A List of Live Albums of Interest

Bill Evans – At Town Hall, Volume 1

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  • This superb Piano Trio recording has KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • Both sides are doing just about everything right — you get real weight to the piano, tons of energy, incredible immediacy, real separation between the instruments and natural live imaging — you really get a sense of where each of the players is on the stage
  • “This LP is a superior effort by Bill Evans and his trio in early 1966… The most memorable piece is the 13-and-a-half-minute “Solo: In Memory of His Father,” an extensive unaccompanied exploration by Evans that partly uses a theme that became “Turn Out the Stars.” – All Music, 4 Stars

It is insanely difficult to find great sounding Bill Evans records. This copy has two sides that are nothing short of Demo Quality. It’s one of the better sounding Piano Trio records we’ll find this year (along of course with any killer copies of The Three that hit the site).

Everything you could ask for from this music is here. You get real weight to the piano, tons of energy, incredible immediacy, real separation between the instruments and natural live imaging — you really get a sense of where each of the players is on the stage. The sound is cleaner and clearer than we heard elsewhere, with more extension up top and more weight down low. The bass sounds JUST RIGHT. Most copies we’ve played weren’t nearly this rich, warm and full-bodied. I don’t think you could find a better sounding copy no matter what you did. (more…)

Bill Evans – Montreux II

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  • This epic live jazz recording finally returns to the site with two excellent Double Plus (A++) sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • A killer pressing, with a very strong bottom end, lovely richness and warmth, real space and separation between the instruments and wonderful immediacy throughout
  • Recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, this 1970 release showcases Evans stylings alongside the brilliant talents of Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell
  • “Bill Evans’ second recording at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1970 was a highly anticipated concert, finding the pianist in peak form, accompanied by bassist Eddie Gómez and drummer Marty Morell.”

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The Grateful Dead – Live/Dead

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  • A KILLER copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on sides one, two and three and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the fourth side
  • All four sides are incredibly big, rich and full-bodied with super present and breathy vocals and a solid bottom end
  • “Few recordings have ever represented the essence of an artist in performance as faithfully as Live/Dead. It has become an aural snapshot of this zenith in the Grateful Dead’s 30-year evolution and as such is highly recommended for all manner of enthusiasts.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

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The 3 Sounds – Live At The Lighthouse

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This Minty Blue Note Liberty Label LP has EXCELLENT LIVE JAZZ SOUND. It’s very transparent, with plenty of deep bass. The piano sounds particularly nice — it has real WEIGHT to it. Both sides play quietly, Near Mint. I imagine you’d have quite a hard time finding a quieter, better sounding copy of this album. The music is wonderful as well — 4 stars in the AMG!

The selection of nine Three Sounds staples gives the group a chance to stretch out… they flourish. The music on Live at the Lighthouse is hotter than some of their studio recordings, pulsating with energy and good feelings, demonstrating that they had worked out any of the problems that hampered Vibrations. It’s their finest set since Black Orchid. — AMG (more…)

Dave Mason – Certified Live – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Unlike Frampton Comes Alive, recorded at different venues, Certified Live was recorded at one location, the Universal Amphitheatre, resulting in very little variation in the sound from track to track. The variation in the sound from side to side is the kind of variation we hear on virtually every pressing we play, since no two sides of a record ever really sound exactly the same. 

We like our ’70s Rock Records to be rich and full; that’s what live Rock Concerts have always sounded like to us and we see no reason to revise our biases now. It’s what good analog does effortlessly and what even the best digital finds difficult to achieve.

A common problem with many of the sides we played was strain or congestion in the loudest passages. Another was sound that’s too “clean.”

It’s not hard to figure out what the best pressings do well that the average ones struggle with.

The Shootout Winning sides are simply bigger, fuller, more clear, more present, more transparent, more punchy, and have more space and energy than the other pressings we played. A couple of minutes in on any side and you know if it has The Big Sound or not. We’re happy to report these four sides are some of the biggest and liveliest we heard.

I’ve actually seen Dave Mason twice in the last five years or so; he tours relentlessly and always puts on a good show. Check him out if he comes to your town. Remarkably he plays these songs nowadays about as well as he ever did, which is very well indeed. (more…)

Dave Brubeck – Adventures In Time

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This is a Minty looking Columbia Red Label Double LP with EXCELLENT sound and quiet vinyl. The tracks compiled here are live and studio versions of Brubeck and his quartet playing material composed in some non-traditional time signatures, such as the hit track Take Five (in 5/4).

