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Meat Loaf – Hang Cool Teddy Bear (Album Review)

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Meat Loaf – Hang Cool Teddy Bear (Album Review)

For about the last 25 years, I’ve been a Meat Loaf fan. While my opinion of his musical prowess will never change, I find myself viewing his work in the categories of with and without legendary songwriter, Jim Steinman.

You may assume that I dislike his non-Steinman collaborated works, but that couldn’t be further from the truth as I class Meat Loaf's 1995 album, Welcome To The Neighbourhood to be amongst his greatest achievements as a musician. Granted, Steinman penned two tracks on that album, but for the most part, it was Meat Loaf selecting songs from a variety of songwriters.

While Hang Cool Teddy Bear is compiled with a who’s who of the recording industry, the album feels disjointed with a number of songs that are simply mismatched to Meat Loaf's vocal style. That isn't to say the album is bad, just that it fails to live up to expectations. Nevertheless, let's take a look at the songs, the album and how this release fits into Meat Loaf's career.

Peace On Earth is a terrible song to commence the album with. It is overproduced and the sonic introduction is largely pointless while the tempo is too upbeat for Meat Loaf. On this track, along with track 2, Living On The Outside, it sounds as though Meat Loaf was inspired to merge his lyrical style with that of Lou Reed and Johnny Cash. It simply doesn't work, although I do enjoy the chorus lines throughout Peace On Earth.

Living On The Outside isn't a bad rock song and would have been much better suited as the lead track. It’s catchy, with a solid rhythm, while not being as alien to Meat Loaf's style as Peace On Earth is.

Los Angeloser has an incredible beat and rhythm. You will be toe tapping and head bopping from the first minute. Thank you, James Michael, for writing yet another incredible song.

If I Can't Have You had potential but the mix is too muddy. It could have been another I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won‘t Do That), but the dynamics are so squashed that the backing vocals and Hugh Laurie's piano elements are barely discernible throughout much of the song.

Love Is Not Real/Next Time You Stab Me In The Back has a really enjoyable drum and guitar backbeat and the Brian May and Steve Vai intermingling guitar solo is out of this world. Despite being mastered too loud, this song, in particular, sounds superb thereby proving that all distortion and a squashed dynamic range does not always result in a negative outcome. Sometimes it suits the tone and style of the song perfectly. That doesn’t mean it is applicable to all songs. It should be added selectively, not as a standard in the mastering and mixing process.

Like A Rose is a great track. Jack Black really adds some vocal attitude to the song and overall it has an incredibly addictive rhythmic beat and a gorgeous, albeit concealed guitar track. Like A Rose is one of the best songs on Hang Cool Teddy Bear and is one of my all-time favourite Meat Loaf tracks.

Song Of Madness features Steve Vai for the second time. The entire song is excellent and worthy of inclusion in Meat Loaf's catalogue. Even Meat Leaf pushes his vocals beautifully in this song with his signature smooth highs and guttural lows. Turn this song up to 11, you'll thank me later.

Did You Ever Love Somebody slows the album down a little, although I'm not keen on Meat Loaf's vocal style in this song. While the song isn't a ballad, as such, Meat Loaf's ballad tones are generally more polished than they appear here as it sounds as though he didn't have his full range available to him during the recording of the song.

California Isn't Big Enough (Hey There Girl) is a mixed bag of musicality that I enjoy, but I find it confusing at the same time. It’s a rock song, with 80s synth elements, amongst a cascade of other styles. Think Tears For Fears meets Meat Loaf. It grows on you, but I wouldn’t call it a standout.

Running Away From Me is a classic B-side, but I like it!

Let's Be In Love isn't a bad song, but it’s made significantly better thanks to Patti Russo. Again, Meat Loaf's vocal presence feels lacklustre, especially in the quiet passages. In comparison, Russo's Vocal takes the song to another level. It’s disappointing that Russo doesn’t enter the song until around the midway point of the song.

If It Rains is a great song but I think I would like to hear it get the Kid Rock treatment as it lacks a little edge and the tempo could be a few beats faster. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoy this song.

