A List of Live Albums of Interest

Lou Rawls – Live!

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Well Recorded Albums that Should Be More Popular with Audiophiles

Well Recorded Soul. RnB, Blues, Etc. Albums – The Core Collection

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  • Lou Rawls Live! is an amazing recording that really comes to life on the best Hot Stamper pressings
  • The songs are fantastic, the musicians are brilliant, the sound is superb – Stormy Monday & Tobacco Road are highlights, but really, there’s not a bad track here
  • If you could only have one Lou Rawls album, no question it would have to be this one – everything that’s good about the man’s music is fully on display
  • 4 stars: “Lou Rawls gives a riveting performance on Live!, covering standards from Basie/Rushing’s tambourine-jumpin’ ‘Goin’ to Chicago’ to T-Bone Walker’s foot-stompin’ ‘Stormy Monday,’ and whole lot in between.”

What an album! For live soul-infused vocals, we know of none better. (more…)

Little Feat / Hoy-Hoy – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

Reviews and Commentaries for Little Feat

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This Warner Brothers Double LP is one of the all time TOP Little Feat albums and a longtime personal favorite. Three out of the four sides here are White Hot, as good as it gets — A+++, and the fourth is just a half plus behind at A++1/2. It’s been a very long time since a double album made it to our site with grades like these — 11 1/2 pluses out of 12!

And side three was so good I noted that it might as well be A++++ — no other side of the ten copies we played could touch it, not even the three other ones here. Teenage Nervous Breakdown (Live) is a real Demo Disc Quality track. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Hendrix In The West

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  • Hendrix in the West finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This is a fun live album with stellar performances by Jimi – the best of his many posthumous releases
  • The awesome version of Little Wing is just killer on this copy – it’s Jimi’s best performance of the song
  • 4 stars: “. . . it’s a hodge-podge, made of live tracks largely from 1969 and 1970. But it’s a bunch of great live tracks, including some real rarities. . . In the West is a great sampling of Hendrix’s late-period live material (and his sense of humor) making its long awaited appearance.”

We’re still surprised at how well recorded the album is. It takes a pressing like this to really show you the live Jimi Hendrix magic Eddie Kramer got onto tape. Drop the needle on Little Wing and you are going to be FLOORED.

The size and space here are really something, miles beyond most. The resolution and clarity of the open live sound of this copy bring out all the instrumental textures and details of the recording like few we played. More importantly, the extended top keeps the highs from getting hard or harsh the way they do on so many pressings we’ve played.

As these performances are culled from different concerts the sound varies a bit from track to track, but every track on here sounds good and the best tracks sound amazing. (more…)

John Denver – An Evening With John Denver

More Live Recordings of Interest

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  • A superb pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the fourth side and Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound or very close to it on the other three – just shy of our Shootout Winner 
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard.
  • 4 stars: ” This is a must even for the casual John Denver listener. Only by fully taking in the music can listeners see his vision of good music and passion for protection of the environment.” 

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Allman Brothers / Eat a Peach – Transparency, Energy, and Whomp

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What do high grades give you for this album? Unbelievably Tubey Magical guitars, huge whomp factor on the bottom end, incredible dynamics and life, shocking transparency and clarity, and the kind of immediacy that puts these crazy southern rockers right in your very own living room. The overall sound is impressively BIG, BOLD, and POWERFUL!

This and Live At Fillmore East are the two monumental albums these guys ever put out, and they have a lot in common. You know what you’re gonna get with the Allmans: dueling electric guitars, sweet acoustic guitars, energetic drumming, and full-bodied vocals throughout. There’s obviously a lot of exploration — two complete sides are dedicated to the song Mountain Jam — but the heartfelt radio-friendly songs such as Melissa and Little Martha keep up the energy and provide maximum enjoyment factor.

The Three Keys: Transparency, Energy, and WHOMP

A great copy like this one really lets everything that’s great about this music come through. You can easily pick out each of the musicians and follow their contributions over the course of the songs. The huge WHOMP factor throughout kicks up the excitement factor and sets the foundation for the extended guitar jams to work their Southern bluesy magic. The top end extends beautifully to bring out all the ambience and spaciousness of the Fillmore. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – War Heroes

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  • You’ll find superb Double Plus (A++) from first note to last on this Hendrix classic – exceptionally quite vinyl for the most part too
  • The material here is unusually well-recorded – the sound is competitive with – maybe even better than – Hendrix’s “real” albums
  • Features top-tier Hendrix rarities such as Izabella, Highway Chile, Bleeding Heart and Stepping Stone
  • “One of the few consistent compilations of unreleased Hendrix.” — Allmusic

Drop the needle at the start of either side and prepare to be floored. You won’t believe the big-time presence, the mindblowing energy, or the massive WHOMP factor. Here’s a copy with the kind of big, three-dimensional sound we wish we heard on more Hendrix records. You’ll know what I’m talking about as soon as the needle hits the groove.

