Blues, Electric Blues and R&B

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Live Alive

More Stevie Ray Vaughan

More Electric Blues

  • A Live Alive like you’ve never heard, with superb Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all FOUR sides – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • Those of you who are familiar with this record will not be surprised to learn that these shootouts are TOUGH – very few copies are any better than mediocre
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • Speaking of Heavy Vinyl, the SRV Box Set put out by Analogue Productions in 2014 — a set we have never heard by the way — rather disappointed one of our customers. He took the time to write us about how he felt being $400 poorer after hearing it
  • This same gentleman learned how important it is to play records like SRV’s good and loud, the way we do
  • “Live Alive is a magnificent double-length showcase for Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar playing, featuring a number of extended jams on a selection of most of the best material from Vaughan’s first three albums.. The renditions here sound less polished than the studio versions, with Vaughan’s guitar tone bitingly down and dirty and his playing spontaneous and passionate” 

KILLER sound throughout! Most copies we played were thick, murky, overly smooth and/or veiled, but this one almost never suffers in any of those areas. The sound is clean, clear, transparent and lively throughout.


Stevie Ray Vaughan – Beyond White Hot Stamper Sound

More of the Music of Stevie Ray Vaughan

Hot Stamper Pressings of Electric Blues Albums

Years ago we heard a copy sound so much better than any copy we had ever played that we gave it a grade of Four Pluses on side two.

Our lengthy commentary entitled Outliers & Out-of-This-World Sound talks about how rare these kinds of pressings are and how to go about finding them.

We no longer give Four Pluses out as a matter of policy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t come across records that deserve them from time to time.

On Big Speakers at Loud Levels, this is Demo Disc Quality sound of the highest order.

Little Wing rocks as hard on this pressing as any song we have ever heard, with DEMO DISC SOUND to rival the greatest rock records of all time.

The guitar solos on Little Wing are as HUGE and LIVELY as any we have ever heard (assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one).

If you have BIG DYNAMIC SPEAKERS and the power to drive them to serious listening levels, you will be blown away by the sound found on the best copies of The Sky Is Crying.

This is one of the most blistering recordings of electric blues-rock we’ve ever played. Few other records recorded in the ’80s, or pressed in the ’90s, have this kind of BIG, BOLD SOUND. Maybe none. The sheer impact and wallop of this music is a real treat, but only if you have the right pressing (and the right kind of stereo to play it on, of course).

Little Wing is the surest proof that SRV was one of the greats. To me it’s his clearest claim to fame. I know of no other guitar showcase to compete with it.

Sonically it’s a knockout, with one of the tallest, widest and deepest soundstages I have ever heard on a record. It brings to mind Gilmore’s multiple solos on Money from the hottest Dark Side pressings.

More Titles that Are Good for Testing

Albert King – Live Wire – Blues Power

  • An incredible pressing of this Must Own Live Blues Album with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Accept no substitutes – no reissue of the album can ever give you the energy, size and you-are-there presence that’s on this disc
  • Finding originals with sound this good and surfaces this quiet is quite a feat, but here is a knockout one
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Live Wire / Blues Power is one of Albert King’s definitive albums. Recorded live at the Fillmore Auditorium in 1968, the guitarist is at the top of his form throughout the record — his solos are intense and piercing… he makes Herbie Hancock’s ‘Watermelon Man’ dirty and funky and wrings out all the emotion from ‘Blues at Sunrise.'”

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top-quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” meaning relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

This is one of the all time great live Blues albums. This Is Blues Power!


Taj Mahal – The Natch’l Blues

More Taj Mahal

More Electric Blues

  • Taj Mahal’s sophomore release debuts on the site with INSANELY GOOD Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades on both sides of this vintage Columbia pressing – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is huge – big, wide, deep, and open, with a punchy bottom end and rhythmic energy to spare, as well as cleaner, smoother, sweeter upper mids and a more extended top
  • Dramatically richer, fuller and with more presence than the average copy, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an unsuspecting record buying public
  • 5 stars: “‘You Don’t Miss Your Water (‘Til Your Well Runs Dry)’ and ‘Ain’t That a Lot of Love’ … offer Taj Mahal working in the realm of soul and treading onto Otis Redding territory. This is particularly notable on “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” which achieves the intensity of a gospel performance and comes complete with a Stax/Volt-style horn arrangement by Jesse Ed Davis that sounds more like the real thing than the real thing.”


Eric Clapton – Unplugged

More Eric Clapton

  • With two outstanding Double Plus (A++) or BETTER sides, you’ll have a hard time finding a copy that sounds remotely as good as this vintage Reprise pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides have close to the best condition grade we give out, Mint Minus – there may not be another record on the site with vinyl that quiet!
  • The sound of this superb import is rich, full-bodied, lively, and warm, with solid bass and breathy, clear vocals
  • There are a number of records that Eric Clapton has made over the years that are Must Own titles, and we would have no problem putting this album on that list
  • Consistency has never been the man’s strong suit, but you will simply not be able to find a bad track on this live album from 1992
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Unplugged is the concert and album that established the MTV program as a classy, tony showcase for artists eager to redefine themselves via reexamination of their catalogs, which is what Clapton cannily did here.”
  • If you’re a Clapton fan, this unplugged album from 1992 surely belongs in your collection.


