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The Rolling Stones – Five By Five (EP Review)

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The Rolling Stones – Five By Five (EP Review)

Many collectors, myself included, have a list of the records that we consider Holy Grails. Often, Discogs is the best database for such a collection, especially if looking for a rarity to pop up on the secondhand market. However, there are times when good old crate-digging uncovers that hidden gem. Yes, dear reader, I was fortunate enough to pick up The Rolling Stones EP and Got Live If You Want It (EP) from Matau Records in 2018. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Five By Five and I was to find out that while secondhand copies were plentiful, new copies were far more expensive than they should be, most likely because of not only supply and demand but also the artificial scarcity of them being Record Store Day releases. As longtime readers would note, I want to purchase new pressings, in order to make them my own, create my own memories, and ultimately pass them down to my son. As such it was either pay two to three times the value or hope that one day it would be reissued. Well, the good news is I didn’t have t wait for a reissue. 

A couple of weeks ago, my significant other had surprise ordered a different Holy Grail record for me; Elton John’s 17-11-70+. It is rather difficult to get, especially in Australia, and the only copy I had known to be still available was at Sydney Hi-Fi in Mona Vale. I had no intention of picking up any other records, but as all collectors would note, when you get into crate digging mode, your budget goes completely out the window. As I was perusing their shelves, my significant other pointed out the 7-inch reissues they had. I hadn’t thought much of it for I was in album buying mode, but then as I looked I saw Five By Five. Not just one copy, but two copies, at a very reasonable price. I was like a kid in a toy store. As much as I lusted after the Elton John record, this surprising find made my day and I’m still in awe that I now have a copy. 

Five By Five was released in 1964 and was The Rolling Stones second official EP. Unlike the raw, yet compelling Self-Titled EP, Five By Five has a much higher production quality, likely as a result of being recorded and release post their debut album, The Rolling Stones, resulting in it being an absolute pleasure to listen to. 

As with the Self-Titled EP, the reproduction of the artwork was exquisite with obvious differences that would likely drive purists to the brink of sanity. I’m just happy to have a facsimile that I can call my own. Plus, this time around, unlike the re-issue of the Self-Titled EP and Got Live If You Want It I have to get out my 45-rpm adapter. It’s a small thing, but it enhances the nostalgia element. 

Side One 

If You Need Me is a great song, originally recorded by Soul Music pioneer and legend Solomon Burke. His original is beyond reproach, but The Rolling Stones really adapted it well to their style. A live Rolling Stones recording exists on On Air, but it isn’t nearly as compelling as this studio recording. The Hep Stars also covered If You Need Me nicely and Tom Jones, with his baritone vocal, is not only perfectly suited for this song but I’d argue his is the very best rendition in existence. Nevertheless, If You Need Me is a great opener for this EP and an incredible recording in The Rolling Stones’ back catalogue. 

Empty Heart is a collaborative Stones original and you can certainly hear the brilliance that was to come with a tonality that would have arguably fit perfectly on Exile On Main St. had it been recorded during the Main St. sessions.

2120 South Michigan Avenue is another original composition and as an instrumental, it isn’t bad, but it isn’t anything to write home about. At least Jagger wasn’t standing around, providing a solid Harmonica to the mix.

Side Two

Confessin’ The Blues is a killer Blues tune and the live recording, as heard on On Air, while raw, is  musically pure and a valued addition to any Rolling Stones collection. 

Around And Around is a Chuck Berry masterpiece, but the Stones covered it perfectly and made it there own. It is the perfect way to close out this EP, ensuring that I’ll play it again and stay within The Rolling Stones’ extensive catalogue. The live recording from Top Gear in 1964, as heard on On Air is great but is quite noisy and distorted. If you’re interested in a stellar live recording, have a listen to the performance on Love You Live from 1977. Of course, whichever way you choose to enjoy Around And Around is up to you, but it is arguably one of the greatest blues-based rock and roll songs ever written and recorded. 

Overall, Five By Five is, in my opinion, the greatest EP that The Rolling Stones released. The songs are highly polished for the era and suit the band perfectly. If you don’t have a copy of Five By Five, I strongly suggest you track down one or at the very least add it to your digital library for it is short and sweet but never dull. 

Click here to read other Rolling Stones reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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The Rolling Stones – Self-Titled (EP Review)

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The Rolling Stones – Self-Titled (EP Review)

Originally released in 1964, The Rolling Stones is the debut EP that further introduced The Rolling Stones to audiences following their successful Lennon-McCartney/Beatles cover, I Wanna Be Your Man. The Stone’s version is arguably more rock and roll, a little rawer, and subsequently, I think, as much as it will disturb Beatles’ fans, the Stones version is superior. Nevertheless, The Rolling Stones EP would follow and see the band cover a selection of well-known tunes. While the recordings may not be of the highest quality, this EP is more than enjoyable when played. 

