Audiophile: Vinyl, March 2019

hfnalbum.pngThe Beatles
The Beatles
Apple 02567 57201 (four LPs; also six CDs + Blu-ray, 02567 57195)

Simply astonishing: Giles Martin's 50th anniversary remastering of The White Album supplants bootlegs that were the only sources for the outtakes, while presenting the near-mythical Esher Demos as a coherent, re-mixed whole. The original double was heroic, but this takes one of their most adventurous (if fractious) albums to new heights. The Esher Demos, predating the 1990s 'unplugged' trend, show the group at work, with casual, acoustic versions of familiar tracks, as well as reams of unreleased material, eg, their take on Jackie Lomax's 'Sour Milk Sea'. In a season full of truly astounding box-sets, especially this month, it was hard choosing a 'winner' – but this it must be. KK


The Band
Music From Big Pink
Capitol 06025674805325 (45rpm LPs + 7in single + CD + Blu-ray)

For purists, the main strength of this superbly remixed/remastered 50th Anniversary celebration is the version on two 45rpm LPs. But this game-changing album, a cornerstone of roots music and (as well as a teaser for Dylan's 'Basement Tapes') has been augmented by six bonus tracks on the two digital discs, a surround mix on the Blu-ray and sumptuous photographic material befitting such a monumental record. One of rock's most incredible debuts, it gave us 'This Wheel's On Fire', 'Tears Of Rage', 'The Weight', 'Chest Fever', 'I Shall Be Released' and six other classics. A worthy No 34 on Rolling Stone's Top 500 Albums of all time. KK


Little Willie John
Sundazed MH-8055 (white vinyl LP; mono)

In any other month, this would have assuredly scored 'best of' honours. Despite Little Willie John long ago being reduced to 'nearly-forgotten' status outside of the hard-core R&B/blues community, this 12-track collection from 1956 was so influential that its worth is impossible to gauge. Among its gems are the original version of the title song, a hit for Peggy Lee and covered by Elvis, 'Need Your Love So Bad', composed by his older brother and made famous by Fleetwood Mac, plus other genre hits, all performed with panache belying the age of 18-19 when he recorded them. A textbook case of a cursed life, John died at only 30, but his legacy is forever. KK


The Kinks
The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
BMGAA09BOX (three LPs + five CDs + three 7in singles)

Oh, dear: my Kinks Kredentials are at risk as I do not consider this the equal of Something Else or Arthur, but I stand alone. Its 'legendary' status justifies what may be the most extensive album expansion ever, even more than the McCartney solos or Sgt Pepper. The original mono and stereo LPs, the European 12-track version, outtakes, pic-sleeve singles, a fantastic hardback book, a lavish box... Belated recognition after years of cult status (and numerous reissues) for the record that gave us no major hits, but the title track – more relevant than ever in the era of Brexit – is a genuine masterpiece on its own. Also available as a single LP and 2CD set. KK