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

Stevie Wonder – Innervisions

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Hot Stamper Pressings of Innervisions Available Now

  • With two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, this is an all around killer pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • One of the funkiest audiophile-quality discs money can buy, but you need a copy that sounds as good as this one to make that case
  • The key qualities are richness, warmth, Tubey Magic, and clarity, and here you will find a healthy dose of all four
  • “Stevie Wonder applied his tremendous songwriting talents to the unsettled social morass that was the early ’70s and produced one of his greatest, most important works, a rich panoply of songs addressing drugs, spirituality, political ethics, and what looked to be the failure of the ’60s dream — all set within a collection of charts as funky and catchy as any he’d written before.”

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Stevie Wonder singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that. (more…)

Michael Jackson / Thriller – A Top 100 Title

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Reviews and Commentaries for Thriller

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades throughout, this pressing of Michael Jackson’s Masterpiece of Funky Rock Pop will be very hard to beat – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is huge – big, wide, deep, and open, with a punchy bottom end and rhythmic energy to spare, as well as cleaner, smoother, sweeter upper mids and a more extended top
  • Billie Jean and Beat It sound out of this world, but that’s not fair, since every track does
  • A Top 100 and 5 Stars on AMG: “This was a record that had something for everybody, building on the basic blueprint of Off the Wall by adding harder funk, hard rock, softer ballads, and smoother soul — expanding the approach to have something for every audience.”

This is some of the best High-Production-Value rock music of the ’80s. The amount of effort that went into the recording of Thriller is comparable to that expended by the engineers and producers of bands like Supertramp, The Who, Jethro Tull, Ambrosia, Pink Floyd and far too many of our favorites to list. It seems that no effort or cost was spared in making the home listening experience as compelling as the recording technology of the day permitted.

Sound that came Jumping-out-of-the-speakers coupled with driving rhythmic energy were the hallmarks of the best copies. These qualities really brought this complex music to life, gave it room to breathe, and made it possible for us to enjoy the hell out of it. This is yet another definition of a Hot Stamper — it’s the copy that lets the music work as music. (more…)

Albert King – Born Under a Bad Sign – Where Are All the Clean Copies?

A Record We May Never Shootout Again

Some records were just too much work to find, too expensive to buy.

This is one such album. Our last shootout was in 2007!

The link above will take you to many more.

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This original Stax LP has AMAZING sound. You could not make this record sound any better. We really liked the Sundazed copy of this record until we heard this bad boy. It MURDERS the Sundazed! It has more life, energy and natural presence.

We always suspected that a good original pressing would be better than the Sundazed but we had no way of knowing since all the copies we ever saw were beat to death. This is the first clean copy of this record I’ve seen in 20 years.

The sound is RICH and FULL with lots of texture to the guitars. It’s very natural sounding and full-bodied.

Like many of these old Stax pressings this record would benefit from a bit more extension on the top end. If you can add a a click of treble the sound will be even more out of this world.

One of the all time great electric blues albums — a Must Own for fans of the genre (more…)

Son Seals – The Son Seals Blues Band

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  • An excellent Electric Blues record with exceptionally big, clear, lively sound that earned Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • This copy will shame most Blues albums for sound and music – it’s quite a bit better than any other Son Seals album we have played as well
  • 4 stars: “The Chicago mainstay’s debut album was a rough, gruff, no-nonsense affair typified by the decidedly unsentimental track ‘Your Love Is like a Cancer.’ Seals wasn’t all that far removed from his southern roots at this point, and his slashing guitar work sports a strikingly raw feel on his originals ‘Look Now, Baby,’ ‘Cotton Picking Blues,’ and ‘Hot Sauce’ (the latter a blistering instrumental that sounds a bit like the theme from Batman played sideways).

Son Seals’ 1973 debut album has the kind of Live-in-the-Studio sound that most Blues albums (and every other kind of album) strive for but rarely if ever achieve. If you turn this one up good and loud, the Son Seals Band will be right there in the room with you. If there’s any overdubbing on this record, you sure can’t hear it.

If you’ve been suffering with one bad sounding Stevie Ray Vaughan album after another, this record should come as a godsend. This album will show you just how dynamic and energetic Electric Blues recordings can be.

You can’t see this guy live anymore, he’s dead, RIP, but you can still hear him perform live in your listening room if you have a killer system and a Hot Stamper copy of this album — and you can hear him as often as you want to, too. Play this one for all your friends who love Stevie Ray. Son Seals has the chops to go head to head with him, with recording quality that’s night and day better than Stevie’s non-posthumous albums in every way. Your friends’ minds will surely be blown (and if they aren’t, turn up the volume a click or two and try again. Live music is loud). (more…)

Janis Joplin – I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!

