Special Features

Audiophile Vinyl Reviews

11 Classical, Pop, Rock & Jazz Albums

Published on July 19, 2010

Audiophile Vinyl Reviews

Audiophile Vinyl Reviews July 2010

11 Classical, Pop, Rock & Jazz Albums

We haven’t covered vinyl since February – shame on us! Here’s a portion of the generally terrific hi-res analog audiophile discs that have been piling up here; more to come soon:

 

STRAVINSKY BALLET SET (3 LP box set)
The Firebird – London Symphony Orchestra/Antal Dorati
Petrushka – Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra/Antal Dorati
The Rite of Spring – Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra/Antal Dorati
Mercury Living Presence/Speakers Corner SR90216/SR90226/SR90253 (Detailed program notes on back sleeve of each reproduction of the original LPs, plus 12-p. 12-inch brochure); Recorded May, June & November 1959 *****:

This is a magnificent set that brings together the three great ballet scores with which Igor Stravinsky came to the fore.  It is also a testament to Sergei Diaghilev’s expertise in spotting talent, and in the ballet conducting chops of Antal Dorati – who was one of the great conductors of ballet music, having tenured with two of the most important ballet companies of his time. I don’t know if the Mercury label originally packaged these three LPs together in this fashion – I think not since the outer box doesn’t follow their usual design and graphics – but this is not just a ploy to get you to purchase three audiophile vinyl reissues at once. It makes perfect sense musically, historically, sonically.  These were the first three Diaghilev-Stravinsky collaborations. In fact sitting down and listening to all three ballets at once as a cycle – in the order listed above – would be most appropriate.

In The Firebird Stravinsky was still under the influence of Rimsky-Korakov and even a bit of the Tchaikovsky of Swan Lake. But his unusual techniques of composition were beginning to show.  In the dramatic Infernal Dance of King Katchai Stravinsky gets into an almost shocking bararic mood that presages what is to come in The Rite of Spring. The various instrumental sections and solo instruments weave around one another, replicating the hide-and-seek game on stage between the prince and the princesses. Note this is the complete ballet score, not just a suite as so many of the competing recordings of the work.

Petrushka showed a whole new compositional approach from Stravinsky. He got away from traditional orchestration and instead used different solo instruments and groups in a collage of melodies. Some of his programmatic tone-painting, such as the sounds of the crowd at the festival, are amazingly realistic, and his inventive musical depiction of the love triangle of the three puppets is most affecting. It was with the scandalous premiere of The Rite of Spring in 1913 that music in the 20th century was totally changed. (I love George Antheil’s story that he was there but wasn’t a bit concerned about the ensuing pandemonium, because he had a loaded pistol in his pocket.) There have been too many recorded versions of The Rite, but Dorati’s is one of the best, from a conductor thoroughly experienced with making the music both danceable and listenable. Did you know that in the course of 275 bars in the score, Stravinsky changes the time signature 154 times? Did you also know that The Rite of Spring was Marilyn Monroe’s favorite classical work?

OK, the sonics: It is painful to me that only one of these three original recordings got issued in the Philips series of three-channel SACDs before it was dropped by the bean-counters – The Firebird. Because C. Robert Fine, the chief engineer for the Mercury series, pioneered the three-channel miking technique, saying only with the three-channel approach could he provide a good stereo soundstage (even when mixed down to two channels for the LP release).  I think he was right. Another reviewer reported of this reissue set that “Soundstaging easily challenges three-channel SACD’s width and depth.”  I must disagree – it may challenge but it doesn‘t surpass it!  If you have an identical or fairly similar center speaker to your left and right speakers, a decent SACD deck and a high-end analog turntable system, you will find the three-channel SACDs of all the Mercury and RCA Living Stereos, and the DVD-As of the Everest/Classic Records HDADs produce a far superior soundstage in terms of center fill and continuity. Two other advantages of the SACD: a much lower price, plus four other Stravinsky works including the symphonic poem The Song of the Nightingale.