I’ve listened to the Apple Music edition countless times, I am also fortunate enough to own the 2014 Record Store Day Re-Issue. While the core mastering is identical, the distortion is much more reserved on the 7” 45RPM EP as compared to the Apple Music stream. Digital, with its clean sound, tends to amplify distortion whereas vinyl is arguably distorted to a certain extent already, hence that warm analogue sound, and therefore it doesn’t stand out as much unless listening via headphones. Overall, the 45 is about as good as you’re ever going to hear this early EP. 

The artwork is beautifully restored, albeit slightly different to the original pressings. Similarly, the UK pressing that I have doesn’t require the 45rpm adapter as it has the standard spindle hole. It isn’t a major deal, but it is a nice touch to have to get the adapter out to use with my turntable as it harks back to the era of the original release. Nevertheless, the EP is a solid pressing, with a thoroughly enjoyable sound, thereby making it essential to my Rolling Stones collection.

Side 1

Bye Bye Johnny is a great rock and roll tune and the original Chuck Berry recording is incredible, but The Rolling Stones not only covered this song masterfully, shame about the distortion in the chorus though, but they made it their own. The performance from Ladies & Gentlemen isn’t bad either and would have been better without Jagger’s introduction, but it’s a fun little tune nonetheless. 

Money is a great Motown original and incidentally was the first hit to come out of Hitsville U.S.A. The original Barrett Strong recording is incredible, as is the Beatles’ rendition. I don’t think it would be offending anyone to say the Beatle’s recording is likely the best. Plus, let’s not even discuss the atrocious Flying Lizards’ recording. Thankfully, The Rolling Stones didn’t stray too far from the original, thereby recording a fantastic rendition. If again, it didn’t suffer from distortion, I’d argue that it would have given the Beatles’ version a run for its money (pun unintended). 

Side 2

You Better Move On is a lovely rhythm and blues song, originally written and recorded by the incredible Arthur Alexander. The original is a masterpiece and The Rolling Stones didn’t disappoint when they recorded this rendition for it pays homage to the original and is perfectly suited to the band’s style. However, if you want to hear The Rolling Stones really perform this song well, check out the Blues In Rhythm / 1964 recording from On Air; sensational!

Poison Ivy is a great cover and the only one that I’ve heard which is on-par, if not surpassing The Rolling Stones edition, is the Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs recording from 1964. Nevertheless, Poison Ivy is the perfect closer for this EP and encourages me to play the entire EP again as it is simply that good!

Overall, if you’re a Rolling Stones fan and you’re interested in collecting their entire catalogue, then The Rolling Stones EP is an absolute must for your collection. For the casual listener, streaming the EP may be enough. Regardless, you simply must listen to The Rolling Stones EP at least once. Who knows, if you’re like me, you may enjoy it so much that you’ll play it over and over again. 

Click here to read other Rolling Stones reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Eagles – Hell Freezes Over (Album Review)

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Eagles – Hell Freezes Over (Album Review)

The Eagles may have taken a 14-year vacation, but when they returned to the stage, one of their greatest releases would ensue. Predominately a live recording, for the 1994 MTV special, Hell Freezes Over also contained four new songs that nicely fill Side A of the double LP. While some may lament Hell Freezes Over not being presented as a complete album, I actually feel the EP-sized approach to the new recordings was ideal and as much as I adore the Eagles, their 2007 studio effort, Long Road Out Of Eden, was less than stellar when compared to their incredible back catalogue. Nevertheless, more Eagles is always a good thing and if you haven’t checked out Hell Freezes Over, join me as I take a look at the music, performance, and the 25th Anniversary vinyl re-issue. 

For years, Hell Freezes Over was a missing holy grail; my collection just wasn’t the same without it. Yes, I could have picked up the CD release, or the accompanying DVD, but I always felt that I wanted to own it in its purest form. I considered the K2HD CD, the XRCD CD, and the near impossible to get at a decent price, and certainly not brand new, DTS 5.1 surround sound CD. Reviews were mixed and the prices that some of these audiophile releases go for is simply too high when reviews aren’t universally glowing, although the DTS CD is generally well regarded.

If you’re specifically interested in the surround sound mix of Hell Freezes Over, check out Mike’s exceptional review below and if you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to his YouTube channel, Life in Surround.

Nevertheless, I was eager to get hold of a copy on vinyl but it had been out of print for years and while I acknowledge that I could have gotten a secondhand copy, I prefer brand new copies as I want to make them my own and ultimately pass them down to my son. I almost purchased the massive career-perspective 2018 vinyl box set, Legacy, just to get Hell Freezes Over, but that is one of the ugliest releases I’ve ever come across; the box artwork in particular. Hence, when in 2019 Hell Freezes Over was reissued separately, with the original artwork, it immediately went on my Wishlist and I’m incredibly grateful to my family for gifting this masterpiece to me for Father’s Day. 

