Jackson Browne – Hold Out (1980/2013) [HDTracks 24-96]

Jackson Browne – Hold Out (1980/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 38:10 minutes | 815 MB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front + LP art

If Jackson Browne had convincingly lowered the bar set by his first three albums on his fourth and fifth ones, his sixth, Hold Out, found him once again seeking some measure of satisfaction, albeit in reduced circumstances. His songs were less philosophical, but they were also more personal. In “Of Missing Persons,” he once again took on a eulogy as his subject, but unlike “Song to Adam” or “For a Dancer,” there the song was directed to his late friend’s daughter and encouraged her recovery: it was more a song for the living than for the dead. Newly aware of the world around him (“Boulevard”), he was also newly sensitive to others, notably on the mutual dependency song “Call It a Loan.” But the personal tone sometimes made him less sure-footed as a performer; “Hold on Hold Out,” the traditional big, long, last song on the album, was awkwardly, not winningly, intimate, just as the attention-grabbing lead-off track, “Disco Apocalypse,” was merely foolish instead of whatever it may have been intended to be (satire? drama?). If Browne was still trying to write himself out of the cul-de-sac he had created for himself early on, Hold Out represented an earnest attempt that nevertheless fell short.

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JD Souther – Tenderness (2015) [HDTracks 24-44.1]

JD Souther – Tenderness (2015) 
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1 kHz | Time – 39:30 minutes | 418 MB | Genre: Pop Rock, Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | @ Masterworks / Sony Music Entertainment
Recorded: Henson Studios, Hollywood, CA; Strange Cargo, Los Angeles, CA; The Bridge, Glendale, CA

Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, iconic musician and actor JD Souther releases his new albumTenderness via Sony Music Masterworks. Produced by Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Madeleine Peyroux, Melody Gardot, Herbie Hancock), the album will be available on May 12, 2015.

“JD Souther is both a legendary and mysterious figure in American popular music,” says Chuck Mitchell, SVP of Sony Music Masterworks. “He’s a self-described ‘classicist’ who, in his new work, draws a through line between the first great songbook of Porter, Kern, etc., and his own generation’s massive impact on the art of the song. The result is an album that brings a new and fresh perspective to this amazing singer-songwriter’s contributions.”

“Now there are many ways to listen to music, and my intention is, as always, that each song tell its own story,” adds Souther.  “However, Tenderness is designed as a set.  I invite you to enjoy it this way.”

“JD Souther proves once again why he’s an American treasure,” says Irving Azoff, the music industry icon whose company manages Souther.

Called “an American songwriting treasure” (Creative Loafing), with a “musical history that is improbably rich” (San Diego Union Tribune), Souther’s Tendernesscontinues the new  path in sound and style that he has forged since his return to recording in 2008; but at the same time, the album is unlike anything he has previously recorded.  Joining Souther on guitar and vocals are longtime collaborators pianist Chris Walters and saxophonist Jeff Coffin; as well as new friends, vocalist Lizz Wright and trumpet master Till Bronner. Jazz piano legend and recent Grammy Award winner Billy Childs is on board as well; he also has arranged the elegant and searing strings on half the album’s tracks.

On Tenderness, Souther balances his pop and jazz sensibilities paying particular homage to his earliest influences, the geniuses of the 20th Century Great American Songbook, while maintaining the signature qualities that have made him one of the true contemporary giants of American song.

Souther is best known penning countless hits for the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Roy Orbison, James Taylor, Don Henley, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Brooks and Dunn and others; while establishing a cult following as a performer with the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band and as a solo artist.

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Howlin’ Wolf – The Memphis Sessions (2007) [HDTracks 24-96]

Howlin’ Wolf – The Memphis Sessions (2007)

FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 49:27 minutes | 628 MB | Genre: Blues
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | @ Sun Records

It would be natural to assume the spawning ground for American blues music, Memphis Tennessee, would serve as the fuse that lit the explosion of what many regard as the artistic zenith of the Blues as a pure original art form. It was during the decade from 1945-55 when a seemingly
endless line of shouters and honkers etched their culture into the American landscape.

 

This groundswell of talent was already in place thanks to local Memphis area radio stations such as WDIA and WKEM by the time Sam Phillips opened his Memphis Recording and Sound Service in 1950 at 706 Union Avenue.

In addition to providing a mobile recording service for parties, weddings, and the like, Phillips became acutely aware of the burgeoning Black music scene. In June 1950 Phillips started leasing recordings he had made of artist such as B.B. King, Joe Hill Louis, and Ike Turner to independent labels such RPM/Modern in Los Angeles and Chess Records in Chicago. It was in this manner that Chester Burnett, aka The Howlin’ Wolf came to the attention of Phillips through Ike Turner, then serving as a talent scout for Phillips.

