Audiophile: Digital, May 2019

hfnalbum.pngThe Leiber-Stoller Big Band
Yakety Yak
Man In The Moon MITMCD35

Big band or straight jazz versions of rock songs are nothing new, their worth depending on who is interpreting. This 1960 set, dealing with gems from the seminal writing duo from the dawn of rock 'n' roll, was undertaken by Atlantic Records, with Frank Foster in charge of elements of Count Basie's band, and engineered by Phil Ramone. The result is one of those lost audiophile gems. With an arguably slightly-wider-than-normal spread, the sound quality, space and – above all – musicianship elevate this to a must-own purchase if you're OK with brassy, orchestral covers of 'Poison Ivy', 'Hound Dog', 'Jailhouse Rock', the title track and other 1950s masterpieces. At only £6.30 online, how can you resist? KK


Bob Dylan
Oh Mercy
Mobile Fidelity UDSACD2203

Marking this album's 30th anniversary, MoFi's reissue of another neglected Dylan opus is much appreciated. As with so many of his post-accident/conversion/whatever releases, it's still a feast of lyricism, emotion and – thanks to Daniel Lanois' production – exquisite sound. Somehow, it balances a glossy, slick, airy presence with a rawness that recalls the passion of Dylan's formative years. This is dark, moody, atmospheric and redolent of the era, shaped by Dylan's inescapable political position of the time. It yielded no stand-out tracks, it isn't particularly memorable, but even middling Dylan is worthy of respect and attention. And it just sounds so good. KK


Henry Mancini
The Return Of The Pink Panther & Symphonic Soul
Vocalion CDSML 8535 (multichannel SACD)

A great month for big, orchestral releases, this dating from the early 1970s and giving us two albums originally recorded in quadraphonic. Here, the surround adds scale, magnificent lower registers and luscious bombast, rather than mere spatial effects, while two-channel playback is just as rewarding. What's so fresh about this is that the two albums combine to offer both the expected and the surprising. The first is, as stated, Pink Panther Redux and thus it is soundtrack-oriented, but the second finds Mancini covering material from Herbie Hancock, the Average White Band and other funksters, as the title promises. Damn, I love what this label is doing. KK

Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here
Analogue Productions PFR25/19075810342

Back in the quad era, if any band actually delivered worthwhile use of the enveloping experience surround sound offered, it was Pink Floyd. With SACD, we can now have it in true, discrete form, instead of messing about with barely workable quadraphonic vinyl, and while this isn't the first time it's been reissued in a multichannel digital format, this is the best-sounding version I have ever heard. 'Welcome To The Machine' is so massive that I had to switch off the subwoofer and listen in 5.0 for fear of destabilising the recent underpinning to our home. Along with Dark Side Of The Moon, this is one of the band's most potent releases, presented here with respect. KK