Elvis In Vegas is adequate for a closing song. That said, as the song was penned by Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child, and Billy Falcon, I’d love to hear Bon Jovi record the song as it definitely has their sonic cues. Regardless, and despite the hot mastering, Elvis In Vegas compels me to listen to the album again and stay within Meat Loaf's catalogue.

Overall, Hang Cool Teddy Bear is a solid release but is far from classic Meat Leaf. That said, the album does grow on you the more you listen to it.

This review has been based off listening to the CD release (cat: 273 4097) of the album.

As mentioned throughout the review, Hang Cool Teddy Bear has been recorded, mixed, and mastered far too loudly. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I want to control my volume and I see absolutely no reason for the constant redlining of music. At no time do I feel enveloped by sound as the music is clearly coming from my speakers. The result is a lack of soundstage and true stereo separation.

The artwork is, as always with a Meat Loaf release, stunning. Although, that starts and ends with the cover art. The rear of the CD terribly laid out. Yes, the producer is important, but why is his name so prominent while the song titles are presented as if they were footnotes?

The liner notes booklet is similarly plain with a font too small to be easily read. I’d like to say the vinyl release would solve this problem, but I can't begin to tell you just how many vinyl releases also get typography wrong. No wonder I tend to ignore lyrical meaning!

While it is possible the vinyl release may improve on the harsh and limited dynamic range heard on the CD, Hang Cool Teddy Bear was only released on vinyl for a limited run, resulting in it now being out-of-print and costing far more on the secondhand market than it should.

While there is no news regarding a possible vinyl reissue/remaster, Hang Cool Teddy Bear is available on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, you can also listen to Hang Cool Teddy Bear on Spotify and Apple Music.

Click here to read other Meat Loaf reviews by Subjective Sounds. 

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Elton John – Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Album Review)

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Elton John – Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Album Review)

The mid-1970's was a tsunami of creativity within the music industry. Leading the charge, along with many others, was Elton John with his larger-than-life persona and signature sound. Most impressively, John would release 12 albums during this decade alone. While the quality of the output varied, I feel the shift in recording styles, during this decade has had a longer-lasting impact on the music industry than even the preceding decade. No doubt someone will disagree with my elation of the 70's, but as much as I adore The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who with their 60's sound, Elton John, the Eagles, and Aerosmith would further evolve this raw rock sound, creating sonic signatures that were equally unique and progressive. No, dear reader, I haven't forgotten about the Disco era or the impact of Motown's soul. I merely mention all this insofar as I feel Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy defines the era. Yes, that is a bold statement, but John and Taupin really blended all genres of music to create nothing less than an incredible body of work.

While I’ve always liked Alan Aldridge’s artwork, I do find the cover art to be a little too busy. That said, I’ve never owned this album on vinyl and I have no doubt the artwork would become more immersive on the larger canvas.

For this review, I'm listening to the 24/96kHz MQA edition on TIDAL Hi-Fi. It is exquisite, with a sonic signature that just sounds right. Trust me, I know how vague that sounds, but the soundstage is well presented and no musical elements are concealed, as they are with the 16/44.1kHz CD-quality FLAC edition from the mid-90's mastering sessions. That isn’t to say the standard CD edition is inferior, but you do get a greater sense of transparency with the MQA edition. The drum track, in particular on Curtains, comes alive to such an extent that you can visualise Nigel Olsson’s intensity as well as the tension on each drum. It is simply spectacular!

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy may be an awesome name for an album, but sadly the song is lacklustre. It isn't necessarily bad, it just fails to live up to the Elton John hype and really shouldn’t have been used as the lead song.

Tower Of Babel is a song that grows on you the more you listen to it. I do recall initially disliking it, but as the years have passed, I find it to be an exceptional song that is worthy of more fanfare than I feel it has received over the years.

Bitter Fingers takes a minute or so to get going, but once it does there is no stopping the addictive rhythm. The chorus is off-the-charts and while it is not easy to sing-a-long to, I dare you to sit still while enjoying this song. My advice, turn the volume up when this song comes on.

Tell Me When The Whistle Blows has a Marvin Gaye feel to it. See, this is why I said this album encompasses the musical styles of the decade? While it isn't a bad song, I don't feel it is well-suited to John. That said, the album wouldn’t be the same without it!

