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Michael Jackson - HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I (1995) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: Michael Jackson
Title: HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I
Genre: R&B, Pop Rock, Dance-Pop, New Jack Swing, Funk
Label: © MJJ Productions Inc./Epic Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: 1995/2007
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: Qobuz
Duration: 02:28:32
Recorded: 1978–1995


Michael Jackson's double-disc HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I is a monumental achievement of ego. Titled "HIStory Begins," the first disc is a collection of his post-Motown hits, featuring some of the greatest music in pop history, including "Billie Jean," "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," "Beat It," and "Rock with You." It leaves some hits out -- including the number ones "Say Say Say" and "Dirty Diana" -- yet it's filled with enough prime material to be thoroughly intoxicating. That can't be said for the second disc, called "HIStory Continues" and consisting entirely of new material -- which also happens to be the first material he released since being accused of child molestation. "HIStory Continues" is easily the most personal album Jackson has recorded. References to the scandal permeate almost every song, creating a thick atmosphere of paranoia. If Jackson's music had been the equal of Thriller or Bad, the nervous, vindictive lyrics wouldn't have been quite as overbearing. However, "HIStory Continues" reiterates musical ideas Jackson had been exploring since Bad. Jackson certainly tries to stay contemporary, yet he has a tendency to smooth out all of his rougher musical edges with show-biz schmaltz. Occasionally, Jackson produces some well-crafted pop that ranks with his best material: R. Kelly's "You Are Not Alone" is seductive, "Scream" improves on the slamming beats of his earlier single "Jam," and "Stranger in Moscow" is one of his most haunting ballads. Nevertheless, "HIStory Continues" stands as his weakest album since the mid-'70s. --AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Metallica - Ride The Lightning (1984/2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: Metallica
Title: Ride The Lightning
Genre: Rock, Thrash, Speed Metal
Label: © Blackened Recordings
Release Date: 1984/2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96/24bit
Source: metallica.com
Duration: 00:47:25
Recorded: 13th February 1984 - 14th March 1984 at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark
Remastered by Howie Weinberg at Howie Weinberg Mastering, Los Angeles, CA


Kill 'Em All may have revitalized heavy metal's underground, but Ride the Lightning was even more stunning, exhibiting staggering musical growth and boldly charting new directions that would affect heavy metal for years to come. Incredibly ambitious for a one-year-later sophomore effort, Ride the Lightning finds Metallica aggressively expanding their compositional technique and range of expression. Every track tries something new, and every musical experiment succeeds mightily. The lyrics push into new territory as well -- more personal, more socially conscious, less metal posturing. But the true heart of Ride the Lightning lies in its rich musical imagination. There are extended, progressive epics; tight, concise groove-rockers; thrashers that blow anything on Kill 'Em All out of the water, both in their urgency and the barest hints of melody that have been added to the choruses. Some innovations are flourishes that add important bits of color, like the lilting, pseudo-classical intro to the furious "Fight Fire with Fire," or the harmonized leads that pop up on several tracks. Others are major reinventions of Metallica's sound, like the nine-minute, album-closing instrumental "The Call of Ktulu," or the haunting suicide lament "Fade to Black." The latter is an all-time metal classic; it begins as an acoustic-driven, minor-key ballad, then gets slashed open by electric guitars playing a wordless chorus, and ends in a wrenching guitar solo over a thrashy yet lyrical rhythm figure. Basically, in a nutshell, Metallica sounded like they could do anything. Heavy metal hadn't seen this kind of ambition since Judas Priest's late-'70s classics, and Ride the Lightning effectively rewrote the rule book for a generation of thrashers. If Kill 'Em All was the manifesto, Ride the Lightning was the revolution itself. --AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
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Metallica - Kill 'Em All (1983/2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: Metallica
Title: Kill 'Em All
Genre: Rock, Thrash, Speed Metal
Label: © Blackened Recordings
Release Date: 1983/2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96/24bit
Source: metallica.com
Duration: 00:51:15
Recorded: May 10–27, 1983, Music America Studios in Rochester, New York
Remastered by Howie Weinberg at Howie Weinberg Mastering, Los Angeles, CA

