Audiophile: Vinyl (November 2018)

hfnalbum.pngBuffalo Springfield
What's That Sound?
Atco/Rhino 03497 86066 (mono/stereo; five discs)

Aaah… my all-time fave band after The Beatles. But that said, upon hearing these, you'll agree with the rating. This contains their three LPs, the first two in mono and stereo, with correct packaging. The remastering is superlative – played alongside mint originals, one can only utter a 'Wow!'. One of the most inventive rock bands ever, they gave us the solo careers of Stephen Stills and Neil Young, their efforts with Messrs Crosby and Nash, Poco, Manassas, et al. The music? 'For What It's Worth', 'Mr Soul', 'Kind Woman' – some of the finest rock of the 1960s. As Young produced this, there's no bonus LP of rarities, like the 9min 'Bluebird.' But when hasn't he ruined a box set through wilful omissions? KK

Paul Rodgers
Free Spirit
Quarto Valley Records QVR 010 (three discs)

Rodgers, possessor of one of British rock's finest-ever voices, pays homage to Free with this magnificent triple LP, recorded live on 28th May 2017, at the Royal Albert Hall. Effectively a collection of the band's finest moments, it contains rousing performances of some of the classics that defined hard rock and early metal. The cheers for 'All Right Now' reveal the affection still held for the group, while Rodgers' voice has aged better than just about any other rock belter's of the era. This is a family affair, with LP3 featuring the concert openers: Rodgers' daughter Jasmine on Side A, and the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham's sister Deborah on Side B. KK


Ultimate Spinach
Ultimate Spinach
Sundazed LP5560 (mono; green vinyl)

This psychedelic treasure, pretty much forgotten unless you're a New England baby boomer or a devoted reader of Shindig!, was the band's eponymous debut. It's heard here in rare mono form, as single-channel LPs were fading out by 1968. Very little from that era – like nearly everything released as 'punk' in the mid '70s – holds up today, but this almost transcends the hype of the 'Bosstown Sound' that hamstrung Boston bands which deserved better. Yes, it's druggy to a fault, the lyrics are ludicrous, but it's not just a barrage of noise and should appeal to those who enjoy 'baroque rock' (as in The Left Banke) and edgier folk-psych. KK


Sonny Boy Williamson
Keep It To Ourselves
Analogue Productions APB036-45 (two 45rpm LPs)

No mincing words: this is one of the best-sounding blues LPs ever. Recorded in Denmark for Storyville in 1963, it dates from the period when harmonica deity Williamson toured and released albums with British blues bands, The Yardbirds and The Animals. Here he's backed by bluesmen Memphis Slim, Billie Stepney and the great Matt 'Guitar' Murphy, who passed away in June and who is remembered for playing with The Blues Brothers. Via 45rpm double LP, the sound is vivid and natural, the small group nestling in an atmospheric setting, playing loose and easy. A superb cover of Elmore James' 'The Sky Is Crying', familiar to Hendrix fans, opens the set. Magnificent. KK