"Ferenc Fricsay: A Life in Music" consists mostly of top notch 1950s mono recordings in excellent sound, from DG's back catalog. I knew of Ferenc Fricsay (1914-1963) mostly from his recording of Bartok's Piano Concertos 1,2,and 3 with pianist Geza Anda. Fricsay also recorded Mozart's operas "Don Giovanni" and "Die Zauberflote", both with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in the cast for DG; also Beethoven's 9th Symphony; Bartok's "Concerto for Orchestra", and "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta", all for DG.
An entry for the 2003 Christmas season was a natural move for Kenny Chesney after the blockbuster No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problems made 2002 his banner year. But in typical Chesney fashion, his holiday album tries to be a little more easygoing than the usual Music City rehash of tried 'n' true yuletide chestnuts. The sunny south of the border vibe that lit up the video for No Shirt's title cut is alive and well on All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan; the album's own title track is a nice, swaying number that approximates the Cascades' "Rhythm of the Rain" into its breezy Buffett feel. Like Chesney's best material, it's a contemporary country number crossed…
When Steely Dan released Two Against Nature in 2000, their first album in 20 years, it was an unexpected gift, since all odds seemed against Donald Fagen and Walter Becker reteaming for nothing more than the occasional project, let alone a full album. As it turned out, the duo was able to pick up where they left off, with Two Against Nature seamlessly fitting next to Gaucho and earning the band surprise success, including a Grammy for Album of the Year, but the bigger surprise is that the reunion wasn't a one-off – they released another record, Everything Must Go, a mere three years later. Given the (relatively) short turnaround time between the two records, it comes as little surprise that Everything Must Go is a companion piece to Two Against Nature, and sounds very much like that album's laid-back, catchy jazz-funk, only with an elastic, loose feel – loose enough to have Walter Becker take the first lead vocal in Steely Dan history, in fact, which sums up the Dan's attitude in a nutshell.
With such an abundance of great tracks that were never issued as singles, in many ways, a single-disc Joe Jackson best-of just doesn't cut it. That's where the extensive, three-disc comp Ultimate Collection comes in handy. While artist collections are usually aimed at the casual fan (in search of strictly an artist's best known tracks), the third disc of Ultimate Collection will definitely appeal to the hardcore fan, as it's the first-ever CD release of Jackson's soundtrack to Mike's Murder. Jackson's early, new wave direction is evident on such standouts as "Sunday Papers," "I'm the Man," "One More Time," and of course, "Is She Really Going Out With Him" (one complaint though – the omission of "Look Sharp").