Audiophile: Vinyl, January 2022

hfnalbum.pngJeff Beck
Mobile Fidelity MFSL 2-502 (two 45rpm 180g LPs)

Having played this against a mint original and the SACD which scored 90% last November and 'Disc of the Month' [UDSACD 2223], I am stunned: this is the best. Apologies to those who prefer Led Zeppelin's debut released six months later in early 1969, but Truth is the quintessential guitar god/blues rock touchstone, and one of the most complete albums of all time. Enabling Beck to express even more than already achieved with The Yardbirds were Rod Stewart on vocals, Ron Wood on bass and Mickey Waller on drums. Rod's 'Ol' Man River', 'Shapes Of Things', 'Greensleeves', 'I Ain't Superstitious' and 'You Shook Me'? It doesn't get better than this. Just wait until you hear the bass… KK


Nina Simone
The Montreux Years
BMG BMCCAT461DLP (two 180g vinyl LPs)

From a new series of Montreux Festival performances, this contains 16 songs from five of Nina's appearances between 1968 and 1990, and so good you'd wish you could have the full gigs. That's too much to expect, so the carefully curated selections show variety while sounding simply incredible, attesting to founder Claude Nobs' fetish for quality. I'd just listened to Simone's RCA catalogue, and what struck me about this set's 22-year span is her consistency: you need to look at the notes to determine which track came from which year. A feast for lovers of perfectly recorded and performed voice and piano, and yes, it ends with 'My Baby Just Cares For Me'. KK


Sonny Stitt & The Top Brass
Sonny Stitt & The Top Brass
Speakers Corner/Atlantic 1395 (180g vinyl)

Atlantic's early LPs are a well-kept secret for those who think only Columbia, RCA and Mercury scaled the sonic heights. This lush, live-feel session from 1962 comes close to the best of them, with sax genius Stitt and a dozen other musicians (including a seven-man brass section and one of my heroes, Philly Joe Jones, on drums) delivering a set with a big band feel redolent of an earlier time. It swings with an almost Basie-like feel, but with hints of the blues to add to the appeal. Stitt's dazzling solos naturally dominate, but for those who measure sound quality by percussion, the drums are massive and weighty, and the bonus is sublime organ from Perri Lee. KK


Link Wray
Sings And Plays Guitar
Sundazed LP5583 (mono; clear vinyl)

Another influential guitarist like Beck, Link Wray had rewritten the rules for raunchy rock guitar with his hit instrument 'Rumble' in 1958. This rare 1964 album, reissued for the first time, is a surprise for those who think of him – as per Duane Eddy – strictly as a player, not a vocalist. The 12 self-penned songs here show a different side to Wray, with Elvis-y vocals, but the distinctive guitar is there, differentiating it from the rock 'n' roll and rockabilly of the era. No pun intended, but it's a link between the Brylcreem'd singers of the 1950s and the British Invasion, the opening chords sounding just like The Beatles. It's essential for Wray fans and historians. KK