The quality of the vinyl re-issue has blown my mind. It is amongst the very best sounding records in my collection and is lovely to hold in the hand. The artwork is meticulous in quality and presentation. You’ll most certainly be holding this record as you listen intently. Both records are presented in high quality printed inner sleeves and rather than a gatefold, the album is a slipcover design. Yes, I love gatefolds, but the slipcase design is far easier when getting records in and out of the sleeves. I know some collectors who remove the record from the sleeve, placing the inner sleeve and record on the outside of the album cover. It certainly makes it easier to access the album in question, but I worry that it will ultimately damage the sleeve with the pressure of the other albums on the shelf. Hence, it isn’t something I do, but I can certainly see the benefit. 

The pressing itself is flawless. The records are about as silent as vinyl can be and the dynamics are full, thereby presenting a soundstage that will completely envelop you. Yes, this record was recorded, mixed, and mastered with kid gloves, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the vinyl pressing is going to be of equal quality. You’ll also get that warm analog sound that is often associated with vinyl. The bottom line is that it just sounds right.

Side A

Get Over It has a killer guitar intro and while the song is a little campy, I love it! You’ll be head-bopping and toe-tapping throughout. 

Love Will Keep Us Alive is the ballad-styled song that we’ve all come to adore from the Eagles. Timothy B. Schmit yet again proves just how masterful he is as a vocalist. I could quite happily listen to all his vocal recordings for an eternity. Yes, dear reader, I may have a man-crush for Schmit, but can you blame me. Interestingly, Love Will Keep Us Alive wasn’t written by the Eagles but the writers, Pete Vale, Jim Capaldi, and Paul Carrack, wrote a song that suited the Eagles perfectly and is, in my opinion, one of their best vocal ballads. 

The Girl From Yesterday is a lovely country-styled tune that is a welcome addition to the album but isn’t anything to write home about. 

Learn To Be Still is a thoroughly enjoyable song and the more I hear it, the more I appreciate it. It is as though there are layers of musicality that ensure that I never tire of this song.

Side B

Tequila Sunrise is the first live song on the album and Frey’s introduction is great. It is, as I’ve mentioned before, a beautiful song that is thoroughly relaxing and this is a stunning live performance. 

Hotel California has never sounded better. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I class this rendition to be the greatest I’ve ever heard. Because the vinyl edition is so smooth, there is absolutely no audible distortion and every musical element is present in the soundstage. I dare you to find a better live recording, by any artist. Sensational!

Wasted Time was the perfect choice to follow Hotel California as they are musically similar. It is, as I’ve mentioned before, one of my all-time favourite Eagles’ songs and while the composition of the song is very similar to the album version, that doesn’t matter for it is simply incredible. It is also Don Henley at his very best. 

Pretty Maids In A Row is a lovely song to close out Side B of this vinyl release. The backing harmonious vocal is thoroughly enjoyable and while I have a love/hate relationship with Joe Walsh’s vocal, he nails this performance. That isn’t to say that I dislike Walsh’s vocal style, just that I sometimes find it to be a little too jarring. 

Side C

I Can’t Tell You Why is an incredibly smooth tune and Schmit’s vocal delivery is simply magical, as is the musicality of this entire record. You’ll likely want to turn this song up because, again, you’ll hear absolutely no distortion as you toe-tap and head-bop rhythmically throughout the song. I Can’t Tell You Why is most certainly one of the Eagles’ greatest hits and it is also one of the best songs on Hell Freezes Over. 

New York Minute was originally a Don Henley solo effort, being first released on The End Of Innocence. It’s a great tune and works incredibly well for the Eagles, making me wonder how the song would have sounded had it been an original Eagles composition. Nevertheless, it is a welcome addition to Hell Freezes Over as it’s one of Henley’s best solo recordings. 

The Last Resort is a solid song from Hotel California but I’ve always had mixed emotions when listening to The Last Resort. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but something is missing. I’ve often wondered if it is simply too long, but I thoroughly enjoy the musicality. Perhaps it is Henley’s somewhat dry vocal on this particular tune that leaves me feeling a little disjointed. Either way, this performance is solid and doesn’t detract from the album but given their extensive catalogue of music, I may have selected a different song to perform on this occasion. 

Side D

Take It Easy is a little jarring, as a result of the guitar tuning, on Hell Freezes Over. Unfortunately, I have to turn the volume down to enjoy it; a shame considering just how good it is. 

In The City is bloody brilliant and is one of my all-time favourite Walsh-sung songs. 

Life In The Fast Lane will get you moving; I know I can’t sit still when listening to it, it is that good!

Desperado is beautiful and is arguably a perfect closer for Hell Freezes Over, encouraging me to listen to the album again and remain within the Eagle’s catalog of music. 