Someone Saved My Life Tonight is spectacular! In my review of The Very Best Of Elton John, I said Someone Saved My Life Tonight is a lovely ballad with a perfect balance and overall composition. I certainly stand by that aforementioned statement.

(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket is Elton John meets The Rolling Stones. Needless to say, I love it!

Better Off Dead isn't a bad song and interestingly reminds me of The Who’s music. That's a good thing!

Writing is a little too campy for me with that continuous twang. As I listen to it, I can't help but hear the guitar sound that Mark Knopfler would adapt as the signature Dire Straits sound.

We All Fall In Love Sometimes is beautiful!

Curtains follows on perfectly from We All Fall In Love Sometimes. It is so perfect that you would be forgiven for assuming the songs are not separate, but one exceptional masterpiece. As I mentioned earlier, I simply adore the drum track on this MQA version. In fact, all musical elements are perfectly presented with an impressively wide and immersive soundstage. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is a Beatles classic, but just as John outperformed The Who on Pinball Wizard, he takes the Beatles tune, surpasses the original, and makes it his own.

One Day At A Time has an interesting panning effect between the left and right channels. I can't say I like it, but it pays homage to the psychedelic era. One Day At A Time is a B-side but remains a worthy addition to the album.

Philadelphia Freedom, along with the two previous songs, were not included in the album tracking until the 1995 remastering sessions. Such a shame considering how excellent the song is. Regardless, it is here now, unless you get the vinyl re-issue of the album that stays loyal to the original track listing. While Curtains is a fantastic track to close the album on, Philadelphia Freedom most certainly encourages me to listen to the album again and stay within John's catalogue.

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy is another exceptional Elton John album. While a couple of the songs may not live up to John's reputation, the album as a body of work is perfect and should be a must-own for every fan.

Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy is available on Vinyl, SACD, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

If you're so inclined, there is also a Deluxe Edition (featuring a live performance from 1975 at Wembley Stadium) available on double CD and iTunes. The Deluxe Edition is also available for streaming on TIDAL Hi-Fi, Spotify, and Apple Music.

Click here to read other Elton John reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell (Album Review)

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Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell (Album Review)

Bat Out Of Hell is an absolute classic and while there are few that would dismiss its importance to the history of recorded music, most of us would agree that it is a landmark album. It's a shame then that the sonic quality has never really lived up to the hype, but more on that later.

In 1993, Meat Loaf had once again exploded on the world's stage with Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell and the monumentally popular lead single I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That). Both would herald my first experiences of Meat Loaf and I was immediately hooked. So much so that the acquisition of the album that started it all was all but guaranteed.

As I played the Bat Out Of Hell cassette, I remember being surprised that an album would have fewer than ten songs. You must remember that this was at the height the CD era when artists and record labels had a tendency to fill the capacity of the CD for no other reason than because they could. Sure, there were some exceptional albums that went for the 74-minute duration, but they were often the exception, rather than the rule. Despite this, I quickly learnt that the song limitations on Bat Out Of Hell were due to the approximate 44-minute runtime of the vinyl LP and the fact that Meat Loaf often defied the radio-friendly runtime. 

Sadly, the cassette no longer exists in my collection. It became a casualty of the MP3 era. Yes, dear reader, I was a bloody idiot! The most unfortunate aspect of this move to digital convenience was that I’ve never been able to find a comparable copy, on any format. While I acknowledge the placebo effect in relation to my memories of how the cassette sounded, I have found that many of the currently available editions lack midrange with excessive treble. It is frustrating and reminds me of my beloved ABBA collection. Some releases are excellent, most are substandard, usually due to varied masters and master tape quality.

A few years ago, I decided to pick up a vinyl release as much for the artwork as the promised return to analog sound. Well, let's just say the CD-quality edition on TIDAL Hi-Fi is significantly better. That's putting it mildly as Lucifer himself wouldn't allow the Simply Vinyl pressing to enter hell. It truly is that bad!

The catalogue number for the aforementioned atrocity is SVLP 0086/82419. Simply Vinyl even had the audacity to claim that it was pressed on Virgin Vinyl, a fact that is a completely inaccurate as the surface noise alone is off the charts. Even recycled vinyl can sound adequate if the record has been mastered and pressed with respect to the limitations of the medium and the original recording. Besides the poor sonic quality, the Simply Vinyl release is pressed so poorly that the lead song, Bat Out Of Hell, starts about a second later than it should.