I also happened to have in my collection an original Mercury Living Presence LP release of The Firebird, so I engaged in a three-way comparison. The original LP was very similar to the SACD, but without its firm center soundstage.  I found the original to have more forceful sonics, with more violence in the loudest climaxes of the score, but at the same time coarser and more edgy.  This was a fault of many of the original Mercuries, and the Speakers Corner reissues do ameliorate that quality somewhat, making them sound a bit more reticent and laid back, but more relaxing and enjoyable in the long run. Also, there was the distraction of some surface noise on the original LP, even though I had years ago cleaned it on a VPI machine and treated it with Last. One especially pesky click got on my nerves. On the other hand the Speakers Corner vinyl is completely quiet.  I also like that they don’t spread out the grooves since many of the original sides run right up against the label, using the portion of the side that is most subject to physical limitations in retaining the low distortion and extended high end of the rest of the side.

- John Sunier

Frank Sinatra with Nelson Riddle Orchestra – Nice ‘n Easy – Capitol/Mobile Fidelity 180-gram audiophile vinyl MFSL 1-317 *****:

Producer Dave Cavanaugh has already settled on a title tune from the Great American Songbook for this Capitol album of 1960, but the recording of the new tune Nice ‘n Easy went so well it was chosen for the title of the album and the initial track.  The subtly swinging tune went on to become a Sinatra classic. The mix of Sinatra and Nelson Riddle’s arrangements and backing was greater than the sum of the parts. Somehow it seemed to even work better than the sessions with Count Basie.

This is early stereo so the orchestral separation is rather wide, but Sinatra’s voice is always dead center.  He sounds more like himself when on Direct feed, rather than using one of the pseudo-surround processes my Sunfire preamp offers. Dolby ProLogic II and DTS Neo seem to muffle his amazing voice and even obscure it sometimes with the instrumental backing, but on Direct the balance with the band is just right. Using Carver’s Holophonics option wraps the Riddle orchestra partially around the sides without affecting Sinatra’s voice in the center.  There does seem to be a bit too much artificial reverb on this voice on some of the tracks, especially with Holophonics.  There was also a big pimple in the middle of the last track on Side 1 – I was glad it only produced one huge pop rather than damaging my Grado cartridge!  As well as a bit of surface noise on Channel 2.  Side 2 was perfectly quiet.

Sinatra refashions the melody to Embraceable You and makes it seem perfectly natural. He was a master at a totally musical and sophisticated interpretation of these standard tunes.  This is a gem for anyone with a decent analog turntable setup.

TrackList:
Nice ‘n Easy, That Old Feeling, How Deep is the Ocean?, I’ve Got a Crush on You, You Go to my Head, Fools Rush In, Nevertheless I’m In Love with You, She’s Funny That Way, Try a Little Tenderness, Embraceable You, Mam’selle, Dream

– John Henry


Duke Ellington Band & Count Basie Band – First Time! – Columbia Records/Pure Pleasure 180 gram vinyl reissue CS 8515, 41:17 [www.purepleasurerecords.com *****:

This is a recording of a very special jazz event which completely fits the album’s title of First Time.  On July 6, 1961 both the Ellington Band and the Basie Band came together in the Columbia studios in NYC and this ultimate big band album was the result.  The liner notes by Stanley Dance are all of a very rosy character, saying there was no battle of the bands, and what tilting that did go on was between individual as in some royal tournament governed by the canons of chivalry. Elsewhere, however, one can learn of some friction between the two bands and bandleaders, which resulted in Basie walking out at one point.

