Older Reviews – Vocals

Lou Rawls – Live!

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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…)

Julie London – Make Love To Me

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

This outstanding original Liberty Turquoise mono pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) grades, or close to them, on both sides. Thanks to superb engineering and vintage All Tube mastering, this 1957 LP is wonderfully rich and sweet, with a breathy, intimate Julie London performing live in your listening room. It’s also pressed on unusually quiet vinyl – Mint Minus Minus, with no issues to speak of – they don’t come quieter. (more…)

Helen Humes – Swingin’ With Humes – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

SUPERB SOUND AND MUSIC! We’ve been finding great copies of Helen’s Songs I Like To Sing! for some time, but this is the first knockout copy we’ve ever found of this great title from 1961. Both sides have A+++ sound, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG).   

Whoever takes this one home is in for a treat. Make sure your electricity is really cookin’, turn down the lights, and turn up the volume — Helen and her top-notch backing band will be RIGHT THERE IN THE ROOM WITH YOU! The other copies we played sounded pretty good, but this one is MAGICAL.

Both sides have mindblowing clarity and transparency — something that you wouldn’t likely find on an earlier pressing — matched with the kind of tubey magic that’s almost always missing from OJC pressings. (more…)

Mel Torme – Live at Marty’s – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

We just finished a shootout for this album and had a blast with the ol’ Velvet Fog. Many copies of this album are transistory, gritty and dry, but this one has got enough richness and warmth to smooth out those unpleasant qualities. The immediacy and presence throughout are going to KNOCK YOU OUT. Mel is gonna be in the room with you when you play this one good and loud. (more…)

Mel Torme & Buddy Rich – Together Again For The First Time on Direct to Disc

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This is a Century Direct-to-Disc featuring Mel Torme fronting the Buddy Rich Big Band. And it’s a pretty big band with four trumpets, three trombones, five saxes and a tuba! One of the best tracks is “Here’s That Rainy Day”, with guest soloist Phil Woods. The beginning is just Mel and Phil, a duet of sorts, with a lovely sense of melancholy.

However, both these men seem tired and the session doesn’t swing much. Or could it be that they’re playing it safe, afraid to make a mistake and then have to start the live-to-disc session over from the top? Hard to know, but that’s the problem with direct to disc recordings — avoiding mistakes, even engineering ones, can suck the life out of the music. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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Always On My Mind

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

AMAZING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We just finished a big shootout for this wonderful album, and this Columbia pressing was second to none. Side one has MASTER TAPE SOUND — super dynamic and OFF THE CHARTS presence and transparency!

Fans of Stardust are going to go crazy over this one. It’s another solid album full of Wille belting out heartfelt renditions of standards. Once again, he’s backed by a top-notch backing band of industry session masters. The arrangements are splendid — just drop the needle on Bridge Over Troubled Water to hear these guys doing what they do best. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – The Best of Ella Fitzgerald – Reviewed in 2005

 

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

Two Minty looking Deccalite Pink Label Promo LPs.

This is the best of Ella’s Decca material recorded between 1938 – 1955, the songs that made her a star.

For those of you who don’t know what Deccalite is, Deccalite is a material that Decca invented as an alternative to vinyl. It’s quieter than vinyl as a rule — and these pressings are extremely quiet — but it is not unbreakable. If you wack this record against a chair, it will shatter into pieces like an old 78. But most audiophiles takes good care of their records, so the risk of breaking an album like this is extremely small.

June Christy – The Misty Miss Christy – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

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

This very nice looking Capitol LP has SUPERB SOUND. It’s RICH, SWEET and full of TUBEY MAGIC. It could use a bit more top end but other than that it’s hard to imagine June sounding much better than she does here. (more…)

Nat King Cole – Just One Of Those Things – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

ONE OF THE MOST TUBEY MAGICAL MALE VOCAL RECORDS WE’VE EVER HAD THE PLEASURE OF PLAYING! We shot this out against similar copies, earlier pressings, and a 180g reissue, and nothing was quite in a league with this. Turn up the volume, turn down the lights, and let Nat serenade you from right between your speakers — he’ll be IN THE ROOM with you! (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Sings The Irving Berlin Song Book – Reviewed in 2005

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

This is a very nice looking Verve Strobe Label Double LP. The quality of the sound changes here not only from side to side but from track to track. We dropped the needle on various songs on each side and side three had the best sounding songs we heard. Every side had some great sounding songs, some with tubey magic and breathy vocals. How About Me and Cheek to Cheek on side two sound particularly good.  

AMG Review

These selections are perfectly suited for Fitzgerald’s voice and her romantic sensibility; they are happy, occasionally sad, and full of swinging rhythm. A few of these songs — “Cheek to Cheek,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” and “Blue Skies” — will be most familiar; others, “Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails,” “Russian Lullaby,” and “All By Myself” are as memorable but perhaps less known… For fans who have enjoyed other songbook recordings, this is a must-have; for those unfamiliar with Fitzgerald’s songbook work, this is an excellent place to start.