Audiophile: Digital, October 2021

hfnalbum.pngJohn Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Universal 0602507354299 (six CDs + two Blu-ray discs)

After three tedious, unlistenable, Yoko-infected experimental LPs (Two Virgins, Life With The Lions and The Wedding Album) and a dire live set, Lennon produced an album made up of actual songs. This late-1970 release was a monumental kvetch, all his life's resentments and anger suddenly exploding like a gigantic zit. 'God', 'My Mummy's Dead', 'Isolation', 'Working Class Hero' – fortunately, the music transcends the message, and this complete remastering sounds fantastic. But do we need eight discs' worth of Yoko's archive plundering? Much of this is repetitious filler, but devotees will relish every second. In retrospect, though, this seems to be Lennon's musical mantra for wokeness. KK


The Misunderstood
Children Of The Sun
Grapefruit CRSEG0860 (two discs)

Subtitled 'The Complete Recordings 1965-1966', this is a must for those who revel in pioneering, star-crossed bands like The Action, The Flamin' Groovies, et al. This outfit followed The Walker Brothers as Californians who relocated to the UK, proteges of John Peel. Their catalogue was as rich as The Yardbirds' for inventiveness and in defining psychedelia, with the unusual touch of using pedal steel in a non-Country & Western context. With exceptional original numbers and choice blues covers such as 'Shake Your Money Maker', this group is one of rock's best-kept secrets, the failure to succeed adding poignancy to the band's name. KK


Neil Young
Young Shakespeare
Reprise 093624888093 (CD + DVD + LP)

Described on the sticker as 'The Earliest Known Film Of Neil Young Live', this is a document to cherish. An acoustic set recorded in Connecticut in 1971, at a time when he could do no wrong, Neil pre-dated the craze for unplugged gigs. And look at the songs he performed!: 'Old Man', 'Helpless', 'Down By The River', 'Heart Of Gold', 'Ohio' and others of that calibre, sounding like a 'Greatest Hits Live' package, with Young in peerless form. As guilty as any for abusing his fans' devotion with overpriced box sets, this is the opposite: it is simply astonishing and, to be frank, it probably deserves Digital Album Choice as much as the Lennon. KK


Various Artists
The Harry Smith B-Sides
Dust-To-Digital 80226 00512 (four discs)

Even though I'm trying to cut back, I had to buy this sequel to Harry Smith's archival recordings which – like Alan Lomax's efforts – rescued much musical Americana from being lost forever. Like the title says, this contains the B-sides to the recordings on his monumental 1952 Folkways Records release, Anthology Of American Folk Music (a 1997 CD). That covered mainly rural American music during 1927-32; this box, with its detailed 144-page booklet, adds 84 tracks from obscure blues, folk, country and gospel singers. Sadly, political correctness called for three tracks to be omitted, but, hey, that's 2021. For musicologists, this is an essential purchase. KK