Never mind, the straight-ahead big band music extravaganza is a complete kick.  What else would you expect from the full bands of Ellington and Basie recording side by side?  The eight tracks are balanced between Basie and Ellington numbers.  There are some “cutting contests” between soloists in both bands on some numbers, and a couple terrific and exciting exchanges of drumming between the two bands’ drummers – one on each channel. Speaking of channels, Duke is on the right and Basie on the left. Their interchanges – a highlight of the whole album – spotlight the very distinctive piano style of each bandleader – the spare and almost ascetic note-picking embelishments of Basie and the more impressionistic chordal colorations of Ellington. (The SACD reissue got the two channels switched, by the way.) Ellington write two originals especially for the session: Battle Royal, and Wild Man. While all eight tracks are great fun, Segue in C gets my vote as the best of the bunch, and also the lengthiest. This Frank Wess composition from the Basie book – brimming with solid Basie propulsion – shows off the talents of many superb soloists from both bands, and both Basie and Ellington contribute strong support from their keyboards.

I sold my original Columbia LP pressing of First Time! after reviewing the Sony stereo SACD reissue of the album, which by the way includes seven bonus tracks not on the original LP! (Five of these are alternate takes but two are tunes not to be found on the original release at all.)  Now, in comparing this new Pure Pleasure vinyl reissue with the SACD I have to say I prefer the Pure Pleasure version to the first eight tracks of the SACD.  Not only are the channels reversed on the SACD but there is a completely different EQ that sounds less warm and rich than the vinyl.  Many of the early Sony non-hybrid SACDs were hastily mastered and fail to measure up to current audiophile standards. There does seem to be a somewhat more extended high end on the SACD but it lacks the good bass support heard on the vinyl, which is also sweeter and more silky sounding.  One would expect the spatial element to be reduced on the vinyl vs. SACD, but it is definitely not. The original LP’s liner notes are reproduced in a readable fashion on the reissue’s jacket, unlike the absurdly small type of the reprint in the SACD note booklet. So obviously, as a true audiophile, I have to keep both versions!

TrackList: Battle Royal, To You, Take the A Train, Until I Met You, Wild Man, Segue in C, B D B, Jumpin’ at the Woodside.

– John Henry

Count Basie & his Orchestra – Kansas City Suite (The Music of Benny Carter) – Roulette/EMI/Pure Pleasure Analogue PPAN SR 52056 180-gram audiophile LP – rec. Sept. 1960 *****:

Don’t know how I missed this terrific Basie album in the past.  And considering it’s the music of the great Benny Carter, the multi-threat composer/arranger/bandleader/saxist/trumpeter/clarinetist who never really got the fame he fully deserved, this is a vital entry in the Basie discography. Every selection here is a composition of Benny Carter, as he created a modern jazz suite flavored with elements of the Kansas City stomp jazz both he and Basie started out with, but reworked to fit the tight, brash and impactful sound of the Basie Big Band of 1960. Kansas City was a hotbed of jazz 24/7, with such greats as Benny Moten, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Andy Kirk and Coleman Hawkins playing. Carter also remembered the streets and clubs that were part of the Kansas City jazz scene, and titled some of this tracks after them.

The personnel here can’t be beat. They include Thad Jones, Joe Newman, Al Grey, Marshall Royal, Frank Wess, Frank Foster, Freddie Green and Sonny Payne. The recording engineer was Wally Heider, and the remastering job was handled by Sean Magee at London’s Abbey Road Studios. I think this came out after the famous Basie album with the atom bomb photo on the cover.  Unlike that one, there’s no hum detracting from the great stereo sonics. This dynamic album is a winner all the way!

TrackList:
Vine Street Rumble, Katy Do, Miss Missouri, Jackson County Jubilee, Sunset Glow, The Wiggle Walk, Meetin’ Time, Paseo Promenade, Blue Five Jive, Rompin’ at the Reno.