I could go on and on about how pathetic the pressing is and how much extraneous treble is present. I could also detail how the record lacks soul, drive, and emphasis, not to mention musicality, but I think you get the idea. Simply avoid this pressing at all costs.

As a result, I won’t be using the Simply Vinyl release for this review as it would tarnish my thoughts on the songs themselves. I will subsequently be using the TIDAL Hi-Fi edition as the basis for this review. It still isn’t what I would consider as perfect, but it offers a decent quality that allows me to enjoy Bat Out Of Hell.

Bat Out Of Hell is a killer track to commence the album with. It is the epitome pop/rock opera, along with Paradise By The Dashboard Light of course, and I simply adore it.

You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) has the classic Jim Steinman spoken intro that works well with the song, but I find the musicality in this track to be too campy and rather dated. That is not to say that I dislike it, but this song could have easily come from Abba's catalogue, especially with the backing vocal style. Regardless, once the song gets going, I find it captivating and feel the need to sing-a-long.

Heaven Can Wait is simply gorgeous!

All Revved Up With No Place To Go is a little too jazzy for my liking. Despite that, I don’t dislike the song and will once again belt out every chorus and verse. 

Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad is pure Meat Loaf. Just like Heaven Can Wait, I thoroughly enjoy songs that highlight Meat Loaf's vocal presentation. While he’s been criticised in recent years for poor live performances, there is no shame on this track. He knocked it out of the park with Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad; one of my all-time favourites.

Paradise By The Dashboard Light has a reputation that needs no introduction, Pure perfection from a songwriting and musical perspective. It's a shame it lacks midrange while also needing a little boost in the low end. Regardless, it would be in my Top 100 songs of all-time, if I had such a list.

For Crying Out Loud is another of those exceptional vocal-driven tunes that are perfect for Meat Loaf. While we all likely gravitate to the well-known, face-paced, rock tunes on the album, I personally adore this song and the gradual build-up is pure gold. Just as Bat Out Of Hell was the perfect song to begin the album with, For Crying Out Loud is the ultimate closer, encouraging me to listen to the album again and stay within Meat Loaf's catalogue for the rest of the day.

Bat Out Of Hell is one of the greatest albums ever recorded; even if not from a sonic standpoint. While Meat Loaf gets most of the credit, Jim Steinman needs to be remembered as the silent but extremely talented writer that was as important to Meat Loaf’s success as Bernie Taupin was to Elton John. Yes, both Meat Loaf and Elton John have worked with other songwriters, but it could be argued that their best work occurred when working with these key contributors.

Without doubt, I need to source a better original for my physical music collection. I have been considering the Analogue Spark SACD release as it is reported to be very good and amongst the best masterings of the album. However, as I was finalising this review, I noticed that Friday Music has just re-issued the album as a 40th Anniversary Edition on red vinyl. Yes, I’m sceptical of another vinyl edition as well. However, it is important to note that this edition has been mastered by Joe Reagoso and Kevin Gray at RTI. Those names alone are akin to royalty in audiophile circles and based on my prior experience with Friday Music pressings, I’m almost tempted to order a copy.

Do you have a preferred edition of this classic? If so, please let us know in the comments. 

Bat Out Of Hell is available on Vinyl, SACD, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, Bat Out Of Hell is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Click here to read other Meat Loaf reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Elton John - Don't Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (Album Review)

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Elton John - Don't Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (Album Review)

As far as album titles go, this is one of my favourites as it conjures up a variety of thoughts that not only apply to the literal inference of the statement, but the showmanship element portrayed via the cover art.

From a musical perspective, there is much to like here as many of the songs have gone on to become staples in the Elton John catalogue. However, sonically I find the album challenging to enjoy as it sounds rather concealed. For reference, the edition that this review is based on is the 1995 Mercury remaster available on TIDAL Hi-Fi. It simply lacks a lively approach and also sounds incredibly flat by comparison to John's other records from this era. It simply isn't mastered well, yet the classic tunes that I know well, and have repeatedly heard on various compilations, sound incredible on John's various best of/greatest hits releases. With this in mind, I feel confident in saying that the remaster didn’t enhance the album. It’s a shame really, considering the calibre of songs found on Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player.

