Labels We Love – Chess

Muddy Waters – Sings Big Bill Broonzy

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  • Waters’ superb 1960 tribute to Big Bill Broonzy makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, 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
  • We found this title to be exceptionally well recorded, which means this copy has true DEMO DISC QUALITY sound
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Waters’s tribute album to the man who gave him his start on the Chicago circuit, this stuff doesn’t sound much like Broonzy so much as a virtual recasting of his songs into Muddy’s electric Chicago style.”

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Muddy Waters – The Real Folk Blues

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  • An outstanding copy of this compilation album with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from the first note to the last – mostly quiet vinyl too
  • Like its Audiophile Favorite brother, Folk Singer, also on Chess, The Real Folk Blues is another exceptional live-in-the-studio recording, with some of the best sound Chess ever managed
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Once Chess discovered a white folk-blues audience ripe and ready to hear the real thing, they released a series of albums under the Real Folk Blues banner. This is one of the best entries in the series…”

*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 5 very light ticks at the end of track 2, Screaming And Crying.

This 1965 recording pressed on ’80s vinyl has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)

Muddy Waters – The Best of Muddy Waters

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  • This outstanding copy of The Best of Muddy Waters boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from top to bottom
  • Huge, Tubey Magical and lively, with solid weight down low and lots of space around all the instruments
  • Comprised of twelve killer tracks, all originally released as singles, including Rollin’ Stone, Long Distance Call, Hoochie Coochie, and many more
  • 5 Stars: “The material this artist cut for Chess during this period is nothing short of a blues revelation. There has never been anything quite like it, before or after, and when one has heard Muddy Waters from this period, one has simply heard the best blues has to offer.”

Don’t be put off by the Best Of designation in the title. ALL these songs were recorded as individual tracks to be released on individual discs. Muddy Waters would go into the studio and cut a few “sides,” the best of which would be approved for distribution. There was no concept in those days of an “album.” Albums were basically just collections of songs, and that means lots of filler. What’s great about this pressing is that it gives you all the classics with none of the filler. (more…)

Muddy Waters – The London Muddy Waters Sessions

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  • Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout making this the best copy to ever hit the site!
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of these wonderful sessions, this is the way to go
  • The London Muddy Waters Sessions won the 1972 Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording! 
  • A great lineup: Blues fans Rory Gallagher, Steve Winwood and Mitch Mitchell are all featured here, along with many other Bluesmen

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John Lee Hooker – House of the Blues

More John Lee Hooker

House of the Blues

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

This 1959 Black Label (Unbreakable!) original deep groove Chess mono LP has some seriously good Super Hot Stamper sound on side one, earning a sonic grade of At Least A++. My notes for the sound of the third track read “very real.” You get the feeling that whatever John Lee Hooker played and sang on that day in 1959 ended up on this record sounding just the way he performed it, live to one-track. 

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 record barely made the cut condition-wise. If it didn’t sound so good on side one we wouldn’t have bothered with it. But it did — it sounds great, so if you can tolerate some authentic Chess surfaces from 1959, you will get to hear what John Lee Hooker really sounded like on the day he sang these songs. (more…)

Muddy Waters – Folk Singer

More Muddy Waters

More Folk Singer

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  • An outstanding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound, or close to it, on both sides – quiet vinyl too 
  • Folk Singer is an exceptional live-in-the-studio recording, with some of the best sound Muddy Waters ever managed
  • This ’80s reissue is guaranteed to trounce any heavy vinyl pressing you’ve heard of it or we’ll give you your money back!
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “Muddy’s “unplugged” album was cut in September of 1963 and still sounds fresh and vital today. It was Muddy simply returning to his original style on a plain acoustic guitar in a well-tuned room…”

This 1963 recording pressed on ’80s vinyl has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real person singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that. (more…)

Little Milton – We’re Gonna Make It

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Vocal Classics

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Little Milton – We’re Gonna Make It

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

This Chess reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology (1965 in this case), with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the mid- ’80s. (We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 30+ years ago, not the too-often bad modern mastering of today.)

See all of our Little Milton albums in stock

The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on both of these White Hot sides.

We were impressed with the fact that it excelled in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it — odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us — was how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be.

This leads me to think that most of the natural, full-bodied, smooth, sweet sound of the album is on the tape, and that all one has to do to get that vintage sound on to a record is simply to thread up the tape on a good machine and hit play.

The fact that nobody seems to be able to make a good sounding record these days tells me that in fact I’m wrong to think that such an approach would work. It just seems to me that somebody should be able to figure out how to do it. In our experience that is rarely the case today, and has been that way for many years.