 - John Henry

Johnny Hodges with Billy Strayhorn and the Orchestra – Verve/ Speakers Corner Records V6-8452 – 180 gram audiophile LP – recorded December, 1961 *****:

Johnny Hodges, alto sax; Billy Strayhorn, arranger and conductor;
Trumpets: Shorty Baker, Cat Anderson; Bill Berry, Ed Mullens, Howard McGhee
Trombones: Lawrence Brown, Quentin Jackson, Chuck Connors
Reeds: Russell Procope, Paul Gonsalves, Jimmy Hamilton, Harry Carney
Piano: Jimmy Jones
Bass: Aaron Bell
Drums: Sam Woodyard
Produced by: Creed Taylor
Recording Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder

It is hard to be impartial when reviewing an audiophile LP recording by Johnny Hodges. To be truthful, Hodges is my favorite saxophonist and likely my favorite jazz musician of all time. His recording with members of the Ellington Orchestra done in December 1961 boasted the addition of Duke’s most able assistant and right hand man, Billy Strayhorn, who co-composed many of the Ellington staples. Having Creed Taylor produce the project and record the two day session at the inimitable studio of Rudy Van Gelder, showed Verve Records’ confidence in this project.

Ellington and Hodges fans most certainly have either the red book CD or an earlier Verve LP pressing of this recording, as for many this was celebrating Hodges returning to the Ellington band. Johnny did return to Duke’s orchestra in the early 60s, and recorded with Ellington till near the end of his life.

All that is needed to recommend this audiophile pressing is whether it passes the sound test. I can give an enthusiastic “Yes” to that question. When Hodges emotes on the opener, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, you are hearing the sweetest, most sensual tone in jazz. The soundstage is clear, wide, blessedly free of any defects. Jimmy Jones’ accompaniment on I’ve Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good shows why he was the first choice to play piano in Duke’s absence. The background rumble of the trombones sets off Hodges’ supple lines with baritonist extraordinaire, Harry Carney, setting the mood.

Hodges chose mostly Ellington classics, largely from the late 30s to mid 40s, for this recording. Along with Stardust and Azure, we get a chance to revisit some lesser known compositions from the Ellington songbook such as, The Girl from Joes, and Your Love Has Faded. We also get to hear Hodges’ specialties such as Jeep’s Blues and Juice-a-Plenty.

The German-based audiophile label Speakers Corner Records has a large catalog of audiophile vinyl reissues numbering over 450, and concentrates on mostly jazz and classical music with a smattering of rock. If you want to wow your family and friends, and have a quality turntable and speakers, you need to go no farther than Hodges and Strayhorn with Ellington band, and special guests Howard McGhee and Jimmy Jones. Supreme bliss follows….

TrackList:
Track One: Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, I’ve Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good, Gal from Joes, Your Love Has Faded, I’m Just a Lucky So and So
Side Two: Jeep’s Blues, Day Dream, Juice a Plenty, Azure,Tailor Made, Stardust

– Jeff Krow


John Coltrane Quartet, with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison & Elvin Jones – Ballads – Impulse Stereo A032/Original Recordings Group ORG 012 – 2 12-inch 45 rpm audiophile discs *****:

This is one of Coltrane’s super-classic sessions, and would appeal strongly to anyone who finds most of his recordings a bit too hard, angry or far out for them. The dates were 1961 and ’62, and the liner notes on it are by the late Gene Lees. He found Coltrane’s playing had changed since he had come on the jazz scene around 1955. John wanted to do an album of ballads, and this is it. The quartet had only ever played one of the eight tunes together before, but after discussing each tune and rehearsing for a half-hour or so, they went ahead and often recorded in just one take.

Lees says Coltrane’s solos were now more disciplined and tighter than in the past. His phrasing is lovely, and the masterful remastering by Original Recordings Group brings out every nuance of his tenor sax tone.  Speaking of the sonics: boy, does one get a lot of exercise with these 45 rpm reissues! Up and down, up and down. On one of the four sides – with the grooves all at the outer half of the disc – there is only six minutes on the side.  However, it’s worth it sonically-speaking. I had for comparison the past Linn Selekt 33 ⅓ audiophile reissue of the same album. It sounds good, but in comparison the differences in the reproduction of McCoy Tyner’s piano gave a strong edge to the 45 rpm pressings.

