Audiophile: Digital, February 2019

hfnalbum.pngAlexander Spence
Sundazed MHCD-086 (three discs)

One for Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Moby Grape fans, this 50th anniversary edition of Oar, Spence's only solo title, betters every set before it. Its 12 tracks have increased to 58, the punning title a nod to a classic Love tune. This is lean, minimalist country-folk-rock, with vocals a cross between Leonard Cohen and Kevin Ayers, but minus the latter's whimsy. Bleak, intense stuff from a troubled soul, it's now a cultish, near-mythical remnant of the era, every instrument played by Spence over nine days in December 1968. Like Blind Faith's first, this isolated, one-off had devotees begging for more. Alas, the doomed Spence died in '99, so cherish this difficult gem. KK


Murray Head
Nigel Lived
Intervention IR-SCD2

Exactly a year on from reviewing the magnificent, acclaimed 45rpm 2LP edition, Intervention has graced us with a superlative SACD for those who prefer silver discs and who won't mind forgoing the extravagant packaging carefully reproduced from the original vinyl. A no-longer 'lost' 1973 concept LP, it tells the story of a young musician arriving in London, constructed around an imaginary, 'found' diary, reproduced here from LP dimensions down to a CD booklet. This is a thoughtful album not to be tarred with the 'concept LP' brush if you find such a notion abhorrent, as the music is sublime. Head is surrounded by phenomenal musicians. KK


Clutching At Straws
Parlophone 0190295605049 (four discs + Blu-ray)

Like Oar [below], the multi-disc treatment has been applied to one of Marillion's finest moments, their fourth album and last with Fish, from 1987. Devotees will be ecstatic: four CDs and a Blu-ray including unreleased demos, various remixes and a live concert from December of that year. It's made for hi-fi enthusiasts, too, the Blu-ray featuring the original mix, PCM stereo Remix, LPCM Master Audio 5.1 Mix and DTS Master Audio 5.1 (all three 48kHz/24-bit). Video content includes a new documentary and promo films. It's an exceptional album even without all the extras, gorgeous-sounding, majestic, soaring neo-prog-rock that even I can stomach. Also reissued on five LPs. KK


Cantamos & Seven
Vocalion CDSML 8543 (multi-channel SACD)

Dating from 1974, this 2-on-1 from country rock's most under-appreciated band followed the departure of founder Richie Furay, Poco by this point dominated by Paul Cotton. Both albums – Vocalion has chosen not to put them in chronological order – were filled with a mix of hard-driving rockers and wistful ballads, the best moments belonging to Timothy B Schmit, who would soon leave to join The Eagles. This SACD offers the original quadraphonic mix as well as stereo, and the 4-channel format's spatial oddities are less intrusive than one might imagine. A welcome reissue, especially given the 44-year gap since the quad mix was available. KK