Jimmy Witherspoon – Blues For Easy Livers

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  • Blues for Easy Livers finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) stereo sound from start to finish
  • BIG and spacious with wonderful presence – the transparency of this vintage pressing is superb, and yet one more reminder of the sound modern records consistently fail to achieve
  • This is one of the better sounding Male Vocal LPs to hit our turntable in recent months and I bet the same will hold true for you if you take this copy home
  • “Witherspoon’s one of the masters of closing-time bluesy jazz, and he doesn’t let anyone down on that account on this relaxed (but not sleepy) session.”

You’ll find surprisingly natural sound on this great Jazz / Blues / Male Vocal album.

We’ve been picking these up when we find ’em clean — no mean feat, I assure you — and this copy had the sound we’ve been looking for.

This vintage Prestige pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

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 maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Blues for Easy Livers 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 1967
  • 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.

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.

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 Blues for Easy Livers

  • 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, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would 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

Lotus Blossom
Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You
Travelin’ Light
P.S. I Love You
I’ll Always Be in Love With You
Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me

Side Two

Easy Living
Embraceable You
Blues in the Night
Trouble in Mind
How Long Will It Take for Meto Become a Man
I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)

AMG  Review

Despite the title, this actually leans considerably further to the jazz side of Witherspoon’s muse than the blues one, with backing by Pepper Adams on baritone sax, Roger Kellaway on piano, Bill Watrous on trombone, Richard Davis on bass, and Mel Lewis on drums. The songs, too, are much more in the jazz/pop vein than the blues/jazz one, heavy on standards by the likes of Johnny Mercer, the Gershwins, and Ellington. Witherspoon’s one of the masters of closing-time bluesy jazz, and he doesn’t let anyone down on that account on this relaxed (but not sleepy) session.

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