 2014]
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 74:19 minutes | 1,67 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HighResAudio.com | Front cover

The second album in reissue companion audio fans the first peek into the band’s recording sessions, with alternate mixes of five songs from the album, backing tracks to “Thank You” and “Living Loving Maid (She s Just A Woman)”, and the previously unreleased track “La La”.

Recorded quickly during Led Zeppelin’s first American tours, Led Zeppelin II provided the blueprint for all the heavy metal bands that followed it. Since the group could only enter the studio for brief amounts of time, most of the songs that compose II are reworked blues and rock & roll standards that the band was performing on-stage at the time. Not only did the short amount of time result in a lack of original material, it made the sound more direct. Jimmy Page still provided layers of guitar overdubs, but the overall sound of the album is heavy and hard, brutal and direct. “Whole Lotta Love,” “The Lemon Song,” and “Bring It on Home” are all based on classic blues songs — only, the riffs are simpler and louder and each song has an extended section for instrumental solos. Of the remaining six songs, two sport light acoustic touches (“Thank You,” “Ramble On”), but the other four are straight-ahead heavy rock that follows the formula of the revamped blues songs. While Led Zeppelin II doesn’t have the eclecticism of the group’s debut, it’s arguably more influential. After all, nearly every one of the hundreds of Zeppelin imitators used this record, with its lack of dynamics and its pummeling riffs, as a blueprint.

Tracklist:
01 – Whole Lotta Love
02 – What Is And What Should Never Be
03 – The Lemon Song
04 – Thank You
05 – Heartbreaker
06 – Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman)
07 – Ramble On
08 – Moby Dick
09 – Bring It On Home
10 – Whole Lotta Love (Rough Mix With Vocal)
11 – What Is And What Should Never Be (Rough Mix With Vocal)
12 – Thank You (Backing Track)
13 – Heartbreaker (Rough Mix With Vocal)
14 – Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman) (Backing Track)
15 – Ramble On (Rough Mix With Vocal)
16 – Moby Dick (Backing Track)
17 – La La (Intro,Outro Rough Mix)

Continue reading Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II (1969) {Deluxe Edition 2014} [HRA 24-96]

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1968) {Deluxe Edition 2014} [HRA 24-96]

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1968) {Deluxe Edition 2014]
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 116:21 minutes | 1,88 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HighResAudio.com | Front cover

New Deluxe 2 CD package. The original album is newly remastered by Jimmy Page; the 2nd CD featuring a previously officially unreleased October 1969 concert from Paris, France.

Led Zeppelin had a fully formed, distinctive sound from the outset, as their eponymous debut illustrates. Taking the heavy, distorted electric blues of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Cream to an extreme, Zeppelin created a majestic, powerful brand of guitar rock constructed around simple, memorable riffs and lumbering rhythms. But the key to the group’s attack was subtlety: it wasn’t just an onslaught of guitar noise, it was shaded and textured, filled with alternating dynamics and tempos. As Led Zeppelin proves, the group was capable of such multi-layered music from the start. Although the extended psychedelic blues of “Dazed and Confused,” “You Shook Me,” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby” often gather the most attention, the remainder of the album is a better indication of what would come later. “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” shifts from folky verses to pummeling choruses; “Good Times Bad Times” and “How Many More Times” have groovy, bluesy shuffles; “Your Time Is Gonna Come” is an anthemic hard rocker; “Black Mountain Side” is pure English folk; and “Communication Breakdown” is a frenzied rocker with a nearly punkish attack. Although the album isn’t as varied as some of their later efforts, it nevertheless marked a significant turning point in the evolution of hard rock and heavy metal.

Tracklist:
01 – Good Times Bad Times
02 – Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
03 – You Shook Me
04 – Dazed and Confused
05 – Your Time Is Gonna Come
06 – Black Mountain Side
07 – Communication Breakdown
08 – I Can’t Quit You Baby
09 – How Many More Times
10 – Good Times Bad Times, Communication Breakdown (Live in Paris 1969)
11 – I Can’t Quit You Baby (Live in Paris 1969)
12 – Heartbreaker (Live in Paris 1969)
13 – Dazed and Confused (Live in Paris 1969)
14 – White Summer, Black Mountain Side (Live in Paris 1969)
15 – You Shook Me (Live in Paris 1969)
16 – Moby Dick (Live in Paris 1969)
17 – How Many More Times (Live in Paris 1969)

Please note: track “10″ is 24bit/44kHz; tracks “11-17″ in 24bit/48kHz.

