Masterpieces of Soul, R’n’B, Blues, etc.

Flack / Hathaway – Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway

xxxxx

  • An outstanding copy, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades throughout, making this the best copy to hit the site in many years!
  • There’s Tubey Magic, sweetness and spaciousness all over this recording – when it all comes together on Where Is The Love, you won’t believe how good it sounds
  • One of our favorite duet albums, Flack and the woefully underrated Soul Man Donny Hathaway are in top form here
  • Allmusic raves: “A duet classic, and perhaps the most popular album Roberta Flack made. ‘Where Is the Love’ dominated urban contemporary radio for almost the entire year, while ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ was just as influential…”

These soulful duets sound wonderful. The best sides are big, bold, open and transparent with a huge three-dimensional soundfield, strong presence, good rhythmic energy, and wonderfully dynamic leads and choruses. (more…)

Johnny Nash – I Can See Clearly Now

xxxxx

  • Johnny Nash makes his site debut with this SUPERB pressing of his Number One Album, boasting Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout – mostly quiet vinyl too  
  • When we first dropped the needle on a copy of the album, we were knocked out by just how RICH and SMOOTH the chorus was on the title track
  • Here was a Top Quality Analog Recording to rival the best releases of 1972, one that we had practically never heard of – and of course, the shootout produced an even better copy that the one we’d auditioned
  • 4 stars: “Nash’s buoyant, breezy, optimistic classic proved to be a phenomenal record holding the number one pop position for four weeks… It’s a tribute to its high quality that I Can See Clearly Now was in print almost three decades after its original release.”

Seventies Analog

Produced in 1972, the best copies of I Can See Clearly Now are rich, smooth and sweet in the best tradition of the ANALOG record.

Less than ten years later the warm, rich analog sound we Old School Audiophiles prize would go completely out of style. Those later years were a difficult time for audiophiles who liked the pop music of the day but not the pop sound of the day. Heavy-handed processing, as well as the overuse of synthesizers and drum effects, with the whole of the production slathered in digital reverb, not to mention a puzzling lack of bass foundation, have resulted in many of the albums recorded after 1980 being all but impossible to enjoy on a modern high-end system.

For some reason, the ’70s seems to get little respect from audiophiles, when in fact a high percentage of the best recordings we know of were made in that arbitrarily designated ten year period. A rough count leads me to think that more than half of our Top 100 Rock Albums were recorded in the years spanning 1970-79, which is very unlikely to be a statistical anomaly.

The pool of well-recorded albums was simply wider and deeper. Great sounding records like this one were made by the hundreds, their numbers falling off precipitously in the decades that followed. Fortunately for us hard core analog holdouts, we have easy access to the best of the ’70s recordings, still widely available in their original format: the vinyl LP.

Like many of our favorites from the ’70s, this one is not well known in audiophile circles, but we hope to change that with this wonderful sounding pressing. Both the sound and the music are worth your time, and if you find that you don’t agree with us about the music or the sound, feel free to return the record, at our expense even. (more…)

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band – East-West

xxxxx
xxxxx

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on this Gold Label stereo pressing of the band’s sophomore release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • It’s tough to find an original with good sound and audiophile surfaces – a copy that plays this quietly is almost unheard of!
  • Big and full-bodied with a huge bottom end – Elektra was killing it in ’66
  • 5 stars: “… it was the Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s greatest achievement… East-West captures a great group in high flight as the bandmembers join together in something even more remarkable than their estimable skills as individuals would suggest, and its importance as a nexus point between rock, blues, jazz, and world music cannot be overestimated.”

(more…)

Tower of Power – Back To Oakland

xxxxx

 

When you hear it on a Hot Stamper like this, there is little in the recording to criticize. The brass is textured with just the right amount of bite (but not to the point of sounding gritty). In addition, the soundstage is wide and three-dimensional, with the kind of transparency that allows you to hear into the music all the way to the back wall of the studio (assuming your system resolves that kind of information).

The most obvious effect is that all the horns are separated out from one another, not all smeared together, with plenty of space around the drums, guitars and vocals as well. The sound is freely flowing from the speakers, not stuck inside them.

We love this funky music and have long been delighted with how wonderful the best pressings can sound. This may be Tower of Power’s best; certainly it’s one of their most consistent and well-recorded. (more…)

Anita Baker – Rapture

xxxxx

  • This quiet-storm classic earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades for sound on both sides and plays on exceptionally quiet vinyl to boot
  • Rapture is one of the best sounding recordings from the era – with all due respect to Whitney Houston, if I could have only one album of ’80s soulful female vocals, it would have to be this one
  • Key to the sound is richness and Tubey Magic, along with strong midrange presence, and on this Super Hot Stamper you get all three
  • 5 stars: “Rapture gave Baker one moving hit after another, including ‘Sweet Love,’ ‘Caught up in the Rapture,’ ‘Same Ole Love,’ and ‘No One in This World.'”

A Soul Classic — winner, and deservedly so, of 2 Grammy Awards: Best R&B Song and Best R&B Female Vocal. (more…)

Lou Rawls – Live!

xxxx

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

This is one of the best live vocal recordings we know of, but only a great copy like this will bring that sound to your stereo. Lou is live, singing his heart out in a small club that exists between, behind and maybe even around your speakers. If you can reproduce the three-dimensional space of this club well you are in for a real treat.

The songs are great, the musicians are brilliant, the sound is amazing — what else could you ask for?

This album was a late addition to our 2014 update of our Rock and Pop Top 100 list. or live soul-infused vocals we know of none better. (more…)