Audiophile: Vinyl, November 2019

hfnalbum.pngJames Taylor
The Warner Brothers Albums 1970-1976
Rhino R1 587550 (six 180g vinyl LPs)

These are the best-sounding transfers I have ever heard of the six albums from the seminal period in Taylor's career – I only wish the preceding release, his lone LP for Apple, enjoyed the same treatment. Taylor was, of course, the quintessential singer-songwriter – moody, handsome, damaged and the creator of such achingly gorgeous songs as 'Fire And Rain' and 'You Can Close Your Eyes'. Like Jimi Hendrix, here was a Yank who came to the UK in the 1960s to pay his dues and the result was essential listening for a global audience. The packaging for each LP is spot on, the milestone Sweet Baby James has never sounded richer, and the timing is perfect for its 50th anniversary. KK


The Flying Burrito Brothers
Burrito Deluxe
Intervention IR-022 (180g vinyl)

I remember buying this in 1970, as a Byrds fanatic who couldn't resist any band with three ex-members and what I couldn't know at the time would be a future Eagle. Quintessential country rock, the band's sophomore release is overshadowed (some might argue unfairly) by the debut a year earlier. Make no mistake, though: this is a must-have, as it's rich with signature tunes like 'Lazy Day', 'Older Guys' and two phenomenal covers in Dylan's 'If You Gotta Go' and The Rolling Stones' 'Wild Horses', released before their version on Sticky Fingers. I remain sceptical about deifying Gram Parsons, but this is about as good an LP as the genre ever yielded. KK


The Runaways
The Runaways
Modern Harmonic/Sundazed MH-8093

Forget the nudge-nudge-wink-wink prurience attached to this LP, which suffers only in retrospect due to changes in attitude since 1976. A quintet of edgy LA girls, ages 16-17, drew snickers in the punk era and now seem a source of creepiness, but damn, could this crew rock! Sundazed's RTI pressing of their debut delivers all the bass mass, the percussive slam and the attitude that this glam-rock opus possessed, cementing its role as a pivotal release in the history of 'Girl Power', post-Fanny and pre-The Slits. Great originals, a delicious cover of The Velvet Underground's 'Rock & Roll' and the magic touch of Kim Fowley? They gave us Joan Jett – 'nuff said. KK


Sarah Vaughan
Sarah +2
Pure Pleasure/Roulette SR152118 (180g vinyl)

Aware as I am of those who love to pit Sarah against Dinah, Billie and Ella – I refuse to choose between them – this is one of the most seductive, soothing sets I have ever heard the genre produce – seriously. Jazz covers of the Great American Songbook may be Ella's turf, but you must hear this staggering performance from 1962, Ms Vaughan accompanied only by guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Joe Comfort. The sense of space is so convincing as to border on the eerie, while her interpretations of 'Just In Time', 'All Or Nothing At All' and especially 'The Very Thought Of You', wrest them away from obvious stand-out versions. Utterly, inarguably magnificent. KK