Sunday, November 9, 2008

17 Recent Audiophile Vinyl Releases

Mostly jazz reissues - from Pure Pleasure, Mobile Fidelity, and Concord Records

17 Recent Audiophile Vinyl Releases-reprinted with permission from AUDIOPHILE AUDITION

Irene Kral - Where is Love? – Choice Records/ Pure Pleasure Records CRS 1012 – (180 gram vinyl Limited Edition) 1975 *****:(Irene Kral, vocals; Alan Broadbent, piano)

Many Irene Kral connoisseurs feel that her greatest release was 1975's Where is Love? This is because it featured Irene with one of the greatest accompanists on the planet, Alan Broadbent. Broadbent has the uncanny ability to understand a singer’s inimitable feel for the lyric. His piano playing has a conversational quality that meets the lyrics and does not detract from the emotions the composer brings to the table. Irene Kral, like Shirley Horn, had the unique talent to massage the melody and bring out a feeling of total simpatico with a listener. This LP, as Kral points out in the liner notes, is meant to be heard in a relaxed setting, where you can kick back, close your eyes and enter Kral’s world. An added bonus is the soundstage provided by the audiophile remastering of Pure Pleasure, an apropos title for this re-issue label as it IS pure pleasure to experience the vinyl warmness, the “in the room” sonics this LP provides.

This session has been issued on CD a few times over the years. The way to truly experience its pleasures is on audiophile 180-gram vinyl! Song selection is old school - Johnny Mandel, Leonard Bernstein, and Leslie Bricusse mixed with jazz vocalists’ self-penned tunes by Blossom Dearie and Bob Dorough. For those jazz vocal fans with turntables, toss your CD issue of Where is Love, and contact Pure Pleasure at to get your definitive version of this 1975 session. No surprise that it was recorded at the famous Wally Heider Studios.

TrackList: (Side 1) I Like You, You’re Nice, When I Look in Your Eyes, A Time
for Love/Small world, Love Came on Stealthy Fingers, Never Let Me Go
(Side 2): Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most, Lucky to be Me/Some
Other Time, Where is Love?, Don’t Look Back

- Jeff Krow


How Hi The Fi - A Buck Clayton Jam Session – Columbia Records/ Pure Pleasure Records PPAN CL 567- 2 mono LPs – 180 gram audiophile remastered sound *****:(Buck Clayton, Joe Thomas, Joe Newman, trumpets; Urbie Green, Trummy Young, and Benny Powell, trombones; Woody Herman, clarinet; Lem Davis, alto saxophone; Julian Dash and Al Cohn, tenor sax; Charlie Fowlkes, baritone sax; Steve Jordan and Freddie Green, guitars; Jimmy Jones and Sir Charles Thompson, piano; Walter Page, bass; Jo Jones, drums)

There are jam sessions and then there are Buck Clayton jam sessions. The former can be loose, professional, and swinging. However, the Buck Clayton jam sessions recorded for Columbia during the 1950s ALWAYS met these criteria! To have the late 1953 and March 1954 Clayton jam sessions in pristine audiophile sound is manna from heaven. Formerly available only in comparable sound on the long sold out Buck Clayton Mosaic box set, Pure Pleasure Records has provided a unique opportunity for jazz audiophile fans to experience the bliss that Clayton brought to the classic jam session. Recorded here on two 180 gram vinyl LPs, these sessions featured just four extended tracks (one to a side) - How Hi the Fi, Blue Moon, Sentimental Journey, and Moten Swing. Recorded at Columbia’s famed 30th Street Studios and produced by the legendary George Avakian with John Hammond, each session is a masterpiece in relaxed swing. Many jam sessions are just a “mail it in” exercise with little effort by jazz pros who can do these recordings seemingly in their sleep. However, a Buck Clayton-led jam session with sidemen largely from the 1950s Basie bands is another story. Though they seem relaxed as well, these sessions were arranged by Clayton to be both tight and also allow room for spontaneity. Having Count’s men providing the backbone meant they have no weaknesses in personnel. With special guests, Woody Herman, Trummy Young and Al Cohn along for a special treat is icing on the cake. Herman seldom had the opportunity to be a sideman, and he clearly enjoys the opportunity to jam with the Clayton gang.

These LPs were remastered from the original analogue mono tapes and pressed on 180-gram vinyl by the kind folks at England’s Pure Pleasure Records. Through the ease of a few computer clicks, you can have your copy by contacting the label at: This double LP gatefold edition won’t come cheap, but perfection never is an inexpensive commodity. This vinyl addition belongs in every jazz audiophile fan’s collection. ‘Nuff said….