Howlin’ Wolf was born in West Point, Mississippi in 1910 and learned to play guitar and harmonica by listening to Charlie Patton and Rice Miller (Sonny Boy Williamson II) respectively.

He migrated to Arkansas from the Delta in 1948, had a radio program on WKEM, and made his debut at 706 Union Avenue a memorable one in mid-1951, recording ‘How Many More Years’,
which was leased by Phillips to Chess and became a hit that same November.

A steady stream of Chess releases followed resulting in The Wolf’s eventual migration to Chicago in 1954, much to chagrin of Phillips, who would often state that the loss of Wolf was his biggest regret.

A listen to this album certainly justifies his feelings.
The Wolf recorded prolifically for Phillips between 1951-1953, as for every side leased to Chess, several more titles were left in the can after each session. The tracks presented here reflect some of that work, and all showcase Howlin’ Wolf’s menacing delivery in his unique approach to
the Blues. His gruff vocals and harp are perfectly complemented by the distorted, overdriven guitar of Willie Johnson and the force of Willie Steele’s drums. This core of instrumentalists was often augmented by various piano pounders such as L.C. Hubert, Ike Turner, and Albert Williams, with the occasional horn section at the ready. The tracks included here were recorded over a ten -month period, from December, 1951 to October, 1952. None are less than brilliant. From the Jump Blues of ‘All In The Mood’ and ‘That’s All Right’ to the emphatic, soulful delivery, on such tracks as ‘Bluebird’, ‘California Blues’, and ‘Decoration Day’, these titles showcase the Wolf as the transitional link between the country blues style and its evolution to the urban blues which would become more fully developed in Chicago later in that same decade.

With his departure from Memphis to the more lucrative Chicago Area, Wolf followed in the footsteps of many other Memphis-area bluesmen. As a result of this migration, from 1954 onwards Phillips shifted his focus to White Rockabilly and Country performers, many of whom used Howlin’ Wolf’s vocal delivery as a blueprint for their own unbridled Sun recordings.

The similarities between Billy Lee Riley’s ‘Red Hot’, Warren Smith’s ‘Miss Froggie’, and Smokey Joe Baugh’s ‘The Signifying Monkey’ to the music The Wolf put down at 706 Union Avenue cannot be denied.

Howlin’ Wolf later attained iconic status, due in no small part to his European tours of the 60’s and subsequent adulation of a new generation of Blues enthusiasts. He passed away on January 6th, 1976, having been ill for several years. Like the man himself, his music remains larger than life, the very definition of soul and expressiveness. There are none better.

(Howlin’ Wolf Is a member of both The Rock And Roll Fame, and the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame.)

We offer these recordings to you in stunning 96/24 in the original historic mono.

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Hilary Duff – Breathe In. Breathe Out. (2015) [HDTracks 24-44,1]

Hilary Duff – Breathe In. Breathe Out. (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 42:18 minutes | 523 MB | Genre: Pop
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: HDTracks | @RCA Records

After an eight-year absence from the music industry, actress and singer Hilary Duff released her fifth studio album “Breathe In. Breathe Out”, an upbeat dance album that touches on themes of self discovery, romance and failed love.

Hilary Duff took an extended breather after the release of 2007’s Dignity, sitting out music in favor for film, television, and family. She returned eight years later with Breathe In. Breathe Out., an album whose title suggests a certain measure of calm but whose music isn’t quite placid. Picking up the dancey makeover of Dignity, Duff continues to favor the glossier, melodic segments of pop — often, the album suggests nothing so much as an American spin on Natasha Bedingfield — but there are certainly moments when it’s clear she’s paying attention to recent radio: it opens with one of those moments, with “Sparks” echoing Ellie Goulding while, later on, “Rebel Hearts” thumps to a Mumford & Sons stomp. Elsewhere, there are hazy hints of EDM but the appeal of Breathe In. Breathe Out. is how Duff keeps the focus on the song, so everything, even the rhythms, is coloring on cuts of soft, clean contemporary pop. That the album is ever so slightly out of fashion is also endearing, for it suggests Duff sings this pristine dance-pop not because she thinks it will sell but because it’s what she enjoys.