Continue reading Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1968) {Deluxe Edition 2014} [HRA 24-96]

Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (2014) {Deluxe Edition} [HDTracks 24-44.1]

Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (2014) [Deluxe Edition]
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 65:28 minutes | 753 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover
Genre: Alternative

Ultraviolence is Lana Del Rey’s third studio album. After stating that she had no plans of releasing a follow up album to Born to Die, Del Rey viewed Ultraviolence as snippets of her past as opposed to a journey. Del Rey commented that the album is “…a little more stripped down, but still cinematic and dark. I’ve been working on it really slowly, but I love everything I’ve done.” The album features singles “Ultraviolence”, “Shades of Cool”, “West Coast”, and “Brooklyn Baby”.

The maelstrom of hype surrounding self-modeled Hollywood pop star Lana Del Rey’s 2012 breakthrough album, Born to Die, found critics, listeners, and pop culture aficionados divided about her detached, hyper-stylized approach to every aspect of her music and public persona. What managed to get overlooked by many was that Born to Die made such a polarizing impression because it actually offered something that didn’t sound like anything else. Del Rey’s sultry, overstated orchestral pop recast her as some sort of vaguely imagined chanteuse for a generation raised on Adderall and the Internet, with heavy doses of Twin Peaks atmosphere adding a creepy sheen to intentionally vapid (and undeniably catchy) radio hits. Follow-up album Ultraviolence shifts gears considerably, building a thick, slow-moving atmosphere with its languid songs and opulent arrangements. Gone are the big beats and glossy production that resulted in tracks like “Summertime Sadness.” Instead, Ultraviolence begins with the protracted, rolling melancholia of “Cruel World,” nearly seven minutes of what feels like a sad, reverb-drenched daydream. The song sets the stage for the rest of the album, which simmers with a haunted, yearning feeling but never boils over. Even the most pop-friendly moments here are steeped in patient, jazz-inflected moodiness, as with the sad-eyed longing of “Shades of Cool” or the unexpected tempo changes that connect the slinky verses of single “West Coast” to their syrupy, swaying choruses. Production from the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach might have something to do with the metered restraint that permeates the album, with songs like “Sad Girl” carrying some of the slow-burning touches of greasy blues-rock Auerbach is known for. A few puzzling moments break up the continuity of the album. The somewhat hooky elements of “Brooklyn Baby” can’t quite rise above its disjointed song structure and cringeable lyrics that could be taken either as mockery of the hipster lifestyle or self-parody. “Money Power Glory” steps briefly out of the overall dreamscape of the album, sounding like a tossed-off outtake from the Born to Die sessions. Despite these mild missteps, Ultraviolence thrives for the most part in its density, meant clearly to be absorbed as an entire experience, with even its weaker pieces contributing to a mood that’s consumptive, sexy, and as eerie as big-budget pop music gets. Del Rey’s loudest detractors criticized her music as a hollow, cliché-ridden product designed by the music industry and lacking the type of substance that makes real pop stars pop. Ultraviolence asserts that as a songwriter, she has complete control of her craft, deciding on songs far less flashy or immediate but still uniquely captivating. As these songs shift her sound into more mature and nuanced places, it becomes clear that every deadpan affectation, lispy lyric, and overblown allusion to desperate living has been a knowing move in the creation of the strange, beguiling character — and sonic experience — we know as Lana Del Rey.

Tracklist:
01 – Cruel World
02 – Ultraviolence
03 – Shades Of Cool
04 – Brooklyn Baby
05 – West Coast
06 – Sad Girl
07 – Pretty When You Cry
08 – Money Power Glory
09 – Fucked My Way Up To The Top
10 – Old Money
11 – The Other Woman
12 – Black Beauty
13 – Guns And Roses
14 – Florida Kilos

Mastering engineer: John Davis.

