Giacomo Meyerbeer was one of the most important composers in Paris during the mid-1800s. He is considered the founder of the French Grand Opera and his works dominated the French stage. Meyerbeer changed the face of opera in Paris, and yet, much criticism is directed toward him and much of his music is seldom heard today. This 3-CD set is the first of two volumes, which together honor Meyerbeer and reacquaint the listener with his marvelous music and some very interesting singing. These two volumes contain at least one version of every recorded Meyerbeer excerpt sung by French singers.
Richard Strauss’s (1864–1949) acceptance into the pantheon of great Lieder composers began in the early 1950s, perhaps marked by the enthusiastic reception of his Four Last Songs, premiered by Kirsten Flagstad eight months after Strauss’s death. It wasn’t long before these songs became widely performed, and by extension, his Lieder as a whole, began to gain greater acceptance as high art along with Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, and Wolf. This compilation concentrates on Strauss Lieder recordings from an earlier era that display the sort of vocal charm and straightforward approach to the music not usually heard in today’s style of Lieder singing. Many of these recordings are extremely important historic documents retaining their position as the definitive versions of Strauss Lieder. Some of the singers included here not only knew Strauss, but worked with him, and their recordings could have been heard and judged by him. This three CD-set contains forty songs in eighty-two performances by fifty-seven singers.
This is a good record, though not the Leo Kottke album to start with, as it is not representative of his usual work – it's mostly a vocal record, and a very country-flavored record at that, with Kottke's baritone, reminiscent in some ways of Leonard Cohen (and even moving into what one might consider Jim Morrison territory), serving as the dominant instrument on six of the ten tracks. His flashy 12-string playing and Cal Hand's Dobro do come to the fore on "Tilt Billings and the Student Prince." Tom T. Hall and Ron Elliott of the Beau Brummels are among the songwriters represented. Among the intrumentals, "A Good Egg" is just the kind of light-fingered, light-textured virtuoso piece that one buys a Leo Kottke album expecting to find, and much of the rest shows off his talents in some unexpected directions. The sound on the One Way label CD reissue is first rate as well.
Mudlark rates highly on many a Kottke fan's favorite list. This was Kottke's Capitol Records debut, and his solo instrumental sound is augmented with the addition of studio sidemen (bass, drums, piano). His playing is superb (no surprise there) and full of youthful vigor – a fusion of high-speed picking, brash slide work, funky folk, acoustic rock, and melodicism. Most importantly, Mudlark marked the debut of Kottke as a singer, an indication that Capitol was trying to shoehorn him into the singer/songwriter genre. Kottke himself has made disparaging remarks about his own vocals, but they add personality to his virtuosic guitar chops.
Kottke's sixth official album is a dazzling array of pieces, some wistfully romantic ("Mona Ray"), others savagely witty ("When Shrimps Learn to Whistle"), and still others downright folksy ("Bill Cheatham"), with accompaniments of varying shapes and types, from dobro to synthesizer and piano.
2018 three CD collection. Leo Sayer, in a career spanning 45 years, has sold more than 80 million records worldwide. The Gold Collection, which Leo personally compiled and sequenced, is a 54-track set. It delves into Leo's deep and rich catalog, delivering all of his UK Top 30 hits, including 11 Top 10s and his two UK #1's 'When I Need You' and 'Thunder In My Heart Again', the latter with Meck and the US #1 (UK #2) hit 'You Make Me Feel Like Dancing'. The Gold Collection also includes many key album tracks from the early part of his career, many of which were written/composed by other major artists of the time, as well as a number of recordings written for him by other international singer/songwriters. All in all, this is a fantastic collection of his classic recordings that will remind everyone that Leo Sayer is one of the UK's great singer/songwriters of all time.
In the 1950s the young John Fahey discovered the funky, unpretentious, down-home, spontaneous guitar-oriented 78s recorded in the late 1920s and early 1930s by rural Southern black and poor white folks. He changed the music to suit his own image of what art should be and created the concept of the solo steel-string guitarist/composer. Leo Kottke built on Fahey's vision, made it more accessible, and proved how large the market could be. In 1974 these two quitar giants, joined by Peter Lang, who proves on these cuts to be a guitarist of equal ability, put out this excellent and influential LP.