Older Reviews – Blues, R’n’B, Soul, etc.

B.B. King – L.A. Midnight

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

An A++ side one backed with an A+ side two! We had the chance to sit and play a big stack of these recently and only a few copies sounded any good. This was one of the better overall copies, especially on side one which is full of tubey magic. Check out how cool the tuba sounds anchoring the bottom end on the opening track! Both sides were more open and transparent than most of what we played.

Side one is open and transparent with lots of tubey magic. The overall sound is clean, clear and natural. Side two isn’t quite as rich but it’s still very lively, musical and natural. (more…)

Average White Band – Reviewed in 2007

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

FREAKISHLY GOOD SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We’ve been playing this record for years, but we’ve sure never heard it sound like this! The bass — so crucial to this music — is ABSOLUTE PERFECTION.

Keepin’ It To Myself sounds OUT OF THIS WORLD! (more…)

Al Green – Greatest Hits – Reviewed in 2006

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Greatest Hits

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

This Hi LP sounds JUST RIGHT to me. There aren’t enough copies floating around for me to shootout. I no longer have the DCC LP; I sold my test pressing long ago. I remember it sounded a bit thick, but that was on a very different stereo than the one I own today. It has been my experience that when I hear a really dead-on early pressing of a record like this, the 180g version will tend to come up short. If you own the DCC pressing, I guarantee this copy is better or your money back.   (more…)

John Lee Hooker – The Healer

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

These guys (and one gal!) are definitely LIVE in the studio. The amount of studio reverb may be a bit much for some, but we think it works for this music. 

And the vinyl is quiet, a true Mint Minus, the highest condition grade we use (as a practical matter).

Side One

Big and clear, with a fair amount of Tubey Magical Richness for a record recorded in 1989.

Side Two

Even better, truly Super Hot by track two — it’s bigger, with more bass and more space than almost every other copy we played. (more…)

Stevie Wonder – Innervisions – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2008

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Innervisions

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

A++++ Beyond White Hot Stampers Discovered! After struggling through multiple stalled shootouts, we’ve finally unearthed copies of this wonderful album that have the sound we’ve been waiting for. We’ve gone through SCORES of pressings in the hope that one day we’d find a copy like this — with two Demo Quality sides, and fairly quiet vinyl, it’s our first ever White Hot Stamper for Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions.

Both sides were the shootout champions, but side one went so far beyond any other copy that we’ve ever played that we had no choice to award it the rare A++++ grade — that’s FOUR big pluses, and it earned each and every one of them!

Mindblowingly Hot Sound On Both Sides

Words are hardly going to be able top convey how superb this copy sounds, but let’s give it a try. My initial note for side one reads, simply, “Holy Sh*t!!!” It didn’t take thirty seconds before everyone in the room realized that we were hearing the best copy of this album to ever hit our table. It’s tight and punchy down low, sweet and silky up top, and warm and sweet in the middle. The clarity and transparency are nothing short of shocking. The presence and immediacy will make you forget you are listening to a record — no other copy we’ve ever played gave us such a feeling of live music happening right in front of us. Any element you can think of is PERFECTION on this side one: bass, cymbals, keyboards, vocals, guitars — all Right On The Money. We’ve always had high hopes for this album, but this copy went beyond even our wildest dreams. (more…)

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…)

Sly & The Family Stone – There’s A Riot Going On – Reviewed in 2009

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There’s A Riot Going On

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

This very nice looking Epic Demo LP sounds about as good as you could hope for from this famously compromised recording. Some tracks sound great and others don’t. It’s not a Demo Disc by any stretch but I can’t imagine it sounding much better than it does here; it’s tonally correct from top to bottom. Almost any remastering engineer is going to want to brighten this up, but believe me that will ruin it and turn it into the dry, grainy, transistory crap that labels like Sundazed and Get Back like to put out. The music is wonderful, of course, earning 5 big stars in the All Music Guide. (more…)

David Bowie – Young Americans – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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More Young Americans

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

THE BEST SOUND I HAVE EVER HEARD FOR THIS ALBUM! We’ve been playing this album for years, but we’ve sure never heard it sound like this. Both sides have BIG, FULL-BODIED SOUND that takes this soulful music to an entirely new level.

Both sides here are AGAIG — As Good As It Gets, Master Tape Sound. The overall sound is open, spacious, and transparent with lots of DEEP bass. You can easily pick out all the background vocals, and Bowie’s voice sounds just right. The strings have amazing amounts of texture — you can really hear the sound of the rosin on the bow. The highs are silky sweet and the bottom end is punchy and powerful. You won’t believe how superb the cymbal crashes sound — you’re right there in the room with these guys! (more…)

Sly & The Family Stone – Life – Reviewed in 2008

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Life

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

EXCELLENT MUSIC AND SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND! We picked up this Epic Yellow Label Promo LP just for fun because someone here remembered liking this album back in the day. When we cleaned it up and dropped the needle on it, we couldn’t believe how CORRECT it sounded. It’s not going to ever make anyone’s SuperDisc list, but if you dig funky, energetic, soul music from the late ’60s, you can’t do much better than this record. It’s right up there with Sly’s next two albums, Stand! and There’s A Riot Goin’ On.

The sound is lively with wonderful presence. You can really hear the room around the handclaps and lots of ambience around the voices. The bottom end is tight and punchy — just what the doctor ordered for this kind of music. The electric guitars have a great, meaty texture that takes a song like Dynamite to new heights. There’s just a bit of congestion in the craziest parts of the songs, but overall there’s surprisingly low distortion here. The top end could use just a bit more extension, so add a click of treble to make the sound even better.  (more…)