This is more to my liking than the other records I review this month! Side 1 is devoted entirely to a real humdinger of a thunderstorm, replete with rain, thimble-sized hailstones, and five minutes of someone diddling with a set of wind chimes. Side 2 is four sequences in the saga of Steam Locomotive 4449, which was refurbished from rusty decrepitude to haul the bicentennial Freedom Train 28,000 miles around the continent. My first reaction, before listening to this, was that half-speed cutting seemed the most inappropriate manner possible in which to disc a thunder storm and a steam locomotive, both of which produce vast amounts of infrasonic energy. Indeed, there is little on either disc below about 35Hz. What I hadn’t considered was the amount of extreme-high-frequency energy in this material, which is so cleanly and openly recorded here that the disc sounds like a direct-from-mikes effort.

The last stupendous recording of a thunderstorm that I can recall was one made by Ed Nunn for his Audiophile Records label. (It was called Echoes of the Storm, it was in mono, and it was black-diamonded years and years ago.) That recording is still unequalled for gut-shuddering bass and giant-firecracker hangings of dangerously close strikes. But this one runs it a close second.—J. Gordon Holt