Bloomfield-Kooper-Stills – Super Session

  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Engineered by Roy Halee, the man behind one of the best sounding rock records of all time, the self-titled Blood, Sweat and Tears album, the oh-so-analog sound here is especially rich, dynamic and spacious
  • For fans of BS&T’s first album (and everybody else) Super Session is a Must Own – Season of the Witch is crazy good on this 360 LP
  • 4 1/2 stars: “This is one of those albums that seems to get better with age… This is a super session indeed.”

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

Here’s a copy that gets the midrange right. Nice and open with lots of space around all of the instruments, tight punchy bass, and an extended top end. The energy level is right up there with the best we played.

Man’s Temptation, track 3 on side one, has got some seriously bright EQ happening (reminiscent of the first BS&T album), so if that song even sounds tolerable in the midrange you are doing better than expected.

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.

Watch Out For

Bright, gritty, spitty, edgy, harsh, upper-midrangy vocals. The Red Labels tend to have more problems of this kind, but plenty of original 360 pressings are gritty and bright too. Let’s face it, if the vocals are wrong, this album pretty much falls apart.

Most copies are far too bright and phony sounding to turn up loud; the distortion and grit are just too much at higher volumes. On the better copies, with more correct tonality and an overall freedom from distortion, you can turn the volume up and let Super Session rock.

Mobile Fidelity

We used to like the Mobile Fidelity pressing of this record, but without one around it’s hard to say what the comparison would be like today. I can tell you this much: there is deep bass on this recording. That means that the Mobile Fidelity is not going to be able to reproduce the bass the way the real pressings can because MoFi bass is almost always wooly and never deep.

There are no doubt other reissues of this album available now. The cheap Columbia 180 gram version is terrible; the other ones we haven’t played. That said, we wouldn’t expect them to sound very good.

What We’re Listening For on Super Session

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt –– Roy Halee in this case — would have put them.
  • 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 so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Albert’s Shuffle 
Stop 
Man’s Temptation 
His Holy Modal Majesty 
Really

Side Two

It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train… 
Season of the Witch 
You Don’t Love Me 
Harvey’s Tune

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

As the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) had done a year earlier, Super Session (1968) initially ushered in several new phases in rock & roll’s concurrent transformation. In the space of mere months, the soundscape of rock shifted radically from two- and three-minute danceable pop songs to comparatively longer works with more attention to technical and musical subtleties. Enter the unlikely all-star triumvirate of Al Kooper (piano/organ/ondioline/vocals/guitars), Mike Bloomfield (guitar), and Stephen Stills (guitar) — all of whom were concurrently “on hiatus” from their most recent engagements… This is one of those albums that seems to get better with age… This is a super session indeed.

360 Vs. Red Label

Can the Red Label reissues sound any good?

Why yes, they can, and here’s why. Every once in a while, when it comes time to stamp out some more copies of slow but still-selling records, “back catalog” as they are known in the trade, someone has to go into the vault and find a tape with which to master. Maybe that person finds a real master tape. Or maybe that person finds a master tape and makes a really high quality dub of it to master from. Either one of those possibilities might produce a great sounding final product relative to the sub-generation, EQ’d, compressed cutting tape used to make most copies, including the originals.

Don’t get me wrong: Many originals are superb. All things being equal, I would try to find an original if I were looking for this record. But all things are never equal. There are too many variables involved in the making of a record. One can never predict what the best sounding version is gonna be.