His piano sounds way in the background in the center of the soundstage, small and much lower in volume than Coltrane’s sax, which is prominent on the left channel. Almost sounds off-mike. On the 45 rpm sides, however, the piano – though not necessarily louder in volume – comes forward with greater clarity and no longer sounds off-mike. In fact, on some of Tyner’s solos, it actually sounds like Rudy van Gelder’s hand was on the controls (or perhaps the mixing engineer’s) and raised the level a bit. Listen to Elvin Jones’ brush work on Track 1.  He’s over on the right channel – wide separation on this stereo recording – and though he’s hardly noticed on the 33 ⅓ pressing, he stands out with more presence on the 45 rpm version. Coltrane’s solo on the second track, You Don’t Know What Love Is, is lyrical in the extreme, with a gorgeous straight-ahead treatment and rich tone.  This is continued thruout the wonderful album.

TrackList:  Say It, You Don’t Know What Love Is, Too Young to Go Steady, All or Nothing at All, I Wish I Knew, What’s New, It’s Easy to Remember, Nancy with the Laughing Face.

 - John Henry

Stacey Kent – In Love Again -  Candid/Pure Pleasure CJS9786 – 180 gram Audiophile Limited Edition ***:

(Stacey Kent -  vocals / Jim Tomlinson – tenor sax , flute / Colin Oxley – guitar / David Newton – piano / Simon Thorpe – Bass / Jasper Kviberg – Drums)

Tributing Richard Rodgers, Stacey Kent teamed back up with her regular band to release In Love Again.  Another Pure Pleasure 180 gram Audiophile Limited Edition album with 13 songs that would make Rodgers and Hammerstein very proud.   Stacey’s subtle voice on It Might As Well Be Spring is enchanting as it flutters between the chorus and sax solos by Tomlinson.  This is my first introduction to Kent and I am blown away by  her voice and melody.  As I attempt to pick apart and review this album, I find myself just sitting and listening and loving her interpretations.  My favorite cuts on the album, I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered and It Might As Well Be Spring sound absolutely new and fresh and make this release well worth the price.

One negative on the copy I received is a very light warp in the vinyl.  No skating issues are present as it’s a very slight warpage, but nonetheless it does take a little away from complete package.  Pressed on the 180 gram vinyl, the warp either happened at the plant, during storage or in the shipping/handling process.  I would contact Pure Pleasure for their return/exchange policy in the rare event that this happens to you.  I’m happy to let you know that they will exchange or fully refund any monies for a faulty product.  

TrackList:
Side 1:
1. Shall We Dance
2. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
3. My Heart Stood Still
4. It Never Entered My Mind
5. I Wish I Were In Love Again
6. Thou Swell

Side 2:
1. It Might As Well Be Spring
2. Nobody’s Heart (belong’s to me)
3. I’m Gonna Was That Man Right Outta My Hair
4. This Can’t be Love
5. Easy to Remember
6. Manhattan
7. Bali Ha’i

– Paul Pelon IV

The Piano Style of Nat ‘King’ Cole, with orchestra cond. by Nelson Riddle – Capitol/Pure Pleasure Records mono audiophile limited edition LP PPAN W689 ****:

I must say I was a bit disappointed by this reissue. I had expected it to be some of the terrific piano trio instrumentals that Nat King Cole had done before he began to concentrate on his vocals. Instead, it’s a quite commercial assembly of 16 short tracks in arrangements by Nelson Riddle of tunes from the Great American Songbook, but not benefitting from the unique improvisational keyboard work Cole had been doing with his trio.

The tunes – recorded in 1955 – mostly have Cole doing a one-finger bit that may be hip and cool but  it’s not close to the level of his trio work. His backing on about half of the album is from Riddle’s band and on the other half from a string section.  A nice relaxed groove gets going on many of the tracks, and the whole thing has a lush and spirited quality to it, but I was expected more real instrumental jazz, sorry.