Overall, Hell Freezes Over is one of the greatest Eagles releases. I consider it my go-to album as it’s not only a live album with four new tracks but a compilation that doesn’t feature a bad song. It has a little of everything and the 25th Anniversary vinyl re-issue is nothing short of pure perfection; you won’t be disappointed. Let’s just hope that they keep this edition in print, I’m going to eventually need to get another copy as I play this album frequently. 

This 25th Anniversary remaster of Hell Freezes Over is also available on CD and Apple Music

Click here to read other Eagles reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Wilco – A.M. (Album Review)

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Wilco – A.M. (Album Review)

Each time I play A.M. I need to remind myself that this was Wilco’s debut release from 1995 and that it isn’t of the same, highly polished, style that is A Ghost Is Born and Schmilco; two of my favourite Wilco albums. That isn’t to say that A.M. is flawed, as it has some killer tunes and plenty of hidden gems that have stood the test of time, but it is an acknowledgement of their sonic shift on subsequent albums. 

I Must Be High isn’t a bad way to open this alternative country-rock album. A solid song, with a solid rhythm. What more could one ask for? 

Casino Queen has a killer blues-rock meets country rock feel that I swear would be a perfect song for The Rolling Stones to cover. Casino Queen is, without a doubt, one of my favourite songs on A.M. and is one of the best songs Wilco has ever recorded; I also consider it to be one of the very best rock tunes of the 20th Century. 

Box Full Of Letters isn’t the greatest. The musicality is too alternative and too campy. Plus, the rhythm is all over the place, thereby making it difficult to sync in with a particular groove. I also find Jeff Tweedy’s vocal on this song to be lacklustre. The guitar solo is its only saviour.

Shouldn’t Be Ashamed has everything Box Full Of Letters didn’t. It’s a brilliant song that is thoroughly enjoyable and compels me to move my body subconsciously to the rhythm. Perhaps the only flaw in Shouldn’t Be Ashamed is there is a little too much distortion in the guitar tracking. 

Pick Up The Change isn’t a bad toe-tapping song, but it isn’t anything to write home about either. A solid B-Side with some nice blues-based guitar work.

I Thought I Held You is a great tune that incorporates an interesting mix of the banjo with the steel guitar. It works incredibly well and gives the song a level of depth that ensures you become enveloped by the soundstage, especially during the final minute of the song. 

That’s Not The Issue is another chaotic rhythmic mess. It is akin to noise, rather than music. A shame as it breaks up the flow of the album considerably. 

It’s Just That Simple is a thoroughly enjoyable alternative country-rock tune and the creaminess of the instrumental interlude mid-song is absolutely marvellous. 

Should’ve Been In Love is an enjoyable B-side. Nothing more, nothing less. 

Passenger Side is fantastic, with a perfect mix between all sonic elements. I love it!

Dash 7 isn’t a bad B-side, but it is a little left of the centre. That may appeal to you, dear reader, or it may result in a confusing musical piece of art that will make you question if the song is good, bad, or merely adequate. 

Blue Eyed Soul is a song I adore. The tempo and progression of the song are perfect. I must admit, I do like Wilco’s slower rhythms as they suit the band perfectly.

Too Far Apart is an excellent track to close the album on with a rhythm and blues-based influence that will appeal to anyone interested in this style of music. There is no doubt in my mind that Too Far Apart is the perfect song to encourage me to play the album again and stay within Wilco’s catalogue of music. While an expanded Deluxe Edition has also been released, I’ve never felt the urge to listen to it as I feel the original 13-track, 45 minute, release is perfect for enjoying A.M. and I must be honest when I say that if a song didn’t make it to the original album, then it likely wasn’t good enough in the first place. Of course, your opinion may differ and if so, please let us know in the comments what song from the Deluxe Edition makes it a compelling alternative. 

Overall, A.M. is an excellent debut with some obvious flaws. The flaws, however, don’t detract from the album thereby ensuring that fans will appreciate this release along with newcomers who are after a somewhat raw country-rock sound with an alternative twist. 

A.M. is available on Vinyl, CD, and the iTunes Store

The Deluxe Edition of A.M. is available on Vinyl, CD, iTunes, and Apple Music

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Ozzy Osbourne – Under Cover (Album Review)

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Ozzy Osbourne – Under Cover (Album Review)

Ozzy Osbourne is a living legend and while is work in Black Sabbath and his solo career has been spectacular, was a covers album really what fans were looking for from his ninth studio album? The song selection, focusing on rock and roll from the 60s and 70s, is fantastic and it’s unlikely you’ll hear a song that you’ve never heard before. Of course, the biggest question is if these songs suit Osbourne’s vocal and musical styles or is Under Cover largely a self-indulgent release and homage to Osbourne’s musical idols?