TrackList: Side 1: How Hi the Fi; Side 2: Blue Moon; Side 3: SentimentalJourney;
Side 4: Moten Swing

-Jeff Krow


Coleman Hawkins - The Hawk Flies High - Riverside/Mobile Fidelity 180 gram audiophile mono vinyl pressing MFSL 1-290, 39:12 *****:(Coleman Hawkins, tenor sax; Idrees Sulieman, trumpet; J.J. Johnson, trombone; Hank Jones, piano; Barry Galbraith, guitar; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Jo Jones, drums)

The original Riverside LP of this 1957 recording date revitalized the career of Coleman Hawkins, who had been a big star in Fletcher Henderson’s band back in the 1920s. A bunch of top players were assembled for this all-star group - which doesn’t guarantee a success - but in this case everything jelled beautifully and the six tracks have become prime examples of robust modern jazz of the period. Three of the players contributed their own tunes to the date, including Hawkins’ closing Sancticity. It’s nice to have The album has been reissued in several forms over the years. Mo-Fi themselves produced a mono SACD version (UDSACD 2030),and it was just reissued as part of the Keepnews Collection by Concord as a standard CD. While both the new vinyl version and the SACD better the CD in terms of richness, “air,” increased depth and transparency, the differences are not huge and the CD has the edge on price. As with several other such A/B comparisons I have made, the vinyl and the SACD sound close to identical, with perhaps a shade more resolution and clarity from the SACD, at least on my system. Perhaps with one of those special mono-only MC cartridges, the vinyl would pull ahead of the SACD. Surfaces are quite silent on the Mo-Fi LP.

TrackList: Chant, Juicy Fruit, Think Deep, Laura, Blue Lights, Sancticity

- John Henry


Illinois Jacquet – God Bless My Solo - Black and Blue / Pure Pleasure Records PPAN008 – 180 gram audiophile LP (1978) Paris, France ****1/2:(Illinois Jacquet, tenor sax; Hank Jones, piano; George Duvivier, bass; J. C. Heard, drums)

The 1970s were a great time to be a jazz fan in France and throughout Europe. Whereas in the States, jazz had fallen on hard times with big bands disbanding and rock and disco to follow, taking over the airwaves, jazz musicians were welcomed as heroes in Europe. Many of the jazz greats appreciated the adulation and moved to the continent to enjoy work the European scene. The Black and Blue recording label under their series, The Definitive Black and Blue Sessions, has put out an extensive series of recordings remastered for CD, featuring American jazz greats either playing together or with French sidemen. Remastered quality has been consistently high,and jazz collectors are always on the lookout for these CDs. To sweeten the pot considerably, Pure Pleasure Records out of Britain has reissued some of these sessions in glorious 180 gram vinyl. They lack the extra tracks that the Black and Blue CDs feature, but the sound is so warm and in-the-room soundwise, that it is worth the $25-30 premium price. Such is the case with Illinois Jacquet’s God Bless My Solo, from a Barclay studio March, 1978 issue. We’ve got the best accompanist in the business in Hank Jones, who never hit a wrong note and swings more with fewer notes than most any other pianist. In Duvivier and Heard, the ideal rhythm section is found for Jacquet’s bluesy solos. As did Buck Clayton on trumpet, Illinois Jacquet drips soul and swing feeling. We get the pure pleasure of Illinois reprising his famous solo style of Hampton’s Flying Home on the title track, God Bless My Solo. On Ellington’s Things Ain’t What They Used to Be, Jacquet matches Hodges for honors with his tenor version approaching Johnny’s definitive version. Not to be outdone in bringing other sax icons to mind, Illinois throws us a little Pres on
Jean-Marie’s Den.

With so much mediocrity on sale at $15-18 a shot at your local CD emporium, spend the extra few bucks to get pristine sound quality and jazz masters showing their genius on Pure Pleasure Records audiophile vinyl LPs. A few less lattes and it's all yours in collectible fashion.

TrackList: Jean-Marie’s Den, You Left Me All Alone, Lean Baby, God Bless My Solo, Things Ain’t What They Used to Be, From Broussard.

- Jeff Krow


Bill Evans Trio with Scott LaFaro & Paul Motian - Riverside Records 1961/Concord Records Vinyl stereo OJC-210 *****:

This was the fourth album released by the Bill Evans Trio, and the final one featuring the fantastic bassist Scott LaFaro, who died shortly afterwards. It is generally felt to be superior to any of the trios’ other albums of the time. This LP is the most representative of the overall repertory of the trio than preceding ones. Two of the tracks - Waltz for Debby, and My Romance - had been recorded in 1956 in Evan’s first LP as short unaccompanied piano sketches. They were eventually developed into these full-blown trio versions.

It’s so nice to have the original notes on the back of the LP reproduced in the same size as the original release so you can actually read them. Although the notes on the back say “High Fidelity,” (which used to indicate it was mono) it really is a stereo LP. La Faro was one of the supreme jazz bassists of the time, and makes this trio a contast with most jazz piano trios in each of the members contributing equally to the final product rather than just accompanying the pianist. His bowing technique was phenomenal. The six tracks are all quite long, allowing plenty of time for stretching out. This is an Evans album that should be in every jazz fans library.

