Blues, Electric Blues and R&B

John Lee Hooker – 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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B.B. King – Live In Cook County Jail

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More Electric Blues

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Bigger and bolder, with more bass, more energy, and more of that “you-are-there-immediacy” of a live performance that set the best vintage pressings apart from reissues, CDs, and whatever else might be out there
  • 5 star: “Live in Cook County Jail is one of those great concerts that the record company was smart enough to be there to capture, documenting B.B. firing on all cylinders in front of an audience that’s just damn happy for him to be there.”

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Fleetwood Mac – The Original Fleetwood Mac

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More British Blues Rock

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  • A very good pressing, with Hot Stamper sound from top to bottom – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This album sounds like Fleetwood Mac is playing live in the studio most of the time, and that is a glorious sound
  • 4 stars: “An undeniably strong collection culled primarily from the band’s first incarnation, featuring John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, and Jeremy Spencer.”

The music on this album was recorded when they were still a blues band — tracks left off their early albums for one reason or another.

As is so often the case with unreleased material, these songs do not have that overproduced, too-many-generations-of-tape sound. This sounds like Fleetwood Mac live in the studio most of the time. In other words, awesome. If the drum sound on the first track isn’t enough to convince you this is an amazing sounding record, I don’t know what would.

These British imports are the only way to go. The domestic copies are definitely made from dub tapes. They can sound good, but they never sound this good! (more…)

Jimmy Witherspoon – The Blues Is Now

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  • Witherspoon’s wonderful 1967 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • Spacious and transparent, this copy has the three-dimensional soundstaging and natural vocal reproduction that makes these kinds of records such a joy to play (and in the process a record this good makes a mockery of the veiled, lifeless, ambience-free sound of the modern Heavy Vinyl reissue)
  • 4 stars: “The Blues Is Now is arguably the finest of these [late ’60s Verve] recordings, and Witherspoon’s voice is in top form and hugely expressive. A late-night blues classic, this is Witherspoon at his most relaxed and assured and is a joy to listen to.”

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Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee – Sonny and Brownie

More Soul, Blues and R&B

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  • With superb Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides, so natural and relaxed, this is the right sound for this bluesy music
  • This early pressing puts a Folky-Bluesy jam from 1973 live in your living room, showcasing two of the true masters of the form
  • The immediacy, clarity and transparency are excellent, but the key element is Tubey Magical warmth, and these vintage pressings have plenty of it
  • 4 1/2 stars: “John Mayall and John Hammond, Jr. are among the “youngsters” on this powerful statement that includes a definitive version of Randy Newman’s wickedly subtle anti-slavery tune Sail Away.”

This is easily one of better Folkie Blues albums to hit our table in a while. The music is SUPERB. Among the highlights are great covers of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and Randy Newman’s “Sail Away.” (more…)

Muddy Waters – I’m Ready

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  • A KILLER copy with insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from the first note to the last
  • If you’re looking for a Hot Stamper Blues album to add a little variety to your collection, you can’t do much better this copy of I’m Ready
  • ‘Waters and band provide these well-worn gems with a little new studio polish, but it is with the newer songs that the performers really shine… For new listeners trying to get a feel of what the blues is all about, I’m Ready and its bookends are the albums to start with. Once you experience a taste of Muddy Waters, you’ll be ready for more.”

*NOTE: On side one there is a mark that plays lightly ten times at the start of the first track.

Waters made three albums with Johnny Winters in the ’70’s, including this one. Muddy was still in great form, and the sound can be fantastic on the right copy. It’s not easy to find blues recordings that sound natural and honest while still giving you the energy, presence and clarity needed to bring the music to life, but this bad boy has exactly the sound we were looking for. (more…)

Albert King – Born Under a Bad Sign – Where Are All the Clean Copies?

A Record We May Never Shootout Again

Some records were just too much work to find, too expensive to buy.

This is one such album. Our last shootout was in 2007!

The link above will take you to many more.

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This original Stax LP has AMAZING sound. You could not make this record sound any better. We really liked the Sundazed copy of this record until we heard this bad boy. It MURDERS the Sundazed! It has more life, energy and natural presence.

We always suspected that a good original pressing would be better than the Sundazed but we had no way of knowing since all the copies we ever saw were beat to death. This is the first clean copy of this record I’ve seen in 20 years.