Rocky Mountain Way is a Joe Walsh classic and Osbourne performs it admirably, mixing a little of his own style while paying homage to the original. If you like Joe Walsh’s recording of this song but want it to feature a little more hard rock, perhaps a touch of metal, then you’re going to love this cover.

In My Life (Radio Edit) is a beautiful song and was one of the best songs from The Beatles’ Rubber Soul; although there are so many! One of the things I’ve always found fascinating about Osbourne is that despite his hard rocker persona, he can sing ballads exceptionally well and I’d even argue that he is a better ballad singer than he is a heavy metal vocalist. That may irritate some, but I’m blown away with his performance of In My Life. It is so good that as much as I adore The Beatles original, I enjoy Osbourne’s better; partially due to the darker style and the slower tempo. Regardless, both are exceptional and Osbourne has done himself proud on In My Life.  

Mississippi Queen is a killer rock and roll tune that is styled very similarly to the original Mountain classic. Do I have a preferred version? Not really, they’re both exceptional but if you’re looking for a little more hard rock, then Osbourne’s rendition is the one to listen to. 

Go Now is one song that I would have never imagined Osbourne covering. It’s a great song and while you may be familiar with The Moody Blues version, the Bessie Banks original is the one to beat and Osbourne has done just that. An exceptional cover with a gorgeous musical interlude that includes a piano and guitar solo. I love it!

Woman is one of the greatest songs ever written and recorded. It doesn’t matter how good this rendition is, nothing and nobody will ever beat John Lennon’s original. That said, Osbourne covers it superbly, paying homage to the original while also putting his own spin on this classic.

21 Century Schizoid Man is a classic late 60s masterpiece that Osbourne has turned up to 11. 

All The Young Dudes is a killer tune. A David Bowie original composition, Bowie’s recording has always been exceptional, as was the original recording of the song by Mott the Hoople, but Osbourne takes All The Young Dudes to another level completely. Sensational!

For What It’s Worth is an incredible cover. I love the Buffalo Springfield original and it is that version that we’re arguably most familiar with. However, if you’re looking for a modern interpretation that infuses the original with hard rock elements, then look no further for this is utterly perfect.  

Good Times is a song I’ve never been fond of. The Animals original isn’t fundamentally bad, but it never grabbed my attention. While there is nothing wrong with Osbourne’s interpretation, it doesn’t change my thoughts on the song as a whole.

Sunshine Of Your Love is one of the greatest songs from the 60s. The distortion in the original Cream version is stunningly good and while you can’t beat the original, Osbourne pays homage to it and adds a little of a harder rock edge to the song that I find to be thoroughly enjoyable. A killer song no matter who performs it!

Fire is a really interesting psychedelic rock tune from 1968. The Arthur Brown original isn’t bad, but Osbourne has made Fire his own and I much prefer this interpretation. 

Working Class Hero is another John Lennon classic. Again, Osbourne doesn’t disappoint. Admittedly, he doesn’t stray too far from the original in his interpretation, but Osbourne’s approach breathes new life into Working Class Hero and is arguably perfectly suited to his vocal and musical style. 

Sympathy For The Devil is a killer song. The Rolling Stones are the ultimate masters and arguably nobody has done it better. Yes, Guns N’ Roses covered it incredibly well, but the original is beyond reproach. Nevertheless, Osbourne’s rendition is enjoyable and is a great closer for this collection of covers ensuring that I’ll likely listen to the album again, stay within Osbourne’s catalogue, or explore the original artists he’s covered. Yes, on some editions of the album, the Black Sabbath song, Changes (with Kelly Osbourne), is included but that isn’t the case with the Apple Music release which sticks to the original 13-track lineup. 

As far as cover albums go, this is one of the most enjoyable I’ve come across. Yes, I would have preferred to have more original Osbourne music, but he has given fans a look at some of his favourite tunes and has covered them with the respect they deserve. Under Cover, however, isn’t an album I go to when I think of Osbourne, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it when listening to his entire catalogue. 

Under Cover is available on CD and iTunes.

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Ash Grunwald – Live At The Fly By Night (Live Album Review)

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Ash Grunwald – Live At The Fly By Night (Live Album Review)

As I listen to Live At The Fly By Night, I find myself captivated by the non-stop groove of Grunwald. This man certainly has bucket loads of rhythm to go along with what Ian McFarlane rightly claimed as a guttural resonant vocal styled somewhat after Tom Waits, Howling Wolf, Elmore James, and Robert Johnson. I couldn’t have described Grunwald’s musicality better myself and if you haven’t got a copy, you’ll find a wealth of information in McFarlane’s opus The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock And Pop.

Normally when I think of live albums, I have mixed emotions. Many are excellent, others are average at best. It really is a mixed bag. However, Live At The Fly By Night is one of the best live recordings I’ve ever heard. The mix, the dynamics, and the correct levelling of audience interaction make for a compelling listen that I’m certain you’ll love. While I can’t say for certain that some studio mastery hasn’t been applied here, I don’t care because the mastering is utterly perfect and showcases just how good music can sound if recorded, mixed, and mastered with care. 

