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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Linda Ronstadt - Prisoner In Disguise - Original Master Recording CD Cover
Image © Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 2008

Reviews of Linda Ronstadt
Original Master Recordings:
Don't Cry Now (2007)
Prisoner In Disguise (2008)
Hasten Down The Wind (2009)
Simple Dreams (2010)

photo: Ethan A Russell 1975
Image © Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 2008


(22 August 2009) Few artists approach their work with the grace and dignity of Linda Ronstadt. For more than four decades, she has remained one of the most beloved singers of our generation. One of the first artists to spawn our interest in female vocalists in the early 1970s, her career is a virtual testament to the idea that nothing quite lifts the human spirit like a good song. With an impresario's ear, and a voice that resonates with a haunting gift-like quality, she's crossed all genres, always defying expectations as to what a pop record should be.

Linda Ronstadt has released 29 albums and 60 singles, contributed to 11 compilation albums and has had four No. 1 singles. Wikipedia presents an outstanding biography and an equally astounding view of her full discography. Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs Original Master Recording of Prisoner in Disguise (UDCD 777, 2008) delivers the "ultimate listening experience" to Linda's timeless 1975 classic.

Ronstadt made her pop debut in 1967 with the Stone Poneys. It was soon after that she began working with Neil Young. "I sang backup on a lot of his records. He'd call up and say 'I'm making a record, come on down.' He had a recording studio on this ranch. We'd record all day and end up with so much stuff I'm still not sure what made it on to the records." Few knew in those early days that both artists would go on to rewrite pop history. With seven Grammy awards and over 50 million albums sold to her credit, Ronstadt says the only formula she's ever lived by is an undying allegiance to the slow craft of songmaking. With a platinum track record, it's obvious the workmanship has never wavered. Her love for the art of recording helped her form a long standing partnership with legendary engineer George Massenburg, whom she proudly calls a "friend as well as a musical guiding light."

"What I've always done is set myself in a traditional genre and tried to be completely faithful to what the genre demands," says Ronstadt. Whether it be rock, country, pop, or stylistic ventures in big band music, jazz, opera, Broadway standards or Mexican and Afro-Cuban music, Ronstadt has worked with an incredible dedication to her craft. Her albums reflect her virtuosity, overall style and tremendous vocal prowess. Photographers have captured evocative photographs of Linda Ronstadt for many years.

Prisoner In Disguise is Linda Ronstadt's ninth studio album and her third record to achieve platinum status. Mobile Fidelity has been setting the audophile standard for thirty years. Their 2008 Original Master Recording is presented on a Ultradisc II 24KT Gold CD. The eleven tracks were mastered at MSFL in Sebastopol, CA by Shawn R. Britton on the GAIN 2 System™. As with all of Mobile Fidelity's Linda Ronstadt albums, Prisoner In Disguise is also released in the GAIN 2™ Ultra Analog 180g LP format.

Prisoner in Disguise opens with Ronstadt's 1975 single "Love Is A Rose." And from the beginning of this Original Master Recording, it's evident that MFSL's treatement of Linda's recordings is nothing short of tremendous. Her vocal work, backed with country styled arrangements, plays wonderfully on this release. After the delicate "Hey Mister, That's Me Up On The Jukebox," and the short rocker "Roll Um Easy" listeners will be treated to the very finest recording of "Tracks of My Tears" (originally recorded by Smokey Robinson) produced anywhere. Demonstrating why she is among the very best female vocalists at the time, Linda's crystalline vocal glides above acoustic and slide guitar -- listen for the solo during the instrumental bridge -- accompanied by ultracrisp percussion.

The album's title track is a gentle ballad tenderly sung with a harmony vocal by John David Souther atop acoustic guitar, piano and light orchestral arrangements. Linda's evocative vocal solos are especially noteworthy. "Many Rivers To Cross" and "Silver Blue" are country-tinged ballads that combine Linda's sensual vocal work with soft arrangements. The artist's longstanding upbeat single "Heat Wave" is also given expert treatment on this recording. In addition to the outstanding vocal work, the guitar solos are especially well-produced, working well alongside the other instrumentals. Backing vocals are contributed by Kenny Edwards and Andrew Gold.

"The Sweetest Gift" blends Linda's lead vocal track with layers of Emmylou Harris' harmony vocals and acoustic guitar styling. In a style contrast, "You Tell Me That I'm Falling Down," is a pop-styled ballad, sung atop multiple acoustic guitar and fiddle. Maria Muldaur adds vocal harmonies that work really well. "I Will Always Love You" became one of the alltime most popular songs used by couples in weddings as "their song." Although many will most recall Whitney Houston's version, MFSL's treatment of Linda Ronsdadt's recording accompanied by piano and slide guitar is outstanding.

Before "country" found its own section in the record stores, Linda Ronstadt effectively blended pop, rock and country in her format. She is joined on the album by Emmylou Harris, Maria Muldaur and John David Souther, artists who have also risen to fame. Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs have done Linda Ronstadt's work proud with their Original Master Recording of Prisoner in Disguise. Bravo!

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