I found a very close similarity between the Fantasy stereo SACD release of this album and the vinyl. I could barely discern a very slight increase in “air” via the vinyl, and all three instruments sounding just a bit more lifelike. Of course the enhancement would depend on how lavish an analog front end you are listening thru. Mine has a very long cable running to my preamp and a patch bay in between which probably degrades the result somewhat.

TrackList: My Foolish Heart, Waltz for Debby, Detour Ahead, My Romance, Some Other Time, Milestones.

- John Henry


John Coltrane - Soultrane - Prestige 7142/Concord Records Vinyl mono OJC-021 *****:
(John Coltrane, tenor sax; Red Garland, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Arthur Taylor, drums)

This 1958 mono session (Prestige was one of the last to start recording in stereo after the 1958 launch of the new format) has all four quartet members playing as strong as they every did. This was one of the early sessions that established Coltrane’s reputation as an important new light in modern jazz and led the way to his later masterpieces. His avant tendencies are more controlled here and the album has therefore wider appeal. Red Garland is his usual strongly swinging self, and his solo on Good Bait may remind one of the best of Bud Powell. Billy Eckstine’s I Want to Talk About You continued to show up on Coltrane albums thru A Love Supreme, but wasn’t being done by anyone else at this juncture.

Parts of Irving Berlin’s Russian Lullaby demonstrate Coltrane’s patented “sheets of sound,” The Rudy Van Gelder recording gives a warm and realistic timbre to Coltrane’s tenor sax, courtesy of the all-tube processing and vinyl format. The doublebass sounds somewhat more real and less electronic than on the Fantasy stereo SACD reissue, but Garland’s piano actually sounds more distant and dulled than it does on the SACD.

TrackList: Good Bait, I Want to Talk About You, You Say You Care, Theme for Ernie, Russian Lullaby.

- John Henry


Booker Ervin – That’s It! – Candid JCS 9014/Pure Pleasure Records Limited 180-gram vinyl reissue, 43 minutes ****:(George Tucker,bass; Horace Parlan, piano; Al Harewood, drums; Booker Ervin, tenor saxophone)

Booker’s sound is hard, fast, and energetic. Still, he manages to play melodically and come off as soft and sweet at times. Originally Ervin was a trombonist, but while in the Air Force in the early 50s he learned sax. He played with Ernie Fields and later played with Mingus along side Eric Dolphy and went on to record several Charles Mingus records and sadly, died young from kidney disease. Four of the tunes on the LP are originals and though some are better than others, the whole album is solid. The first cuts of each side stand out and “Booker’s Blues” is excellent example of almost 11 minutes of talent at its best. Ervin’s ability to be a leader is clear and the horn sound is up, down, and all around!

The back album cover has a biography written by Nat Hentoff and summaries of the all the tunes. Like the other discs from Pure Pleasure, this disc is extremely quiet and sound is excellent (although it does not have the “warmth” that some people attribute to LP). Remastering was performed by Graeme Durham.

TrackList: Side 1: Mojo; Uranus; Poinciana. Side 2: Speak Low; Booker’s Blues; Boo.

- Brian Bloom


Booker Little - Out Front - Candid/Pure Pleasure Records LP #8027 (1961) ****:(Booker Little, trumpet; Eric Dolphy, alto, bass clarinet, flute; Julian Priester, Trombone; Art Davis, Ron Carter, bass; Don Friedman, piano; Max Roach, drums)

Booker Little was heralded to be the next trumpet great after the death of the incomparable Clifford Brown. But it was not to be. Like Clifford, Booker Little did not make it to his 30th birthday. He died at age 23 of uremia, another tragic death to the jazz community. Booker had only five recordings as a leader, and pure pleasure records has chosen to re-release his Spring, 1961 session recorded for Candid Records in a pristine 180 gram audiophile quality pressing. The British audiophile company claims that their European pressing plant is the best in Europe. I do not know if that claim is true but surely this pressing is audiophile quality. Little’s trumpet is clear, bright and luminous.

Booker wrote all seven compositions and they eclipse the bebop and hard bop of the early 60s in challenging the listener. Much of the searching quality that Little brings to this recording is the result of multi-instrumentalist, Eric Dolphy, another genius who left us much too soon. Drummer Max Roach, whose tutelage brought us both Clifford and Booker, drives the band with his percussive drumming. Don Friedman, an unappreciated pianist, who has had a long career, is featured on piano. Present Seattle resident, Julian Priester, a Roach band member of this period, rounds out the front line. Bass duties are shared by both Ron Carter and Art Davis, who both still are major forces on the bass.

Highlights of Out Front include Strength and Sanity, the free form Moods in Free Time, a precursor to both avant and modal genres that became more prevalent later in the 60s, and A New Day, in which the trombone and flute play in counterpoint to Little’s trumpet, and in which Roach has a magnificent percussion chorus. Out Front fits the bill for audiophile LP fans as it chronicles the genius of Booker Little and Eric Dolphy in pristine sound. It is well worth the $25-30 price tag. [If you have a turntable system of sufficient quality to best the CD competition...Ed.]

