Audiophile: Vinyl, December 2021

hfnalbum.pngRod Stewart
Warner Records R1 563471 (five 180g vinyl LPs)

Like Elvis, Sir Rod has been around long enough to have a career broken down into Picasso-like periods. Blessedly, this box represents not the recent Las Vegas stint but the dawn of the superstar era. Well into his solo career, he delivered hit after hit and four magnificent LPs in as many years, while making others' songs his own, eg, Atlantic Crossing's 'Sailing'. In addition to that gem, the box includes A Night On The Town, Foot Loose & Fancy Free and Blondes Have More Fun, this last enabling him to take the mickey out of himself. This set is treasure-laden – 'Tonight's The Night', 'Hot Legs', 'The Killing Of Georgie (Parts I and II)', etc – but the real gold is found on the Encores LP, with choice rarities. KK


Terry Callier
Turn You To Love
Speakers Corner/Elektra 6E-189 (180 vinyl)

Delivering smooth soul with the more subtle post-disco beat of the era, thus oozing charm in the George Benson/Luther Vandross vein, Chicago-born Callier was one of those singers who unjustifiably slipped through the cracks. Casual listening to this 1979 release suggests another period piece, but Callier imbues the material with touches enriched by experience in numerous genres, ranging from gospel to blues to jazz, and a label shift from Cadet to Elektra. This is urban seduction music, with enough changes of tempo to keep it interesting, but it's worth investigating for one dazzler: a radical re-working of Steely Dan's 'Do It Again' as a piece of funk. KK


Joni Mitchell
The Reprise Albums 1968-1971
Rhino R1 653984 (four 180g vinyl LPs)

Long regarded as one of the greatest of all singer-songwriters, Mitchell started with Song To A Seagull, Clouds, Ladies Of The Canyon, and her universally worshipped masterpiece, Blue. She created these when her neighbours, and in some cases guest musicians, included Crosby Stills & Nash, Judy Collins and James Taylor – also her primary boosters. It is a quartet of the most mature, revealing, heartfelt sort, blessed with delicate melodies, ensuring that 'Both Sides Now' and 'Chelsea Morning' (to name but two) have become standards, and gifts for other singers. The only thing keeping this from beating Rod to Album Choice this month is the lack of bonus material. KK


Various Artists
Ladies Choice – The Pen Of Swan Records
Sundazed LP5582 (mono; blue vinyl)

Kept in profit for many years thanks to a quirk that gave them the US rights to the earliest Beatles material, NYC's Swan Records enjoyed a few rare hits but also invested deeply in the girl groups craze of the late 1950s and early '60s. I admit to having heard of only two of the dozen artists here, one of which is an early incarnation of The Three Degrees (faves with Prince Charles), but the quality is uniformly high if kitschy, and fans of the genre will delight in a mix of US and UK distaff performers. All pop period pieces – nothing to match, say, the Shangri-Las, but fun regardless. By the way: a 'pen' is a female swan, hence the punny title. KK