Audiophile: Digital, January 2021

hfnalbum.pngFiona Boyes
Blues In My Heart
Reference Recordings FR-740

A 20th anniversary remastering of her live-to-analogue-tape release of 2000, this acoustic blues set is one of those rare 'audiophile' titles which defies the usual great-sound-shame-about-the-music curse. Though it reminded me at first of Rory Block (for whom I have a near-obsessive adoration), and a bit of early Bonnie Raitt, Boyes is less the fire-breathing purist that implies. Don't get me wrong: I revel in Block's and Raitt's pedantry, but Boyes's approach makes me imagine what a blues album recorded by Julie London night have been like. A mix of traditional numbers and originals, a liquid voice, sublime harmonica at the back of the room: this is both intimate and audiophilic, up there with the Eric Bibb CDs on Opus3. KK


Victoria Alexandra With Mike Skid Wroe
The Best View In The World
STS Digital STS6111192

Released to mark STS's 40th anniversary, this CD – bereft of liner notes – is worth finding because the sound is exquisite. As is the jinx with all audiophile labels except those reissuing works by known artists, you'll consider this a punt, taking my word for it. So let me be blunt: I know nothing about Ms Alexandra beyond hearing a heart-breakingly sweet voice somewhere between Mary Hopkins and the late Minnie Riperton. This is as fragile a performance as I have ever heard, accompanied by gentle guitar and recorded with finesse. She wrote all the material. Maybe next time she'll get to write some liner notes. KK


Buddy Miles Express
Booger Bear/Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live!
Vocalion 2CDSML8560 (two discs)

Hugely prolific, one of those musicians who played with just about everyone who mattered, drumming powerhouse Buddy Miles was a solo artist due for reassessment, rather than being remembered only as a member of Jimi Hendrix's Band Of Gypsys. This welcome 2CD set pairs a 1973 Buddy Miles Express release with a live-in-'72 collaboration with Carlos Santana, both in quadraphonic sound. As expected, the drums are prominent, but that's a good thing: these are show-off CDs bursting with virtuoso playing. You have to admire Miles' high-funk cover of The Kinks' 'You Really Got Me', while familiarity enriches the live disc, via 'Evil Ways' and 'Them Changes'. KK


Vanilla Fudge
Vanilla Fudge
Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2210 (mono SACD)

Scholars acknowledge that some mono mixes differ enough from the stereo to warrant reissuing; most don't. This reissue, however, will delight fans dissatisfied with the overall sound of one of the most important albums of the mid-1960s because, according to legend, parts of the original 'stereo LP' were in mono, despite the then-novel ascent of stereo. Whatever, the remastering here is the best I've ever heard of this monumental, influential, early psychedelic classic. Slowed-down, inventive covers ranging from The Supremes' 'You Keep Me Hanging On' to The Zombies by way of The Beatles: it's a vivid taste of 1967 (also on two 45rpm LPs: MFSL2-491). KK