TrackList: We Speak, Strength and Sanity, Quiet Please, Moods in Free Time, Man of Words, Hazy Hues, A New Day.

- Jeff Krow


Budd Johnson - Mr. Bechet- Black & Blue/ Pure Pleasure Records LP - PPAN006 -1974 *****:(Budd Johnson, tenor and soprano sax; Earl Hines, Piano, Jimmy Leary, bass; Panama Francis, drums)

For a legendary tenor saxophonist whose career spanned from the 1920s to the 1980s, Budd Johnson was woefully under-recorded as a session leader. He had approximately ten records under his name. He was influenced by Lester Young and had a long tenure-ten years-with the Earl Hines Orchestra from the early 30s to the 40s.

For this recording Johnson plays both tenor and also soprano sax, in tribute to the all time greatest soprano player, Sidney Bechet. Starting off with a soulful soprano solo on Blues for Sale, Johnson adds his vocal to the Hines composition and Earl himself has a stride blues chorus. Jimmy Leary gets a great bowed bass solo and Johnson switches to tenor to wring out more emotion in this classic blues composition. Gone with The Wind is pure swing driven by both Johnson’s rich tenor and the driven drums of the great Panama Francis, who has never got his due for his swing and rhythm and blues stick work.

The sound quality on this 180 gram pressing is superb and its warmth and presence is certainly high resolution. Many American expatriate jazz musicians recorded in France in the 1970s and Black and Blue, a French label was there to record their sessions. This certainly is the best-sounding Black and Blue issued session I have ever heard as my collection of this series has been limited to Red Book CD issues. Pure Pleasure Records, an audiophile label out of Great Britain, should be lauded for re-issuing this date in audiophile-quality sound.

Other winning tracks include Hines and Johnson’s working of the ballad, If You Were Mine, the gutbucket Johnson composition, The Dirty Old Man, where Johnson pulls out all stops; and the title track, where Johnson’s super sensuous soprano just drips with emotion.

I enjoyed the Booker Little ‘Out Front” LP reissue from Pure Pleasure, but adored this label’s reissue of two masters, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Hines having a ball. Mr. Bechet is truly Pure Pleasure!

TrackList: Blues for Sale, Gone with the Wind, If You Were Mine, Am I Waisting My Time, The Dirty Old Man, Linger Awhile Mr. Bechet

- Jeff Krow


Sarah Vaughan in Hi-Fi – Columbia CL 745/Pure Pleasure Records Limited) 180-gram vinyl reissue, 64 minutes *****:

Sarah got her start like Ella Fitzgerald—they won an amateur contest at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre. By the time she started with Columbia she was already well-known and working her way towards eventually becoming a jazz legend. This two-disc set contains all the music on the original version of Sarah Vaughan in Hi-Fi as well as an entire disc of alternate takes and the unreleased “It’s All In The Mind.” Accompanying musicians are of the highest caliber, and include artists like Miles Davis, Tony Scott, Benny Green, and Jimmy Jones—to name but a few.

The bulk of the material is from late 1949 to mid 1950 with the exception of
the previously mentioned unreleased track from 1952. This track sounds markedly different in recording quality. This release is superbly quiet with NO noise between cuts; however, there is a muffled quality to the voice (and in general) that is common to recordings of this vintage (and later). Also, you can hear remoteness to backing instruments like piano and bass. The listener has to strain to hear these over the singing. I didn’t have a previous version with which to compare to decide how much better this particular release is, although an original is most likely hard to come by or very expensive.

Most of the music is mellow and relaxed yet Vaughan exhibits her typically highly involving vocal talents (try for example Side A, band three). The material is a mix of songs with a large studio orchestra as well as a smaller jazz group. “Come Rain or Come Shine” is definitely a favorite on Side A and “It Might as Well Be Spring” is another standout on Side B. The big reason to get this release is all the extra material. In a lot of cases these versions are more interesting and memorable. This record is absolutely a classic!

Inside the album cover (it folds open) contains some useful history about the
record and Vaughan in particular. This release was mastered from original analog mono tapes by Ray Staff.

TrackList: Side A- East of the Sun; Nice Work If You Can Get it; Pinky; The Nearness of You; Come Rain or Come Shine; Mean to Me. Side B- It Might as Well Be Spring; Can’t Get Out of This Mood; Spring Will Be a Little Late this Year; Ooh, What-cha Doin’ to Me; Goodnight My Love; Ain’t Misbehavin’. Side C- It’s All In The Mind; The Nearness of You (alt. take); Ain’t Misbehavin’ (alt. take); Goodnight My Love (alt. take); Can’t Get Out of This Mood (alt. take). Side D- It Might as Well Be Spring (alt. take); Mean to Me (alt. take); Come Rain or Come Shine (alt. take); East of the Sun (alt. take).

