Genre – Blues, Electric Blues and R&B

B.B. King – In London

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In London

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  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard
  • This is one of the better sounding B.B. King albums we’ve played lately – both sides are big, full-bodied and spacious with plenty of Olympic Studios + Record Plant Tubey Magic
  • Ringo, Peter Green, Klaus Voorman, Steve Winwood, Alexis Korner, Gary Wright and Dr. John are just a few of the artists featured on this record behind B.B. – quite a cast of luminaries
  • “… all 9 tracks are top notch fusion between US Legend and awe inspired younger British bluesmen. A must have!”

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Taj Mahal – Oooh So Good ‘N Blues

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Oooh So Good ‘N Blues

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  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this 1973 album of primarily acoustic Folky Blues
  • If you like the music of Ry Cooder this album should be right up your alley – it’s as well recorded as Ry’s stuff, and that’s saying something 
  • As quiet as we can find them – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “Ooh So Good ‘N’ Blues takes a more straight-ahead approach that keeps the experimentation down to a minimum. As a result, this is one of his most consistently enjoyable and even albums.”

Taj does his own material and a few classics by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Elmore James and Willie Dixon. With the Pointer Sisters singing backup on some of the songs, fans of authentic acoustic blues will find much to like here. (more…)

Taj Mahal – Giant Step / De Ole Folks at Home

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Giant Step / De Ole Folks at Home

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  • KILLER sound throughout with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on sides two, three and four, and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first side
  • On the acoustic side the harmonics of the stringed instruments — banjo and guitar — ring out clearly and naturally
  • Two complete LPs worth of material: the first electric, the second acoustic, something for everybody — it even includes the Monkees hit “Take A Giant Step” if you can believe it
  • 4 Stars: “Parties searching for an apt introduction when discovering Taj Mahal’s voluminous catalog are encouraged to consider Giant Step as a highly recommended reference point.”

The best copies are not hard to spot. They have the richest, breathiest, most present vocals, surrounded in the most space. The balance between the guitar, bass and drums on the electric side is correct. On the acoustic side the harmonics of the stringed instruments — banjo and guitar — ring out clearly and naturally.

A sweeter midrange, with less grit and spit on the vocals, was especially welcome and helped propel three of these sides right into the final round of the shootout, with side three eventually coming out on top. (more…)

Alberta Hunter – Amtrak Blues – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

Alberta Hunter – Amtrak Blues

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

Absolutely amazing sound – Alberta is uncannily present and real on this copy. This is High Fidelity Top Quality Uncolored Studio Sound like few records you’ve heard. 

And the crazy thing about Amtrak Blues is that it was recorded in 1980 (when Alberta was 83), not a decade we expect good sound to come from. But this is no ordinary recording. Behind the album is none other than legendary Columbia engineer FRANK LAICO (more…)

B.B. King – Lucille

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Lucille

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  • Lucille (the album, not the guitar) finally comes to the site with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or very close to it throughout 
  • An exceptionally hard album to find with good sound, but here it is – clean, clear and spacious with a solid bottom end – qualities that bring out the best in B.B.’s Blues
  • It has taken us years to find clean copies with the right stampers for Lucille, but finally our efforts have paid off with this Hot Stamper copy
  • “Lucille is an album alive and pulsing with a beautifully thick blues soul that is showcased everywhere, from Mr. King’s roaring vocals to the blazing brass in the background.”

Lucille is by far the toughest ’60s B.B. King record to find nowadays in audiophile playing condition. Most copies are just beat, and the ones that aren’t tend to be rare and pricey. The reason for all of the above is simple enough: it’s one of the man’s most consistently enjoyable, best sounding albums. Who can blame people for playing it to death when the music is so good?

