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Carly Simon - Reflections: Greatest Hits (2004)
Soft Rock | MP3 HQ 320kpbs | lo-res cover, tags, playlist | 154 MB

In 1995, Arista released the first multi-label Carly Simon retrospective, the triple-disc box set Clouds in My Coffee, and seven years later, Rhino delivered the second, the double-disc Anthology. Two years after that, Arista finally delivered the first single-disc multi-label retrospective, Reflections: Carly Simon's Greatest Hits. Spanning nearly 30 years and featuring 20 songs, the collection has all of the big hits, from such '70s standards as "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be," "Anticipation," "The Right Thing to Do," "You're So Vain," "Haven't Got Time for the Pain," and "Nobody Does it Better" to the late-'80s comeback hit "Let the River Run." Certainly, there are some listeners who are looking for a concise career-spanning disc, and for them, this suits the bill very well. The problem is, Simon's late-'80s and '90s work isn't as strong as her '70s recordings, and it accounts for half of this disc; Anthology had a similar situation, with the classic period ending at the conclusion of the first disc, but that division worked better, since it left the listener with one solid disc of '70s material. Here, the two eras are contained on one disc, so the dip in quality is more noticeable, which may make this of less interest to those who only want Simon's best work. Even so, Reflections does what it sets out to do quite well, providing a single-disc overview of Simon's entire career, both for better and worse.

J.J. Cale - Guitar Man (1996)
DeLabel | 1996 | Country Blues Rock | EAC RIP | FLAC+CUE+LOG+HQ-Covers (400Dpi) | 252Mb+27Mb

25 years after his first album, NATURALLY, J.J. Cale created GUITAR MAN, an album made up of hypnotic grooves forged out of elegantly simple components. The album is largely a solo affair, with only scattered additional accompaniment, such as on the incredible opening tune, "Death in the Wilderness." Otherwise, Cale plays every instrument, adding particularly strong guitar work to the mix.
Remarkably, Cale's easygoing front-porch character is no less warm when he utilizes subtle keyboards and electronic percussion. With the exception of his arrangement of the traditional "Old Blue" (popularized by the Byrds in one of their later incarnations), the songs are all Cale originals. Besides songs that mine the familiar thematic territory of love, longing, and taking it easy, there's a handful that address world ills such as the environment and crime. He manages to tackle these issues without ever being didactic. However, he was sufficiently impassioned to include the lyrics to all the songs this time out. The title song and "Low Down" are two Cale classics that contain familiar lyrical and musical phrases that sound completely timeless when he sings and plays them.

J.J. Cale - Closer To You (1994)
DeLabel | 1994 | Country Blues Rock | EAC RIP | FLAC+CUE+LOG+HQ-Covers (400Dpi) | 263Mb+13Mb

On the two albums that preceeded this one, "Travel-Log" and "Number 10", J.J. Cale adopted a somewhat more basic musical approach. This album continues the trend. Cale plays a few songs alone (though the overdubbed parts sound remarkably spare), including the title track. "Closer to You" finds him electronically treating his vocals, a technique that surprisingly makes him sound as down-to-earth as ever. The set ends with the hypnotically grooving instrumental "Steve's Song." The set is bolstered by two bass players (electric and acoustic), three percussionists (including Jim Keltner), three guitarists (including Cale), two keyboardists (Spooner Oldham and Bill Payne), and three horn players. With the dazzling "Closer To You", J.J. Cale finds ever-newer surprises in his own remarkable corner of the musical world.

J.J. Cale - Number 10 (1992)
Silvertone Records | 1992 | Country Blues Rock | EAC RIP | FLAC+CUE+LOG+HQ-Covers (400Dpi) | 222Mb+26Mb

And it must be said once again; J.J. Cale is a man of few words, and "Number 10" (the third release that he has given a numbered title) places the spotlight squarely on what's first and foremost in his music: groove. He's a fine songwriter (Eric Clapton covered both his "After Midnight" and "Cocaine"), but when things are really rolling, the song all but disappears into the engine of the rolling rhythm section. He's altered his approach very little since his debut, "Naturally", in 1972 (twenty-one years prior to Number 10), but has managed to keep every one of his songs sounding new. This is in part because of overt dabs of modernity (as on this album's "Digital Blues"), but more because of the fact that there's never anything old about a sultry, shuffling beat. This is a fine follow-up to "Travel-Log" that again finds Cale roadening his arrangement and production sounds. He even gets tropical with "Artificial Paradise."