- Brian Bloom


Peggy Lee – Is That All There Is? – Capitol PPAN ST386/Pure Pleasure Records Limited - 180-gram vinyl reissue, 32 minutes ***1/2:

All but one of these tracks was recorded in 1969 and Lee is joined by a wide variety of arrangers and conductors from Randy Newman to Benny Carter. The material covers some jazz as well as more popular rock music of the time from Neil Diamond and The Beatles. The title track (a No. 1 hit on the Easy Listening charts) is the big seller on this disc and this record was one of the best-selling albums of Lee’s career. The track is part sung, part narrative, and is reminiscent of an experimental lounge act that seductively pulls the listener in with its less than optimistic message. Some of the material is questionable/less successful and I’m of the mindset that there are certain tunes that should not be re-interpreted. However, there are quite of few favorable quotes on the back of the record sleeve even from erstwhile audio rags like Stereo Review and High Fidelity!

The disc is mastered from the original tapes by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray and is extremely quiet. The disc has a big, full sound that warms up the presentation. For those looking to build up their collection with an older title, this release is one to check out.

TrackList: Side 1: Is That All There Is?; Love Story; Me and My Shadow; My Old Flame; I’m A Woman. Side 2: Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show; Something; Whistle for Happiness; Johnny (Linda); Don’t Smoke in Bed.

- Brian Bloom


Louis Prima – The WILDEST! – Capitol/Pure Pleasure Records PPAN T755 180 gram vinyl reissue LP, mono, 32:30 ****:

Prima began a career in jazz in the early 1930s in New York. In order to forward his career financially he starting up a big band and had hits like “Please No Squeeza Da Banana,” “Felicia,” and “Angelina.” As interest in big bands waned, he reformed a small jazz combo. But his final home came by way of the Sahara in Las Vegas—a place where the performer could really show his comic side. With Keely Smith, his wife, sidekick, and singer his nitch was solidified. This record captures the live sound of the band and Prima’s distinctive style mixing song with vocal patter and comic asides mixed in with a little scat for good measure.

Smith is a strong artist herself and when she plays with Louis it’s like adding syrup to pancakes—it just makes the package even sweeter. She’s got a strong voice but can deliver it with passion and sex appeal and never sounds raunchy. “Body and Soul,” a familiar tune to jazz enthusiasts is yet another example of Prima’s style—rollercoaster and all. This is an exceptional record and though it isn’t a long album, the quality of the music most assuredly makes up for it. Recording varies between A and A- while the the music gets a solid “A.”

TrackList: Just A Gigolo; I Ain’t got Nobody; Nothing’s Too Good for my Baby; The Lip; Body and Soul; Oh Marie; Basin Street Blues; When It’s Sleepy Time Down South; Jump, Jive, an’ Wail; Buona Sera; Night Train; You Rascal You.

-Brian Bloom


Betty Carter – Now it’s My Turn – Pure Pleasure Records Ltd. PPAN SR-5005 180 gram vinyl reissue LP, 44:30 ****:

This recording is from 1976 and personnel are Walter Booker (bass), John Hicks (piano). Carter has a deep voice like Sarah Vaughan, but can hit the high notes too. She’s a vocal powerhouse and bellows out the words with authority and control. Like many of the jazz records I’ve heard from the 70s, this disc is warm, but suffers from some congestion/muffling (or nasality?) especially on the voice.

Track two is a swinging jazz number that lends itself to a live performance feel even though this is a studio record. It would have been truly amazing to hear these sessions in person. Breathy vocal parts are reminiscent of Shirley Horn and hang in the air with every cymbal hit. It is a completely different vibe in comparison to the first record, but compelling nonetheless. The energy in this performance between band and singer is unmistakable.

Aside from some small issues with the quality of sound I’d still give the recording and A-/B+. The record is a fantastic vocal listen for the casual or critical listener alike—a real special disc and rates a solid “A” for performance.

TrackList: Music Maestro, Please/Swing Brother Swing; I Was Telling Him about You; Wagon Wheels; New Blues (You Purr); Most Gentlemen Don’t Like Love; Making Dreams come True; Open The Door; Just Friends/Star Eyes (Medley); No More Words.

-Brian Bloom


Nancy Harrow – Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues – Pure Pleasure Records CJS 9008 180 gram vinyl reissue LP, 41 minutes ****:

This is Harrow’s 1960 debut record and she is joined by Buck Clayton (leader, trumpet, arranger), Buddy Tate (tenor saxophone), Dickie Wells (trombone), Tom Gwaltney (clarinet, alto saxophone), Danny Bank (baritone saxophone), Dick Wellstood (piano), Milt Hinton (bass), Oliver Jackson (drums), and Kenny Burrell (guitar).

My first impression of this record had me saying “swingin’ baby” out loud! The instruments are hard panned to the left and right channels. You might want to engage your mono switch (if you have one) if it annoys. It was a bit strange to hear the cymbals and voice coming right from the same place.