Mobile Fidelity remastered the record in the ’90 for their for their consistently awful Anadisq series on Heavy Vinyl, and we used to sell it, albeit somewhat reluctantly. It’s not nearly as bad as most of their catalog from the period, but I would it goes without saying that our Hot Stamper pressing will show you a Lucille that a Heavy Vinyl pressing or Half-Speed can only hint at. (more…)

B.B. King – Blues On Top Of Blues

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Blues On Top Of Blues

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last on this 1968 pressing, BB King’s fourteenth studio album
  • This is the album he made right before Lucille, so the man was definitely on a roll and doing some great work in the late ’60s
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Featuring brassy arrangements by Johnny Pate, it presents King’s sound at its fullest without sacrificing any of his grit or sophisticated swing … the material is very strong throughout.”

Watch for more B. B. King albums coming to the site soon. Some of the Bluesway pressings we’ve auditioned recently have had exceptionally big, rich, lively sound, and that’s the way we like to hear our music. There are plenty of dogs in the King canon, especially in the ’70s, so you have to be a bit careful with the man’s recordings, but good titles in the ’60s with excellent sound can still be found if you’re willing to do the work (or you’re willing to let us do it for you). (more…)

John Lee Hooker – Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive

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Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive

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  • With KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, this copy will show you just how insanely big and rich this record can be; super quiet vinyl too!
  • It’s one of the best sounding John Lee Hooker albums we’ve heard – exceptionally well recorded at Wally Heiders’ right here in L.A..  
  • Features a host of “the greats” lending a hand, including Van Morrison, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, and Steve Miller
  • “…this album continues his work with mostly younger musicians and predates similar projects The Healer and Mr. Lucky by about 20 years.”

With STUNNING sound from beginning to end on this pressing, Hooker is in the room with you, as he should be. The sound is big, rich and lively with a huge bottom end, lots of space, wonderful transparency and real immediacy.

You may have noticed that records like this rarely make it to the site. Many don’t sound good, and the ones that do usually have surfaces that most audiophiles would find unacceptable. This is an exceptionally nice copy of we’re glad to say it sounds as good as it looks. (more…)

B.B. King – Friends

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Friends

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  • A superb sounding copy of Friends with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • One of the better sounding B.B. King records we’ve heard – it’s a treat to hear B.B. singing, playing guitar and backed by a horn section without the mediocre sonics that take all the fun out of listening to most copies
  • “… a gritty, soulful real stage performance where BB earns his living and forged his unique style… His voice was at its peak and this [recording] has captured his essence. It’s that good.”

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John Lee Hooker – Endless Boogie

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Endless Boogie

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  • This original ABC pressing has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on ALL FOUR SIDES! 
  • These sides are out of this world — rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with a big punchy bottom end and lots of energy
  • “… the timeliness of Endless Boogie is an unmitigated plus, and producers Bill Szymczyk and Ed Michel get a relaxed groove out of a cast of supporting musicians who can boogie Canned Heat right out of the studio.” – Robert Christgau

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Fleetwood Mac – Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

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Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

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  • Dramatically more impressive than any other copy we played – Triple Plus (A+++) throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The size, clarity, presence and energy are off the charts – and talk about Tubey Magic, this pressing is overflowing with it
  • The Mac’s debut is an extraordinary collection of Guitar-Based British Blues and an album that’s rarely on the site with sound this good and surfaces this clean
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Fleetwood Mac’s debut LP was a highlight of the late-’60s British blues boom. Green’s always inspired playing, the capable (if erratic) songwriting, and the general panache of the band as a whole placed them leagues above the overcrowded field…”

This is the band back in the day when they were playing their unique brand of Blues Rock, with Peter Green leading the band, about as far from Rumours as you can get. If you like British Blues Rock, I don’t think any other band can hold a candle to the Mac back then. Clapton may have been considered a god but I think Green is the better guitar player. 

The pluck of the guitar transients aren’t smeary and dull for once. There’s real extension up top, a big help to the cymbals, and the vocals sound tonally correct with just the right presence, placing Green front and center but still keeping the band in the mix. Like a good vintage Brit record, the sound is smooth, rich and full.

This is ANALOG, baby. They don’t make ’em like this anymore because they don’t know how. (more…)