Audiophile: Vinyl, April 2019

hfnalbum.pngMarvin Gaye
What's Going On
Mobile Fidelity UD1S 2-008 (two One-Step 45rpm LPs)

Thankfully, reviews of reissues in HFN put the spotlight on their quality not content, and I remind you of this for two reasons. The first is that merely thinking about criticising this LP is the musical equivalent of puppy-drowning: it's sacrosanct, worshipped by critics, soul fans and (especially) by other musicians. The second is that I may be the only creature on the planet who thinks it's pretentious, formless, over-rated, meandering PC twaddle, and not a patch on Stevie Wonder's best. There, it's said, so now I await the vitriolic tweets. That aside, the sound is so lush, glorious and stately that it almost ranks up there with the best of 1950s Mercury, Capitol and RCA orchestral LPs. So… KK


Gene Clark
White Light
Intervention Records IR028 (180g LP)

Reviewed in SACD form [HFN Oct '18], its sound an endorsement for the format, this album never fails to surprise, despite its relative simplicity. Yes, it comes off a bit like a Byrds album – no bad thing – but here Clark isn't sharing the stage with spotlight rivals David Crosby or Roger McGuinn (think: George Harrison to their Lennon-McCartney) and he sounds positively liberated in places. This is a major work from a seminal country-rock pioneer, each of the eight original compositions on a par with even his finest moments with his earlier band. The one cover song – a still-fresh reading of Dylan's 'Tears Of Rage' – is simply sublime. KK


The Remains
Live 1969
Sundazed LP5557

Now this is a find: The Remains were Boston's hottest group, opened for The Beatles, featured on Nuggets but were painfully short-lived. This superlative gig – in stereo, no less – doesn't date from the first incarnation of 1964-6, but from a one-off reunion. Precious few concert recordings survive, so this is a rare opportunity for those of us who were too young to see them in Beantown and only knew of the legend to understand why they were adored. All their best originals and great covers – including 'Johnny B Goode', 'Route 66', 'Like A Rolling Stone' and 'All Day And All Of The Night' – make for a killer set showing off their musical prowess. KK


Johnny 'Guitar' Watson
Johnny 'Guitar' Watson
Modern Harmonic/Sundazed MH-8054 (orange vinyl; mono)

What an ear-opener! I knew Watson was a powerful blues guitarist, but I didn't realise quite how trailblazing was his technique. In punchy mono despite a 1963 release, it explodes from the speakers, taxing your system's transient attack. There are hints of pop/rock in this LP, originally on King (then home to James Brown), so blues and R&B dominate, but an odd version of that old chestnut, 'Embraceable You', informs the listener that Watson would always be eclectic. Unsurprisingly, the high point of this 12-track set is his signature tune, 'Gangster Of Love', while the entire album is punctuated by fiery guitar work worthy of Freddie King or Albert Collins. KK