Audiophile: Digital, June 2021

hfnalbum.pngBobbie Gentry
The Delta Sweete
Capitol 5930474 (two discs; part mono)

Even if you own the comprehensive box set which came out in 2018, this release is essential for Gentry devotees. It expands on her much-adored 1968 second album, filling two CDs with a new stereo mix, the mono mix and bonus tracks including demos, alternate takes and an instrumental with Shorty Rogers. The set reinforces the argument that she was/is a pivotal force in contemporary country music. The title pun hints that this is a cohesive, themed album, its content continuing in the vein of 1967's 'Ode To Billie Joe' with vignettes about the South, including cover versions such as 'Louisiana Man' and 'Tobacco Road'. Long a recluse, Gentry is deservedly being reassessed. This admirably shows why. KK


PS Audio/Octave Records
The Audiophile Reference Disc Vol 1
Octave Records OCT0004 (dual layer SACD + DVD)

New CD or LP test discs rarely appear nowadays, so this ultra-modern offering is welcomed. Others are available, but this may prove the most comprehensive and useful for setting up digital playback, even for the non-techy. PS Audio founder Paul McGowan distills 45-years-plus experience into two discs to test phase, channel identification, soundstage and other parameters, using voice, tones and music, and all with most sensible instructions. It works with just CD, but to benefit the most, you need an SACD player and computer for extracting the DVD data files. There's also a 212pp book at extra cost, which expands on the shorter booklet included here. KK


The Eagles
Live From The Forum – MMXVIII
Warner RBD2 627585 (two CDs + Blu-ray)

David Crosby acerbically noted that The Eagles live are indistinguishable from the LPs, missing the obvious: that is precisely what fans want. This two-hour-plus set from 2018 differs from previous concert releases, 1980's Eagles Live and 1994's audiophile fave, Hell Freezes Over, being the first since the passing of founder Glenn Frey in 2016. His son Deacon and country legend Vince Gill step in to fill those shoes, and do so in style. Don Henley is the only original member left, so the lineup doesn't really matter – this is another lush reminder of why The Eagles are so beloved. It has over 25 tracks, including some solo treasures, so you know what to expect. KK


The Guess Who
Wheatfield Soul & Canned Wheat
Vocalion CDSML8570 (multi-channel SACD)

I do hope that, one day, some surround-sound maven will write a definitive study of the original 'quad' era, because it coincided with some of the greatest rock music ever recorded. Whether you listen in stereo or 5.1 to this brace of superb albums from 1969, by Canada's first major rock export, it is packed with classics, denoting the ascent to the front of Burton Cummings, a peerless lead vocalist. 'These Eyes', 'Undun', 'No Time' – this is sublime rock with a distinctive, 'British Invasion' feel, but still sounding fresh a half-century on. Curiously, this band didn't mean squat in the UK, so here's a chance to hear what you were missing from the Colonies. KK