Audiophile: Vinyl, September 2023

hfnalbum.pngPaul Simon
There Goes Rhymin' Simon
Mobile Fidelity UD1S 2-019 (One-Step 2x45rpm LPs)

MoFi's second Paul Simon One-Step – and his second solo LP if you ignore the 1960s Paul Simon Songbook compilation – is perfectly timed for its 50th anniversary. In keeping with post-Thriller caution, it states quite clearly that there is a digital stage in the production, so there's nothing about which to grumble. Nor should you: the sound is sublime. If any questions are begged, it's which is your fave Simon solo album? Devotees of Graceland and Still Crazy After All These Years can present strong cases, but this one is hard to top for 'Kodachrome' and the gospel-y 'Loves Me Like A Rock'. Coolest news of all? MoFi has stopped using the matte finish which meant touching the box left fingerprints all over it! KK


Gaillard, Jazzbeaux, Mantilla & Allen
Steve Allen's Hip Fables
Modern Harmonic MH-8265 (coloured vinyl)

This reissue screams 'anachronism'. From 1983, it recalls the spoken-word-over-jazz-backing records of the '50s. This is 'hipster' as in 'beatnik', not the current abuse of the term. Allen was a giant personality/late-night host in the early years of TV broadcasting in the USA, but he was also an erudite composer and jazz aficionado – hence this collaboration with him on piano, joined by narrators Slim Gaillard (who provides the hip credibility) and Al 'Jazzbeaux' Collins, with Ray Mantilla on percussion. Their readings of four fairy tales stop shy of Lord Buckley anarchy, and the sound is nightclub atmospheric. KK


Craft/Fantasy CR00563 (180g vinyl)

As nearly 50 years have passed since its heyday, 'disco' is no longer a dirty word, and this highly-regarded example of the genre shows how urbane it became. Indeed, this could easily have been labelled 'Jazz' or 'Soul', the Philly-esque vocals moving it closer to the latter than the former. Reminiscent of George Benson's or Lou Rawls' work from the era, it is not quite what you'd expect of an album associated with The Jazz Crusaders' Wayne Henderson, who produced it. Released in 1977, Pleasure's third is super-smooth, but with a sound so massive that it deserves demo-LP status. And that explains why the fastidious Craft Recordings chose to reissue it. KK


Johnny Winter
Johnny Winter
Speakers Corner CS9826 (180g vinyl)

Speakers Corner says this reissue of one of the finest blues albums ever, and Winter's second, career-launching LP 'was remastered using pure analogue components only, from the master tapes through to the cutting head'. Overshadowed by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Winter remains for me the best of 'em all: ferocious, fiery and fast, with throaty vocals to match. In 1969, he emerged with as much shock value as Hendrix; even as a relative newcomer he was recognised as a prodigy by legendary guests including Walter 'Shakey' Horton and Willie Dixon. This is the best pressing I've ever heard, the bottom end as heavy as Led Zep. KK