There’s no doubt that Harrow can sing and she reminded me of Doris Day with a harder edge and more range. With the second track the voice was better focused. It’s all about the bluesy jazz on this one and with such great vocal records I’ve been listening to lately I might just become a bigger fan, because this disc is superb. Harrow has the ability to let her voice become dainty and delicate and throw it around like a whip—so watch out!

The first track on the second side really showcases her chops and stands out on this disc, although much of the music is quite good. For whatever reason, this disc seemed to have more surface noise than the other Pure Pleasure Record. Also, the disc was slightly warped, but not enough to make me want to request another. Recording quality is A- and music is A/B depending on the track--I have to nitpick with some of the song selections.

TrackList: Take Me Back Baby; All Too Soon; Can’t We Be Friends; On The sunny Side of the Street; Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues; I’ve Got The World On A String; I Don’t Know What Kind Of Blues I’ve Got; Blues For Yesterday.

-Brian Bloom


Keb’ Mo’ – (self-titled) – Epic/Pure Pleasure Records Ltd. PPAN 57863 180 gram vinyl reissue LP, 44 minutes *****:

This was originally issued in summer of 1994 by Epic records and now has been reissued with audiophile treatment. I never heard the original record, although it would be hard to believe that it sounded bad given how amazing this record sounds. The disc is super quiet and instruments just pop up from the blackness. As a debut record, this disc is excellent. Keb’s voice is rich and melodic and just adds to the overall performance which is a perfect example of acoustic blues. The band includes Keb’ Mo’ (vocals, guitars, harmonica, banjo), Tommy Eyre (keyboards), James “Hutch” Hutchinson (bass), and Laval Belle (drums).

It’s easy to hear why this record is an audiophile favorite (excellent focus,
soundstaging, imaging, great transient response and dynamics, etc), but it shouldn’t be just for audiophiles as the music is first-rate. Songs are about love, desire, love lost and of course, women.

As the record progresses the music has more appeal than just for blues listeners and could easily fall into the category of “Adult Contemporary.” If you combine 50% Seal, 50% Bob Seger and 10% Jackson Browne you get 110% Keb’ Mo’ and what a powerhouse voice he has. Not only is his voice solid, but it is neutral enough to cross over into other genres like folk, soft rock or even pop.

Almost all the tunes are written/co-written by the artist with the exception of a few tunes that are penned by blues legend Robert Johnson. Recording is an “A” and music gets an “A” as well. Blues lovers should pick this one up immediately (especially if they’ve worn out their original copy).

TrackList: Every Morning; Tell Everybody I Know; Love Blues; Victims of Comfort; Angelina; Anybody See My Girl; She Just Wants to Dance; Am I Wrong; Come On In My Kitchen; Dirty Low Down and Bad; Don’t Try to Explain; Kindhearted Woman Blues; City Boy.

-Brian Bloom


Stand Back! – Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band – Pure Pleasure Records VSD-79232 180 gram vinyl reissue LP, 46 minutes ****:

This recording from 1967 is gritty and tough like older blues bands with a slightly remote guitar sound, but lively drums. Vocals are rough (but in an appropriate way). There is nothing offensive in the sound of this record it just doesn’t reach the fidelity of some of the other records I’ve heard reissued from Pure Pleasure. The recording is low in noise and the feeling is that the sound has been cleaned up as best as possible without losing the vibe of the music. It’s not unlike an older Yardbirds record but more authentic. Like a lot of early stereo records, instruments are shoved into the left and right channels.

This album is the debut for Charley as leader and an impressive one at that. “Help Me” is reminiscent of a Booker T. & the MGs minus the hard, biting vocals that set Musselwhite apart. Aside from Musselwhite (harmonica, vocals) there are: Harvey Mandel (guitar), Barry Goldberg (piano and organ), Bob Anderson (bass) and Fred Below, Jr. (drums). Charley may have only been 22 at the time of this recording, but it is clear he is a mature artist (owing to the fact that he had played with Little Walter Jacobs, Big Walter Horton, and Junior Wells). He wasn’t afraid to go deep into the ghettos of Chicago and play in bars and lounges to get experience.

This record is the real deal and not just some “white” man trying to play the lues. Recording quality is B/B- while the music is a solid “A.”

TrackList: Baby Will You Please Help Me; No More Lonely Nights; Cha Cha The Blues; Christo Redemptor; Help Me; Chicken Shack; Strange Land; 39th and Indiana; My Baby; Early in the Morning; 4 P.M.; Sad Day.

-Brian Bloom


Joan Baez - Joan Baez - Pure Pleasure Records (Vanguard VSD2077) ****:

Her famously recognizable voice stands out in a crowd like water on Mars. Joan Baez’s debut album, originally recorded in 1960, Joan Baez is one of the best folk albums of all time! Joan plays guitar and sings and is accompanied by the Weaver’s Fred Hellerman on guitar. The subtleness of the music behind the lyrics is loaded yet tranquil. Covering The House of the Rising Sun, made famous by Bob Dylan and later by The Animals, is often considered the first folk song that was an international hit.

