- Lou Rawls Live! is an amazing recording that really comes to life on the best Hot Stamper pressings
- The songs are fantastic, the musicians are brilliant, the sound is superb – Stormy Monday & Tobacco Road are highlights, but really, there’s not a bad track here
- If you could only have one Lou Rawls album, no question it would have to be this one – everything that’s good about the man’s music is fully on display
- 4 stars: “Lou Rawls gives a riveting performance on Live!, covering standards from Basie/Rushing’s tambourine-jumpin’ ‘Goin’ to Chicago’ to T-Bone Walker’s foot-stompin’ ‘Stormy Monday,’ and whole lot in between.”
What an album! For live soul-infused vocals, we know of none better.
Lou is live, singing his heart out in a small club that exists between, behind, and maybe even around your speakers. If you can reproduce the three-dimensional space of this club you are in for a real treat.
Both sides are clear, with full-bodied vocals, and a silky sweet top end that helps in recreating the space of the room. The guitars have that Tubey Magical analog sound that we love here at Better Records, and the vocals have ‘you are there’ presence which simply cannot be found on most pressings. There’s also real depth to the soundfield; you hear right into the music on this copy.
These vintage Capitol pressings have 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 This Classic Live Soul Album 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 1966
- 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.
What We’re Listening For on Lou Rawls Live!
- 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.
Our Famous 2-packs
Our 2-pack sets combine two copies of the same album, with at least a Super Hot Stamper sonic grade on the better of each “good” side, which simply means you have before you a pair of records that offers superb sound for the entire album.
Audiophiles are often surprised when they hear that an LP can sound amazing on one side and mediocre on the other, but since each side is pressed from different metalwork which has been aligned independently, and perhaps even cut by different mastering engineers from tapes of wildly differently quality, in our experience it happens all the time. In fact it’s much more common for a record to earn different sonic grades for its two sides than it is to rate the same grade. That’s just the way it goes in analog, where there’s no way to know how a any given side of a record sounds until you play it, and, more importantly, in the world of sound everything is relative.
Since each of the copies in the 2-pack will have one good side and one noticeably weaker or at best more run-of-the-mill side, you’ll be able to compare them on your own to hear just what it is that the Hot Stamper sides give you. This has the added benefit of helping you to improve your critical listening skills. We’ll clearly mark which copy is Hot for each side, so if you don’t want to bother with the other sides you certainly won’t have to.
A Must Own Vocal Album
This Demo Disc Quality recording should be part of any serious Male and Female Vocal Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.
South Side Blues
St. James Infirmary
The Shadow of Your Smile
I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water
Goin’ to Chicago Blues
In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down)
The Girl from Ipanema
I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)
Street Corner Hustler’s Blues
World of Trouble
AMG 4 Star Review
Lou Rawls gives a riveting performance on Live!, covering standards from Basie/Rushing’s tambourine-jumpin’ “Goin’ to Chicago” to T-Bone Walker’s foot-stompin’ “Stormy Monday,” and whole lot in between. Each selection is as inviting as the next, featuring Tommy Short on piano solos on some. On finger-snappin’ numbers like “In the Evening When the Sun Goes Down” and “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water,” the crooning baritone wails his way through the lyric… For soul-stirrin’ blues and swingin’ jazz numbers, this is an excellent pick.