Top Artists – John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker – Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive

More John Lee Hooker

  • With KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, this copy will show you just how insanely big and rich this record can be; super quiet vinyl too!
  • It’s one of the best sounding John Lee Hooker albums we’ve heard – exceptionally well recorded at Wally Heiders’ right here in L.A..  
  • Features a host of “the greats” lending a hand, including Van Morrison, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, and Steve Miller
  • “…this album continues his work with mostly younger musicians and predates similar projects The Healer and Mr. Lucky by about 20 years.”

With STUNNING sound from beginning to end on this pressing, Hooker is in the room with you, as he should be. The sound is big, rich and lively with a huge bottom end, lots of space, wonderful transparency and real immediacy.

This vintage ABC pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely 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.).

Hot Stamper sound is rarely about the details of a given recording. In the case of this album, more than anything else a Hot Stamper must succeed at recreating a solid, palpable, real John Lee Hooker singing live in your listening room. The better copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played over the years can serve as a guide.

You may have noticed that records like this rarely make it to the site. Many don’t sound good, and the ones that do usually have surfaces that most audiophiles would find unacceptable. This is an exceptionally nice copy of we’re glad to say it sounds as good as it looks.

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

    • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
    • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1972
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is, of course, the only way to hear all of the above.

Best Practices

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.

The process is simple enough. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

What We’re Listening For on Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive

    • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
    • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Baker Bigsby in this case — would have put them.
    • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
    • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
    • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
    • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Bumblebee, Bumblebee 
Hit The Road 
Country Boy 
Boogie With The Hook

Side Two

T.B. Sheets 
Letter To My Baby 
Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive

AMG  Review

Following the legendary bluesman’s popular collaboration with Canned Heat, this album continues his work with mostly younger musicians and predates similar projects The Healer and Mr. Lucky by about 20 years. Van Morrison spans the gap by appearing on this 1972 release and Mr. Lucky. Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, and even Steve Miller contribute here. Jazz violinist Michael White helps “Boogie With the Hook” take off and adds a mournful touch to the harrowing “T.B. Sheets,” which is much more restrained here than on the earlier debut release by Morrison.

John Lee Hooker

Hooker’s guitar playing is closely aligned with piano boogie-woogie. He would play the walking bass pattern with his thumb, stopping to emphasize the end of a line with a series of trills, done by rapid hammer-ons and pull-offs. The songs that most epitomize his early sound are “Boogie Chillen”, about being 17 and wanting to go out to dance at the Boogie clubs, “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, a blues standard first recorded by Big Joe Williams, and “Tupelo Blues”,[20] a song about the flooding of Tupelo, Mississippi in April 1936.

He maintained a solo career, popular with blues and folk music fans of the early 1960s and crossed over to white audiences, giving an early opportunity to the young Bob Dylan. As he got older, he added more and more people to his band, changing his live show from simply Hooker with his guitar to a large band, with Hooker singing.

His vocal phrasing was less closely tied to specific bars than most blues singers. This casual, rambling style had been gradually diminishing with the onset of electric blues bands from Chicago but, even when not playing solo, Hooker retained it in his sound.

Though Hooker lived in Detroit during most of his career, he is not associated with the Chicago-style blues prevalent in large northern cities, as much as he is with the southern rural blues styles, known as delta blues, country blues, folk blues, or “front porch blues”. His use of an electric guitar tied together the Delta blues with the emerging post-war electric blues.

Wikipedia

John Lee Hooker – If You Miss ‘Im … I Got ‘Im

More John Lee Hooker

xxxxx

  • Hooker’s wonderful 1970 release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two married with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • Rich, smooth and Tubey Magical, this pressing has a lovely musical quality that’s missing from some of the copies we played
  • A delightful collaboration between John Lee and his cousin, Earl Hooker – AMG says he “definitely benefits from keeping it in the family” here
  • “Heard here less than a year before his death, Earl still sounds frisky and versatile, often utilizing a funky wah-wah style without ever descending into the psychedelic excesses that plagued so many late-’60s electric blues albums.”

(more…)

John Lee Hooker – Simply The Truth

More John Lee Hooker

xxxxx

  • KILLER sound throughout for this ABC Bluesway pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades 
  • Our vintage ABC Bluesway pressing here has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce, so if you want to know what this album from 1969 is REALLY supposed to sound like, we guarantee you cannot do better than this very copy
  • “Overseen by noted jazz producer Bob Thiele, this session had Hooker backed by some of his fullest arrangements to date, with noted session drummer Pretty Purdie and keyboards in addition to supplementary guitar and bass… Another of his many characteristically solid efforts…”

(more…)

John Lee Hooker – Free Beer and Chicken

More John Lee Hooker

xxxxx

  • KILLER sound from start to finish with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it
  • Hooker’s albums are surprisingly good sounding – they have the open, immediate, dynamic qualities of a live-in-the-studio session – my understanding is that most of them are recorded precisely that way
  • These sides are doing it right – they’re big, rich and Tubey Magical, with wonderfully present vocals and huge amounts of energy
  • Free Beer And Chicken is one of the better sounding John Lee Hooker records we’ve ever played lately – an interesting lineup of guests too, including the one and only Mr. Joe Cocker!

(more…)

John Lee Hooker – Endless Boogie

More John Lee Hooker

xxxxx

  • This original ABC pressing has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on ALL FOUR SIDES! 
  • These sides are out of this world — rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with a big punchy bottom end and lots of energy
  • “… the timeliness of Endless Boogie is an unmitigated plus, and producers Bill Szymczyk and Ed Michel get a relaxed groove out of a cast of supporting musicians who can boogie Canned Heat right out of the studio.” – Robert Christgau

(more…)

John Lee Hooker – House of the Blues

xxxxx

  • 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…)

John Lee Hooker – The Healer

  • The outstanding copy of The Healer boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last
  • On the better pressings like this one you get something approaching the warmth and unforced clarity of analog we audiophiles crave
  • With Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Los Lobos, Canned Heat and others
  • Four Stars in Rolling Stone: “Brilliant, 100-proof blues… the spirit that animates this album is the ageless voice of John Lee Hooker and his boogie-man blues. He has conjured up a renewed world blues with the canniness of the hoodoo healers and root doctors who first gave birth to the Delta blues.”

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. (more…)