Genre – Soul / R&B

Sly and The Family Stone – Fresh

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Fresh

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

Both sides here had exceptionally good bass, and that earned it a lot of points in our shootout. The sound is punchy and full-bodied with excellent clarity. It’s also smooth, in the best tradition of analog from the early ’70s. This is the right sound for the music, no question about it.   (more…)

Lou Rawls – Natural Man

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Natural Man

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  • This outstanding copy of Lous Rawls’ 1971 release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • The immediacy of the vocals is striking, putting a living, breathing Lou Rawls right between your speakers
  • 4 stars: “Relying on his deep, rich voice, he sings with confidence everything from the bluesy ‘I’m a King Bee’ and the Beatles cover ‘Got to Get You into My Life’ to Duke Ellington’s jazz ballad ‘Sophisticated Lady’… a representative collection covering the eclectic range of styles in which Rawls has always performed.”

This Original MGM pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 Lou, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Ray Charles – Soul Meeting

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Soul Meeting

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  • This outstanding pressing of Ray Charles and Milt Jackson’s 1958 collaboration boasts solid Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them on both sides – exceptionally quiet too
  • Wonderful sound from start to finish — full-bodied and warm with wonderfully sweet vocals
  • Kenny Burrell lends his innovative guitar stylings to this soulful jazz collaboration
  • 4 1/2 stars: “With Oscar Pettiford, Connie Kay, and Kenny Burrell in the various lineups, this is bluesy jazz in a laid-back manner; it surprised many hardcore R&B fans when these albums were originally issued.”

This wonderful pressing has superb sound throughout! It’s EXTREMELY rare to find a stereo copy of this title in anything but beat condition. (more…)

David Bowie – Let’s Dance

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Let’s Dance

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  • With STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides, this copy is one of the best we have ever heard
  • It’s all here: huge amounts of rock solid bass, clear guitar transients, breathy, natural vocals, and jump out of the speakers presence and energy
  • A real Demo Disc at high volumes on the right system – Modern Love, China Girl and the title track are knockouts when you play them good and loud
  • Top 100 of course – Let’s Dance is one of the best sounding Bowie albums ever recorded – this superb pressing is proof!

Bowie is without question one of the all-time great frontmen and producers. This is his last good album and a Must Own for audiophiles, especially if you have big dynamic speakers. Like we say, with this one you are in for a treat.

Hearing a top copy of Let’s Dance is truly a special experience; the damn thing is amazingly well recorded, especially considering it came along well after the Golden Age of Rock Recording (the ’60s and ’70s, don’t you know). The sound is analog at its best; rich, full and super-punchy. (more…)

Ray Charles – Love Country Style – Rave Reviewed in 2007

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

This ABC White Label Promo LP is one of the BEST SOUNDING Ray Charles records we have ever heard! This is analog at its best: rich, warm and sweet with tons of TUBEY MAGIC. (more…)

Sly & The Family Stone – There’s A Riot Going On – Reviewed in 2009

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There’s A Riot Going On

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

This very nice looking Epic Demo LP sounds about as good as you could hope for from this famously compromised recording. Some tracks sound great and others don’t. It’s not a Demo Disc by any stretch but I can’t imagine it sounding much better than it does here; it’s tonally correct from top to bottom. Almost any remastering engineer is going to want to brighten this up, but believe me that will ruin it and turn it into the dry, grainy, transistory crap that labels like Sundazed and Get Back like to put out. The music is wonderful, of course, earning 5 big stars in the All Music Guide. (more…)

Stevie Wonder – Music of My Mind – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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Music of My Mind

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

AMAZING A+++ SOUND and relatively quiet vinyl on BOTH sides of this early Stevie Wonder classic, an album that earned four-and-a-half big stars (out of five) in the All Music Guide. Anyone who has followed the site for a while (or tried the shootouts on their own) surely know how difficult it is to find Stevie Wonder records with excellent sound or quiet surfaces — let alone both. This monster pressing should give you everything you ever hoped for from this music and then some!

We had a ton of copies for this shootout and most of them weren’t fit to list on the site at any price. You can go down to your local store and pick up a copy with noisy surfaces and mediocre sound, but we don’t want to be in the business of selling records like that. I don’t know too many audiophiles who want to put up with dull, recessed, congested and compressed sonics no matter how good the music is, and that’s just what you get on most copies of this one.

This copy is an entirely different story, which we recognized immediately when we dropped the needle on each side. There’s real immediacy and plenty of extension up top. The soundfield is open, spacious and transparent with lots of analog tubey magic. (more…)

Lou Rawls – Bring It On Home

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Bring It On Home

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  • This is a great sounding Lou Rawls album, and this copy is guaranteed to knock you out with its Shootout Winning Triple Plus sound 
  • This early Stereo Capitol LP brought Sam Cooke’s most famous songs to life, with the kind of vocal presence and tubey richness that no other copy could offer
  • There are a lot of bad sounding Lou Rawls records out there, but this hidden gem is not one of them – not only is the sound superb, but Lou’s done his old pal Sam proud with wonderfully heartfelt versions of some of his best songs
  • It’s incredibly difficult to find big, bold, lively sound like this for any Lou Rawls title, but here it is!

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Prince – For You

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For You

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  • A KILLER sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish and the first to ever hit the site!
  • Both sides here are out of this world — incredibly full-bodied, musical and Tubey Magical with a massive bottom end 
  • “On his debut album, For You, Prince shows exceptional skill for arranging and performing mainstream urban R&B and funk…” – All Music

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Sly & The Family Stone – Life – Reviewed in 2008

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Life

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

EXCELLENT MUSIC AND SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND! We picked up this Epic Yellow Label Promo LP just for fun because someone here remembered liking this album back in the day. When we cleaned it up and dropped the needle on it, we couldn’t believe how CORRECT it sounded. It’s not going to ever make anyone’s SuperDisc list, but if you dig funky, energetic, soul music from the late ’60s, you can’t do much better than this record. It’s right up there with Sly’s next two albums, Stand! and There’s A Riot Goin’ On.

The sound is lively with wonderful presence. You can really hear the room around the handclaps and lots of ambience around the voices. The bottom end is tight and punchy — just what the doctor ordered for this kind of music. The electric guitars have a great, meaty texture that takes a song like Dynamite to new heights. There’s just a bit of congestion in the craziest parts of the songs, but overall there’s surprisingly low distortion here. The top end could use just a bit more extension, so add a click of treble to make the sound even better.  (more…)