Johnny Winter – Johnny Winter

More Johnny Winter

More Electric Blues

  • An original 360 Stereo pressing of Johnny Winter’s sophomore release that was doing practically everything right, earning incredible Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades on both sides, just shy of our Shootout Winner – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • This copy has the Midrange Magic that’s surely missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the 50+ year old tapes (or, to be clear, a modern digital master copied from those tapes)
  • There is a surprisingly healthy dose of bottom end in this recording – it’s the right sound for this kind of heavy blues-rock
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Winter’s debut album for Columbia was also arguably his bluesiest and best… [his] playing and vocals have yet to become mannered or clichéd on this session, and if you’ve ever wondered what the fuss is all about, here’s the best place to check out his true legacy.”


Stevie Ray Vaughan – The Sky Is Crying

More Stevie Ray Vaughan

Albums with Especially Dynamic Guitar Solos

  • SRV’s Rock Masterpiece, here with excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Some of the most blistering performances of electric blues we have ever had the pleasure of rocking out to
  • Hands down the best sounding SRV recording – “Little Wing” is an absolute monster on this side one and a Demo track to beat them all
  • 4 stars: “Doing away with vocals, Vaughan augments Hendrix’s concise two-and-a-half minute original, turning the track into a nearly seven-minute-long electric tour de force. The cover would earn Vaughan his sixth Grammy, for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, in 1992.”
  • We know about quite a few records that rock this hard. We seek them out, and we know how to play them.

This is one of the most blistering recordings of electric blues we’ve ever played. Few other records recorded in the ’80s have this kind of big, bold sound. Maybe none. The sheer impact and wallop of this music is a real treat, but only if you have the right pressing, and the right kind of stereo to play it on.

Stevie’s take on Jimi’s “Little Wing” is the surest proof that SRV was one of the greatest Electric Blues Guitarists of All Time. I know of no other guitar showcase to compete with it.

Turn it up good and loud and you will be amazed at how dynamic the guitar solos are.

Sonically it’s a knockout, with one of the tallest, widest, and deepest soundstages I have ever heard on record. It brings to mind Gilmore’s multiple solos on Money from the hottest Dark Side of the Moon pressings, high praise indeed.

“Little Wing” deservedly won SRV the Grammy in ’92 for Best Rock Instrumental.

And, if you want to hear Stevie channel Wes Montgomery instead of Jimi Hendrix, take a listen to “Chitlins Con Carne.”


B.B. King – In London

More B.B. King

More Electric Blues

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this vintage ABC pressing – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Clean, clear and dynamic with tons of space and transparency, this is the way to hear B.B. and this big group of master musicians
  • 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
  • “…this encounter with Brit second-liners (famed blues devotee Ringo Starr is the big catch) and L.A. session stars is substantial stuff. ‘Caldonia’ and ‘Ain’t Nobody Home’ are more than that.” – Robert Christgau
  • If you’re a fan of the man, this classic from 1971 belongs in your collection.


B.B. King – Lucille

More B.B. King

More Electric Blues

  • Boasting superb Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER throughout, you’ll have a hard time finding a Lucille (the album, not the guitar) that sounds remotely as good as this vintage Bluesway pressing – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • 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 knockout Hot Stamper — it’s the first one to hit the site in four years
  • “The soulful empowerment that comes from Lucille resonates vocally from Mr. King and the signature vibrato and trill of the guitar’s namesake. The album itself is a dedication to thick, yet airy blues filled with quirk and real-world relatives, staying thoroughly intimate through its production. At thirty-seven minutes, the nine-tracked record isn’t a lengthy export, but it’s replay value is priceless.”
  • If you’re a fan of the Mr. King, this vintage pressing of his 1968 classic surely belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1968 that we’ve auditioned to date can be found here. As of 2023, there are about 100 or so reviews for them, most of them describing the better copies from our shootouts
  • We don’t mess around. We play all the clean copies of good titles that we can get our hands on. It’s the only way to find the hi-fidelity recordings that actually sound good — they’re the ones that were mastered and pressed properly — and you have to clean them and play them to have any hope of figuring out which are which.
  • Everything else is a guess, and we prefer not to guess. We want to know.

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 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…)

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Soul To Soul

More Stevie Ray Vaughan

More of Our Hardest Rockin’ Records

  • Boasting two seriously good Double Plus (A++) or BETTER sides, this copy was giving us the sound we were looking for on this Classic of Electric Blues Guitar – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • An outstanding pressing with hard-rockin’ energy, rich, solid bass, open top end, and freedom from congestion
  • This is one of the better copies to hit the site in years – good SRV albums are getting tough to find nowadays
  • “[SRV] wanted to add soul and R&B inflections to his basic blues sound, and Soul to Soul does exactly that. [T]he Curtis Mayfield-inspired closer, ‘Life Without You,’ captures Vaughan at his best as a composer and performer. It’s such a seductive number – such a full realization of his soul-blues ambitions…”

Vaughn’s guitar playing is as fiery as ever, and the addition of keyboards and saxophone here gives the music broader scope and range than was possible on his previous albums.