The true birth of thrash. On Kill 'Em All, Metallica fuses the intricate riffing of New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Diamond Head with the velocity of Motörhead and hardcore punk. James Hetfield's highly technical rhythm guitar style drives most of the album, setting new standards of power, precision, and stamina. But really, the rest of the band is just as dexterous, playing with tightly controlled fury even at the most ridiculously fast tempos. There are already several extended, multi-sectioned compositions foreshadowing the band's later progressive epics, though these are driven by adrenaline, not texture. A few tributes to heavy metal itself are a bit dated lyrically; like Diamond Head, the band's biggest influence, Kill 'Em All's most effective tone is one of supernatural malevolence -- as pure sound, the record is already straight from the pits of hell. Ex-member Dave Mustaine co-wrote four of the original ten tracks, but the material all sounds of a piece. And actually, anyone who worked backward through the band's catalog might not fully appreciate the impact of Kill 'Em All when it first appeared -- unlike later releases, there simply isn't much musical variation (apart from a lyrical bass solo from Cliff Burton). The band's musical ambition also grew rapidly, so today, Kill 'Em All sounds more like the foundation for greater things to come. But that doesn't take anything away from how fresh it sounded upon first release, and time hasn't dulled the giddy rush of excitement in these performances. Frightening, awe-inspiring, and absolutely relentless, Kill 'Em All is pure destructive power, executed with jaw-dropping levels of scientific precision. --AllMusic Review by Steve Huey
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Mendelssohn & Bruch - Violin Concertos - Itzhak Perlman, London Symphony Orchestra, Andre Previn (2015) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Сomposer: Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847), Max Bruch (1838–1920)
Artist: Itzhak Perlman, London Symphony Orchestra, André Previn
Title: Mendelssohn & Bruch - Violin Concertos
Genre: Classical
Label: © Parlophone Records/Warner Classics
Release Date: 2015
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: Qobuz
Duration: 00:53:58
Recorded: Studio No.1, Abbey Road, London, 27 & 28 November 1972

Itzhak Perlman and André Previn have worked together in the recording studio on many occasions and on a wide-ranging repertoire. The latter has conducted the former in eleven works, their first joint production (Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole and Ravel’s Tzigane for RCA) dating back as far as 1968. All the albums that followed were made for EMI, beginning with this one, which they recorded in 1972. After that, they appeared together in orchestral works by Bartók (see volume 6), Goldmark and Sarasate (volume 17), Sibelius and Sinding (volume 21) and Conus and Korngold (volume 27). In addition, Previn moved to the keyboard to accompany Perlman on a number of rag and jazz albums (volumes 10 and 24) although, unlike Anne-Sophie Mutter and Gil Shaham (on DG), Perlman has never recorded Previn’s own sonatas or concertos.
For decades, the coupling on an album of the Mendelssohn and Bruch violin concertos happened so often that it became virtually an unspoken rule. Even though the premiere of the Mendelssohn (1845) had taken place a generation earlier than that of the Bruch (1868), it began to seem as if they had been written with one another in mind! When we talk about “the” Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, we actually mean his second, the E minor, Op.64, because his first — a very early work only rediscovered many years later, by Yehudi Menuhin, in 1951 — has never really established itself in the repertoire. Similarly, we tend to speak of “the” Bruch Concerto, always with reference to his first work in the genre, the G minor, Op.26 — he in fact wrote two others, neither of which has ever achieved the same level of popularity. Here, Itzhak Perlman goes with the conventional flow, and sticks with the traditional pairing, as indeed he did, just as happily, eleven years later, when he re-recorded them with Bernard Haitink (volume 33). --Jean-Michel Molkhou
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Felix Mendelssohn - Songs without Words - Javier Perianes (2014) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Сomposer: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Artist: Javier Perianes
Title: Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne Worte (Romances sans paroles/Songs without Words)
Genre: Classical
Label: © Harmonia Mundi
Release Date: 2014
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: eClassical
Duration: 01:16:55
Recorded: Teldex Studio Berlin


