Labels We Love – ABC/MCA

John Lee Hooker – Free Beer and Chicken

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

  • KILLER sound from start to finish with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it
  • Hooker’s albums are surprisingly good sounding – they have the open, immediate, dynamic qualities of a live-in-the-studio session – my understanding is that most of them are recorded precisely that way
  • These sides are doing it right – they’re big, rich and Tubey Magical, with wonderfully present vocals and huge amounts of energy
  • Free Beer And Chicken is one of the better sounding John Lee Hooker records we’ve ever played lately – an interesting lineup of guests too, including the one and only Mr. Joe Cocker!

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John Lee Hooker – Simply The Truth

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  • KILLER sound throughout for this ABC Bluesway pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades 
  • Our vintage ABC Bluesway pressing here has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce, so if you want to know what this album from 1969 is REALLY supposed to sound like, we guarantee you cannot do better than this very copy
  • “Overseen by noted jazz producer Bob Thiele, this session had Hooker backed by some of his fullest arrangements to date, with noted session drummer Pretty Purdie and keyboards in addition to supplementary guitar and bass… Another of his many characteristically solid efforts…”

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Neil Diamond – Hot August Night

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

Our two White Hot sides here are bigger, richer, clearer, livelier and more tonally correct than the two others — two others which are guaranteed to be bigger, richer, clearer, etc. than any sides of any copy you own or even any copy you have ever heard .

In fact, the sound here presents a textbook case of just what the basic elements we listen for would be, for Hot August Night as well as practically any other Classic Live Rock Album we might be playing. As we’ve said for years, none of this rocket science. It all boils down to critical listening to lots of copies played on top quality equipment — no more, no less. 

The sound here presents a textbook case of the basic elements we listen for, on Hot August Night as well as practically any other Classic Live Rock Album we might be playing. As we’ve said for years, none of this is rocket science. It all boils down to critical listening of lots of copies played on top-quality equipment, no more, no less. (more…)

Steppenwolf – Gold: Their Great Hits

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Gold: Their Great Hits

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  • An outstanding copy of the band’s first greatest hits album with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides here are rockin’ like crazy, with mostly ull-bodied, natural, smooth, tonally correct sound
  • This surprisingly good sounding greatest hits album is packed with hits, including Born To Be Wild, Magic Carpet Ride, The Pusher, and more
  • 4 stars: “The term heavy metal was rightfully named for this band. Steppenwolf fused traditional rock and R&B with late ’60s contemporary heaviness. “Born to Be Wild,” their signature tune, has aged amazingly well. Aside from the song’s power and performance, its engineering and production is stellar. This goes for most of Steppenwolf’s catalog as well.”

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Steppenwolf – Steppenwolf

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Steppenwolf – Steppenwolf

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  • This outstanding copy of Steppenwolf’s debut album boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Both sides here are really rockin’ — big and full-bodied with tight punchy bass and lots of energy
  • Condition is often an issue with extremely popular rock records from this era, but this one is scratch free and fairly quiet throughout
  • Includes killer hits “Born To Be Wild” and “The Pusher,” both featured in the 1969 movie Easy Rider
  • 4 stars: “…a surprisingly strong debut album from a tight hard rock outfit… The playing is about as loud and powerful as anything being put out by a major record label in 1968…”

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Ray Charles – Love Country Style – Rave Reviewed in 2007

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More Love Country Style

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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…)

B.B. King – Midnight Believer

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Midnight Believer

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  • An outstanding copy of Midnight Believer with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Rich and full-bodied, clean, and clear, while the bass is big and punchy, and the energy level is off the charts
  • B.B. is backed by members of The Crusaders here, and on a copy like this one you can really get a sense of just how much they contribute to this music
  • “Another collaboration that worked a lot better than one might have expected. King and the Crusaders blended in a marginally funky, contemporary style for the buoyant ‘Never Make Your Move Too Soon’ and an uplifting ‘When It All Comes Down.'”

B.B. is backed by members of The Crusaders here, and on a copy like this one you can really get a sense of just how much they contribute to this music. The best sides have the kind of rich, full tonality and extended low end we just don’t hear often enough!

You can be sure this will beat the pants off the Direct Disc Labs Half-Speed Mastered pressing, or your money back. It’s no wonder they wanted to do an audiophile pressing of the album — it’s a superb recording. But mastering it at half-speed is not the answer. Finding one like this that has the LIFE of that master tape pressed into its grooves is the only way to be sure you will get real audiophile sound, not that pseudo kind we bash all over the site. (Sorry, we just can’t help it.) (more…)

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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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…)