A List of Good Sounding Live Albums

Bob Dylan – Real Live

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Real Live


  • An excellent sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “… if it doesn’t capture a historically significant tour, as Hard Rain did with the Rolling Thunder Revue, this is a better record all the same… it’s a good, solid live album, his best live album since Before the Flood…”

This vintage Columbia 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. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – The Jimi Hendrix Concerts – Huge, Powerful Live Rock Sound

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The Jimi Hendrix Concerts


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

This live album, taken from concerts recorded from 1968 to 1970, is wonderful sounding on the best tracks. If you’re in the market for live Hendrix on a Hot Stamper, you’ll be hard pressed to do any better. The bass on this recording is huge, which is exactly what this kind of music needs most. At the levels we were playing this album it was really rockin’.

That’s the true test of a good live rock record — the louder you play it the better it sounds! (more…)

Shelly Manne & His Men – At The Blackhawk Vol. 2 – Reviewed in 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! This Contemporary Yellow Label LP is West Coast Jazz at its best! The sound is SUPERB — airy, open, and spacious with an STUNNINGLY GOOD bottom end. You won’t believe how ALIVE the bass sounds — the depth and definition are OUT OF THIS WORLD! Each instrument here sounds just right — weighty, percussive piano; punchy drums; and lovely leading edge transients on the brass. Contemporary got live nightclub jazz sound down to a T here.   

“These lengthy performances (“Vamp’s Blues” is over 19 minutes long) give trumpeter Joe Gordon, the cool-toned tenor-saxophonist Richie Kamuca, pianist Victor Feldman, bassist Monty Budwig and the leader/drummer a chance to really stretch out. Fine 1950s bebop.” — AMG (more…)

Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive – What to Listen For

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Another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

What to listen for you ask? Dynamic, soaring guitar solos! On the best copies the guitar solos are the loudest parts of some songs, which, as everyone who’s ever been to a rock concert knows, is exactly what happens in live rock music.

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 solos 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.

It’s ridiculously hard to find good sound for this record. Most copies are thin, dry and transistory. And it’s time consuming to clean and play as many copies of this double album as it takes to find enough Hot Stampers to make the endeavor worthwhile. When this album doesn’t have the goods it’s just not very fun.

Further Reading

Eric Clapton – Just One Night

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Just One Night


  • One of the best copies to ever hit the site: Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on ALL FOUR sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too! 
  • This one is doing everything right– it’s bigger, bolder, richer and more clean, clear and open than anything else we played
  • Sure to be the best live Clapton sound you’ll hear on vinyl — and the music is wonderful as well
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The most notable difference between Just One Night and Clapton’s other live albums is his backing band. Led by guitarist Albert Lee, the group is a collective of accomplished professionals who have managed to keep some grit in their playing. They help push Clapton along, forcing him to spit out crackling solos throughout the album.”

With so many bad sounding Clapton albums from the mid- to late ’70s out there in the bins, it’s refreshing to hear this material sounding lively and clear for a change. The performances seem to hold up as well. If you like the “Tulsa Time” era, this record is going to be hard to beat. (more…)

Frank Zappa – Zappa In New York

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  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on all four sides of this classic Zappa Double Live album from 1977 
  • The first copy EVER to hit the site – after looking for years for enough clean copies to do a shootout, our hard work finally paid off with this outstanding vintage pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • 4 Stars: “The Zappa band, which includes bassist Patrick O’Hearn, percussionist Ruth Underwood, and keyboard player Eddie Jobson, along with a horn section including the two Brecker brothers, was one of the bandleader’s most accomplished. Zappa also was at the height of his comic stagecraft, notably on songs like “Titties & Beer,” which is essentially a comedy routine between Zappa and Bozzio…”  


Sting – Bring on the Night

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Bring on the Night


  • This outstanding copy of Sting’s epic double album boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all four sides AND exceptionally quiet vinyl
  • Sting and his jazzy pals work through a good portion of his extensive catalog, including both Police songs and solo tracks
  • “Sting really got carried away with the idea that his supporting crew for Dream of the Blue Turtles was a real jazz band, and technically, he was kind of right … the loose, rather infectious performances show what Sting was trying to achieve with his debut.”

Sting said to Bring On The Night and who were we to argue? We finally collected enough of these import pressings to get a proper shootout going, and the best copies really impressed us.

The best copies like this one give you more transparency and separation between the various bandmembers. Many copies had a sterile/dry quality, but this one remains rich throughout with more analog warmth. (more…)

801 Live – It’s All About the Bass (Except for that One Time When It Wasn’t)

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What’s especially interesting about this copy is that we went crazy for it even though it did not have the best bass of the copies we played, which, as you will see below, clearly contradicts what we had previously written. We thought that the copies with the best bass had the best everything else too, but that was not what we heard this time around.

THIS copy got the music to work its magic, and it did it with most, but not all, of the bass of the best. Not sure how to explain it. Rules were made to be broken maybe?  (more…)

Miles Davis – My Funny Valentine

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

1965 Live Analog at its best. Present and lively with solid, full-bodied tonality, thanks to the engineering of the legendary Fred Plaut. A wonderful live performance, showcasing the more lyrical side of Miles.

Superb sound for this Columbia pressing. The bottom end is strong and full-bodied, there’s plenty of space and presence, and the tonality of the horns is right on.

The lineup on this record is fantastic, featuring George Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. (more…)

The Oscar Peterson Trio – Put On A Happy Face

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  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • On a live jazz club recording such as this, the transparency of this killer analog pressing has the power to transport you to the front row of a small jazz club circa 1962 – what a thrill!
  • Peterson’s live album from 1962 was recorded at the London House jazz club in Chicago and features Ray Brown on bass and Ed Thigpen on drums