Audiophile: Vinyl, June 2022

hfnalbum.pngJanis Joplin
MoFi One-Step UD1S-2013 (2x45rpm LPs)

No excuse needed for this musically: for some, Joplin's last LP may be her finest work, the backing complementing her voice, rather than competing with it as before. Released in January 1971, three months after her death, Pearl is heartbreaking – it leaves us wanting more because it is flawless, even the oddball novelty tune, 'Mercedes Benz'. What's not in question is the sonic power, with the original US pressing of audiophile quality. MoFi reissued Pearl as one of the 'normal' 2x45rpm sets and it was hard to imagine how this could improve it. Well, it has, and I am convinced that this is the best-sounding One-Step LP yet, more than justifying its price tag. Assuredly, a vinyl milestone. KK


The O'Jays
The Best Of The O'Jays
Philadelphia International/Legacy 19439860561 (two discs)

One of Philly Sound's most consistent hit machines, The O'Jays had enough chart entries to fill two LPs with 18 smooth and/or funky soulful gems. Unbelievably, this vinyl package only covers 1972-83, and they're still at it. It kicks off with 'Back Stabbers', an early-1970s classic redolent of the years when soul was evolving into disco – setting the stage for so many greats that I'd forgotten how prolific they were… 'Love Train', 'Now That We Found Love', 'Family Reunion' and my personal fave, the woofer-intimidating 'Give The People What They Want' (good enough for 'Papa Was A Rollin' Stone'-era Temptations, and recently tapped by Samsung for a TV ad). KK


Buck Owens
Buck Owens
Sundazed LP5597 (mono; clear mint vinyl)

What a debut! The Bakersfield sound's top practitioner, Owens changed country and western music forever with this super-slick LP, first issued on Capitol in 1961. The honky-tonk influences, Owens' Texas roots and years of session work polished by the relocation to the West Coast meaning sharp guitar sounds and rousing fiddle. This was removed far enough from the Grand Ol' Opry to create a kind of pop/rock 'n' roll/C&W amalgam that still influences country crooners. And if you think Owens wasn't a major force, then ask yourself why The Beatles covered his killer 'Act Naturally'. This mono reissue is so pristine you'll forget it's not stereo, or that it's 60 years old. KK


Sly & The Family Stone
There's A Riot Goin' On
Epic/Legacy 19439904351 (red vinyl)

As deserving as any LP for a 50th anniversary reissue, this soul-funk masterwork is considered 'difficult' because Sly's earlier efforts were, well, fun: upbeat, all about brother/sisterhood and musically irresistible. Things took a turn here, as they did for the USA at large, the 1960s ending in turmoil rather than peace. Despite the intensity and the overwhelming political cast, which will provide added appeal for devotees of, say, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, this is still a Sly & The Family Stone album, so it retains its status as a key influence in the evolution of hip-hop and rap. Hmm – just realised Sly Stone gets name-checked twice in these pages. KK