Continue reading Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (2014) {Deluxe Edition} [HDTracks 24-44.1]

Coldplay – Ghost Stories (2014) [HDTracks 24-44.1]

Coldplay – Ghost Stories (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 42:42 minutes | 460 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital Booklet
Genre: Rock

Ghost Stories is Coldplay’s sixth studio album. The album, written by vocalist Chris Martin, narrates a relationship falling apart and the various stages of acceptance. The record was heavily influenced by Martin’s marital struggle with actress Gwyneth Paltrow during the time of the recording. Ghost Stories describes the topic of being open to love and acknowledging that not all love lasts.

Around the time Coldplay’s sixth album, Ghost Stories, was scheduled for release, lead singer Chris Martin announced he was divorcing his wife, the actress Gwyneth Paltrow. In light of this news, it’s hard not to see Ghost Stories as a breakup record, a romantic confessional written in the wake of a painful separation. Certainly, the album bristles with references to broken hearts and regrets, ruminations on how the past informs the present, its every song infused with an inescapable melancholy, but the album doesn’t play like a deep wallow in sorrow. It is soft, even alluring, a soundtrack to a seduction, not a separation. Much of that feel comes from the record’s smooth crawl forward, how it’s never hurried and always accentuating its good side, but there’s also a sense that Martin, or the band in general, is anxious to a hit a reset button, to slowly recede from the artiness of the Eno-encouraged excursions of the late 2000s and reconnect with the sweet, simple band responsible for Parachutes. Like any attempt to revive the past, it’s hard to reconcile that those were indeed different times. As majestic as they sounded in 2000, there was no denying Coldplay were a basic rock band, anchored on six strings and rarely finding textures outside of the confines of an amplifier. Fourteen years later, keyboards are at the group’s foundation, a significant shift accentuated by their succumbing to a hallmark of modern production: they have a producer for every track. Coldplay may not be forceful, but within their incessant politeness they do have a distinctive personality, one that shines through whatever tricks individual producers bring to the table. Stars that they are, they can afford to enlist EDM sensation Avicii and R&B stalwart Timbaland to color individual tracks (they’re responsible for “A Sky Full of Stars” and “True Love,” respectively), giving Ghost Stories a fleet electronic facility that undercuts Coldplay’s reputation as a dogmatic rock band without ever suggesting the group is adventurous. It’s a nifty trick, a record that skirts any accusation of stodginess yet still feels as comforting as a warm bath, which is why Ghost Stories never feels heartbroken. Often, it feels like the lament of the sensitive soul who just had his heart broken but won’t let his pain detract him from picking up that pretty girl at the end of the bar. This may seem a contradiction but it also suits a band like Coldplay, who at this stage of their career quite clearly want to be everything to everybody. If your heart is shattered and you want to slide into self-pity, turn here. If you are feeling free and want to woo a new love, turn here. If you want to just enjoy every soft, supple turn a rock band could do, turn here. Coldplay are here for comfort, as Ghost Stories proves time and time again.

Tracklist:
01 – Always In My Head
02 – Magic
03 – Ink
04 – True Love
05 – Midnight
06 – Another’s Arms
07 – Oceans
08 – A Sky Full Of Stars
09 – O

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Only Run (2014) [Qobuz 24-96]

 

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Only Run (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 39:59 minutes | 953 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front cover
Genre: Alternative

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – the entire concept of the band, the name itself – is about balancing optimism in the face of overwhelming odds, which is why CYHSY has always produced, marketed and distributed all of its albums independently. ”Only Run” is the fourth studio album from Philadelphia-based Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, who are celebrating 10 years as a band this year. The new album aims to loosely document lead singer/songwriter Alec Ounsworth’s observations of his life in music over the last ten years.

