Audiophile: Vinyl, June 2021

hfnalbum.pngStevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
Couldn't Stand The Weather
Mobile Fidelity UD1S 2-007 (two 45rpm One-Step LPs)

If it seems like One-Step titles default to Album Choice, that's because they sound astonishing; I've yet to hear criticism of any of them beyond flaws in the original masters. This second Stevie Ray One-Step will thrill any who rank him up there with Peter Green, Mike Bloomfield and Rory Gallagher. I'm not quite that worshipful, but this is, hands down, one of the best blues revival albums of the Second Wave (the First being Butterfield, Mayall, Korner, et al). Although not adored quite as much as his debut, because half of this consisted of cover versions, it remains a showcase of fiery guitar-hero wizardry. And who can fault his cover of Jimi's 'Voodoo Chile'? Its treble will test your tweeters. KK


Lavern Baker
Sings Bessie Smith
Speakers Corner/Atlantic 1281 180g vinyl

Not the first singer to honour the legendary Bessie Smith and unlikely to be the last, LaVern Baker chose to pay homage to the seminal blues singer with only her third LP, back in 1958. By this point, she had made her mark in R&B, and was a pivotal player in the creation of rock 'n' roll, but here she took the unusual step of addressing a genre that was starting to fall out of favour with the urban black population. What she did, however, was to update a dozen of Smith's classics with jazz musicians for backing, instead of trying to recreate a 1920s vibe. 'Gimme A Pigfoot', 'Empty Bed Blues', 'Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out' – Smith would have loved this. KK


Kris Drever
Where The World Is Thin
Reveal/Diverse DIV057LP (180g LP)

I'm not sure if Kris Drever qualifies as 'Contemporary Scottish Folk' or 'Singer-Songwriter 4.0' but this gorgeous set will remind older readers (in a good way) of Windham Hill. OK, that brings up memories of tofu-eating yuppies and Thirtysomething, but this also recalls Al Stewart and Gordon Lightfoot. I cite all that because – as this is about sound rather than content – Drever will serve you well if in reflective mood, rather than ripping it up with Stevie Ray. Its theme is part tragic naval history, part (subtly) the current pandemic, the lyrics conveniently printed in the gatefold sleeve. As it was assembled during lockdown, expect a slightly desolate feel. KK


Stephen Dale Petit
2020 Visions
333 Records 295339LP (two discs; coloured vinyl)

As we are now seeing LPs recorded during or delayed by the pandemic, it's no surprise that the blues have benefited. After all, they celebrate the human spirit under duress – and not just noting 'My woman left me'-type misery. Petit has his own issues to deal with, including ill health, so he's poured his energies into this powerful double-LP which goes beyond the genre's natural borders. With bass that had me thinking I'd suddenly acquired a subwoofer, feverish delivery and a killer Paul Jones harp solo, this is for aficionados who feel blues/rock hasn't been well-served since Rory Gallagher died. Sleeve art is by Klaus Voormann, so this is pure class all the way. KK