Audiophile: Vinyl, November 2020

hfnalbum.pngAretha Franklin
Speaker's Corner CS8963 180g vinyl

Her fifth LP for Columbia, 'A Tribute To Dinah Washington', was released in February 1964, two months after Dinah's passing. It exemplifies one of popular music's greatest mysteries: why this staggering performance, like Aretha's other LPs for the label, wasn't recognised for its self-evident genius. Admittedly, this is smoother than the material for Atlantic which made her a star, but the grooves still contain the fire, as heard in 'Cold, Cold Heart'. The sound too is simply spectacular, typical of early 1960s Columbia: silky, airy, wide-open. Ten standards sung by a true prodigy, as good as it gets. And as Dinah said in October 1963 upon hearing the 21-year-old, 'That girl has got soul'. KK


Count Basie
Basie At Birdland
Pure Pleasure PPAN R152065 (two 180g vinyl LPs)

One of Basie's tightest lineups, at one of New York's best-ever venues – the subtitle says it all: Recorded Live at 'The Jazz Corner Of The World'. Dating from June 1961, the set ran to 17 numbers, spread over two LPs and possessing that magical sound of the Roulette label (which also characterises their open-reel tapes). For recreating a club atmosphere, this album is hard to beat, while the music is instantly appealing even if jazz has often eluded you. This is swinging bebop and blues-y, gutsy big band, with Basie's signature 'One O'Clock Jump' getting the full treatment plus two teasers, a terrific 'Corner Pocket', and a knock-out scat version of 'Whirly-Bird'. KK


Original Soundtrack
The Doll Squad
Modern Harmonic MH-8213 (green vinyl + DVD)

With the passing of Ennio Morricone, the soundtrack genre is once again under the spotlight. Probably the most cultish of passions, it is well-served by Modern Harmonic, which continues to uncover obscure grindhouse treasures, this one particularly exceptional, whatever the quality of the 1973 film it accompanied – rumoured to be the inspiration for Charlie's Angels and featuring an 'Elite Army of Female Assassins'. I've yet to watch the DVD, but for the time being, this is too good to ignore, even without seeing the film – lush, inventive material scored by Nicholas Carras and sounding truly magnificent, if lacking in stage width. KK


The Rock Album
Rhino R1 640717 (two 180g LPs)

Power ballad/stadium rock champions Whitesnake are reissuing their entire catalogue, this all-new collection being Part One of the 'Red, White & Blues Trilogy'. As the name proclaims, it covers the group's hard rock canon, 16 tracks 'Revisited, Remixed & Remastered' and sounding all the better for it, though the instantly-recognisable hits, eg, 'Here I Go Again', are initially as unfamiliar as The Beatles remasters and may take getting used to. That said, the sound is fabulous, with the lower registers of 'Judgment Day' being real woofer worriers. Pressed on white vinyl, this will be followed by the red set for their love songs and the blue for – need you ask? KK