Audiophile: Digital, December 2020

hfnalbum.pngDon Grusin
Out Of Thin Air
Octave Records OCT-0001 (SACD + DVD)

PS Audio's new label is unashamedly 'audiophile' in every way, ticking all the boxes that entice the enthusiast. How so? This inaugural release is 1) a double-disc affair, containing an SACD and a DVD so you can do your own comparisons, 2) the music itself is superbly-recorded solo piano, all the better to judge without distraction, 3) all the studio kit is itemised and 4) the player is a jazz hero (whose brother Dave is responsible for early audiophile LPs). OK, maybe I just described a throwback to the late 1970s, but this is a vibrant recording that will make you sit up in your chair, so real is the experience. It may not get played to death in your system, but trust me: you will use it to dazzle like-minded visitors. KK


The Feminine Complex
Livin' Love
Modern Harmonic MHCD-204

As The Go-Go's continue to perpetuate the myth that they were the first all-girl band to play their own instruments, write their own songs and misuse apostrophes, Modern Harmonic finds more killer distaff outfits which predate them. This is from the late 1960s, with a pedigree based on the band's Nashville origins, though the cult status is due more to the original LP's rarity than any hoped-for proto-Runaways punkishness. Reissued a few times, and augmented by unreleased tracks, it's soft rock in The Carpenters vein and could have been overseen by Burt Bacharach. What surprises is the sound quality, though you don't have to be a musicologist to guess the era. KK


Helen Reddy
I Am Woman & Long Hard Climb
Vocalion CDLK4627

Dating from 1972/3 and continuing Vocalion's crusade to make available via SACD those long-inaccessible quadraphonic recordings of the era, the late Helen Reddy's hit-filled third and fourth albums represent her commercial peak and they've acquired new relevance. The title track of the first of the pair says it all, a feminist anthem that – while almost restrained by today's protest methodology – reminds us that 'plus ça change'. She was a great belter as well as a crooner, and here her taste was both impeccable and catholic, covering songs by Mann/Weil, Don McLean, Percy Mayfield, John Sebastian and others of note. And the production is superb. KK


Various Artists
STS 40th Anniversary In Sound Excellence
STS Digital 6195 CD111

What I love about label samplers is that they afford audiophiles, who moan louder than anyone about prices, to get a taste of a company's output without buying some £50 release which turns out to be a musical void. This 15-track collection contains vocals and instrumentals, jazz and classical material, taken mainly from STS's back catalogue. Unique to it and thus adding value are five classical selections recorded at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw by pianist Gabriella Rynveld-Käfer, better known to audiophiles as Gaby of Crystal Cable. The sound throughout is, of course, to high-end standards, so consider this a handy demo CD to carry with you shop-to-shop. KK