Audiophile: Vinyl, March 2020

Baby I'm-A Want You
Mobile Fidelity MFSL1-336 180g vinyl; SACD: UDSACD-2205

Soft rock remains a guilty pleasure that will never attain 'cool' status, so approach without witnesses, as if it were a Carpenters album. But to deny its pop perfection, tuneful brilliance, superb musicianship and exquisite production is to be self-abnegating. Their fifth and arguably their best LP, it gave us the achingly beautiful title track, the elegiac 'Everything I Own' and the mild rocker 'Down On My Knees'. Bread were a supergroup of sorts, as would be any with the late-Larry Knechtel of the legendary Wrecking Crew in its ranks. Harmonies of Hollie-esque lushness, melodies in the Simon & Garfunkel stratum – this may be the rock equivalent of a chick flick, but it's truly irresistible. KK


The Beatles
Abbey Road 50th Anniversary
Apple 02508 00744 (three discs)

Giles Martin's anniversary remasterings have improved with each release, with Sgt Pepper now seeming flawed but the 'White Album' and this one showing marked gains on every level. But what will knock your socks off about the vinyl edition is the quality and weight of the bottom registers. There's an openness and added detail that will dazzle even those who know intimately every millisecond, while the alternate takes and demos on the two 'Sessions' LPs are fascinating. The anniversary celebration includes no fewer than six LP, CD and Blu-ray Audio sets, from the original album on its own, to versions with extras. The world 'exploitation' never entered my head. KK


Fleetwood Mac
Before The Beginning
Sony Music 19075923251 (three discs; 3CDs: 19075923252)

Subtitled 'Vol 1: Live 1968', this is Fleetwood Mac V1.0, the blues band lineup of Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood and Jeremy Spencer. This fabulous live package – fully authorised and remastered – sounds much better than you'd expect of long-lost tapes, luckily found in the USA but mysteriously unlabelled. The 3CD version contains both the rediscovered 1968 and 1970 sessions, while this vinyl package here offers just the first of the two; the rest will appear on LP soon. Tracks include 'Madison Blues', 'I Need Your Love So Bad', 'Dust My Blues', 'Long Tall Sally' and 'Willie And The Hand Jive', from the time when Green was a guitar god. What a find! KK


Paul McCartney
Amoeba Gig
Capitol 00602577289453 (two 180g LPs)

This and the Abbey Road sets make it an expensive month if you're a Beatles fan. Macca likes surprising completists like me, so there is nothing unusual about him releasing the complete performance of an oddball concert undertaken in a record store. The date was 27/6/2007, the store Amoeba Music in Hollywood, and McCartney really delivered the goods at a free show for around 1000 people. He performed 21 songs, covered both The Beatles canon and his solo work, the sound was terrific and he was clearly having fun. This is a delicious artefact, not a throwaway. Unusually, the LPs boast a track not on the CD [00602577289767]. KK