Die Zauberflote, Mozart's last opera, performed on this disc by the Metropolitan Opera under the direction of James Levine.
The cast features such stars as Kathleen Battle (Pamina), Fancisco Araiza (Tamino), Manfred Hemm (Papageno), Kurt Moll (Sarasto), and Luciana Serra as the Queen of the Night. Brian Large, who has vast experience with opera, directs this major work. By R. Nicholson
Willie Nile, The Bottom Line Archive 1980-2000, is two disc set, separated by a 20 year gap, and is a great example of Nile's long term staying power, and the loyalty that Bottom Line owner/curator, Allan Pepper (booker, or talent buyer does not suffice) extends to the artists that he really believes in. Exhibit a is this double-disc affair, highlighting two distinct eras in Nile's 35-year career. It is worth noting that one of the primary reasons we can enjoy the temporal contrasts contained in this collection is simply because, when Willie was ready to come back, Allan Pepper was just as ready to welcome him back to The Bottom Line. It was a second home for me, gushes Nile. Allan and the whole vibe of the club was so musician-friendly and warm. It was just the best place to play for that reason.
Judas Priest rebounded from the shaky Point of Entry with Screaming for Vengeance, arguably the strongest album of their early-'80s commercial period. Having moved a bit too far into simplistic hard rock, Vengeance found the band refocusing on heavy metal, and achieving a greater balance between commercialism and creativity. The results were catchy and accessible, yet harder-hitting, and without the awkwardly apparent calculation that informed the weakest moments of the album's two predecessors. Ultimately, Screaming for Vengeance hangs together better than even the undeniable landmark British Steel, both thematically and musically. There's less of a party-down feel here – the remaining traces of boogie have been ironed out, and the lyrics return to the darkness and menace that gave the band its mystique.
Following the surprising commercial success of "Compared to What" in 1969, pianist Les McCann never managed to get another hit as hard as he tried. These two sessions originally released for Atlantic found McCann struggling with that goal instead of concentrating on his talent as a jazz musician. Unfortunately, the lackluster material found McCann merely falling back on the most predictable aspects of mid-'70s soul and R&B. McCann sings on a majority of the tracks, while the synthesizer noodling and string arrangements have not dated well. Only the Peter Allen/Carole Bayer Sager-penned "Will We Ever Find Our Fathers," featuring Herbie Hancock on piano, is of note.