Audiophile: Vinyl, September 2020

hfnalbum.pngAl Di Meola
Across The Universe
E-A-R Music/Edel 0214706EMU (two 180g vinyl LPs; CD: 0214031EMU)

World-class jazz guitarist: check; 180g vinyl: check; small-group instrumental covers of peerless, familiar material: check. This could be either an audiophile LP that's tedious-to-the-point-of-wishing-for-one's-death, or an album so lush, so musically dazzling that you can't wait for the time you can use it as a demo disc at a hi-fi show or in a store. It's the latter. If you know Di Meola's work, then you'll appreciate his virtuosity, speed and impeccable taste, but you might not know he's a devotee of the Fab Four: this is his second set of Beatles tunes. The notes state which make of guitar he's playing, too, for those of you who know their axes. It's also on CD, and that sounds great, too. KK


Fred Neil
Fred Neil
Sundazed/Capitol LP550 (clear vinyl)

One area rarely exploited by the reissue labels is 1960s folk artists less familiar than Dylan and Baez. Sundazed has addressed this with another of its sorely-needed Fred Neil releases, the singer-songwriter deserving acclaim beyond his hard-core fan base. His second solo album, issued in late 1966, contains two songs in particular which show how influential he was because of the singers who covered them: 'Everybody's Talkin'', rendered timeless by Harry Nilsson for the film Midnight Cowboy, and 'The Dolphins', which memorably opened Tim Buckley's Sefronia. Lovingly cut by Kevin Gray, and pressed on clear vinyl at RTI, it's an atmospheric, sonic delight. KK


James Taylor
Greatest Hits
Rhino/Warner RI3113/603497852543 (180g vinyl}

Last year, we were treated to another remastering of Taylor's milestone, the oft-reissued Sweet Baby James. This year, it's the turn of his best-selling hits album of 1976, and it's stunning. There is a caveat, though: two tracks are re-recordings, though I can't imagine why Apple wouldn't allow the inclusion of the originals. But fret not as the redone versions stand up pretty well because Taylor put his heart into them. A sonic stand-out is 'How Sweet It Is', but if you're a fan – and I have been since 1969 – you'll be charmed all over again by the other 11 tracks. Apparently this outsold Sweet Baby James, with over 11 million copies out there. Go figure. KK


Twisted Sister
Stay Hungry
Mobile Fidelity MFSL1-492 (180g vinyl)

This is a glam-rock month for MoFi, although Twisted Sister is to T Rex what Chucky is to Barbie. To be blunt, the only reason this band lands in the glam section is because of injudicious use of make-up, especially by singer Dee Snyder. Get past that, and this 1984 release is hair-metal hard rock of the most joyfully aggressive sort, and macho enough to provide an anthem in 'We're Not Gonna Take It' that's right up there with 'We Are the Champions' for being co-opted by politicians. Guitarist Jay Jay French is an audiophile and hi-fi critic, so I trust he will revel in this edition's spectacular sound, especially the drum salvos, the scale and the attack. KK