B.B. King – Midnight Believer

More B.B. King

Midnight Believer

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  • An outstanding copy of Midnight Believer with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Rich and full-bodied, clean, and clear, while the bass is big and punchy, and the energy level is off the charts
  • B.B. is backed by members of The Crusaders here, and on a copy like this one you can really get a sense of just how much they contribute to this music
  • “Another collaboration that worked a lot better than one might have expected. King and the Crusaders blended in a marginally funky, contemporary style for the buoyant ‘Never Make Your Move Too Soon’ and an uplifting ‘When It All Comes Down.'”

B.B. is backed by members of The Crusaders here, and on a copy like this one you can really get a sense of just how much they contribute to this music. The best sides have the kind of rich, full tonality and extended low end we just don’t hear often enough!

You can be sure this will beat the pants off the Direct Disc Labs Half-Speed Mastered pressing, or your money back. It’s no wonder they wanted to do an audiophile pressing of the album — it’s a superb recording. But mastering it at half-speed is not the answer. Finding one like this that has the LIFE of that master tape pressed into its grooves is the only way to be sure you will get real audiophile sound, not that pseudo kind we bash all over the site. (Sorry, we just can’t help it.)

What the best sides of Midnight Believer 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 1978
  • 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 space of the studio

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.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Midnight Believer

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

When It All Comes Down (I’ll Still Be Around) 
Midnight Believer 
I Just Can’t Leave Your Love Alone 
Hold On (I Think Our Love Is Changing)

Side Two

Never Make a Move Too Soon 
A World Full of Strangers 
Let Me Make You Cry a Little Longer

AMG Review

Another collaboration that worked a lot better than one might have expected. King and the Crusaders blended in a marginally funky, contemporary style for the buoyant “Never Make Your Move Too Soon” and an uplifting “When It All Comes Down.”