Audiophile: Vinyl, May 2020

hfnalbum.pngThe Kinks
Arthur Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire
BMG/ABKCO BMGCAT407DLP (two discs)

Some 30 years ago, I devoted a whole back page to Arthur, which I've loved since the day it was released. Fifty years on, and it's about time all admitted that it betters their earlier ode to lost England, The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, on every level. Why this wasn't a hit is a mystery; suffice it to say, I cannot name a 'concept' album that comes near it. Fiery guitar and harpsichord? Rock 'n' roll and music-hall whimsy? The Kinks did it even better than The Bonzos. This superbly-remastered double LP adds a dozen bonus cuts, and there's a CD/singles box with even more on which to feast. 'Victoria', 'She Bought A Hat Like Princess Marina' – with a few tweaks, this could be Brexit – The Musical. KK


Gene Clark
No Other
4AD 0071MXX (LP + 3SACDs + Blu-ray + 7in single)

Not already a devotee? Then this OTT box-set for an obscure LP will perplex you. Post-Byrds, Clark couldn't get arrested; the manic worship was posthumous. No Other (1974) is regarded as his finest effort, and the title track alone, for its melody, intensity and delivery, will dazzle you. Clark's guest musicians were the cream of Left Coast players – Jesse Ed Davis, Joe Lala and dozens more – and the resultant album is as evocative a (not-too-rustic) showcase of 'Americana' as anything by The Band. Newly remastered, it's the best version I've heard, and the SACDs and Blu-ray enable you to hear it in HD or 5.1 surround. Do I approve? To the tune of my own £145. KK

Al Dimeola/John Mclaughlin/Paco Delucia
Friday Night In San Francisco
Impex IMP6031-45 (two 45rpm LPs)

Love unplugged, Spanish-style guitar? Then you'll find this a welcome reissue of a truly worthwhile audiophile milestone – like Jazz At The Pawnshop, which no respectable hi-fi fanatic would have been without back in 1981. Terrifyingly, as this nears its 40th anniversary – it was recorded in December 1980 – it reminds me of my own mortality, but equally I'm staggered by the wide-open sound and the speed of these three virtuoso guitarists. With five tracks spread over four sides, there's vinyl real-estate aplenty to ensure the best sound. Trust me when I tell you that the 3000-copy pressing will sell out in no time at all. KK


Grateful Dead
From The Mars Hotel
Mobile Fidelity MFSL2-482 (two 45rpm LPs)

This set dates from 1974, four years past the point where Workingman's Dead and American Beauty had established them as peerless purveyors of roots music, rather than just a bunch of freaks putting out experimental nonsense such as Aoxomoxoa. A fine collection of easily-digestible songs not requiring the stimulus of mind-enhancing substances to make it tolerable, there's plenty of sublime musicianship – notably guitar work that might remind you of early Flying Burrito Brothers – and the jaunty opener is a classic. Worthy of the 2LP, 45rpm treatment? Yes, even if you, like me, think that 'Deadheads' is as apt a name as any fan group ever adopted. KK