J.J. Cale - Travel-Log (1989)
Silvertone Records | 1989 | Country Blues Rock | EAC RIP | FLAC+CUE+LOG+HQ-Covers (400Dpi) | 258Mb+22Mb

After a (apperantly) "sabbatical leave" of appr. 6 years, J.J. Cale excelled himself in Travel-Log. The good songs just keep coming. There is a diversity of atmosphere between the songs also, making the title Travel-Log rather appropriate: Shanghaid has an oriental feel, while Tijuana talks of Mexicans wishing to cross the border into the USA. In this song Cale showcases his abilities on a Spanish-style guitar. But probably the highlight of the album is the exceptional number of blues-influenced songs. The End of the Line is creative, as well as humorous, in a typically wry sort of way. Humdinger has a raucous guitar riff, and River Boat Song calls to mind a riverside scene: "River Goddamn, Bring My Baby Home." Altogether a consistently good album !!!

J.J. Cale - #8 (1983)
Mercury | 1983 | Country Blues Rock | EAC RIP | FLAC+CUE+LOG+HQ-Covers (400Dpi) | 163Mb+6Mb

J.J. Cale is a man of few words. His songs are based on the barest of essentials, with the lyrics never fighting for space. His album titles never exceed three words, and most have gotten by on just one. #8 was released in 1983, 11 years after his debut album "Naturally". Again he's backed by some of the finest players available, including Jim Keltner, Tim Drummond, Spooner Oldham, and even Richard Thompson. What's most remarkable is how these stellar musicians all blend in seamlessly with Cale and his songs, creating a sound not that significantly different from that of his other albums. The continuity of his sound comes from the fact that his songs are sturdy and simple enough to retain their character no matter who's playing. This music rewards repeated listenings; the relentless grooves are like a river rolling by, the patterns never appear the same way twice.

Johnny Cash - Personal File (Col. Legacy 82796 94265 2) (US 2006, DoCD)
2006 | FLAC | EAC, LOG & CUE | Lossless 300dpi Artwork Scans | 688 MB

Melanie - On Air: BBC Recordings 1969 - 1989
Folk/Rock | MP3 320 Kbps | 180 MB | 1997
Covers included

Featuring a series of live recordings covering a period of 20 years this CD provides excellent sound and a unique record of Melanie's live and session work for the BBC. The first 10 tracks feature a concert recorded for the BBC Radio One In Concert series in 1975. Track 5 is incorrectly listed and is actually a song called Here We Go Again. During this concert Melanie is accompanied by Barry Lee Harwood on guitar and mandolin. Barry played on Sunsets and Other Beginnings and As I See It Now but fails to be credited on the cover of the CD.
Tracks 11 to 14 are rare session recordings from 1969, just Melanie and her guitar. Visit My Dreams is perhaps better known as Deep Down Low from Melanie's second album.
While all tracks have so far featured acoustic versions of songs, the last four feature Melanie with a full band. The tracks where recorded during a visit to the UK to promote Cowabonga. The musicians that accompany Melanie also accompanied her during two concerts at the Shaw Theatre in London in 1989.

J.J. Cale - Grasshopper (1982)
Mercury | 1982 | Country Blues Rock | EAC RIP | FLAC+CUE+LOG+HQ-Covers (400Dpi) | 212Mb+18Mb

Lots of people say that J.J. Cale had a great influence on the early Dire Straits' guitar sound. Knopfler went on to a different, brasher sound and became a latter day guitar hero. J.J. Cale himself kept plowing the furrow that he had largely invented, perhaps even taking the occasional page out of the DS book. And yes, listening to his 7th album, it's hard not to notice the similarities with early Dire Straits material. "Downtown LA" for example, sounds a lot like "Down To The Waterline", and so on and so forth.
Comparisons apart, this is a very pleasant listen. It's full of soft, understated vocals and twangy electric guitars. It's a nice piece of rootsy Americana which plays heavily on the whole "drifter hobo" trip. It will rock out if you listen to it closely but won't invade your privacy unless you want it to. As someone has already mentioned, you get the feeling that some of these songs could have been AOR radio hits ("City Girls" for one was a minor hit) There's lots of tasty guitar licks and, with the addition of congas and other percussion, a couple of nice forays into more ethicky territory. Fortunately JJ stays close to his roots and that's enough for the real fan.

J.J. Cale - Shades (1980)
Mercury | 1980 | Country Blues Rock | EAC RIP | FLAC+CUE+LOG+HQ-Covers (400Dpi) | 193Mb+19Mb

The sixth album of J.J. Cale "Shades" is classic and fresh. J.J. usually supplies consistently good music, but with "Shades" we are given a Cale album with added excuberance. There are the characteristic low, breathy, mellow grooves of songs like "Deep Dark Dungeon" and "Pack My Jack", full of Cale's nonchalant wisdom. Then we have the sweet tones of love songs like "Wish I Had Not Said That", reminiscent of the tenderness of "Magnolia". There is the dry, natural humour of "Mama Don't", and the positive punch of "Carry On". To top it all off there is the instrumental, "Cloudy Day", which needs no lyrical assistance for its evocation of melancholy. The musicianship on "Shades" is superb, and the quality of the production is good. The music has a natural and relaxed feel to it, and includes a variety of styles, from country-rock to cool jazz-blues. Excellent album. Very pleasing to the palate!

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