TrackList:
Love Walked In, My Heart Stood Still, Imagination, I Never Knew, Stella by Starlight, (What Can I Say) After I Say I’m Sorry?, I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, Taking a Chance on Love, April in Paris, I Want to Be Happy, I See Your Face Before Me, Just One of Those Things, I Get a Kick Out of You, If I Could Be with You (One Hour Tonight), I Hear Music, Tea for Two

 - John Henry

Robert Pete Williams – (Same Title) –  Storyville/Pure Pleasure Analogue PPAN SLP 225, 180 gram vinyl LP, 1972 (Copenhagen, Denmark) ***1/2:

(Robert Pete Williams, 6 & 12 string acoustic guitar; Big Joe Williams, kazoo)

Robert Pete Williams is a relatively unknown country blues guitarist, who did not receive the acclaim he was due till late in his life. Born in 1914 in Louisiana, Williams spent a stretch in prison, and remained untainted by the electric blues that the 1960s and early 70s brought to the U.S. and Europe.

Williams’ blues has an intensity that is immediately felt. This 1972 LP is made up of entirely Williams’ originals that deal with sickness (Dr. Blues), jail (Talkin’ Blues), the life of the traveling man (Goodbye Baby and Greyhound Bus), and other of life’s travails.

The accompaniment of Big Joe Williams on kazoo, brings an other-worldliness that is striking. The kazoo seems to spur on Williams like the harmonica did with John Lee Hooker.

Williams is not all dark-spirited. He explores a sexual theme with the more lighthearted It’s Gotta Be Jelly Cause Jam Don’t Shake Thataway. Self-taught on a guitar made of copper strings and a cigar box, Robert Pete Williams poured out his heart and soul in his blues telling the story of his trials and tribulations. His trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, to record this Storyville LP in 1972, must have been a real eye opener to Williams; it was not till the 1960s did he receive the acclaim that many other acoustic southern blues men received in the waning years of their lives. Williams was a hit at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. He then toured with Mississippi Fred McDowell to adoring largely white audiences in the States and Europe. This LP was recorded seven years before his death.

PurePleasure has done their usual fine remastering job again and Williams’ guitar and voice and Big Joe’s eerie kazoo have the great presence that warm analogue can bring to authentic folk blues.

TrackList =
Side 1:
Doctor Blues
Got On His Mind
Meet Him Over in Paradise
Goodbye Baby
It’s Got to Be Jelly Cause Jam Don’t Shake That Way

Side 2:
Texas Blues
Talkin Blues
Greyhound Bus

- Jeff Krow

J B Lenoir – Alabama Blues – L & R/ Pure Pleasure Records 42001 – 180 gram audiophile LP, Mono, 1965 ****:

(J B Lenoir, vocal and guitar; Freddie Below, drums; Willie Dixon, vocal on I Feel So Good)

J B Lenoir, born in 1929 and passed away in 1967, is relatively unknown today to acoustic blues fans, yet his legacy in writing critical social and political songs – as opposed to the more typical “been done wrong by my woman” blues lyrics – has been recognized by the Library of Congress, which has placed Alabama Blues in its archives of American Musical History. Never released in the U.S. until 1979, when  Horst Lippmann brought this album out on his German label L & R., it has now been re-released by the English audiophile label, PurePleasure, after being remastered by Ray Staff at Air Mastering in London.

PurePleasure has done their typical outstanding job in putting out a quality product. Lenoir’s lyrics are presented crystal clear in his high vocal register, and his uncomplicated boogie shuffle guitar style is mixed well. With Lenoir, however, it is his lyrics which attract immediate attention. Alabama Blues outlines the trials of existing as a black man in Alabama. Mojo Boogie is more typical fare, with little political commentary. God’s Word, deals with God’s wrath and asking to be released “so I can go home.” The Whale Has Swallowed Me compares Jonah’s plight with Lenoir’s, asking to be turned loose.

