Month: February 2018

Eric Dolphy – Copenhagen Concert

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Do the originals sound as good as these ’70s pressings Not a clue. Never ran into a clean one in my life.

Rarely have I heard a string bass sound better than it does here. The flute is equally gorgeous. Amazing that they could record a live jazz concert this well in 1961.

Although this is only our second Hot Stamper listing for the album, I’ve known about Dolphy’s legendary Copenhagen Concert for close to thirty years. When an audiophile hears a bass clarinet reproduced the way it is on this record he is very unlikely to forget it.

With the hundred-plus changes to the system and room I’ve made over that span of time the reproduction of the bass clarinet has only gotten more real.

It’s proof positive that everything in audio can get dramatically better with constant effort and attention to every aspect of sound. From the room to the electricity to the right cleaning techniques, everything can come together to make that instrument sound like it is in the room with you, a room that sounds like you imagine a jazz club might sound in 1961.

What a thrill. It’s what we audiophiles live for. It’s what keeps us going in this hobby. If you know people who used to be into audio and aren’t anymore it’s because they just never got to the point where they were doing it right.

Listening in Depth to Brewer & Shipley – Down In L.A.

This has long been one of our favorite Hippie Folk Rock albums here at Better Records. If you like Crosby, Stills and Nash’s first album or Rubber Soul — and who doesn’t love those two albums — you should much to like on Down in L.A.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Truly Right

The drumming on this first track is out of this world — it relentlessly propels this track forward, and you can thank top studio drummers for bringing this kind of energy to the song. Also the fuzzed out guitar that comes in toward the end is pure ’60s pop, exactly the kind of thing we love.

She Thinks She’s A Woman

I love the studio chatter at the opening of this song. The transparency should be striking. When the vocals come in they should be smooth and sweet, better than the first track by a wide margin. And I love this song — it’s one of the strongest on the album.

Time And Changes

Another one of the better sounding songs. This one has exceptionally nice bass. (more…)

The Joe Cocker You Don’t Know – With a Little Help From My Friends

 

We just finished our first shootout in over FIVE years for the album and were SHOCKED by how amazing the best copies can sound, even better than we remember them from last time around. Turn this one up good and loud and you’ll have Joe Cocker in all his raspy glory belting out With A Little Help From My Friends right in your very own listening room! (more…)

Charles Mingus – Mingus Revisited – 25 Guys in a Big Room Playing Live

More Charles Mingus

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This copy sounds like a big room full of musicians (25 in all!) playing live, which it surely was. The Tubey Magical richness of this 1960 recording is breathtaking – no modern record can touch it. Allmusic gives it 4 stars and we think it’s maybe even a better than that.

On both sides the best sound can be heard starting with the second track, but on side one the first track was very spacious and had a fuller sounding piano than practically any other we played. (more…)

The Hi-Lo’s – All Over The Place

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Vocal Classics

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The Hi-Lo’s – All Over The Place

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

Side two is nearly White Hot, with rich, natural vocal reproduction. This is the glorious sound of Columbia’s All Tube chain in 1960. Marty Paich (the genius) is back conducting the orchestra for this set of standards.

More Popular Vocals

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These records are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

If you’re an audiophile, both the sound and the music are crazy fun. If you want to demonstrate just how good 1960 All Tube Analog sound can be, this is the record that will do it!

Side One

A++, by the second track the highs open up and the sound is superb throughout the rest of the side. Listen to Autumn in New York for a taste of the huge, rich and natural sound that Columbia was famous for in 1960.

Side Two

A++ to A+++, even better. By track two the voices are breathy and clear with no noticeable tube smear.

U2 – The Joshua Tree


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • A superb pressing with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and Double Plus (A++) on the first
  • Both sides here are outstanding — big, full and musical with a solid bottom end and lots of energy
  • One of the best copes from our most recent shootout, and this one is on fairly quiet vinyl too
  • 5 stars on Allmusic: “A powerful, uncompromising record that became a hit.”

See all U2 in stock

The soundstage is huge, and the overall quality of the recording is big and bold. Most copies of this album are either thin, shrill and agressive — like most U2 albums — or thick and veiled. This one is actually smooth and natural sounding, with the added benefit of some deep punchy bass! It conveys the ENERGY and POWER of the music, and that makes it a very unusual pressing indeed.

