Audiophile: Digital, October 2019

hfnalbum.pngPure Prairie League
Two Lane Highway & If The Shoe Fits
Vocalion CDSML8527 (multi-channel SACD)

So subtle is the surround element of this transfer from quadraphonic that I had to put my ear right up to the surround speakers – but switch 'em off and it collapses. I guess that's what good quad did for albums that weren't spatial-effects-driven to amuse users of hallucinogens. Pure Prairie League was, like the name suggested, undiluted country music, if in a rock milieu, and it baffles me as to why PPL (like the equally underappreciated Poco) languishes in the shadows of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers. To call it 'country rock' is misleading, as it was for most of the genre's practitioners – New Riders, Commander Cody, et al – as it's proper C&W, so don't approach if you can't stomach, say, Buck Owens. KK


Carmen Gomes
Celebrating The Art & Spirit Of Music 5
STS Digital 611139

No, you're not seeing double: STS has chosen to use the same cover art for this as volume 4 [HFN Sep '19]. This is another gorgeous-sounding, old-school audiophile treat, but in this era of social justice warriors calling out 'cultural appropriation' every time M&S sells a curry, a Dutch chanteuse singing about life on a chain gang may prove problematic. OK, so a slow version of Springsteen's 'I'm On Fire' just about works, and I've no issue with her covering 'It's Alright, Mama' 64 years after Elvis commandeered it, but I thought I'd warn the more sensitive among you. Otherwise, it's a feast of jazz vocalising ideal for accompanying an Armagnac. KK


The Searchers
When You Walk In The Room
Grapefruit CRSEGBOX055 (six discs; part mono)

Subtitled 'The Complete PYE Recordings 1963-67', this is, thanks to the rarities added to every disc, an ideal single-purchase means of acquiring the early catalogue of an astounding band. Their fellow Liverpudlians achieved greater fame and influence, but The Searchers certainly had an impact on The Byrds, Tom Petty and others, and the music still stands up for peerless harmonies and delicious melodies. Their five Pye LPs are presented in mono and stereo, each in a card mini-sleeve, while the sixth gathers together singles, EPs and other non-LP material. 'Needles & Pins', 'Sweets For My Sweet', the title classic – or why the British Invasion was a triumph. KK


The Yardbirds
Live And Rare
Repertoire REPUK 1364 (four CDs + DVD)

Another definitive British Invasion box set, but containing only rarities rather than oft-repackaged commercial albums. The tally comes to a staggering 70 remastered tracks, plus a DVD with 21 fantastic clips. For those unaware of the importance of this group, The Yardbirds launched Clapton, Beck and Page into the stratosphere, a résumé unmatched by any other band in rock history. Blues to psychedelia, pop to nascent heavy metal, each disc is augmented by its own leaflet, as well as a separate 36-page booklet for the full tale. A phenomenal achievement, and a surprise-laden gift even for completists like me, who owns more than 200 Yardbirds albums. KK