Audiophile: Digital, August 2022

hfnalbum.pngGabriel Mervine
Say Somethin'
Octave Records OCT0005 (stereo SACD + DVD Data)

I'm not suggesting Octave deliberately focuses on music which flatters sound systems, but this delicious trumpet-dominant set is about as audiophilic as it gets. Mervine's horn has accompanied Lonnie Smith, Natalie Cole, The Who, Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker, and others, and the eclecticism is a huge part of this set's appeal. A handful of jazz subgenres are addressed, but the dominant vibe is 1970s/'80s smooth sophistication, delivered through original compositions and a few standards, with a Miles-y version of 'A Foggy Day'. With all respect to Mervine, though, this is about sound quality – piano, bass, and trumpet embodying 'Digital Done Right'. Disc 2 has the tracks as DVD files. KK

The Band
Cahoots 50th Anniversary Edition
Capitol 02438 46355 (two discs)

First, the bad news: the deluxe 2CD/1x Blu-ray Audio/1x7in single/1xLP package costs a ton, and anniversary box set prices are starting to grate. Now, the good news: this poor man's (ie, me) 2CD set contains nearly all of it – the remastered album, five bonus tracks, and, on CD2, the May 1971 Paris concert. The former is slightly punchier than the 2000 remastered CD, but what will upset disciples is that it differs by only one track, while CD2 is described as 'Bootleg Performance Audio'. Two decades on, it might seem OK to pillage the fan base again, but I suspect most Band followers own the previous set. This reissue lark is growing increasingly crass. KK


Keb' Mo'
Good To Be...
Rounder 00888072299559

For his 17th-or-so studio album, my favourite post-Taj Mahal blues revivalist continues to move further into general roots music, enhanced by lashings of rock and soul. That's not to say that you won't want to file this under 'Blues' along with his earlier titles, but it sounds more like Peace... Back By Popular Demand than I expected. That absolute gem was made up almost entirely of covers, bar one original, whereas this is nearly all original, with some interesting collaborations. Most touching is his cover of the late Bill Withers' 'Lean On Me', which I'm guessing was included as a tribute, and it sets the tone: an easy, calming album for troubled times. KK


Judee Sill
Heart Food
Intervention IR-SCD16

In Jan '18, we reviewed the staggeringly good vinyl edition, but the wait for the SACD was worth it for those who enjoy this undervalued digital format. To recap, this 1973 release was the follow-up to Sill's eponymous debut, also her final release during her lifetime; some posthumous works have appeared. Now it's obvious why she was ranked with genius singer/songwriters of the level of Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro, and the material was matched by A-list musicians including Chris Ethridge on bass, drummer Jim Gordon, bluegrass legend Doug Dillard on banjo and Buddy Emmons on pedal steel guitar. Thought-provoking if tragic, it's a must-own. KK