B.B. King – Lucille

More B.B. King

Lucille

xxxxx

  • Lucille (the album, not the guitar) finally comes to the site with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or very close to it throughout 
  • An exceptionally hard album to find with good sound, but here it is – clean, clear and spacious with a solid bottom end – qualities that bring out the best in B.B.’s Blues
  • It has taken us years to find clean copies with the right stampers for Lucille, but finally our efforts have paid off with this Hot Stamper copy
  • “Lucille is an album alive and pulsing with a beautifully thick blues soul that is showcased everywhere, from Mr. King’s roaring vocals to the blazing brass in the background.”

Lucille is by far the toughest ’60s B.B. King record to find nowadays in audiophile playing condition. Most copies are just beat, and the ones that aren’t tend to be rare and pricey. The reason for all of the above is simple enough: it’s one of the man’s most consistently enjoyable, best sounding albums. Who can blame people for playing it to death when the music is so good?

Mobile Fidelity remastered the record in the ’90 for their for their consistently awful Anadisq series on Heavy Vinyl, and we used to sell it, albeit somewhat reluctantly. It’s not nearly as bad as most of their catalog from the period, but I would it goes without saying that our Hot Stamper pressing will show you a Lucille that a Heavy Vinyl pressing or Half-Speed can only hint at.

That Vintage Vinyl Sound

This vintage ABC pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this bluesy music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real BB King playing his beloved Lucille live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

A True Blues Classic

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1968
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Best Practices

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.

The process is simple enough. First you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Lucille 
You Move Me So 
Country Girl 
No Money No Luck

Side Two

I Need Your Love 
Rainin’ All The Time 
I’m With You 
Stop Putting The Hurt On Me 
Watch Yourself

Sputnik Music

Lucille is an album alive and pulsing with a beautifully thick blues soul that is showcased everywhere, from Mr. King’s roaring vocals to the blazing brass in the background.

The biggest part of this album’s blues brilliance is his guitar work, which manages to be slow and contain very few notes, and yet it just appears that every single note that B.B chooses is the perfect note for that moment in the song. The best demonstration of this is the title track ‘Lucille’. The song is a ten minute long spoken word track on which B.B tells the story of his guitar’s name and his journey into the blues, amongst other things….

…This is soul in music by my definition, the in studio jam sessions that resulted in some of the greatest songs ever recorded… If you’re new to blues, this album should be amongst your entry records, if you’re a seasoned blues listener, what took you so long?

Review by DrJoeNH
December 12th, 2015

Mobile Fidelity

The most serious fault of the typical Half-Speed Mastered LP is not tonal incorrectness or poor bass definition, although you will have a hard time finding one that doesn’t suffer from both. It’s Dead As A Doornail sound, plain and simple. And most Heavy Vinyl pressings coming down the pike these days are as guilty of that sin as their audiophile forerunners from the ’70s.

Understandably, the fans of this particular label never seem to notice. Critical listening skills and a collection of MoFi pressings are rarely found together in the real world. If you have one you are very unlikely to have the other.