Labels We Love – Chess

Muddy Waters – Muddy, Brass & The Blues

More Muddy Waters

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  • This pressing of Muddy, Brass & The Blues offers outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Copies that are this open, clear, and resolving are the ones that present the music as it was meant to be heard, which means they do very well in our shootouts
  • Waters blends the blues with R&B elements on this superb album, one that’s nearly impossible to find with sound this good and surfaces this quiet
  • “Stripped of his guitar once again (the cover photo notwithstanding), Waters proved what a great R&B singer he was — there are moments on this album where he almost crosses over into Otis Redding territory.”

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Chuck Berry – The London Chuck Berry Sessions

More Live Recordings of Interest

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  • Stunning sound throughout for this original pressing with each side earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades and playing about as quietly as any copy ever will, Chess vinyl being what it is
  • These vintage sides are rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with a lovely musical quality that we found was missing from many of the copies we played
  • “This 1972 release is Chuck Berry’s bestselling album in nearly 50 years of hot-wax work. Buoyed by the playfully lewd No. 1 hit single “My Ding-A-Ling,” one of three live recordings here, the success of these sessions marked a comeback for the mercurial Rock and Roll Hall of Fame immortal…” – Alan Greenberg

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Little Milton – We’re Gonna Make It

Yet Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound

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  • Off the charts “Triple Triple” (A+++) sound for this classic Little Milton album – both sides earned our top grade of Triple Plus
  • This pressing showed us the sound we were looking for, in spades – it’s clear, rich and natural, with not a trace of “modern mastering” (thank goodness) – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The title track spent three weeks at Number One on the R&B Charts back in ’65 – it’s a classic
  • Allmusic raves: “Towering above it all, though, is Milton’s powerful voice: a solid combination of gospel intensity and fluid phrasing that sprang from Roy Brown, moved through B.B. King, and found its way to both Bobby Bland and Milton, among others.”

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John Lee Hooker – House of the Blues

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • This early ’50s material has shockingly natural sound, no doubt the result of having been recorded, like most of John Lee Hooker’s albums, live in the studio
  • A masterful collection of songs recorded between 1951 and 1954, this album showcases the “King of the Boogie” in top form
  • 4 stars: “Some important titles here: an ominous ‘Leave My Wife Alone,’ and the stark ‘Sugar Mama’ and ‘Ramblin’ by Myself,’ and with Eddie Kirkland on second guitar, ‘Louise’ and ‘High Priced Woman.'”

*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 4 moderate pops at the beginning of in Track 1, Sugar Mama.

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. (more…)

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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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.