Audiophile Vinyl

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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 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 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 06, 2010
Originally released in 1968, this is a cornerstone of the Canterbury prog-rock scene. It benefits, however, from the presence of Kevin Ayers, who instilled upon the project a sense of whimsy absent in the band’s later, more serious and jazzy works. Yet even his sense of the absurd, and the inclusion of shorter numbers rather than epic slices of self-indulgence can’t disguise the fact that this is a definitively British underground/hippie/acid affair, despite being recorded in New York. What makes it of interest 40 years on is that it’s so easily digested – without the need to ingest psychedelics.
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.