Audiophile: Vinyl, January 2024

hfnalbum.pngThelonious Monk
Brilliant Corners
Craft Recordings SmallBatch One-Step (mono; 180g vinyl LP)

Because I didn't fall in love with Monk's music until seeing him at the 1967 Newport Jazz Festival, I had to work backwards to this masterpiece. Although it was 'assembled' from three sessions in late 1956 with two different ensembles, involving countless takes for the title track, there's a spontaneity and swing to this set with a 26-year-old Sonny Rollins, Max Roach and others. This edition is part of Craft's deluxe Small Batch series, using lacquers cut from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman, on 180g vinyl using Neotech's VR900 compound. The bombshell? It's mono, yet the sound is massive. The solo piano of 'I Surrender, Dear' is as real as I've heard, and Roach's drums? Wow! KK


Fleetwood Mac
The Pious Bird Of Good Omen
Speaker's Corner/Blue Horizon 7-63215 (180g vinyl)

If you're a fan of Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac 1.0 (the blues outfit, not the California rock period) yet this seems unfamiliar, that's because it's a US compilation released in 1969. But that doesn't negate its value, even if you're a hardcore collector. The content is mainly of the hard-to-find variety: their first four non-album UK singles-plus-B-sides, two tracks from Mr Wonderful and two from sessions when they backed Eddie Boyd on his album 7936 South Rhodes. And what riches! It opens with 'Need Your Love So Bad', plus 'Albatross', 'Black Magic Woman' and much more. Best of all? The sound is uniformly excellent for such a multi-sourced anthology. KK


Warrior On The Edge Of Time
Atomhenge ATOMLPX1035 LP

Before you even cue up this 'space-rock' milestone, the perfectly reproduced fold-out 'shield' sleeve and inner bag will awaken your inner geek. As for me? I loved this not so much as a Hawkwind fan per se but because of the participation of noted high fantasy author Michael Moorcock. This faithful reissue of the 1975 epic features the first vinyl appearance of Steven Wilson's stereo remix, sourced from the original master tapes and cut at Abbey Road. It follows classic 'concept LP' practice with minimal gaps between tracks, and the loopy sound is such that devotees will be moved to don headphones. That said, it's hard to fathom what Lemmy did next. KK


Kentucky Colonels
Americana Anthropology/Sundazed AA-009 LP

Once, HFN used an 'H' rating for 'historical' but now I can simply explain why I'll not be tarnishing this release with a poor score despite the bonus low-fi rarities, mainly in mono. This should not deter you from listening to what is a seminal bluegrass LP from 58 years ago which forms a bridge between originators like Bill Monroe and current practitioners such as Alison Krauss. More purist than their contemporaries, The Dillards, this outfit included the three White brothers, of whom Clarence would later join The Byrds lineup to replace Gram Parsons. This is country picking of such breathtaking speed and skill that the late Eddie Van Halen would have been impressed. KK