Daniel is a gorgeous ballad that truly showcases the smooth, yet gruff, elements that are part of John's vocal presentation. Musically, it is also lovely, it’s just disappointing that the remaster is not stronger as there is a greater performance hidden from the listener’s ears. Regardless, Daniel is thoroughly enjoyable.

Teacher I Need You is EPIC! It’s a fun song that works extremely well for John's style; similar to Crocodile Rock in that regard. Sadly, the percussion elements lack the depth I believe they should have, resulting in a lacklustre backbeat.

Elderberry Wine is a great song, but again let down by what can only be described as 'mushy' drums.

Blues For My Baby And Me is a simply gorgeous song. As I listen to it, I can't help but wonder if Billy Joel has ever covered this song in one of their double-billed live performances as it would be perfectly suited to his style. Perhaps it is just me, but the way John sings this song is similar to Joel's own vocal dexterity. Subsequently, the casual listener could be forgiven for assuming Blues For My Baby And Me is a Billy Joel song, rather than an Elton John classic.

Midnight Creeper is a solid song, with a catchy melody, but it isn't anything to write home about.

Have Mercy On The Criminal is an incredible song, one of the best on the album. Quite frankly, it is one of John's greatest recordings.

I'm Gonna Be A Teenage Idol has a fantastic groove that ensures your body will be moving throughout. Turn the volume up and enjoy. I love it!

Texas Love Song is an enjoyable tune that grows on you the more you listen to the album.

Crocodile Rock is one of my all-time favourites. It’s simply a fun song and sometimes that is all you need.

High Flying Bird is a classic B-side, but it is beautiful in its own right and is one of the best songs on the album.

Screw You (Young Man's Blues) is another fun song. I'd love to see the Foo Fighters cover this song as I can only imagine Dave Grohl’s vocal presentation, especially in the chorus, would be priceless.

Jack Rabbit (Single Version) is a bonus song that was left off the core album and should have been left off the remaster. It simply doesn’t add any substance to the album or John's career.

Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again) isn’t the strongest song in the lineup either. Sometimes I find bonus tracks detract from the core album experience and that is certainly the case in this instance. It would be nice to have these tracks separate, perhaps on a second CD. Unfortunately, streaming services have yet to come up with an adequate way to handle such a problem. Yes, they often include the standard album release with the Deluxe Edition but this remaster was never separated as such in the CD era, hence the good, the bad, and the ugly are mashed together. Vinyl collectors can, however, rejoice as the 2017 reissue has the original album track listing.

Skyline Pigeon (Piano Version) is gorgeous and while this is my preferred version, the original that is available on Empty Sky has a rawer production that works equally well.

Don't Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player is another incredible album by Elton John, but in comparison to his other recordings, it is sonically inferior. Perhaps it could be partially contributed to the original recording style, but I still feel it was the remaster that has tarnished the musical brilliance. That said, I've never heard an original pressing of this album and I may be in error with the above statement. Although, I can’t ignore the fact that many of John’s compilations present the songs in a far more pleasing manner with a larger soundstage and overall presence. Interestingly, Don't Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player was never mastered to SACD and to my knowledge there has never been a high-resolution edition released. I only mention this as many of John's other albums from this era have received the high-res treatment and I wonder if the original recording is lacking or if the tapes from the original recording/mastering sessions are beyond repair. If anyone has any knowledge in this area, I’d love to hear from you. Regardless, I’ll certainly be interested to listen to the album again once it is available in MQA via TIDAL Hi-Fi.

In the meantime, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Click here to read other Elton John reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection (Album Review)

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Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection (Album Review)

You'd think that following the Pop/Rock success of John's self-titled album, Elton John, the last thing on his mind would have been a change of style. Well the country-infused concept album, Tumbleweed Connection, cemented the musical skill of not only John but Bernie Taupin. While it isn't Nashville Country Music, it is appealing to a broader demographic with its Roots, Blues, and Country Rock musicality. That said, Tumbleweed Connection is more the merging of the genres, rather than highlighting one in particular. It is unique, compelling, and is classic Elton John.