Folk music’s revival in the late 1950s to early 1960s can be attributed to many a star; Bob Dylan, The Weavers, Pete Seegar, the list goes on and on. But there weren’t many female artists taking it on like Joan did. She was and still is an inspiration to female singers world wide. At just 19 years old Joan helped carry a movement, a cause, a foundation for protest and the vision of freedom. Bob Dylan said in Chronicles, “Joan was born the same year as me and our futures would be linked, but at this time to even think about it would be preposterous. She had one record out on the Vanguard label called JOAN BAEZ and I'd seen her on TV. ... She
was wicked looking -- shiny black hair that hung down over the curve of slender hips, drooping lashes, partly raised, no Raggedy Ann doll. The sight of her made me high. All that and then there was her voice. A voice that drove out bad spirits. It was like she'd come down from another planet.”

This Pure Pleasure Records release sounds superior to even the original release that I own. The pressing quality of the 180 gram virgin vinyl is perfect. No pops, hisses, skips, skates or any background noise, this is the best way to listen to vinyl!

TrackList: Side 1: Silver Dagger, East Virginia, Fare Thee Well, House of the Rising Sun, All of my Trails, Wildwood Flower and Donna Donna. Side 2: John Riley, Rake and Rambling Boy, Little Moses, Mary Hamilton, Henry Martin, El Preso Numero Nueve.

-- Paul A. Pelon IV

reprinted with permission from AUDIOPHILE AUDITION

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Vinyl’s Revival

Another great article by Alan Bayer at

Ever since I first took the time to listen carefully to a record, I noticed that the sound quality was better than anything CDs, cassettes, and of course, MP3s had to offer. Being a music lover, I wanted to share with the world, and especially younger kids like myself (I'm only 28) the virtues of the vinyl record. I had been thinking about it for at least a few years, but really couldn't gather the motivation to approach such a massive project.

Then, at the end of 2007, I read an article in Time Magazine about how Gen-Y and "Millenials" are embracing the vinyl record. This was the catalyst that got my site off the ground. I saw some great potential in this topic, with major journalists getting behind this theme. In January (2008), the original Vinyl Revinyl was launched, and a complete re-do was launched in July (2008).

So, what caused this resurgence in interest in vinyl records?

Well, the kids these days have been going through their parents' music. They're finding all sorts of albums that have a retro appeal. Classic rock, 80's music, and old-school R&B. They're like "Alright, it's Led Zeppelin I! Let's listen to it!" or "Dude! It's Marvin Gaye, let's get it on!" Instead of going out and buying the music on CD, many of the kids just take their parents' turntables and albums (Since the parents are all becoming hip with iPods and downloading music online), and listen the old-fashioned way.

Then, the kids venture down to their local record store (since many of the chain stores are dying off--Tower Records, Sam Goody), where vinyl records are often on prominent display. Since the kids have been flipping through their parent's LPs, they're also flipping through the stores' LPs. Then, they notice that many of these LPs are used, hardly played, and cheap--Often as low as $.50 or $1. So, instead of spending $10 on a CD, they opt for 4-5 records for the same price.

Then the kids head home with their new records, and put them on the turntable. Since playing a record requires a bit more attention, the kids are taking the time to listen to albums more closely. They're noticing stuff. They say "Oh wait, the bass doesn't sound like that when I listen to this album on CD". They begin to listen even more closely, and begin to notice that the sound is all-around better, warmer, cleaner, you name it.

Then, the kids tell their friends about it. They say "Dude, you gotta come over to my house and hear this ________ album I got on vinyl. It sounds sweeeeet!" Then the friends come over. They all gather together in a room, and pop it on. They get social. They talk about the music, and more music. They notice the superior sound quality. All of a sudden, you have a group of kids who are more engaged with the music, and have a yearning to listen to their favorites in analog.

They tell their friends, they go out and buy more, they spread the word. Ands so on and so on.

Of course, it's not just about the kids. The people who were raised on vinyl are re-discovering it. They are recalling those days when they would hang out with their friends and listen to music together. They remember the sound. They have a yearning to experience the old days, to take a trip down memory lane, to use a terrible cliche.

The record companies are starting to take notice, too. They are beginning to increase production. They are releasing audiophile grade 180 and 200g albums, pressed on virgin (impurity free) vinyl. According to an August 2008 NY Times article, shipments are up, and sales are up. Artists are re-releasing their stuff on vinyl, such as Queen's recent highly publicized announcement that they would be re-releasing their albums on vinyl. New LPs are coming out too, such as Vampire Weekend's debut, and Metallica's recent "Death Magnetic" album.

