Audiophile: Vinyl (January 2019)

hfnalbum.pngSolomon Burke
King Solomon
Pure Pleasure/Atlantic PPAN D18158 (180g vinyl)

While I'm not among those who place Burke above Sam & Dave or Wilson Pickett in the deep soul pantheon, he was, indeed, one of the genre's pioneering deities. Just ask Mick Jagger, who covered a handful of Burke (or Burke-style) songs in The Stones' early years. This LP from 1968 – his penultimate for Atlantic – is indicative of both his peak period and of the era when Atlantic and Stax had yet to be wiped out by disco and psyche-funk. Aside from one composition, it reveals how skilled Burke was with material from Penn & Oldham, Bert Berns, Don Covay and others – a display, too, of impeccable taste. This is soul from a gospel-based belter, with the best backing imaginable. KK


Mel Henke
77 Sunset Strip-per
Modern Harmonic/Sundazed MH-8010 (mono; white vinyl LP)

As giveaway titles go, the semi-pun reference to the then massive TV show of the day, 77 Sunset Strip, and a hit instrumental of the era, 'The Stripper', tells you that this is going to be a mash-up which defies filing in your library if your collection is arranged by music type. Lounge-core? Big band? Or just lots of instrumental originals and versions of hits – 'Farmer John', 'Walkin' My Baby Back Home' – with a salacious beat? Henke was a jingles/mood music/soundtrack wizard who produced a number of these odd LPs, but the sound is dazzling and the music enticing in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. I'm just glad Sundazed didn't call it Ode To The G-String. KK


Sarah Mclachlan
Analogue Productions APP 119-45 (two 45rpm LPs)

Marking the 20th anniversary of this US hit's release (OK, a year-and-a-bit late…), this 45rpm double LP shows off why it's a hi-fi show standard. Canadian McLachlan's vocals are inviting and intimate, sharing qualities with the likes of Lori Lieberman and Eleanor McEvoy while sounding nothing like them. The recording is sublime, too, particularly notable its palpable sense of atmosphere and natural-sounding lower registers. There is a dichotomy in this release, however, which sounds like a pop music version of a Gainsborough Pictures costume drama, but covers much darker topics. That said, if you're a sucker for distaff signer-songwriters, you'll love it. KK


Matthew Sweet
Altered Beast
Intervention Records IR-011 2LPs

This artist-approved reissue of Sweet's fourth album, from 1993, is less cohesive than his earlier monster of a hit, Girlfriend, but all the more fascinating because of it. With a quarter-century of hindsight, we now know just how genre-jumping and eclectic – in a Nick Lowe-ish way – Sweet turned out to be, and this is simply a pointer to his versatility. The best moments for some will be the rather frantic rockers, while others might prefer the Beatles-esque moments or what qualifies as indie. Either way, it's the best version of this release I've heard to date, and I – a massive fan! – am delighted that Intervention saw fit to include six bonus tracks. KK