Audiophile: Digital, August 2020

hfnalbum.pngJames Taylor
American Standard
Fantasy 00888072145719

Taylor has always had great taste in songs to cover, never failing to select tunes which suit his laid-back style. This brand new selection of 14 from the Great American Songbook actually recalls earlier, associated sets: ex-wife Carly Simon's multi-album celebration of the canon, and for sonic merit, brother Livingston's work for Chesky Records. JT's chilled delivery matches each song, like a mellow 'Moon River', 'Pennies From Heaven' and others that work well with a lilt and a gentle smile. This album is so cosy, so warm 'n' fuzzy that I'd recommend it for those in need of a little de-stressing in these hectic times. OK, it's not jammed-packed with genius originals, like Sweet Baby James, but trust me: it's no Starbucks throwaway. KK


Kristin Bolstad With Stemmeklang
Tomba Sonora
2L 2L-155SABD (SACD + Blu-ray; downloads to DXD/DSD512)

Its murky, unreadable cover art is the giveaway: this is a moody, bleak audiophile fest to captivate the sorts who found Joy Division, er, joyous. One disc offers the music on Blu-ray, the other SACD, with a choice of stereo LPCM 192kHz/24-bit, DTS HD 5.0, Dolby Atmos 7.0, Auro-3D, MQA, etc. The pieces are composed by Bolstad, and the mix of five female voices and four cellos in a mausoleum space creates an atmosphere that begs to be augmented by a Scandi-noir murder mystery. Not my cup of tea, but a spectacular recording, and a boon for those who want to try out the assorted formats. KK


Goodbye Tour Live 1968
Polydor UMC 779 529-9 (four discs)

Like this month's Hendrix box, here is a document of a legendary series of live gigs – both a bane to bootleggers. Cream were, at the time, the biggest act on the planet, and the lavish, 9½x9½in slipcase houses four concerts from the farewell tour of 19 dates. Included are three from the California leg and, crucially, the 26th November farewell from the Royal Albert Hall, on CD for the first time – before this, it was only on DVD. Thirty-six tracks, 29 previously unavailable on CD, 19 of them unreleased – this is a gift for fans. Unlike Jimi, Cream mainly stuck to the set lists, but were truly inventive every night. It all ends, appropriately, with 'Steppin' Out'. KK


Jimi Hendrix
Songs For Groovy Children
Sony Legacy 19075982772 (five discs)

For someone who died so young – 27, for goodness' sake – Hendrix was prolific, and more importantly, caught on tape at every juncture. This magnificent box is a treat for those who thought the Hendrix estate had run out of material. It contains all four of the historic Band Of Gypsys Fillmore East concerts of 31st December 1969/1st January 1970, all 43 songs presented in their original sequence – the original LP was a selection of numbers. This is as perfect an artefact as has arrived during this era of 50th anniversary reissues, the delight coming from Hendrix's varying every set, as opposed to bands which play note-perfect facsimiles of their LPs every night. KK