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Hank Mobley – Workout (1961/2014) [HDTracks 24-192]

Hank Mobley – Workout (1961/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 40:22 minutes | 1,56 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: HDTracks |  @ Blue Note Records

Workout is the 1961 hard bop album released by tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley under Blue Note. The record features jazz aficionados Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, Grant Green and Philly Joe Jones. Workout features “The Best Things in Life Are Free” and “Three Coins in the Fountain”.

This is one of the best-known Hank Mobley recordings, and for good reason. Although none of his four originals (“Workout,” “Uh Huh,” “Smokin’,” “Greasin’ Easy”) caught on, the fine saxophonist is in top form. He jams on the four tunes, plus “The Best Things in Life Are Free,” with an all-star quintet of young modernists — guitarist Grant Green, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones — and shows that he was a much stronger player than his then-current boss Miles Davis seemed to think.

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Hank Mobley – The Turnaround! (1965/2014) [HDTracks 24-192]

Hank Mobley – The Turnaround! (1965/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 40:31 minutes | 1,39 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital Booklet | @ Blue Note Records
Recorded March 7, 1963 and February 5, 1965 at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

The Turnaround! is jazz tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley’s 1965 Blue Note release. The hard bop, soul jazz instrumentalist and composer collaborated with some of the ’60s most proficient jazz musicians on this release, including Herbie Hancock, Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers, Freddie Hubbard and Donald Byrd, among others.

 

The Hank Mobley of the Turnaround album was a markedly different one from a few years earlier. This session issued in early 1965 was the product of two different sessions. The first was in March of 1963, immediately after Mobley left the Miles Davis band. Those recordings produced “East of the Village,” possibly the greatest example of Mobley’s “round tone” on record, and the other was “The Good Life,” a ballad. The rest was recorded nearly two years later in February of 1965. The title cut was produced here — an Alfred Lion answer to Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder,” which was burning up the charts — as well as the beautiful “Pat ‘n’ Chat,” with “Straight Ahead” and “My Sin” rounding out the program. On the earlier material, Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock, Butch Warren, and Philly Jo Jones helped Mobley out, and on the latter it was Freddie Hubbard, Barry Harris, Paul Chambers, and Billy Higgins. In each case, there were alumnus members of the Miles band Mobley had played in. The main thing about “East of the Village” is the striking difference between the gorgeous melding of Latin and post-bop, straight-ahead rhythms, and the easy, loping blues feel that is cheered on by Jones. This track contains one of Mobley’s most memorable solos. On the title track and “Pat ‘n’ Chat,” there are elongated blues structures; in the former — it is an unusual 18 bar figure — and in the latter, there is the major 44 bar pattern that sounds like a blues with a bridge when the AABA pattern is invoked. Here is the evolution of Mobley’s tone in full flower, all but gone is the rounded, warm sound, and in its place is a shorter, declarative, bluesier tone with real bite that is perfect for pianists like Harris, who were used to the deeper funk of the Detroit sound. In all this is a solid date, despite its time lapse, and one that gives us a solid picture of the two Mobleys. –Thom Jurek

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Elvis Presley – From Memphis To Vegas / From Vegas To Memphis (1969/2015 [HDTracks 24-96]

Elvis Presley – From Memphis To Vegas / From Vegas To Memphis (1969/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 68:55 minutes | 1,43 GB | Genre: Pop
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: HDTracks | @ RCA/Legacy

One-half of the imponderably titled From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis (later issued as a separate album, Elvis in Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada), captures Elvis from the summer of 1969, while the exhilaration of conquest was still evident. It’s a nice compromise between mere entertainment and the revelatory: The first few songs are old hits to pull you in; the second side opens with a roaring medley of “Mystery Train” and Rufus Thomas’s “Tiger Man” and leads to a staggering seven-minute “Suspicious Minds.” The studio album, ten tracks from the previous Memphis sessions, are a letdown and, even at the time of release, the two-fer concept seemed ill conceived.

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Elvis Presley – Elvis At Stax (2013) [HDTracks 24-96]

Elvis Presley – Elvis At Stax (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 54:31 minutes | 1,08 GB | Genre: Pop
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital booklet | @ RCA/Legacy

Elvis At Stax celebrates the fortieth anniversary of these legendary recordings. Following the success of Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite, Presley returned to his hometown of Memphis and spent time at Stax Recording Studios. Elvis At Stax bristles with energy and dynamism. Included are the hits “Promised Land,” “Raised on Rock,” “I’ve Got a Thing About You Baby,” “My Boy” and much more.

