Audiophile: Vinyl, January 2020

hfnalbum.pngThe Thelonious Monk Quartet
Monk's Dream
Mobile Fidelity UD1s 2-011 (two One-Step 45rpm LPs)

Blown-away as I was last month by the SACD, it didn't prepare me for the added airiness and elegance of the One-Step vinyl edition. To recap, this 1963 session remains one of Monk's most accessible and delightful releases in a career that yielded a few dozen masterpieces, so even those baffled by jazz and who are more inclined to buy it for sonic merits rather than content will not be put off: this is gorgeous, intimate stuff. What you hear playing it against the SACD are two revelations. The first is that SACD remains the best-sounding digital source ever, outside of a studio. The second is that One-Step is a godsend, narrowing the gap between LP and master tape by truly audible degrees. KK


Jackson Browne
Running On Empty
Asylum 603497863310 (180g vinyl LP)

A prodigy songwriter, lionised early on by The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and others, and thus an icon of the Left Coast/singer-songwriter genre, Browne was huge enough by 1977 to release a live album recorded on the road with a crack band that didn't feature a pile of hits, as was the tradition. The tracks of all-new material didn't scare off the faithful, who made this intimate, exceptional live LP – his fifth – a solid hit, eventually reaching an astonishing 7x Platinum sales. The title track is the standout, while his covers of the Maurice Williams-penned 'Stay' and Rev Gary Davis' 'Cocaine' added some familiarity. It's also on CD: Asylum 603497863327. KK


The Runaways
Queens Of Noise
Modern Harmonic/Sundazed MH-8094

In this year of a Suzi Quatro revival, a band she inspired is being appreciated for more than the creepy jail-bait persona exploited by their manager, the late Kim Fowley – though it did put them on the map. This is even more exciting than their eponymous debut of 1976 [HFN Nov '19], one year on the writing skills and musicianship amplified both literally and figuratively… play this loud! Joan Jett was emerging as the band's premier talent, both as a guitarist and composer, while the powerful rhythm section could show the boys a thing or two: play the sections sans vocals for unbiased proof. Utterly magnificent, and a seminal release in distaff hard rock. KK


Slip Of The Tongue
Rhino 0190295409784 (two discs)

While this isn't considered one of the band's best, it does feature the astounding Steve Vai on guitar. It's so slick and polished that you have to marvel at its sheer presence. This 30th anniversary edition adds all manner of goodies on the bonus LP, including a single's B-side, alternate versions and other treats for the hard core. The sound is suitably bombastic, and it is as fine an example of hair-band/stadium rock as any audiophile could want. Perhaps the genre is due for reassessment? If you need more, there's also a 6CD+DVD box set which includes their 1990 Donington gig (music-only and full-on video), documentaries and other rare items. KK