Sadly, this release has never been issued on vinyl, but to be completely honest, the Apple Music stream, which this review is based on, is stunning with an incredible soundstage and tonality that gets you as close to vinyl as digital ever will. I can only imagine how good the CD sounds but I can assure you that you’re not missing a thing if you choose to listen to Live At The Fly By Night via Apple Music.

Intro helps to set the tone of the performance and while I’m not overly enthralled by the audience inclusion here, there is little doubt that the mix is perfect. The musical elements, and overall soundstage, really put you in a prime position to thoroughly enjoy the performance. If that rhythm doesn’t get you going, I don’t know what will. It is stunningly hypnotic and flows masterfully into Can You Find A Way.

Can You Find A Way is toe-tapping and head-bopping gold, with a guitar riff that will make you want to pick up the instrument. The distorted vocal is equally compelling and while other artists are unable to pull it off, Grunwald delivers it in a non-offensive manner that ensures it enhances the song and overall musicality. 

Skywriter is a great tune. The upbeat tempo and distorted guitar is simply stunning. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I love singing along to the chorus of Skywriter and playing my air guitar during that killer solo. 

Mojo is one of Grunwald’s best. Turn that volume up to 11; you can thank me later! 

Rosie has a brilliant vocal mix and flows perfectly in the live lineup. 

Fish Out Of Water is a moody track with a killer rhythm. I love it!

The Devil Called Me A Liar has a killer introduction but I find the song loses a little of its magic as it progresses. It isn’t bad, but if there is a B-side to be heard on Live At The Fly By Night, then The Devil Called Me A Liar is most certainly it.

1976 Coaster Van reminds me fondly of Chris Isaak’s Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing from Forever Blue; especially in the intro. 1976 Coaster Van is a solid track but I feel the spoken word element in the middle of the song detracts from the experience and the tempo speed-up makes it near impossible for the listener to stay locked into the groove. 

Just Be Yourself starts with a magical guitar introduction and continues with a fat bass track that is as relaxing as it is compelling. It doesn’t matter how still I try to make myself, the rhythm gets into your bones and your body will move even if you’re intent not to. Also, the tempo increase here, unlike 1976 Coaster Van, is perfect, ensuring that I don’t lose track of the rhythm. Returning to the slower tempo towards the end of the song is equally smooth and Just Be Yourself is arguably one of my favourite songs from the album; yes, even with the audience singing along towards the end. Again, the mix is spot on.

Money / Breakout has a magical intro. The killer rhythm will get you as will the lyrical style that is easy to sing along to. Money / Breakout is, without a doubt, an audible experience that you have to hear to believe. A stunning merging of two songs and this is without a doubt one of Grunwald’s greatest live performances and is arguably a fan favourite whenever played live. My only criticism is the slowing tempo at the end as it feels unnecessary.

Give Signs / Serious as the final track on Live At The Fly By Night certainly compels me to listen to the album again and stay within Grunwald’s growing catalogue of music. Sensational!

From start to finish, Live At The Fly By Night is nothing short of pure perfection. There isn’t a dull moment and as far as live releases go, this is up there with the very best that I’ve heard and as happy as I am with the Apple Music stream, I really want a vinyl release to add to the collection because that cover art deserves to be seen and held on the larger canvas. I love it!

Live At The Fly By Night is available on CD and iTunes.

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Dan Fogelberg – Windows And Walls (Album Review)

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Dan Fogelberg – Windows And Walls (Album Review)

There are hidden gems and then there is Windows And Walls; arguably a contender for the very best singer-songwriter album of the 80s. 

Yes, Windows and Walls is that good! There isn’t a bad song to be heard, not even a B-Side. Fogelberg had a magical formula. His songwriting and musicianship were simply astonishing and while you’ll find Windows And Walls has an 80s feel, it is true to the era and I adore it. 

George Marino mastered it beautifully and while I’d love to see Windows And Walls reissued on vinyl, I’m elated that Sony/Epic records haven’t remastered the album for I don’t believe it is necessary as the soundstage is wide and enveloping to the listener with next-to-no compression. 

It isn’t only the musicianship and mastering that is beyond reproach; the cover art is magnificent. The multidimensional aspect captivates me and it’s ultimately one reason why I’d love to see Windows And Walls reissued on vinyl for the cover art deserves to be seen on the larger canvas. 

This review is based on listening to the Apple Music stream and while I long to have a copy in my physical library, I can say with absolute certainty that you won’t be disappointed with the streaming edition of Windows and Walls. 

The Language Of Love is a toe-tapping, head-bopping, pop-rock tune that is the perfect opener for the album, bookending the album nicely with Gone Too Far.  