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More Blues Rock Albums

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  • This outstanding 360 Stereo pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy has the ideal combination of openness and transparency, coupled with the richness and solidity of vintage analog
  • When Janis starts singing, watch out – her voice positively JUMPS out of the speakers, something we didn’t hear her do on many of the other copies in our shootout
  • Features Try, one of Janis’s All Time Classics — and with these grades you can be sure it sounds positively amazing here

This Columbia 360 Stereo pressing is THE CURE for Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues!

Drop the needle on the great song Try and just listen to how crisp, punchy, and BIG the drums sound.

The bottom end has real weight and the top end is silky and extended. The overall sound is rich, full, and smooth.

ENERGY is the key element missing from the average copy, but not on this bad boy (or girl if you prefer). The electric guitars are super Tubey Magical and the bass is solid and punchy.

On many copies — too many copies — the vocals are pinched and edgy. Here they’re breathy and full — a much better way for Janis to sound. There’s a slight amount of grit to the vocals at times and the brass as well, but the life force on these sides is so strong that we much preferred it to the smoother, duller, deader copies we heard that didn’t have that issue.

On copy after copy we heard pinched squawky horns and harsh vocals, not a good sound for this album. Janis’ voice needs lots of space up top to get good and loud, and both of these sides have it in spades.

Few other copies had this combination of openness and transparency on the one hand, and full, rich tonality on the other. (more…)

Willie Dixon – I Am The Blues

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More Soul, Blues and R&B

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  • This early Columbia pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Notably richer and livelier than most, with plenty of Tubey Magic and good weight down low
  • A longtime favorite of ours, with unusually good sound for a blues recording, even one from as late as 1970
  • Features updated versions of many Dixon Classics: Spoonful, Hoochie Coochie Man, I Can’t Quit You Baby and more
  • “The material is superb, consisting of some of Willie Dixon’s best-known songs of the 1960s, and the production is smoothly professional…”

*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 5 light ticks at the end of Track 3, (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man.

The material here is TOP NOTCH — Dixon was one of the blues’ greatest songwriters, responsible for Spoonful, Hoochie Coochie Man, Little Red Rooster, Back Door Man and other songs you’ve probably heard your favorite classic rock band covering. A copy such as this gives you more detail and texture, more extension up top and real weight to the bottom end — absolutely crucial for this music. (more…)

Muddy Waters – The Best of Muddy Waters

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  • This outstanding copy of The Best of Muddy Waters boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from top to bottom
  • Huge, Tubey Magical and lively, with solid weight down low and lots of space around all the instruments
  • Comprised of twelve killer tracks, all originally released as singles, including Rollin’ Stone, Long Distance Call, Hoochie Coochie, and many more
  • 5 Stars: “The material this artist cut for Chess during this period is nothing short of a blues revelation. There has never been anything quite like it, before or after, and when one has heard Muddy Waters from this period, one has simply heard the best blues has to offer.”

Don’t be put off by the Best Of designation in the title. ALL these songs were recorded as individual tracks to be released on individual discs. Muddy Waters would go into the studio and cut a few “sides,” the best of which would be approved for distribution. There was no concept in those days of an “album.” Albums were basically just collections of songs, and that means lots of filler. What’s great about this pressing is that it gives you all the classics with none of the filler. (more…)

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band – East-West

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  • 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.”

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Harry Belafonte – Sings The Blues – Superb Living Stereo Sound from 1958

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

If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you.

Naturally the vocals have to be the main focus on a Harry Belafonte record. He should sound rich and tubey, yet clear, breathy and transparent. To qualify as a Hot Stamper the pressings we offer must be highly resolving, not crude and ambience-challenged the way so many modern LPs seem to be. You should be able to hear every element of the recording, with the voice and instruments surrounded by the natural space of the studios in which the recording was made.

This Copy

This copy is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.

The Analog sound of this pressing makes a mockery of even the most advanced digital playback systems, including the ones that haven’t been invented yet. I’d love to play this for Neil Young so he can see what he’s up against. Good Luck, Neil, you’re going to need it.

THIS is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There actually IS a CD of this album, and youtube videos of it too, but those of us in possession of a working turntable could care less.

Truly a Spectacular Demo Disc in its own right. (more…)

Stevie Ray Vaughan – The Sky Is Crying – Beyond White Hot Stamper Sound

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and another record that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Little Wing ROCKS AS HARD on this Four Plus pressing as any song we have ever heard, with DEMO DISC SOUND to rival the greatest rock records of all time.

The Guitar Solos on Little Wing are as HUGE and LIVELY as any we have ever heard (assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one). 

If you have BIG DYNAMIC SPEAKERS and the power to drive them to serious listening levels, you will be blown away by the sound found on the best copies of The Sky Is Crying.

This is one of the most blistering recordings of electric blues-rock we’ve ever played. Few other records recorded in the ’80s, or pressed in the ’90s, have this kind of BIG, BOLD SOUND. Maybe none. The sheer impact and wallop of this music is a real treat, but only if you have the right pressing (and the right kind of stereo to play it on, of course).

This link will take you to more titles in the None Rocks Harder series.
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