Audiophile: Digital, September 2023

hfnalbum.pngLeonard Bernstein
An American In New York – The City Scores
él Records/Cherry Red ACMEM368CDX (four discs)

Don't panic: this is secular Bernstein, containing his works for Broadway and Hollywood. As worshipped as he was in the classical world, his genius earned respect in the popular and jazz communities, so the magic of this isn't just Bernstein's brilliance away from his comfort zone, a skill-set shared with George Gershwin. These CDs are graced with Oscar Peterson, Stan Kenton, Cal Tjader, André Previn, Bill Evans, and Dave Brubeck and their ensembles, plus the Hi-Lo's, Lena Horne, Marian McPartland, and even Frank Sinatra. In addition to West Side Story, On The Town, Wonderful Town and On The Waterfront, the quartet includes the ballet Fancy Free, its prologue sung by Billie Holiday. It's a marvellous set. KK


Hotel California
Mobile Fidelity UDSACD2233

As we near the end of MoFi's Eagles project, the albums become even more thematic and, arguably, more successful both commercially and artistically. Hotel California is by some measure regarded as their masterpiece – though I am partial to the first three – having established itself as a vivid snapshot of West Coast decadence in the 1970s. Along with the more louche adventures of Fleetwood Mac during the same period, this is to the country rock genre and the LA musical community of the period what F Scott Fitzgerald's books are to the Roaring Twenties. The title track, 'Life In The Fast Lane', 'New Kid In Town'? All gems. Roll on, the One-Step LP edition. KK


Elton John
Honky Château
Rocket 4596215 (two discs)

Uniform with the deluxe version of Madman Across The Water [HFN May '23], this continues the welcomed, expanded anniversary reissues of Elton's best period (no complaints, please, if you prefer, say, Ice On Fire). In addition to the remastered album which gave us the timeless 'Rocket Man', this 2CD set provides nine worth-hearing sessions demos, plus eight songs recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall; these comprise most of Honky Château bar 'Slave' and 'I Think I'm Going To Kill Myself'. Fans will hate me saying this as we're a half-century away from its original release, but this was the peak of Elton's career. The sound? Uniformly excellent. KK


Peggy Lee
Norma Deloris Egstrom From Jamestown North Dakota
Capitol 00602448400451

Its cover sticker declares this the '50th Anniversary Deluxe Expanded Edition' of one of Lee's most enjoyable later-career albums. Her last for Capitol after two stints totalling 23 years, it followed the quasi-crossover format of many of her popular/'big band'-era colleagues by adding contemporary (ie, rock music) material to numbers from the Great American Songbook – in this case a brace from Leon Russell, one with Delaney & Bonnie. Also part of the deal was the use of stellar studio musicians, here including Larry Carlton, Victor Feldman, Michael Omartian and Earl Palmer. It includes seven desirably rare bonus tracks and exceptional liner notes. KK