Windows And Walls is incredibly beautiful. Fogelberg’s vocal presentation and musicality is captivating from the first note with a stunning orchestral backing that surrounds you with an exceptionally wide, deep, and dynamic soundstage. It is this soundstage that would likely be ruined should the album ever be remastered for any additional compression would only eliminate these breathtaking sonic aspects. 

The Loving Cup is a sensational multi-tempo song. Like many of the songs on Windows And Walls, when The Loving Cup comes on I just want to turn the volume up. Music doesn’t get much better than this, does it? Yes, the outro is a little abrupt, but I love it and it ultimately flows masterfully into Tucson, Arizona (Gazette).

Tucson, Arizona (Gazette) is stunning. That guitar tracking is incredible and again, as with many of the songs, you’ll find yourself in awe of the incredible soundstage that is akin to having Fogelberg in the room with you for a private performance. 

Let Her Go returns the album to the 80s pop-rock styling that is similar to the album’s opening The Language Of Love. I love it and I can’t listen to Let Her Go without head-bopping and toe-tapping, or dancing if I’m on my feet. Oh, I forgot to mention that you’ll need your air guitar for that creamy guitar solo throughout and towards the end. Sensational!

Sweet Magnolia And The Travelling Salesman is an absolute masterpiece. 

Believe In Me is magnificent. I simply adore Fogelberg’s smooth and delicate vocal presentation on this song. He took his vocal right to the edge but didn’t force it, thereby making Believe In Me extremely compelling and lovely to listen to. 

Gone Too Far is the perfect closing track with an 80s rock-style that will get your body moving and will encourage you to listen to the album again. 

Windows And Walls ultimately reminds me how much I love music every time I play the album. The only problem is it is so good that I tend to play it on repeat for hours as I never tire of Fogelberg’s remarkable musicality. 

The album is tracked incredibly well, meaning the flow between songs is exceptional. With a runtime of ~40 minutes, I’m left wanting more and that is a sign of a good album in my opinion. 

There is little doubt that this is one very special album that should be in every music lover’s collection.

Windows And Walls is available on CD and iTunes.

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Agnetha Fältskog – I Stand Alone (Album Review)

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Agnetha Fältskog – I Stand Alone (Album Review)

Have you ever wondered what one part Chicago plus one part Abba would sound like? Well, I hadn’t but when I listen to I Stand Alone, I hear a correlation. Peter Cetera, former Chicago frontman and bassist, would produce this exceptional release, selecting the songs that he felt would be perfect for Fältskog’s uniquely smooth vocal delivery. Whilst there are a couple of misses, I Stand Alone is a thoroughly enjoyable release from start to finish and while ABBA’s success may always overshadow Fältskog’s solo career, you’d be foolish to overlook this 1987 release as it is arguably one of Fältskog’s greatest solo releases and success was only hindered by Fältskog’s lack of post-release promotion.

This review will largely be based on listening to, and appreciating, the CD release I’m fortunate enough to own. Sadly, the cover art has faded over the years but sonically the CD sounds marvellous. That said, I did lament that the vinyl reissues of Fältskog’s earlier solo releases in 2017 didn’t include this one. Of course, those reissues were originally released on Polar Music while Fältskog’s later recordings would be released on WEA Records. It may be a minor and somewhat insignificant aspect, from a music lover’s perspective, but WEA Records have yet to do anything with Fältskog’s back catalogue, meaning there is no vinyl reissue on the horizon. At least they haven’t issued a remastered brickwalled disaster as the original mastering is quite lovely with plenty of headroom allowing you the opportunity to turn the volume up according to your tastes.

The Last Time is a fantastic tune to launch I Stand Alone. Yes, it has that 80s feel to it, but that is part of the allure. While a little slow to start, the tempo kicks in after the first minute and reminds me fondly of Elton John’s Victim Of Love. This is one song that you’ll most certainly want to turn the volume up on and get the air guitar out for, for that guitar solo, while predictable, is perfect. 

Little White Secrets shifts the tempo a little too much for my liking. It has an almost Caribbean feel and is a B-side. I simply don’t feel the song suits Fältskog’s vocal style and the mix and subsequent soundstage are a little too centre focused.

I Wasn’t The One (Who Said Goodbye) [Duet with Peter Cetera] is pure gold and is one of the greatest duets of the 80s. Seriously, this is Chicago meets ABBA turned up to 11. It is flawless and I could listen to it on repeat for eternity. 

Love In A World Gone Mad is badly tracked. It’s a solid song, but coming directly after I Wasn’t The One (Who Said Goodbye) was a mistake in my opinion. Subsequently, it takes a while for the mind to adapt to the varied tempo and musicality, resulting in a love/hate relationship with the song, especially if you listen, as I do, to music in the original album format. All that said, if I’m to be completely honest, Love In A World Gone Mad is a little too campy for my liking. 