It looks to me like vinyl is about to hit critical mass, and hey, I'm more than happy to help get that word out! Once you listen to an album on vinyl, you will be a convert too. Go wild, go through your parents' and friends record collections. Throw some albums on, give them a listen. Hearing truly is believing when it comes to vinyl.

Author Alan E Bayer is a jazz lover and vinyl record enthusiast who operates, a site where one can find collectible vinyl records, turntables and vinyl accessories. Enjoy the site, and enjoy the sound of music on vinyl.

Album Cover Art

Let's continue of look at the top 50 dirtiest and sexiest album covers:

44. The Cars: ‘Candy-O’ – Cars drummer David Robinson brought the quintessential pinup artist, Alberto Vargas, out of semi-retirement for the cover of the Cars' second album, Candy-O. To produce a photo that Vargas could use as a guide, Robinson set up a shoot at a Ferrari dealership in Beverly Hills and asked the Elektra art department to hire a blonde with "a nice figure." The model's name is Candy Moore (purely a coincidence, says Robinson). She and Robinson struck up a brief romance; they've now been out of touch for years. "I wouldn't mind hearing from her," says Robinson. "Maybe I will now."

Vargas's buxom babe helped Candy-O go platinum in eight weeks, despite accusations that the cover is sexist. "Maybe it is," says Robinson with a laugh. "I don't know."

Vargas, then eighty years old, came to see a Cars concert in L.A. "He just said it wasn't his kind of music," says Robinson, "but he was impressed because he could see that we worked really hard. And he said there were beautiful girls all over the place. He liked that very much." (from

This Date In Music History-November 9


Blues guitarist Susan Tedeschi was born in 1970.

Born on this day in 1948, Joe Bouchard of Blue Oyster Cult.

Birthday wishes to Lee Graziano of American Breed.

Happy birthday to Sisqu, (a.k.a. Mark Andrews).


In 1993, the Dave Matthews Band released their first album, ‘Remember Two Things’ on the Bama Rags label.

The internal revenue seized all of US country singer Willie Nelson's bank accounts and real estate holdings in 1990 in connection with a $16 million tax debt. Probably could write a great country song about it.

Elvis Presley's 'Hound Dog', exceeded three million copies sold in the USA in 1958, becoming only the third single to do so. Bing Crosby's 'White Christmas' & 'Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer' by Gene Autry being the other two.

Bachman Turner Overdrive went to No.1 on the US singles chart in 1974 with 'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet', the group's only No.1 hit.

Welsh poet and boozehound Dylan Thomas died in New York in 1953. His name was purportedly taken up by young Minnesota musician Robert Zimmerman, who called himself Bob Dylan.

In 1973, Billy Joel released his album Piano Man. Rolling Stone notes of Joel, "Recent gigs at a piano bar on the seamy side of L.A. have given him a new perspective and his Piano Man reflects a new seriousness and musical flexibility."

In 1961, Brian Epstein saw the Beatles perform for the first time, at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Epstein became the Beatles' manager in January 1962.

The first issue of Rolling Stone magazine, with John Lennon gracing the front page, was published in 1967. It came with a free roach clip to hold a marijuana joint.

David Crosby left the Byrds in 1967 and the next year Crosby, Stills, and Nash was formed.

In 1957, "Jailhouse Rock" and "Wake Up Little Susie" are the #1 and #2 songs on Billboard's pop, country and rhythm-and-blues charts simultaneously.

Motown releases the Miracles' "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," in 1962. It was the first single produced by Smokey Robinson. The classic tune goes to No. 8 on the pop chart.

In 1963 the Kingsmen released their single "Louie Louie," whose inaudible lyrics end up causing a national scandal.

In 1966, John Lennon attended a private viewing of an exhibition by Yoko Ono at London's Indica Gallery and met the New York artist for the first time. She professes to have never heard of him.

In an eerie coincidence - Today in 1966 is the date many conspiracy buffs believe that Paul McCartney was killed in a car crash. Meanwhile, Beatles manager Brian Epstein informs British promoter Arthur Howes that the band will no longer perform live.

In 1996, Bob Dylan allowed his song "The Times They Are A-Changin'" to be used in an advertisement for the Bank of Montreal. Sell out.

In 1999, The Recording Industry Association of America declared the Eagles' Greatest Hits 1971-1975 the best-selling album of the century. The 20th century's biggest single is Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997."

The Top Ten Best Selling Albums of All Times (according to the RIAA)

29 Million The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 – Elektra
27 Million Michael Jackson: Thriller – Epic
23 Million Led Zeppelin: Untitled (lV) Atlantic
23 Million Pink Floyd: The Wall – Columbia
22 Million AC/DC: Back in Black - Atlantic
21 Million Garth Brooks: Double Live – Capital Nashville
21 Million Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Vol l & ll – Columbia
20 Million Shania Twain: Come on Over – Mercury Nashville
19 Million The Beatles: The Beatles (White Album) Apple
19 Million Fleetwood Mac: Rumours – Reprise