Labels We Love – Stax

Otis Redding – Good To Me – Live at the Whisky A Go Go Volume 2 – Reviewed in the ’90s

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

This Stax British Import is a Better Records highly recommended recording. If I had to choose one Otis Redding record to keep, this would be the one! As good as his studio albums are, the guy was MAGICAL live. (more…)

Albert King – I’ll Play The Blues For You

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  • This original Stax LP earned outstanding Double Plus (++) grades for sound, or close to it, on both sides
  • Big, rich and relatively smooth, here are the wonderfully breathy vocals and Electric Blues energy that are missing from the reissues (including, no doubt, any and all Heavy Vinyl ones)
  • Mint Minus Minus throughtout – about as quiet as we can find these vintage Stax pressings
  • 4 stars: “…the combination of King, members of the legendary Bar-Kays, the Isaac Hayes Movement, and the sparkling Memphis Horns was hardly a risky endeavor… The result was a trim, funk-infused blues sound that provided ample space for King’s oft-imitated guitar playing.”

This vintage Stax Yellow Label pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot 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 control room hearing the master tape being played back, or, better yet, the direct feed from the studio, this is the record for you. It’s what Golden Age Blues Recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

What the best sides of this Electric Blues (with Memphis Horns!) album have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1972
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on I’ll Play The Blues For You

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I’ll Play The Blues For You (Parts 1 & 2)
Little Brother (Make A Way)
Breaking Up Somebody’s Home
High Cost Of Loving

Side Two

I’ll Be Doggone
Answer To The Laundromat Blues
Don’t Burn Down The Bridge (‘Cause You Might Wanna Come Back Across)
Angel Of Mercy

AMG 4 Star Review

It’s not as if Albert King hadn’t tasted success in his first decade and a half as a performer, but his late-’60s/early-’70s recordings for Stax did win him a substantially larger audience. During those years, the label began earning significant clout amongst rock fans through events like Otis Redding’s appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival and a seemingly endless string of classic singles. When King signed to the label in 1966, he was immediately paired with the Stax session team Booker T. & the MG’s.

Though 1972’s I’ll Play the Blues for You followed a slightly different formula, the combination of King, members of the legendary Bar-Kays, the Isaac Hayes Movement, and the sparkling Memphis Horns was hardly a risky endeavor. The result was a trim, funk-infused blues sound that provided ample space for King’s oft-imitated guitar playing. King has always been more impressive as a soloist than a singer, and some of his vocal performances on I’ll Play the Blues for You lack the intensity one might hope for. As usual, he more than compensates with a series of exquisite six-string workouts.

Albert King – Years Gone By

More Albert King

Years Gone By

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  • Incredible sound throughout for this original Stax pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades 
  • Both sides here are big, full-bodied and lively with lots of Tubey Magic and a huge bottom end
  • “With Booker T. drummer Al Jackson producing, the set includes such staples as “You Threw Your Love on Me Too Strong,” “Wrapped up in Love Again,” and a powerful version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor.” For fans of King’s guitar work, the inclusion of the instrumental workouts on “You Don’t Love Me” and “Drowning on Dry Land” are a special bonus…” – All Music, 4.5 Stars

This vintage original Stax pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Booker T & The M.G.’s – Melting Pot

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  • An excellent sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout- exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Both sides here are super rich and Tubey Magical with a huge bottom end and tons of energy  
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “Melting Pot could be the most well-realized of all the albums by Booker T. & the M.G.’s, a smooth and soulful, yet expansive 35 minutes of all originals…” – All Music

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Albert King – Live Wire – Blues Power

More Albert King

More Live Wire – Blues Power

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  • An outstanding copy of this Must Own Live Blues album, with Double Plus (A++) sound for both sides
  • 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
  • Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus – finding these originals with top quality sound and surfaces this quiet is not getting any easier
  • “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.””

This is one of the all time great live Blues albums. THIS IS BLUES POWER! (more…)