Maybe It Was Magic is a magnificent ballad that is perfectly suited to Fältskog. 

Let It Shine is a solid song but should have been tracked with Love In A World Gone Made and Little White Secrets as it again shifts the flow of the album a little too much. Truth-be-told, if I had my way, I would have tracked the ballad-styled tunes on Side A and the more 80s pop-driven songs on Side B. Thankfully, your mind does adjust, but it shouldn’t need to in my opinion.

We Got A Way is a solid upbeat pop-rock tune that flows perfectly from Let It Shine. 

I Stand Alone is a great song. The musicality is incredible with a beautifully sized and positioned soundstage ensuring that the more detailed your playback system, the more involving the music will become and you’ll hear elements that you may not have heard on a more modest system.

Are You Gonna Throw It All Away is magical. I adore Fältskog’s vocal delivery on this song and the musicality, especially the saxophone elements, makes this song nothing but a pure pleasure to listen to. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I turn the volume up and sing along. 

If You Need Somebody Tonight is a beautiful song to conclude I Stand Alone on ensuring that I’ll play the album again and stay within Fältskog’s incredible catalogue of music.

I Stand Alone is a hidden gem and if you’re a fan of ABBA or have any interest at all in 80s pop music, you’re bound to love I Stand Alone; I know I do. 

I Stand Alone is available on CD and iTunes.

Click here to read other Agnetha Fältskog reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Warren Haynes – Ashes & Dust (feat. Railroad Earth) [Album Review]

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Warren Haynes – Ashes & Dust (feat. Railroad Earth) [Album Review]

If you’re at all familiar with the Allman Brother’s Band or Gov’t Mule, then you’ll no doubt be aware of Warren Haynes and his incredibly smooth vocals and guitar playing that is simply out-of-this-world. Calling him an exceptional musician would be an understatement and an insult. There are few as masterful as Haynes and his musical prowess comes across clearly in his third solo album Ashes & Dust.

Full of recordings that are instant classics, Ashes & Dust is a cornucopia of Blues, Folk, Country, and Rock music, I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re going to love this album, I know I do!

Is It Me Or You eases you into the album. It is absolutely beautiful and while I’m not always a fan of the Banjo, it has been recorded and mixed masterfully. The string element is equally as compelling and the rhythm just makes you move to the groove subconsciously. You’ll most certainly be head-bopping and toe-tapping along to this song. 

Coal Tattoo is blues 101 and is arguably the best song on the album. Sensational! 

Blue Maiden’s Tale is more Folk/Country-based when compared to the preceding songs. That isn’t a bad thing, however, as Blue Maiden’s Tale fits in perfectly to the album and the interweaving tempos that may initially sound a little disjointed, really come together in a very enjoyable piece of music. 

Company Man is a fantastic meat and potatoes Country Rock song. It’s perfect for a sing-along and is another great head-bopping and toe-tapping song. 

New Year’s Eve is a little pedestrian and campy for my liking, but Haynes performs it beautifully nonetheless. 

Stranded In Self-Pity is a solid blues track that I like to close my eyes to as I move to the groove. 

Glory Road is a fantastic tune, but the instrumental opening is too long for the style of song in my opinion. Otherwise, it’s spectacular! As I listen to it, I’d love to hear Rod Stewart cover it as I feel it would also suit his style of vocal perfectly. 

Gold Dust Woman (feat. Grace Potter) is a killer Fleetwood Mac song and this cover is exceptional. Could it be better than the original? Well, it’s certainly on par with it. Grace Potter is a perfect addition to the song but I’d argue that Fleetwood Mac nailed the intermingling duet vocals a little better than Haynes and Potter did here.

Beat Down The Dust is nothing to write home about, but a great song nonetheless.

Wanderlust is simply gorgeous and that guitar tracking is exquisite. 

Spots Of Time has an incredible drum track with a soundstage that is thoroughly immersive. 

Hallelujah Boulevard is beautiful, but as with Glory Road, I feel as though the introduction is too long, ultimately taking the focus away from the song itself. A shame considering just how stunning it is. 

Word On The Wind is a sensational closing track with a guitar solo, and overall rhythm, that I simply adore. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to listen to Word On The Wind again. Forget playing it on repeat, however, for it is worth going back to Is It Me Or You in order to listen to this entire masterpiece again.

Sonically, the entire recording, mix, and mastering is nothing short of perfection and will really push your audio playback system to its limits. Sensational! 

Overall, Ashes & Dust is absolutely flawless and is one of the best blues-based albums I’ve ever heard. When I listen to an album this good, I am reminded of why I adore music as much as I do and that the gift of music from a master musician, such as Haynes, to the listener, is priceless. 

Although, if you’d like to put a price on it and own a copy for yourself, Ashes & Dust is available on Vinyl, CD, or the iTunes Store

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