The artwork for this album is legendary, but you wouldn't know that looking at the basic artwork shown on all streaming services. As numerous albums from the vinyl era do, their cover continues to the rear, thereby creating a captivating landscape. While I don't yet have a physical copy of this album, the website Discogs is a wonderful place to explore all the editions and associated design choices.

While I have Tumbleweed Connection on my Discogs wish list, I aim to pick up the 2004 SACD edition, rather than the Vinyl release as it contains the surround sound mix by Greg Penny. These mixes are generally highly regarded and if my Blu-ray High Fidelity Pure Audio (HFPA) 5.I Surround Sound copy of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is any indication, then I am in for an experience that has to be heard to be believed. By comparison, my Vinyl copy, and all other stereo editions of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sound flat and lifeless by comparison. Yes, I acknowledge the mastering variations of a surround sound mix versus a stereo mix, but the difference is quite profound and more enjoyable. Regardless, when I pick up the SACD release, I'll post a review for those of you who may be interested. In the meantime, this review is based on the 1995 remaster available on TIDAL Hi-Fi. Overall, it is a very relaxed and enjoyable remaster that pre-dates the horrors of remastering for loudness alone.

Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun is now a staple in John's catalogue, but as catchy as it is, I just can't get into the tempo as it has always sounded a little too offbeat for my liking.

Come Down In Time is simply gorgeous. It is one of my favourite songs on the album and one of the best songs Elton John ever recorded.

County Comfort is an absolute classic that has been covered numerous times. Of the mainstream covers, I don't believe Rod Stewart did a great job of it on Gasoline Alley. Whereas, I thoroughly enjoy Keith Urban’s rendition on Be Here as I feel it pays homage to the original while being simultaneously modern and perfectly suited to Urban's style. That said, the original is, as most originals are, beyond reproach. John's version is so compelling that I could listen to it repeatedly without tiring of the song.

Son Of Your Father isn't great. Musically it’s interesting, but the lyrical delivery is disjointed until the chorus kicks in, then the song starts to become a little more compelling. Sadly, it isn't enough for me to be captivated and hence I put this song into the B-side category.

My Father's Gun is fantastic. That chorus is really appealing and the overall musically of the song is top notch in my opinion.

Where To Now St. Peter? is really enjoyable. Yet it is somewhat offbeat and shouldn't really work, but it does and systematically showcases the incredible understanding of music and its associated composition by John and Taupin.

Love Song works in well within the album construct. However, as a song on its own, I don't find it compelling. The background real-life sounds also detract from the music, although I am interested to see how these elements will be placed in the surround sound mix.

Amoreena is a B-side for me. It isn't bad, but it isn't a standout either.

Talking Old Soldiers is lovely in its simplicity. A simply amazing performance. Sonic perfection!

Burn Down The Mission is a solid B-side. Musically, there is much to like here, but I find the mix conceals the vocals a little too much.

Into The Old Man's Shoes is a great song that, once again, fits in perfectly with the album and overall style of the recording.

Madman Across The Water is epic! I never tire of this song and I really love this original version. It has such an immersive soundstage, you really need to turn the volume up on this one and be enveloped with sound. The re-recording on the similarly titled album, Madman Across The Water, is also compelling, but I find it to be overproduced and lacking some of the rawness that made this original so special.

Overall, Tumbleweed Connection is a masterful release that adds intrinsic value to Elton John's early era in the recording industry.

Tumbleweed Connection is available on Vinyl, SACD, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

A Deluxe Edition is also available on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, Tumbleweed Connection is also available on Spotify (Standard / Deluxe Edition) and Apple Music (Standard / Deluxe Edition).

Click here to read other Elton John reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Avi Rosenfeld - Very Heepy Very Purple VI (Album Review)

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Avi Rosenfeld - Very Heepy Very Purple VI (Album Review)

Deep Purple, Dio, Iron Maiden, and Rainbow are amongst the greatest rock and roll bands to have ever existed. Hence, it is hardly surprising that prolific guitarist Ari Rosenfeld has written and recorded an album paying homage to these pioneers.

