Month: May 2017

Our Favorite Wes Montgomery Album

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California Dreaming

  • For the first time in three years, an amazing Triple Triple (A+++) copy of this excellent Wes Montgomery title
  • Both sides here are OUT OF THIS WORLD; this is DEMO DISC Quality Big Production Guitar-led Jazz
  • It’s incredibly big, bold, clear, rich and dynamic like no copy we’ve ever played
  • Forget the critics, this is one of Wes’s Best Albums of All Time I tell you!

This White Hot Stamper Shootout Winner has the REAL Wes Montgomery/ Creed Taylor/ Rudy Van Gelder MAGIC in its grooves. You will not believe how big, rich and full-bodied this pressing is. Since this is one of Wes’s best albums, hearing this incredible White Hot copy was a THRILL for us and we’re sure it will be as big a thrill for you too.

Both Sides

As Good As It Gets Sound. So natural, transparent and clear. Listen to all the space around the guitar. (On the Cisco you might hear 20% of that space. That’s Heavy Vinyl for you. What a load of crap.)

It starts off a little blurry but quickly gets amazingly good, so good nothing could touch it. This was by far the most musically exciting and involving side we played in our shootout. (more…)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – 4 Way Street

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Our Latest Shootout Winner

  • An honest to goodness Top Copy, with two Triple Plus (A+++) sides and two Double Plus sides – this is about as good as it gets, folks
  • If you want to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock out live in your listening room, this is the pressing that can do it
  • Bill Halverson did a great job but you have to work your tail off to find a copy that does his brilliant engineering justice. Sad, isn’t it?
  • Rolling Stone raves that “Crosby, Stills. Nash, and Young are all performers of unquestionable talent, and mostly because they stay out of each others’ way, 4 Way Street must surely be their best album to date.”

If you want to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock out live in your listening room, this copy will let you do it. It’s not easy to find good sound on even one side of this album, let alone all four! (more…)

Moondance on Heavy Vinyl

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Rhino / Warners Heavy Vinyl Debunked – Again

Sonic Grade: F

The original grade I gave out in 2014 when last I played this remastered version as part of a shootout was “D.” I explained at the time:

Just listen to how strange Van’s voice sounds, so lean, hard and sour. That alone qualifies it for an “F”, but considering how bad most pressings of this album are, let’s be fair, if not downright generous, and call it a “D”.

I just revisited the record in a current shootout, and after giving it some thought I have decided that the right grade is in fact “F.” It cannot be any other, for reasons I discuss below.

In 2014 I had written: (more…)

John Sebastian Songbook – Somebody Sure Got Hold of Some Awfully Good Tapes

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Our Killer Shootout Winner for 2017

Great sound for some the biggest hits of The Lovin’ Spoonful, a band I wouldn’t have expected to hear sound good on vinyl if I lived to be a hundred, and yet, here it is. This is one of the rare cases where, in our experience, the hits compilation sounds BETTER than the original records. Why? Who knows? We don’t pretend to have all the answers. What we do have (that no one else has, if that’s not too obvious) are the records that back up the claims we make for them.

How they came to be that way is anyone’s guess. All we know for sure is that, judging by the best copies of this album, somebody got hold of some awfully good tapes and somebody mastered them with uncanny skill to what sounds to these ears like near perfection. (more…)

Back In Bean’s Bag – A Classic from 1962

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Coleman Hawkins and Clark Terry

A Classic from 1962

  • The best copy we have ever heard – Triple Plus (A+++) on side two and nearly as good on side one (A++ to A+++)
  • This is the kind of classic All Tube, Live in the Studio Columbia Sound from 1962 that makes a mockery of most jazz recordings
  • What a swingin’ group – there is simply not a false step or false note to be found anywhere on either side of this wonderful recording
  • Hawkins teamed up with the personable trumpeter Clark Terry for this upbeat set of of solid swing. Terry in particular is in exuberant form on “Feedin’ the Bean” and a delightful version of “Don’t Worry About Me,” but Hawkins’s playing (particularly on the trumpeter’s ballad “Michelle”) is also in fine form.”

This Minty Original “360 Sound” Columbia Stereo LP from 1962 has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND! No other copy we played was in a class with this bad boy — it does it ALL. For those of you who appreciate the sound that Columbia’s engineers were able to achieve in the ’50s and ’60s, this LP is a Must-Own

Columbia’s best recordings — those that were recorded at the 30th Street Studios and those that were not, such as this one — just doesn’t get any better than this. Tubey magic, richness, sweetness, dead-on timbres from top to bottom — this is a textbook example of early ’60s Columbia sound at its best. It’s audiophile heaven.

This original pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it doesn’t look like it is coming back any time soon. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the control room hearing the master tape being played back, or, better yet, the direct feed from the mics in the studio, this is the record for you. It’s what Golden Age Jazz Recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Surfer Girl Takes MoFi Spit to a New Level

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MoFi Debunked

Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing

I played the MoFi pressing of this record many years ago, some time back in the early ’90s if memory serves, and at the time I could hardly believe that the good people of MoFi would release a record that was so ridiculously SPITTY. The sibilance is positively out of control, the result of their wacky cutting system and phony EQ.

But then I remembered that there has never been a title produced by these people with sound so bad that they would have cancelled its release,

The audiophile public was clamoring for remastered pressings of their favorite albums and MoFi saw it as their duty to serve them.

In other words, to paraphrase a famous wag, their fans had spoken and now they must be punished. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald on Record – These Are Some that Didn’t Make the Grade

More Ella Fitzgerald

More These Are Some that Didn’t Make the Grade

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These are just some of the recordings by Ella Fitzgerald that we’ve auditioned and found wanting. Without going into specifics we’ll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.

A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.

Ella Fitzgerald Albums with Hot Stampers

Ella Fitzgerald Albums We’ve Reviewed

Fremaux Conducts the Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3

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“I gave everything to it I was able to give. What I have here accomplished, I will never achieve again.”

  • One of Saint-Saens’ greatest masterpieces returns to Better Records with true Demo Disc sound
  • Huge, lively, spacious, dynamic – both sides earned our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it
  • What this copy did better than practically any other was show us just how rich, smooth and Tubey Magical 1973 EMI sound could be
  • “The whole work is a magnificent and fantastical symphonic machine that’s an apotheosis of the orchestral technology of the late 19th century.”

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

The legendary Stuart Eltham engineered this recording for EMI in 1973. You may know his work better from a longtime audiophile TAS List favorite, Massenet’s Le Cid (1971), again with Fremaux conducting the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. (more…)

What Do You Hear on the Best Hot Stamper Pressings of Quadrophenia?

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They just plain ROCKED HARDER than the other copies we played. Yes, they’re bigger. Yes, they have more weight and whomp down low. Yes, they are smoother and more natural up top.

But what really sets them apart is their tremendous energy. The music EXPLODES out of the speakers and comes to life on the best copies of Quadrophenia like few records you have ever heard. When we find that power and energy on a record, all other things being equal, we have a name for them: White Hot Stampers. (more…)