Audiophile: Digital, March 2021

hfnalbum.pngThe Replacements
Please To Meet Me
Sire/Rhino R2 643412 (three CDs + LP)

While Replacement fans need not be audiophiles – sonic virtues were not the band's forte – this second bumper set is surprisingly euphonic (if perhaps too slick for the purist fan). It is, of course, all indie guitar, Byrds-by-way-of-Hendrix, and vocals that link Big Star to Nirvana. That aside, this rocks hard from start to finish. You get the remastered album with six singles-only tracks, a CD with 15 demos and one of rough mixes, outtakes and alternates. At the risk of inflaming those who worship the achingly overrated Kurt Cobain, this may be the best US indie band ever, and if this is not their best album, it's the best-sounding. Amusingly, the set's LP contains 13 of the 'rough mixes', not the original album! KK


Jimi Hendrix
Are You Experienced
Analogue Productions CAPP19782SA (SACD hybrid)

One forgets how weird, nay bizarre, was the stereo mix of this album in places, but the music transcends the extreme separation. This SACD – the sleeve and track listing follow the US issue – includes the stereo version on both layers, with the mono mix a bonus solely for the SACD layer. Hendrix's debut still sounds radical and otherworldly over a half-century on, and every track is magnificent, with a surfeit of what would become his signature tunes, including 'Foxey Lady' – yes, US spelling with an 'e'! – 'Purple Haze', 'Hey Joe' and my all-time Jimi fave, 'The Wind Cries Mary'. If you don't already own a copy, Analogue Productions' SACD will do the trick. KK


Original Cast Recording
A Chorus Line
Vocalion CDLK4640 (multi-channel SACD)

Although I loathe this kind of solipsistic Broadway self-indulgence, of which I am utterly alone in my detestation, it is a much-loved, hugely successful musical about stage performers. It is, however, a cut above anything ever done by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the sound, well… if ever you needed incontrovertible evidence that stage scores and soundtracks are among the best-recorded albums of all, this will take your breath away. I'd like to say that there are musical high points, but there isn't one song on here that I can recall as one does the played-to-death ca-ca from, say, Cats, or deserving works from Lerner & Loewe, Rodgers & Hammerstein, et al. KK


Various Artists
Headphone Heaven Volume 1
STS Digital 6111194

Thirty-one tracks, of which 14 are music, make this a nice demo disc with all chosen to exploit headphone listening. The music includes big band, tango, harp, gospel, Great American Songbook and other genres; the opener is a left-right channel check, and tracks 16-31 are nicely recorded sound effects. However (and I am growing as irritated by this as you might be), the label's inexplicable inability to compose liner notes of any worth means there are no listings of the sounds, so you have to remember which number corresponds to, say, the helicopter or the police siren-plus-gunshots or the train passing by. Or how they were recorded… KK