Very Heepy Very Purple VI is Rosenfeld's 30th album and while he’s not yet a household name, there is a lot to like about an independent artist that forges their own destiny. As such, you won't be able to listen to his work on any of the mainstream streaming platforms. Initially, I thought this omission was strange as one would want as much recognition as possible. However, when you consider the pittance streaming services pay artists, you can't blame talented independents for looking at alternatives. 

Rosenfeld's alternative is to utilise bandcamp. You can sample the entire album for free, or purchase the album at a price you determine to be appropriate. A simply fantastic idea! If you do decide to purchase the album, you will receive the MP3 and FLAC editions of the album. A purchase will also allow streaming via the official bandcamp app. Most importantly, a purchase will help a very talented independent artist.

Very Heepy Very Purple VI is also intriguing as each song has been recorded with a different vocalist and musician lineup. Rosenfeld is, of course, the sole conductor of the project and while the lineup of musicians may initially raise questions of consistency, the result is surprisingly pleasing as all songs morph perfectly into the theme of the album. If nothing else, that fact alone should be a testament to Rosenfeld's vision and musical skill.

Battles Rain has a groovy Deep Purple feel with vocals to match. It is like a crossover between Deep Purple and Iron Maiden. I thoroughly enjoy it! It is a great song that sets the stage for what you're about to hear.

Crash Into The Burning Sun has a killer guitar solo that will appeal to air guitarists everywhere. It is a good song, but I'm unsure about the choice of vocalist for this track. Don't get me wrong, Arpie Gamson has a great vocal presence, but I feel another song on the album may have suited him better.

Sole Survivor has a blues rock and roll feel that I adore. The song is great, but I would prefer to hear a much wider soundstage as the musicality, while excellent, is just a little too shallow. 

Help Me My Brother is exceptional! Rilvas Silva is the perfect vocalist for this song. I also love the electronic-styled interludes that remind me of the 8-bit computer gaming era.

The Desert And The Wind has a killer demonic introduction. William Stewart’s violin riffing is amazing and simply has to be heard. Yes, I truly believe classical instruments can and should be implemented in rock and roll music, albeit on a case by case basis. One only needs to hear how extraordinary Metallica sounded with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra on S&M to understand the appeal of symphonic metal. I also enjoy Guilherme de Siervi’s vocal delivery, and to be honest, the entire composition is perfect. The end result is that The Desert And The Wind is one of my favourite songs on the album.

Castles Burning reminds me again of the sound from the 8-bit video gaming era. While that isn't necessarily a bad thing, the song is strong enough on its own to avoid these musical cliches. A remix would be recommended here as I would love to hear an edgier version of this song.

Shes A Woman (sic) is a B-side. It sounds more like a demo than a finished recording. 

Dragon Slayer is Deep Purple 101. I love it! Yet, it is also Maiden and Dio inspired. Despite crossing the streams, the merging of inspiration pays off. However, I'm not entirely sold on the Marimba solo.

State Of Decay has an interesting melody with a key focus on the keyboards. It works well but was not an immediate favourite of mine. However, it did grow on me.

Lonely Ship has some glorious guitar and bass work. The vocals, by Peter Rudolf, are well suited to the song and I find that it encourages me to listen to the album again.

Overall, Very Heepy Very Purple VI is an incredible independent release that Rosenfeld and his musical collaborators should be proud of. If I were a record company executive or a producer, I would be signing Rosenfeld immediately. The man has serious raw talent and I can only imagine the sonic wonders he would release with some major backing.

Very Heepy Very Purple VI has very few flaws for an independent release. Other than issues expressed above, my only feeling is the album could have been mastered differently. A wider soundstage and greater instrument separation would be appreciated as I want to be enveloped in sound, rather than acknowledging that the sound is emanating from my speakers. That said, compared with some of the mainstream masterings, this album sounds exceptionally good. After all, Iron Maiden has some of the best and worst masterings, of the same album, that I have ever come across. I love Maiden, but the mastering variations in their releases are nothing short of infuriating. That said, the 2015 remasters in MQA 24/96 kHz, from TIDAL Masters, are excellent. 

This review was based on listening to the 16 and 24-bit master WAV files provided to me by the artist.

Very Heepy Very Purple VI is available for purchase and streaming on bandcamp. You can also find out more about Avi Rosenfeld on his website, or via Facebook.

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