Audiophile: Vinyl, May 2021

hfnalbum.pngPatricia Barber
Café Blue
Impex IMP6035-1 (two 45rpm One-Step LPs)

Stop moaning. Yes, this has been 'audiophiled' as often as Breakfast In America or The Allmans' Live At Fillmore East, but the reasons are clear: the music and the sound warrant it. This time, however, Barber's master work has been given One-Step treatment and it's now a must-have purchase. The pressings are superb, the sound is visceral and real, and you'll swoon over the cloth slipcase and high-quality sleeve. While I defer to Ella, Julie or Doris for jazz and standards, I'm warming to Barber because it's easy to hear why this 27-year-old set, half-originals and half-covers, continues to seduce. Her 'Ode To Billy Joe' will give you the chills. Impex has raised the bar but do not delay as it's limited to 5000 copies. KK


Bob Dylan
Love And Theft
Mobile Fidelity MFSL 2-489 (two 45rpm LPs)

If you already own MoFi's superb SACD and don't care about having multiple formats of the same album (see Café Blue, above), let me convince you otherwise: the bottom end on this pressing is something to behold. This isn't the place to debate late-period Dylan, but Love And Theft, 20-years-old this month, wasn't just one of his better post-1975 works. For some, it's up there with Blood On The Tracks. It's engaging, hugely listenable and one of the best-sounding Dylan albums since his early, classic 1960s Columbia recordings. Standout tracks include 'Mississippi' and 'Summer Days', but my favourite has to be 'Water (For Charley Patton)' for its rootsiness. KK


The J. Geils Band
The J. Geils Band
Speakers Corner/Atlantic SD8275 (180g vinyl)

One of my Top 10 LPs and one of the five greatest debuts I can name, it was gonna get a great rating: only Café Blue kept it from being my Album Choice. Key players in the second wave of R&B-based rock, from 1970, this Boston band featured Geils' stunning guitar work, the peerless harmonica of Magic Dick, and Peter Wolf as frontman – arguably the best showman rock has produced (sorry, Mick). A mix of originals and covers of blues and R&B gems, it blasts from your system with irresistible power: you gotta hear the harp solo in 'Pack Fair And Square'. If you love Chicago blues, Paul Butterfield and Charlie Musselwhite, say, 'Thank you, Speakers Corner!'. KK


Original Soundtrack
Party Girl
Modern Harmonic/Sundazed MH-8227 (mono; orange vinyl)

A first, as I don't recall reviewing an X-rated LP, which would only apply to hard-core rap lyrics or 'blue' comedians, but this certainly qualifies: it's the score to a long-lost 1969 adult movie (not to be confused with four other 'clean' films with the same title). Its relevance, though, is enhanced by the success of the recent hit TV series, The Deuce, which chronicled the genre and the era. The sleeve and insert will offend puritans, as will the dialogue, but the mono sound from the rediscovered master tapes is terrific and the music is straight Blaxploitation funk, including a cover of James Brown's 'I Got The Feelin''. One for soundtrack collectors. KK