Audiophile: Digital, November 2019

hfnalbum.pngVarious Artists
Woodstock – Back To The Garden
Rhino R2 591470 (10 CDs)

Marking 50 years since the monumental rockfest took place, this is one of many celebratory sets, including a 3CD pack with the essentials. What this magnificent ten-disc set offers are artists not included in the original LPs, allowing us to hear every performer who appeared. It runs to a phenomenal 162 tracks, with a 64-page booklet in its landscape format case. I'd heard much of it on bootlegs, but this official release communicates the breadth of the event with added veracity. A milestone in music history – Hendrix, CSNY, Cocker, The Who and other giants of the era – it's a crucial addition to any rock library. As much as it pained me to part with £115 for this set, I still ache for the limited edition with 38 CDs… KK


Bob Dylan
Rolling Thunder Revue
CBS Legacy 19075928282 (14 CDs)

What an expensive month! This lightened my wallet by £60 but I just couldn't resist it as it covers 1975, a particularly fascinating period in Dylan's career. These CDs deal with October-December of that year, the tour's leg in New York, Massachusetts and Canada, and it's a must-own for Dylanologists, as the sets varied so little from gig to gig but reveal much. Even so, do not try hearing all of this in one sitting; I am still suffering! Material ranged from the early protest songs to the rootsy vibe post-Nashville Skyline, but – like the options with the Woodstock box below – stick to the 2CD Bootleg Series Vol 5 version. (Rating reflects sound quality variations.) KK


Charles Mingus
Mingus Ah Um
Mobile Fidelity UDSACD2208 (stereo SACD)

Mingus' debut for Columbia – it was recorded in May 1959 – arrived in a year bursting with jazz classics, including Miles' Kind Of Blue. This ranks right up there with the best releases from his contemporaries, a spellbinding session with saxophonists John Handy, Shafi Hadi and Booker Ervin, trombonists Jimmy Knepper and Willie Dennis, pianist Horace Parlan and drummer Dannie Richmond. Jazz aficionados hate the word 'accessible', but this is one of the easiest ways to learn about the legendary bassist's supercool groove. Every track a gem with sound to match – the soulful, virtuoso 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' will make your jaw drop. KK


Johnnie Taylor
Ear-Ga-Sm/Rated Extraordinaire
Vocalion CDSML8545 (multi-channel SACD)

A nice choice for those in love with 1970s quadraphonic remasters, from one of soul's smoothest performers as he segued into the disco era after a period as a classic Stax belter. A protégé of Sam Cooke back in the gospel period of the 1950s, Taylor went secular, hitting it big in the R&B charts. Ear-Ga-Sm kicks off with 'Disco Lady', reaching No 1 in the USA, in the Billboard charts. This pair – his first two releases for Columbia – reflect the era with rich, funky bass lines, gorgeous background vocals and whucka-whucka guitar. As far as the quad mixes go – and this is room-filling – the two albums are believed to be among the last releases in the format. KK