Audiophile Vinyl

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Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
Ms Ross, exactly 80 years old on the day that I’m writing this, is one of the UK’s best-kept secrets: jazz aficionados who know their onions appreciate that she is one of the best interpreters of standards in the business, so this set from World Pacific back in 1959 – featuring Zoot Sims on sax – ranks with any ‘Great American Songbook’ you can imagine. The stance here differs from her more famous work as part of Lambert, Hicks & Ross, the crack sextet (with a touch of big-band class provided by Mel Lewis on drums) accenting her vocals with uncanny precision. It may be a half-century old, but it can teach a few tricks to today’s crop of wannabees. Mesmerising.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 01, 2018
This month we review: Doug MacLeod, Ruth Brown, The Minx Soundtrack, and Matthew Sweet
Ken Kessler  |  Mar 06, 2019
This month we review: King Solomon, Mel Henke, Sarah Mclachlan, & Matthew Sweet
Ken Kessler  |  Nov 01, 2018
This month we review: Buffalo Springfield, Paul Rodgers, Ultimate Spinach, and Sonny Boy Williamson.
Ken Kessler  |  Oct 01, 2018
This month we review: Michael Nesmith, John Butler, Carmen McRae, and Nina Simone.
Ken Kessler  |  Sep 01, 2018
This month we review: Slim Harpo, Lynyrd Skynyrd, A Sea For Yourself, and The Rising Storm.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 06, 2010
As eerie a song as has ever topped the charts, the surprise success of ‘Ode To Billie Joe’ ensured that Gentry’s 1967 debut LPwould also reach No 1. In retrospect, this is a seminal release helping to create the break between traditional, Opry-style country warblers, the gutsy, bluesy component turning this into, sort of, a distaff effort at the outlaw approach, with Gentry eschewing the beehive, pointy-bra’d, down-trodden angst of most of her contemporaries. As Gentry faded from the public a mere five or so years afterwards, working only sporadically, this reissue is a reminder of how much she helped to empower today’s country songbirds. Sound Quality: 88% .
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
While the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean successfully co-opted the ‘surf’ genre by adding vocals, its inventor was Dick Dale, aka ‘King of the Surf Guitar’. Dale launched the genre with ‘Let’s Go Trippin’’ from 1961, which kicks off this set, developing a sound he forged to reflect the sensations of the sport. Along the way he directly influenced so many guitarists (eg Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen) that he’s even credited by some with inventing heavy metal. What these 28 mono tracks reveal are ingenious techniques that dazzle and frighten in equal measure 50 years on.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
For those in need of some distaff R&B amidst the incredible male performers captured live by Chad Kassem & Co, Texan songstress Greenleaf and her band Blue Mercy exhibit precisely the kind of fire and grit that exemplifies the great blues and (southern) soul belters of the 1960s and 1970s. Greenleaf acknowledges gospel inspiration and cites Koko Taylor and Aretha Franklin amongst her muses, so you can expect and do receive earthy, powerful interpretations of five tracks that suffer no sonic restraint. If the modernity of the recording’s crystal clarity jars with what is a genre of elderly vintage, think of this as you would a b/w movie filmed in high-def. This is shake your booty stuff.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
Sundazed continues to plough a furrow that only a few other reissue labels dare, that of all-but-forgotten psychedelia. This time they’ve unearthed an ultra-obscure album by a band that might have been little more than a footnote, for once having included Elliott Randall in its ranks. But they produced one of those deliriously gloomy/druggy, proto-Goth sets that mix freakish originals with unusual covers: Love’s ‘Signed DC’, Dylan’s ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ and even a Screamin’ Jay Hawkins track. The mix shows their eclecticism, but the best aspect of Creation – unlike too much from this genre which deserves to be forgotten – is that the music is terrific.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 08, 2010
There’s a strong case for regarding this as EC’s best album – if not of his entire career, which is too varied and complex, then surely of his early years. The magic ingredient was the arrival of the band that would accompany him through his strongest period, his most sympathetic backing of all: the butt-kicking Attractions, who injected enough adrenalin into these Nick Lowe-produced sessions to yield an embarrassment of riches – ‘Pump It Up’, ‘Radio Radio’, ‘Lipstick Vogue’ and eight more acidic tracks. It’s ignoble to suggest that Costello was maturing: he arrived fully formed and in no need of assistance. It was like giving a great F1 driver a faster car.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 06, 2010
In case anyone thought that a stint in the US Army might have dulled Elvis’s talents, this astonishing LP from 1960 delivered exactly what the title promised, including the exclamation mark. His voice was in superb form, he was backed by the most sympathetic line-up in his career – including Scotty Moore, the Jordanaires, Hank Garland, and DJ Fontana – and the repertoire included ‘Fever’, ‘The Girl Of My Best Friend’, ‘Reconsider Baby’, ‘Such A Night’… Do you really need any more of an inducement to rush out and buy this state-of-the-art two-disc, 45rpm edition? Audiophile-grade Frank and Elvis LPs in the same month: oh, we are spoiled rotten. Sound Quality: 95% . .
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 10, 2010
There’s no end to the astonishingly good albums that the psychedelic era produced, which were overshadowed by the genre’s giants. Although Fever Tree’s origins are Texan, the group sounds like it could have been part of Boston’s ‘Bosstown’ sound or from New York’s artier element, with its heavy orchestration and baroque touches. And while their eponymous debut from ’68 features fascinating originals, like the hit ‘San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native)’, what’s more intriguing are interpretations of the Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper/We can Work it Out’ and Neil Young’s ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’. Another great find for hard-up collectors from Sundazed.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 06, 2010
If 1962’s Live In Paris was breathtaking, Sinatra At The Sands from ’66 defies categorisation. I mean, accompaniment by Count Basie and his Orchestra, conducted and arranged by Quincy Jones? And it was recorded at the Copa Room of the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas? If ever there was a Rat Pack-less souvenir of Sinatra at the top of his game, a primer in cool stagecraft, this LP takes the honours. All of his standard showstop tunes were delivered, up to and including ‘It Was A Very Good Year’. Add to that slick patter, ‘All Of Me’, plenty of the Basie band, ‘One For My Baby’, ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ … there’s a reason why Ol’ Blues Eyes still remains the Boss.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 10, 2010
Like the title says, this is part of APO’s astonishing direct-to-disc series, but for me, it’s also the culmination of a decade-long plea for this label to record the R&B legend. It’s here I must declare personal involvement: I wrote the liner notes, explaining how it came about. Chad Kassem’s efforts have resulted in a delicious live session which justifies my nagging. Tate reaches down to the soles of his shoes to deliver exquisite takes of two trademark songs from his classic Verve LP, ‘Look At Granny Run Run’ and ‘Ain’t Nobody Home’, plus four others.

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