The vocals are full-bodied and present with lots of body and breath. The bottom end is tight and punchy with more weight than we heard on other copies. You could play a good-sized stack of copies and you’d probably still not find one as open, spacious, and transparent as either of these sides.

The guitar — obviously a key element of any Hendrix recording — absolutely FLIES out of the speakers here. The bottom end is strong and solid, and the overall sound is big, rich and open.

Bridge of Sighs

Note that the guitar sound on the first track of side two appears to have acted as the template for Robin Trower’s sound throughout his career. We love Robin Trower — wish we could find more copies of Bridge of Sighs that sound good — but his guitar sound was all over this album years before it was on any of his own.

It’s beyond difficult for us to find killer copies of Jimi’s first three or four albums, so I advise you Hendrix fans to give this one a chance. It’s the real deal. (more…)

Al Di Meola et al. – Friday Night in San Francisco on Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl

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Sonic Grade: D?

The Speakers Corner remastered Heavy Vinyl pressing of this famous jazz album has two big strikes against it from the get go. It’s both congested and hard.

When these guys are hell-bent on one-upping each other right off of the stage, even our best Hot Stamper pressings struggle with clarity, transparency and harmonic sweetness

Do you really want to add all the problems of the modern remastered heavy vinyl pressing to a  tape that has no small share of its own?

Congested and hard is the kind of sound Speakers Corner should be quite familiar with by now. You can hear it on plenty of their mostly mediocre pressings. Sourced from a digital tape of the master? Maybe, but who cares what tape was used to make this dog?

It’s a loser and should be avoided at any price.

Our Hot Stamper pressings of this very album will be dramatically more transparent, open, harmonically-correct, resolving of musical information, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are the most obvious areas in which heavy vinyl pressings tend to fall short, if our experience with hundreds of them over the last few decades has any bearing.

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What Are Some Good General Rules for Acquiring Records with the Highest Quality Sound?

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The Riverside pressings we’ve auditioned of both The Thelonious Monk Orchestra – At Town Hall and Thelonious Monk Quartet Plus Two – At The Blackhawk were just awful sounding. The OJC reissues from the ’80s, although better, were not overflowing with the rich, natural, relaxed sound we were looking for either.

Ah, but a few years back we happened to drop the needle on one of these good Milestone Two-Fers. Here was the sound we were looking for and had had so little luck in finding.

Which prompts the question that should be on the mind of every audiophile: What are the rules for collecting records with the best sound quality?

The answer, of course, is that there are no such rules and never will be.

There is only trial and error. Our full-time staff has been running trials — we call them shootouts and needle drops — for more than twenty years now, with far more errors than successes. Such is the nature of records. It may be a tautology to note that the average record has mediocre sound, but it nevertheless pays to keep that rather inconvenient fact in mind.

Even worse, if you make the mistake of pinning your hopes on a current reissue — and you unfortunately find yourself a member of that small minority of audiophiles with reasonably high standards and two working ears — your disappointment is almost guaranteed. (more…)

Great in Stereo, Bad in Mono. What Else Is New?

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We Say Skip the Mono

This album is much more common in mono than stereo, but we found the sound of the mono pressing we played unsatisfying. Where is the wall to wall space of the live club? It has been shrunken down into the area between the speakers. Much of the ambience disappeared with it, destroying the illusion the album was trying to create, that you are actually there.

In mono, you really aren’t.


FURTHER READING

Mono, Stereo, Reprocessed Stereo, We’ve Played Them All! (more…)

The Band Rock Of Ages – Turn Up Your Volume, Now It Rocks!

More of The Band

More Roots Rock LPs

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Yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Most copies of this album do not have a boosted bottom or top, which means that at normal listening levels — depending on how you define that term — they can sound pretty flat. This is one album that needs to be turned up, obviously not to the levels of a live rock concert, but up about as loud as you can until you can get the bass and the highs to come out. We found ourselves adding more and more level in order to get the sound to come to life, and it was playing pretty loud before the sound was right.  

But it’s SO GOOD when it’s loud. Why the hell would you not want to crank it up and ROCK OUT? (more…)