We aren’t completely sure which tracks here are live versions and which are studio versions, but everything we played sounded great. There’s a version of Blue Rondo a la Turk that clocks in at over 12 minutes!

If you haven’t explored much of the music of Brubeck past Time Out, this would be an excellent addition to your collection.

“The huge success of Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” (1960) was followed by many songs played in “odd” time signatures such as 7/4 and 9/8; the high-quality soloing of the musicians kept these experiments from sounding like gimmicks.”

Otis Redding – Good To Me – Live at the Whisky A Go Go Volume 2 – Reviewed in the ’90s

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

This Stax British Import is a Better Records highly recommended recording. If I had to choose one Otis Redding record to keep, this would be the one! As good as his studio albums are, the guy was MAGICAL live. (more…)

Sarah Vaughan – Live In Japan

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  • With two shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides and two superb Double Plus (A++) sides, this is a phenomenal copy of Live in Japan
  • This album captures Vaughan’s rich, playful style and transfixing vocal range like you’ve never heard before
  • Full, big, present, and open, this album will recreate the sound of the concert hall right in your very own listening room
  • 5 stars: “This two-fer (which finds Sassy accompanied by pianist Carl Schroeder, bassist John Gianelli, and drummer Jimmy Cobb) gives one a definitive look at the brilliant (and sometimes miraculous) singer.”

You may remember that Mobile Fidelity remastered this very album on CD, one of their very first releases, long before they came up with the idea of gold plating their discs and doubling the price. Some of those early discs were outstanding; I still own many of them to this day. That said, I don’t think I ever played this particular title. (more…)

Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive

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  • All four sides of this double album earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to it for their Big, Bold Live Rock sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Mixed and mastered so that the guitar solos soar the way they do in live music — what a thrill it is to hear them finally sounding the way they should
  • A killer copy like this one is a potent reminder of why we all went so crazy for this album back in the ’70s – I did anyway
  • Allmusic agrees with us that many tracks here are “much more inspired, confident, and hard-hitting than the studio versions.”

On the better copies, the guitar solos are the loudest parts of some of the songs, which, as everyone who’s ever been to a rock concert knows, is exactly what happens in live rock music. Fancy that!

Not many live albums are mixed to allow the guitar solos to rock the way these do. Since Frampton is one of my favorite players, hearing his work get loud on this album is nothing less than a thrill. It’s hard to turn up the volume on most copies — they tend to get aggressive in a hurry — but that simply doesn’t happen on our hottest Hot Stampers. They sound right when they’re loud. (more…)

Cannonball Adderley – Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) Shootout Winning side one and a superb Double Plus (A++) side two, this pressing one of Adderley’s most enjoyable albums will be very hard to beat
  • The sound here is bigger and livelier than practically any other we played – above all it’s balanced, avoiding the tonality issues we heard on so many other pressings
  • Joe Zawinul (Weather Report) wrote the title song, which became a big hit for Adderley (and later The Buckinghams), and he plays on the album
  • 5 Stars: “Adderley’s irrepressible exuberance was a major part of his popularity, and no document captures that quality as well — or with such tremendous musical rewards — as Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”

Don’t worry about surface noise on this copy. With the audience making so much noise, you’ll never get a chance to hear it. If you do it will be barely audible under the music and crowd sounds.

I dropped the needle on a copy of this record a year or so ago and heard amazing you-are-there live jazz club sound, and, more importantly, a hot session from one of our favorite saxophone players of all time, the man who contributed mightily to the likes of Kind of Blue, Somethin’ Else, Know What I Mean? and many more. For an Alto player Cannonball is just about as good as it gets.

Fast forward one year and we now have in our possession enough copies to do a proper shootout – originals and reissues on a variety of labels.

These were of course two of the best sides we played. They’re big, rich and natural. The music does manage to sound like a live club, even though it’s live in the studio, playing to an audience. (The AMG review has more on that.)

For mainstream jazz it’s hard to think of any album on our site that would be more enjoyable. (more…)