Audiophile: Vinyl, December 2020

hfnalbum.pngDr John, The Night Tripper
The Sun Moon & Herbs
Speakers Corner ATCO SD33-362 (180g vinyl)

Dr John's passing in 2019 had inspired a binge as I worked through much of his canon, and this reissue, serves as a fine memorial. Dating from 1971 and technically his fourth solo LP as 'Dr John' rather than 'Mac Rebennack', it has guests including Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Graham Bond and enough five-star studio musicians to let you know that by this time, he was an A-lister, if mainly considered a 'genre' musician. He was still caught up in his weird funk voodoo shtick, but the compositions are more akin to listener-friendly New Orleans R&B. Gripping throughout, the playing alone merits this month's main honour, but the sound seals the deal: the bass is monumental. KK


Joan Armatrading
Joan Armatrading
Intervention Records IR-029 (180g vinyl)

Is there a hi-fi enthusiast over 60 who doesn't own this 1976 album? Like Breakfast In America, it was played to death at shows and in stores, but for good reason: Armatrading's intense delivery was captured perfectly by Glyn Johns, and she became – having proven as inimitable as Kate Bush or Joni Mitchell – a genre unto herself. Certainly not easy to shoehorn into any category, Armatrading melded singer-songwriter artistry with a hybrid Caribbean/British attitude, seasoned with hints of jazz and folk, and earned herself a Top 10 hit with 'Love And Affection'. Intervention has, as usual, produced a breathtaking reissue, right down to the quality of the sleeve. KK


Bob Dylan
Oh Mercy
Mobile Fidelity MFSL2-488 (two 45rpm LPs)

Reviewed in May 2019 on SACD, the album – then celebrating its 30th anniversary – surprised this listener as I'm one of those whose interest in Dylan tapered after 1970. It is, in hindsight, regarded as a return to form after a run of less-than-awe-inspiring releases, and I described it last year as 'dark, moody, atmospheric and redolent of the era, shaped by Dylan's inescapable political position of the time'. One of those Dylan albums that grows on you, Oh Mercy on vinyl is more pertinent in the context of this magazine, as the sound is astonishingly good. The SACD was an ear-opener, but this 45rpm LP version is even better, especially in those bottom octaves. KK


Original Soundtrack
Psychedelic Sex Kicks
Modern Harmonic MH-8233 (white vinyl LP + DVD)

Unless you are an unreconstructed hippie, who still uses terms like 'Groovy!' and 'Far out!' and smokes enough grass to keep Mexico solvent, this will baffle you. It's the soundtrack to a long-forgotten exploitation flick from 1967, containing a mix of dialogue segments, poetry and sitar. Not hypnotic, Ravi Shankar-grade playing, but the wannabee twanging of the era with slithery tabla accompaniment. This is a curio for hard-core cineastes, and it deserves to be available, so again Modern Harmonic performs a service. The white vinyl pressing is clean, quiet and space-y (in the groovy sense), but I still haven't mustered the nerve to watch the DVD. KK