This programme illustrates four essential qualities of the music of Felix Mendelssohn. Music stripped of all superfluity, including the literary aspect (Songs without Words); a gift for creating magical atmospheres (Rondo capriccioso); unconditional admiration for classical order; and, finally, a genuine veneration for Bach (Prelude and Fugue op.35). The whole radiant universe of Mendelssohn is encapsulated here.
Quatre qualités essentielles de la musique de Felix Mendelssohn s’illustrent dans le programme de cet enregistrement. Une musique débarrassée de tout superflu, y compris littéraire (Romances sans paroles), un goût efficace pour créer des atmosphères féeriques (Rondo capriccioso), une admiration inconditionnelle pour l’ordre classique et enfin une véritable vénération pour Bach (Prélude et fugue op.35). Tout l’univers radieux de Mendelssohn est là.
Dieses Programm beleuchtet vier wesentliche Eigenschaften der Musik von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Eine von allem Überflüssigen befreite Musik, die auch den literarischen Aspekt mit einschließt (Lieder ohne Worte), ein untrügliches Gespür für elfenhafte Atmosphäre (Rondo capriccioso), eine vorbehaltlose Bewunderung für klassisches Gleichmaß und nicht zuletzt eine tiefe Verehrung für Bach (Präludium und Fuge op.35). Hier findet sich die ganze lichte Welt von Mendelssohn.
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Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - Lieder ohne Worte, Books 5-8 - Ronald Brautigam (2016) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Сomposer: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–1847)
Artist: Ronald Brautigam
Title: Mendelssohn - Lieder ohne Worte, Books 5-8
Genre: Classical
Label: © BIS Records
Release Date: 2016
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: eClassical
Duration: 73:33
Recorded: August 2014 at Österåker Church, Sweden


Ronald Brautigam, piano During the early 19th century a number of composers began to write in new genres inspired by literature: Chopin's Ballades, Schumann's Novelletten and, later, Liszt's symphonic poems are all examples of this Romantic urge to create works that transcend the divide between the arts. In 1828 Felix Mendelssohn invented a genre of his own, when he presented his sister Fanny with a 'song without words' for her birthday. He went on to compose a large number of such Lieder ohne Worte and published no less than six sets of six pieces each. These became immensely popular with amateur and professional pianists, as well as with their respective audiences. Mendelssohn's death in 1847 did not affect the huge demand for the pieces, and the publisher Simrock soon issued another two sets, compiled from pieces that the composer had set aside for later publication. Mendelssohn himself supplied a few of the songs with more or less descriptive subtitles, but his aim was not to tell an existing story in music instead of words, but rather to communicate something that could only be conveyed through music. To Mendelssohn, music was more exact than language – in his own words: 'the music I love expresses ideas that are not too vague to be captured in words, but on the contrary too precise.’ When Ronald Brautigam's recording of Books 1-4 was released in 2012, the reviewer in International Record Review wrote: ‘One could scarcely hope for performances more vivid or poetic than these.’ This second volume includes the last four published sets of Lieder ohne Worte, as well as a number of other piano miniatures. Brautigam performs them on the same instrument as on the previous disc, a copy by Paul McNulty after a piano from 1830 by Ignaz Pleyel, preserved at Musée de la musique in Paris.
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Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy - Lieder ohne Worte, Books 1-4 - Ronald Brautigam (2012) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Сomposer: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–1847)
Artist: Ronald Brautigam
Title: Mendelssohn - Lieder ohne Worte, Books 1-4
Genre: Classical
Label: © BIS Records
Release Date: 2012
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: eClassical
Duration: 69:19
Recorded: August 2011 at Österåker Church, Sweden