The sound is RICH and FULL with lots of texture to the guitars. It’s very natural sounding and full-bodied.

Like many of these old Stax pressings this record would benefit from a bit more extension on the top end. If you can add a a click of treble the sound will be even more out of this world.

One of the all time great electric blues albums — a Must Own for fans of the genre (more…)

Son Seals – The Son Seals Blues Band

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  • An excellent Electric Blues record with exceptionally big, clear, lively sound that earned Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • This copy will shame most Blues albums for sound and music – it’s quite a bit better than any other Son Seals album we have played as well
  • 4 stars: “The Chicago mainstay’s debut album was a rough, gruff, no-nonsense affair typified by the decidedly unsentimental track ‘Your Love Is like a Cancer.’ Seals wasn’t all that far removed from his southern roots at this point, and his slashing guitar work sports a strikingly raw feel on his originals ‘Look Now, Baby,’ ‘Cotton Picking Blues,’ and ‘Hot Sauce’ (the latter a blistering instrumental that sounds a bit like the theme from Batman played sideways).

Son Seals’ 1973 debut album has the kind of Live-in-the-Studio sound that most Blues albums (and every other kind of album) strive for but rarely if ever achieve. If you turn this one up good and loud, the Son Seals Band will be right there in the room with you. If there’s any overdubbing on this record, you sure can’t hear it.

If you’ve been suffering with one bad sounding Stevie Ray Vaughan album after another, this record should come as a godsend. This album will show you just how dynamic and energetic Electric Blues recordings can be.

You can’t see this guy live anymore, he’s dead, RIP, but you can still hear him perform live in your listening room if you have a killer system and a Hot Stamper copy of this album — and you can hear him as often as you want to, too. Play this one for all your friends who love Stevie Ray. Son Seals has the chops to go head to head with him, with recording quality that’s night and day better than Stevie’s non-posthumous albums in every way. Your friends’ minds will surely be blown (and if they aren’t, turn up the volume a click or two and try again. Live music is loud). (more…)

Janis Joplin – I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!

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More Blues Rock Albums

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  • This outstanding 360 Stereo pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy has the ideal combination of openness and transparency, coupled with the richness and solidity of vintage analog
  • When Janis starts singing, watch out – her voice positively JUMPS out of the speakers, something we didn’t hear her do on many of the other copies in our shootout
  • Features Try, one of Janis’s All Time Classics — and with these grades you can be sure it sounds positively amazing here

This Columbia 360 Stereo pressing is THE CURE for Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues!

Drop the needle on the great song Try and just listen to how crisp, punchy, and BIG the drums sound.

The bottom end has real weight and the top end is silky and extended. The overall sound is rich, full, and smooth.

ENERGY is the key element missing from the average copy, but not on this bad boy (or girl if you prefer). The electric guitars are super Tubey Magical and the bass is solid and punchy.

On many copies — too many copies — the vocals are pinched and edgy. Here they’re breathy and full — a much better way for Janis to sound. There’s a slight amount of grit to the vocals at times and the brass as well, but the life force on these sides is so strong that we much preferred it to the smoother, duller, deader copies we heard that didn’t have that issue.

On copy after copy we heard pinched squawky horns and harsh vocals, not a good sound for this album. Janis’ voice needs lots of space up top to get good and loud, and both of these sides have it in spades.

Few other copies had this combination of openness and transparency on the one hand, and full, rich tonality on the other. (more…)

Willie Dixon – I Am The Blues

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More Soul, Blues and R&B

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  • This early Columbia pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Notably richer and livelier than most, with plenty of Tubey Magic and good weight down low
  • A longtime favorite of ours, with unusually good sound for a blues recording, even one from as late as 1970
  • Features updated versions of many Dixon Classics: Spoonful, Hoochie Coochie Man, I Can’t Quit You Baby and more
  • “The material is superb, consisting of some of Willie Dixon’s best-known songs of the 1960s, and the production is smoothly professional…”

*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 5 light ticks at the end of Track 3, (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man.

The material here is TOP NOTCH — Dixon was one of the blues’ greatest songwriters, responsible for Spoonful, Hoochie Coochie Man, Little Red Rooster, Back Door Man and other songs you’ve probably heard your favorite classic rock band covering. A copy such as this gives you more detail and texture, more extension up top and real weight to the bottom end — absolutely crucial for this music. (more…)