Move This Rope is back to social ills – requesting the removal of this rope from his neck. Done to a boogie beat similar to an acoustic John Lee Hooker, it is a conversation between Lenoir and his “father” asking again to be set free after his prayer is heard. Closing Side 1 is a happier, I Feel So Good, done with assistance of the Chicago blues master Willie Dixon, who supervised the May 5, 1965 recording date.

Side 2 opens with more Southern tribulations on Alabama March, with some great strumming, and lyrics dealing with calling on God to lift us up. Talk to Your Daughter is a plea to a young woman’s mother to convince her to accept J B.  Lenoir’s guitar is much more animated here and the beat is contagious. Mississippi Road is a simple paean to his mother. Good Advice brings his grandmother in giving instructions to “keep on going if you know you are right.”

Politics of the day are brought out in Vietnam as Uncle Sam has drafted him to go to Vietnam. He worries about being shot down and wonders when all wars will come to an end. I Want to Go ends on a shuffle about leaving the County Farm.

Less than two years later after the recording of this LP, Lenoir died – possibly from injuries sustained in an auto accident that occurred just a few weeks earlier. Listening to Alabama Blues will make you want to explore more of J B Lenoir. Jimi Hendrix was said to have cited Lenoir as an early blues artist who influenced his self-liberation. PurePleasure should be commended for releasing Alabama Blues, as Lenoir was known to have recorded only three or four other sessions, and his topical songs are a nice change from typical southern blues fare.

TrackList:

Side 1: Alabama Blues, The Mojo Boogie, God’s Word, The Whale Has Swallowed Me, Move This Rope, I Feel So Good
Side 2: Alabama March, Talk to Your Daughter, Mississippi Road, Good Advice, Vietnam, I Want to Go

– Jeff Krow

Canned Heat & John Lee Hooker – Hooker ‘n Heat -  Pure Pleasure/Liberty PPAN LST 35002 – 180 gram audiophile 2 LPs, gatefold sleeve *****:

(John Lee Hooker – guitar, vocals / Alan Wilson – piano, harmonica / Henry Vestine – guitar / Antonio de la Barreda – Bass / Adolpho de la Parra – drums)

Pure Pleasure has rereleased the classic Hooker ‘N Heat on double-LP 180g Audiophile quality vinyl.  A foot stomping collaboration that was spawned under several shows and recording sessions with John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat.  This wonderful classic holds the test of time when it comes to the blues and John Lee Hooker.  

The gritty down home blues boogies that made John Lee so famous are relevant throughout the first LP.  Messin’ With The Hook is the perfect intro for nearly two hours of classics.  Equally relevant to the boogie scene, Canned Heat provide more than just background music to the recording.  Canned Heat got behind Hooker and grooved to the master’s lead on these albums.  

Alan Wilson delivers the most memorable harp jam on the second LP on Boogie Chillin’ # 2.  Hooker and Wilson battle back and forth as if they were born to play together.  It’s easy to hear how many people John Lee influenced over the years playing what came naturally to such a legend.  If buying this album for only one track (as if it would be possible to pick just one) Boogie Chillin’ #2, would be THE track that would convince you to get "hooked" on the entire recording. I thoroughly enjoy this album and you should too.

Originally released in 1971 on Liberty, I welcome the 2009 release on Pure Pleasure.  They are pioneering the re-revolution of vinyl with their superior pressings of many classic blues, jazz and pop albums as well as new releases by artists that deserve their albums heard in this hi-res format (if you have good quality turntable system).

TrackList:
Side 1:
1. Messin’ With The Hook
2. The Feelin’ Is Gone
3. Send Me Your Pillow
4. Sittin’ Here Thinkin’
5. Meet Me In The Bedroom

Side 2:
1. Alimonia Blues
2. Drifter
3. You Talk Too Much
4. Burning Hell
5. Bottle Up And Go

Side 3:
1. The World Today
2. I Got My Eyes On You
3. Whickey and Wimmen
4.  Just You And Me

Side 4:
1. Let’s Make It
2. Peavine
3. Boogie Chillin’ # 2

– Paul Pelon IV

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