Audiophile: Digital, January 2023

hfnalbum.pngEric Clapton
Mobile Fidelity UDSACD-2224 (SACD)

In Nov '22, we awarded the One-Step vinyl version of this recording [Mofi UD1S 2-020] a deserved Album of the Month honour. Around that time, there was talk among the audiophile community of MoFi's usage of digital files somewhere in the chain, but I maintain that the LP is a breathtaking release. If you're one of those who prefers pure DNA, either analogue or digital, you will have no issues with this version, which – played through a worthy SACD player – reveals in spades how musical some digital releases can be. No, it is not quite as warm and airy-sounding as the LP, but it slaughters the CD. And yes, you will well up when you hear 'Tears In Heaven', no matter what you think of Clapton. KK


Dillard & Clark
The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark
Intervention IR-SCD17 (stereo SACD)

There's only one complaint one can make about this duo's debut from 1968: it's too short so you'll beg for more. A forgotten gem of early country rock – unjustly eclipsed by Gram Parsons' omnipresence – this sounds more like a Gene Clark solo, despite the presence of bluegrass god Doug Dillard, as Clark sings lead throughout. Byrds fans will swoon as it expands on Clark's former band's efforts in the genre, while the musicians onboard – future Eagle Bernie Leadon, fellow-Byrd Chris Hillman – render this as essential as anything by The Flying Burrito Brothers. Alas, D&C would only release one more album, but the two are essential if you love a bit of twang. KK


Rosa King
King Of The Train Jazz/Soul
STS 61111112

Absolutely gorgeous – what audiophile discs ought to be, a stunning set with sound to match. As the title says, this is a stew of jazz and soul, eight originals and one cover, of smoky atmosphere and subtle performance, but the downside is learning that the Amsterdam-based, US-born singer and saxophonist died in 2000. Whatever shape the tapes were in – STS doesn't tell us – the sound recalls the best of Sheffield Lab. As ever, STS needs a remedial course in liner notes writing, but don't let that deter you: research suggests that this is a remastering of her 1997 sessions released as Still Going Strong. If you're deep of pocket, this set is also available on open-reel. KK


Various Artists
Earl's Closet
Light In The Attic LITA 180

Unless you read the small print in liner notes, you might not know of the eponymous entrepreneur of this 22-track collection of unreleased gems subtitled 'The Lost Archive Of Earl McGrath 1970 to 1980'. McGrath – 'an accidental record executive' – discovered Hall & Oates, The Jim Carroll Band and others, and ran The Rolling Stones' record label, too. In addition to Hall & Oates and Carroll, also heard here are The New York Dolls' David Johansen, Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark, Ultra Violet of Andy Warhol fame, Norma Jean Bell, and many more. The music is eclectic, the sound variable, but this is as vital as any set of previous undiscovered treasures. KK