If claims could be made for a certain composer to have invented a genre single-handedly, Felix Mendelssohn would be a strong candidate with his ‘Songs without Words’. The term itself can be traced back to 1828, and a letter in which Fanny Mendelssohn mention having received a ‘song without words’ as a birthday present from her brother.
Although Mendelssohn continued an existing tradition of writing short lyrical pieces for the piano, the concept of ‘wordless songs’ was new, and indeed the great majority of the Lieder ohne Worte display some sort of song-like structure (melody in the upper voice, an accompaniment that is predominantly chordal or arpeggiated, ABA-form).
Immediately popular with a wide audience, and soon a staple ingredient in domestic music-making all over Europe, the Lieder ohne Worte were also highly regarded by fellow composers, who imitated the style of Mendelssohn’s pieces, and sometimes adopted his title for them as well. One such admirer was Robert Schumann, who was captivated by the ‘Duett’ (Op. 38, No. 6), hearing in it: ‘lovers… conversing quietly, intimate­ly and confidently’. (The piece was in fact written for Cécile Jeanrenaud, who would later become Mendelssohn’s wife.)
Gathered on this disc are the first four books of the eight published collections of Lieder ohne Worte (two of which appeared posthumously) and an appendix consisting of five individual pieces which Mendelssohn never included in any collection but which nevertheless belong to the genre.
One of today’s leading exponents on the fortepiano, Ronald Brautigam has released complete sets of the piano music by Mozart and Haydn, and is currently recording a highly regarded series of the solo piano works by Beethoven. For the present disc he has chosen to play on a replica by the renowned maker Paul McNulty of a Pleyel instrument built in 1830, and thus contemporary with the music performed on it.
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Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell - You're All I Need (1968/2016) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/192kHz

Artist: Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell
Title: You're All I Need
Genre: Soul, R&B, Smooth Soul
Label: © Motown Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
Release Date: 1968/2016
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 192kHz/24bit
Source: HDTracks
Duration: 32:58
Recorded: 1966–1967

You're All I Need is the second studio album by soul musicians Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, released in August 1968 on Motown-subsidiary label Tamla Records. Highlighted by three hit singles written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson (who composed two of the four hit songs on the first Gaye/Terrell duets LP, United), You're All I Need was recorded throughout 1966 and 1967 and features two Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits, "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "You're All I Need to Get By". It peaked at #60 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Album Chart. You're All I Need was the two singers' final collaboration effort, as Terrell would turn ill following recording, before succumbing to a brain tumor in 1970.
The album was recorded in 1966 and 1967 during the time Gaye and Terrell's first collaboration album United was released. After recording You're All I Need, Tammi Terrell collapsed onstage while performing with Gaye at the Hampden-Sydney College homecoming in Virginia. She was later diagnosed with a brain tumor, and could no longer record nor perform live. According to Gaye, the final Gaye/Terrell album, Easy, would be completed by having Valerie Simpson fill in for Tammi Terrell on most of the album's songs, and having Gaye overdub archived Terrell solo tracks for two tracks. Simpson vehemently denies this and says they had to record Tammi's vocals in pieces in order to get the project done.
Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson produced the singles "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", "Keep On Loving Me Honey," and "You're All I Need to Get By." Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol produced the rhythm tracks and Terrell's vocal for "You Ain't Livin' 'Til You're Lovin'," with Ashford and Simpson completing the production and supervising Gaye's vocal. Fuqua and Bristol also produced "I'll Never Stop Loving You Baby" while Motown CEO Berry Gordy, Jr.'s brother Robert Gordy produced "I Can't Help But Love You." Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol produced "Come On and See Me," "Baby Dont'cha Worry," "Give In, You Just Can't Win," "When Love Comes Knocking At Your Heart," "That's How It Is (Since You've Been Gone)," and "Memory Chest" as Tammi Terrell solo tracks in 1965 and 1966, and had Gaye overdub his vocals to them to create duet versions.
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Marvin Gaye - Trouble Man (1972/2016) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/192kHz