The title “Elvis at Stax” is slightly misleading, suggesting Elvis Presley decided to set up shop at the famed Memphis recording studio so he could use their house band, or perhaps co-opt some of the Southern soul groove. That wasn’t the case. Elvis chose the Stax studios to conduct several recording sessions in 1973 for a simple reason: it was close to his Memphis home. He rented out the studio twice, once in July and once in December, and brought in his crack backing band, recording enough material to fill out three CDs. This music was doled out over the years, accounting for five hit singles over three years (a B-side and a posthumous single also came from these sessions), along with three albums: 1973’s Raised On Rock, 1974’s Good Times, and 1975’s Promised Land. These albums were all strong, but aren’t often considered part of Presley’s core canon, possibly because this mid-’70s run of records were often packaged like product (certainly there’s not a memorable album cover among them), possibly because, apart from “Promised Land,” there were no hit singles that could be called a true smash or part of his core canon. And that’s why Elvis at Stax is so valuable: taken as a whole, these 1973 sessions are revealed as his last great blast of creativity in the recording studio. Essentially, he was working the same ground he began to plow on his 1968 comeback, but the aftershocks of Elvis Country are apparent, along with just the slightest hint of funky, organ-driven grooves. In this context, the preponderance of alternate takes are not tedious, but rather show Elvis’ good humor and creativity as he tries out slightly different approaches on each take. What impresses is Presley’s virtuosity and how he cannily constructed his performances to seem effortless: there’s sweat fueling these tight, punchy renditions, and heart behind his ballads, and you can hear him work it all out on the alternate takes, then reach full flight on the finished masters.

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Elvis Presley – As Recorded at Madison Square Garden (1972/2013) [HDTracks 24-96]

Elvis Presley – As Recorded at Madison Square Garden (1972/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 52:44 minutes | 1,12 GB | Genre: rock & roll
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital booklet | @ RCA/Legacy

Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden is the exhilarating live album by “The King.” Of all the live recordings in Elvis Presley’s illustrious career, none were more significant than his long-awaited New York City show at Madison Square Garden in June 1972. This multi-Platinum masterpiece captures Presley’s thrilling live energy and uncanny stage presence. Presley performed the chart-topping hits “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” “Love Me Tender,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “All Shook Up”

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Elvis Costello – North (2003) [HDTracks 24-88,2]

Elvis Costello – North (2003)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 39:06 minutes | 808 MB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital Booklet | @ Deutsche Grammophon

This breathtaking album features Costello’s inimitable baritone fronting a spectacular lineup that includes a string quartet, a horn nonet, and a slew of legendary jazz musicians, including Peter Erskine and Lee Konitz. Intimate, jazzy and romantic, this is a truly spectacular and ambitious work by one of popular music’s greatest songwriters.

North, Elvis Costello’s 20th album of new material, follows the deliberately classicist When I Was Cruel by a mere year, but it feels more the sequel to 1998’s Burt Bacharach collaboration, Painted From Memory, or even 1993’s roundly ignored classical pop experiment, The Juliet Letters. Costello has abandoned clanging guitars and drums of Cruel — abandoned rock & roll, really — to return to a set of classically influenced songs, all “composed, arranged and conducted” by the man himself (on The Juliet Letters, he was merely the composer and voice). The songs on North are pitched halfway between traditional torch ballads and arty contemporary Broadway writers such as Stephen Sondheim. This isn’t so much a shift in direction after When I Was Cruel as much as it is an extension of the Bacharach album (in this context, Cruel seems like the aberration), but it’s also a reflection of Costello’s new love for Canadian jazz singer Diana Krall. It’s not just that North is somewhat of a song cycle, starting with the despair of a failed relationship and ending with the hope of a new love, but that it’s somewhat written in the style of Krall’s music: self-consciously sophisticated and slightly jazzy. Ultimately, North is not jazz-pop; it’s classical pop, with Costello more interested in the structure, arrangement, and words of the song rather than mere catchiness. It’s a very writerly album, in regards to both the music and lyrics. Consequently, it takes a bit of effort to get into the album, since it purposefully lacks hooks and songs as immediate or tuneful as those on Painted From Memory or “Jacksons, Monk and Rowe” from The Juliet Letters. This is not a flaw, per se — it’s simply what the album is, a collection of subtle songs performed with an elegant understatement. Unlike The Juliet Letters, North never feels like an exercise, nor does it feel like Costello has something to prove. It’s a specific, personal album with serious ambitions that it fulfills. If the album ultimately winds up being something to listen to on occasion rather than a record to spin repeatedly, that doesn’t make Costello’s achievement with this song cycle any less admirable.

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