Audiophile: Vinyl, August 2019

hfnalbum.pngCurtis Mayfield
Keep On Keeping On – Studio Albums 1970-1974
Rhino RI573931 (four discs, 180g vinyl)

With Super Fly recently reissued as well, it's a good year for Mayfield fans. A pioneering soul deity – singer, songwriter, arranger and guitarist – who handled politics and civil rights with more grace than just about any other, he segued from his vocal group The Impressions to a solo career to rival any of the giants, including Messrs Gaye and Wonder. This collection of his first four studio LPs charts the transition via Curtis, Roots, Back To The World and Sweet Exorcist. It's a quartet that represents the pinnacle of urban (and urbane) African-American soul and R&B of the era. All four LPs are exceptional, especially his eponymous solo debut, which featured the hit 'Move On Up', and the transfers are superb. KK


Miles Davis Quintet
Miles Smiles
Mobile Fidelity MFSL2-486 (two 45rpm LPs)

This garnered 'digital release of the month' in June for the SACD, and this double 45rpm LP is even better. Bad timing, though: it's fighting it out in an issue of HFN that is overloaded with stunning releases. Suffice it to say, the LP is slightly more open, airier, and there are microscopic, nay, infinitesimal details that will dazzle for their contribution to the palpable atmosphere. To recap, this was recorded in late 1966, with what many consider to be one of his finest lineups: Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on double-bass and Tony Williams on drums. Teo Macero-produced, this set should be filed under 'Essential Miles'. KK


Aretha Franklin
Amazing Grace – The Complete Recordings
Atlantic 603497854196 (four discs; 180g vinyl)

Tied for 'best of the month' here, this magnificent achievement delivers on LP the 27 tracks that comprise the two shows which formed the basis for the new film. These live performances from Jan '72, released in their entirety on CD last year, caught Aretha at the peak of her stardom, returning to the church setting that formed her phenomenal vocal prowess. For this event, she blended pure gospel with the secular, converting material like Carole King's 'You've Got A Friend' and 'You'll Never Walk Alone' from Carousel into spirituals, while George Harrison's 'My Sweet Lord' embodies the definitive crossover of genres. KK


Buck Owens
Together Again/My Heart Skips A Beat
Sundazed LP5555 (yellow vinyl)

Buck Owens circa-1964 was top of the heap, and this cracker of a set is a textbook study of the West Coast/Bakersfield attitude toward country-and-western. The musicianship is simply sublime, slick and scintillating, especially if you have a thing for twang, while the lyrics are the stuff of which hilarious clichés are formed. If you love dry wit, you will simply marvel (if you aren't already hip to C&W) at the way these guys handle angst, especially the stunning version of the oft-covered 'Close Up The Honky Tonks'. As for the title tracks, which formed a double-sided hit single, they are nothing short of classics of the genre. Sundazed: more Buck please! KK