Artist: Marvin Gaye
Title: Trouble Man
Genre: R&B, Stage & Screen, Blaxploitation, Soul, Soundtracks, Smooth Soul, Quiet Storm, Funk, Psychedelic Soul
Label: © Motown Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
Release Date: 1972/2016
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 192kHz/24bit
Source: HDTracks
Duration: 38:30
Recorded: 1972, Hitsville West, Los Angeles, California

In 1972, things were rapidly shifting in Marvin Gaye's world. He was coming off of one of his most wide-reaching hit albums with 1971's instant classic What's Going On, and his recording contract with Motown subsidiary Tamla was renewed for a cool million dollars and total creative control, making him one of the most successful R&B artists of his day. With Motown's offices migrating west from Detroit to Los Angeles, Gaye followed suit, beginning work on Trouble Man, both the score to a blaxploitation film of the same name and the soundtrack that would be his next album. With minimal singing (Gaye sings through only the title track, adding fragmentary vocalizations minimally throughout the rest of the album), Gaye wrote, arranged, and conducted the entire soundtrack, working with both Motown players and a full orchestra over the course of its recording. It's been speculated by some that Trouble Man was a concerted effort to move away from the expectations of a carbon-copy follow-up to the almost immeasurably high standards of What's Going On, but it's best to look at the record as an entity unto itself rather than the next Marvin Gaye album in the chain. Though largely absent of his one-of-a-kind vocal presence, the arrangements are richer and more sophisticated than the majority of early blaxploitation fare, with some of the same theatricality and filmic urgency of the best Morricone or David Axelrod soundtracks. With instrumentation more ambitious than even the enormity of What's Going On, Trouble Man never stays in one place for long. "'T' Plays It Cool" paints a hustling cityscape with its solid beat and nervous synthesizer bubbles. Plaintive sax trades verses with rudimentary keyboards and Marvin's soulful wails on "Life Is a Gamble," and mournful passages of chamber strings give way to bounding funk grooves. Isaac Hayes' Shaft soundtrack would become debatably more widely remembered than the movie it scored, and Curtis Mayfield's Superfly soundtrack had a similar reception. Likewise, Trouble Man the soundtrack album outperformed Trouble Man the movie by leaps and bounds, enjoying Top 20 chart success in its day while the movie sank rapidly into obscurity. Looking at the album outside the trends of its era and inward to the art that Gaye was sculpting shows Trouble Man as a mostly wordless statement on the rapidly changing times for both young black America and Marvin's personal life. The compositions well over with equal parts tension and detached cool, moving through modes of heartbreaking struggle, searching wonder, and playful street scenes. While it's been relegated to the lesser status of Gaye's one-off blaxploitation soundtrack, it rises far above the wandering wah-wah guitars and dated bongos of its peers. Trouble Man might not be as immediate or universally relatable as Gaye's soul-searching on What's Going On or his later sensual fixations, but a deep listen will show it's very much part of the same overarching genius that touched all of his work. --AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas
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Mariah Carey - Mariah Carey (1990) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz

Artist: Mariah Carey
Title: Mariah Carey
Genre: R&B, Pop, Soul
Label: © Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: 1990
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Source: Pono
Duration: 46:23
Recorded: December 1988—March 1990 at the Skyline Studios New York City, NY, Cove City Studios, Glen Cove, NY; May 1990, Tarpan Studios, San Rafael, CA


The cliché “meteoric rise” could have been invented for Mariah Carey. This self-titled debut sold over eight million copies, produced four number one singles, and earned her a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Not bad for an unknown 19-year-old. It also set her on her way to becoming the best-selling female artist of the 1990s — a particularly impressive feat considering the caliber of the competition during that decade — largely on the strength of her truly remarkable voice. She swoops across an unbelievable five octaves on these smooth ballads and bouncy R&B tunes, and her vocal control is simply stunning — witness her spine-tingling upper register notes on “Someday” and “Prisoner” to choose just two of many examples. But she’s more than a pretty voice; Carey also co-wrote each of the 11 songs on this album, and though her songwriting chops would improve over the years, the sheer excitement of hearing this talent for the first time makes this a memorable debut.
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