Taking less time to return than they did between 2007′s Some Loud Thunder and 2011′s, Hysterical, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah nonetheless seem like they’ve taken quite a journey when you listen to 2014′s Only Run. Touted as a change in direction, primarily due to the band’s heavier use of keyboards than on past recordings, Only Run is also the first album CYHSY recorded since parting ways with longtime members Robbie Guertin and Tyler Sargent in 2012. Rather than look for new members, lead singer/songwriter Alec Ounsworth and drummer Sean Greenhalgh forged onward as a duo (plus a few guest musicians), with Ounsworth handling all the guitar, keyboard, accordion, and vocal duties, and Greenhalgh tackling the percussion and synth programming. The result is that Only Run is less a wholly new direction and more a balance between the art-rock experimentation of their 2005 debut and the dance-oriented, post-punk sound of Hysterical. In fact, as with past recordings, many of the cuts on Only Run, like “As Always” and “Coming Down,” which features a spoken word appearance by the National’s Matt Berninger, are moody yet driving rockers built around Ounsworth’s literate, ruminative croon. That said, there is a centered, focused quality to many of the tracks on Only Run, as if the departure of Guertin and Sargent freed Ounsworth up to fully explore the sounds in his own head. Musically, Ounsworth and Greenhalgh also strike a pleasing balance, mixing fuzzy sonic electric guitars and pounding drums, which they then set against abrupt acoustic piano lines and mathematical synths. The result is an album of beautiful juxtapositions, steeped with poetic gravitas that nonetheless never fails soar.

Tracklist:
01 – As Always
02 – Blameless
03 – Coming Down (feat. Matt Berninger)
04 – Little Moments
05 – Only Run
06 – Your Advice
07 – Beyond Illusion
08 – Impossible Request
09 – Cover Up (feat. Kid Koala)
10 – Impossible Request (Alternate Version)

Continue reading Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Only Run (2014) [Qobuz 24-96]

America – The Complete WB Collection 1971-1977 (2013) [HDTracks 24-192]

America – The Complete WB Collection: 1971-1977 (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 265:55 minutes | 9,64 GB
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front covers

Originally comprised of Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and Dan Peek, America was one of the most successful groups of the 1970s. The band blended elements of folk and rock with distinctive three part harmonies. Their best known hits include “A Horse with No Name,” “Sister Golden Hair,” “Ventura Highway,” “Tin Man,” “Daisy Jane,” and “Lonely People”. The band won a 1972 Grammy for Best New Artist following the release of their second album, Homecoming, and was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. This definitive collection includes the following albums: America, Homecoming, Hat Trick, Holiday, Hearts, Hideaway, and Harbor. This Hi-Res collection is not to be missed!

Continue reading America – The Complete WB Collection 1971-1977 (2013) [HDTracks 24-192]

Billy Joel – Piano Man (1973) [MFSL 2010] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}

Billy Joel – Piano Man (1973) [MFSL 2010]
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 43:38 minutes | Scans included | 1,33 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 867 MB
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab # UDSACD 2062
Genre: Rock

Embittered by legal disputes with his label and an endless tour to support a debut that was dead in the water, Billy Joel hunkered down in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles, spending six months as a lounge singer at a club. He didn’t abandon his dreams — he continued to write songs, including “Piano Man,” a fictionalized account of his weeks as a lounge singer. Through a combination of touring and constant hustling, he landed a contract with Columbia and recorded his second album in 1973. Clearly inspired by Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection, not only musically but lyrically, as well as James Taylor, Joel expands the vision and sound of Cold Spring Harbor, abandoning introspective numbers (apart from “You’re My Home,” a love letter to his wife) for character sketches and epics. Even the title track, a breakthrough hit based on his weeks as a saloon singer, focuses on the colorful patrons, not the singer. If his narratives are occasionally awkward or incomplete, he compensates with music that gives the songs a sweeping sense of purpose — they feel complete, thanks to his indelible melodies and savvy stylistic repurposing. He may have borrowed his basic blueprint from Tumbleweed Connection, particularly with its Western imagery and bluesy gospel flourishes, but he makes it his own, largely due to his melodic flair, which is in greater evidence than on Cold Spring Harbor. Piano Man is where he suggests his potential as a musical craftsman. He may have weaknesses as a lyricist — such mishaps as the “instant pleasuredome” line in “You’re My Home” illustrate that he doesn’t have an ear for words — but Piano Man makes it clear that his skills as a melodicist can dazzle.

Tracklist:
01. Travelin’ Prayer
02. Piano Man
03. Ain’t No Crime
04. You’re My Home
05. The Ballad Of Billy The Kid
06. Worse Comes To Worst
07. Stop In Nevada
08. If I Only Had The Words (To Tell You)
09. Somewhere Along The Line
10. Captain Jack

Mastered by Rob LoVerde at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Sebastopol, CA.

Continue reading Billy Joel – Piano Man (1973) [MFSL 2010] {SACD-R + FLAC 24-88.2}