’80s vinyl is almost always tricky in terms of sound, and U2 is not a band we associate with audiophile-quality sonics. We’ve been through a number of their albums now, including this title, War and October, and while Demo Quality Sound may never be in the cards for these guys, we have at very least found pressings that do a better job communicating the music. I don’t want to throw on a record that just sounds like a CD when I have access to so much amazing sounding vinyl, but clean and play enough copies of this album and eventually you’ll find one like this copy that gives you something to enjoy. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Sings Days of Wine and Roses & more

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Vocal Classics

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Frank Sinatra – Sings Days of Wine and Roses & more

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

Presented with the less-than-captivating cover and title of Days of Wine and Roses, we were put off by our first impression; that of a budget thrown-together compilation, brought even lower by the fairly generic shot of Old Blue Eyes on the cover. We didn’t think an album that looked like this could possibly contain the swinging (or deeply emotional, both are fine with us) Sinatra music we’ve grown to love from his best Capitol- and Reprise-era releases.

More Frank Sinatra

A textbook case of Live and Learn if there ever was one.

It’s true, we admit to having judged this book by its cover back in 2014. We frankly didn’t see much potential, but that was before we had played it. Then, and only then, were we able to recognize and appreciate what a superbly recorded classic Sinatra album it was.

It’s our favorite kind of record. According to conventional wisdom it’s not worth anyone’s time. Instead it’s one of the best of the Sinatra releases from the mid-’60s (and, as we noted above, sonically right up at the top of all his albums).

For our first Hot Stamper listing in 2014 we had written:

One of the best sounding Reprise-era Sinatra recordings we know of.

Having just listened to a slough of top Sinatra titles, I feel it’s my duty to inform the record buying public — at least that small fraction of the public that comes to this site — that the above statement is somewhat inaccurate. It should have read: (more…)

Little Milton – We’re Gonna Make It

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Vocal Classics

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Little Milton – We’re Gonna Make It

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

This Chess reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology (1965 in this case), with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the mid- ’80s. (We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 30+ years ago, not the too-often bad modern mastering of today.)

See all of our Little Milton albums in stock

The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on both of these White Hot sides.

We were impressed with the fact that it excelled in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it — odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us — was how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be.

This leads me to think that most of the natural, full-bodied, smooth, sweet sound of the album is on the tape, and that all one has to do to get that vintage sound on to a record is simply to thread up the tape on a good machine and hit play.

The fact that nobody seems to be able to make a good sounding record these days tells me that in fact I’m wrong to think that such an approach would work. It just seems to me that somebody should be able to figure out how to do it. In our experience that is rarely the case today, and has been that way for many years.

Johnny Mathis – Warm

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Side one is killer sounding, with the All Tube Analog sound that Columbia was famous for. The vinyl is fairly quiet as well for a ’50s Columbia 6 Eye pressing. I don’t know how many unscratched, lightly-played Mathis records you’ve ever seen, but in our experience they are few and far between — hence the fact that this is the first one to make it to the site.

AMG Review

Johnny Mathis released Warm, his sophomore album, in 1957. The album is an example of the classic romantic mood that made Mathis a superstar. The lush, romantic Warm includes “My One and Only Love” as well as “A Handful of Stars,” “By Myself,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” “Then I’ll Be Tired of You,” “I’m Glad There Is You,” and “While We’re Young.” A classic Mathis album with a title track that ranks, with “Misty,” as one of his best.

Eartha Kitt – St. Louis Blues

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Vocal Classics

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Eartha Kitt – St. Louis Blues

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

Don’t expect to see another copy of this album on the site any time soon. Pressings of this album are extremely rare in any condition, and this one not only sounds great but plays surprisingly well for RCA in 1958.

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. 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!

More Living Stereo

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.

What do we love about these LIVING STEREO Hot Stamper pressings?

The timbre of every instrument is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. Everything, including the Ms Kitt’s voice, is reproduced with remarkable fidelity.

Now that’s what we at Better Records mean by “Hi-Fi”, not the kind of Audiophile Phony BS Sound that passes for Hi-Fidelity these days. There’s no boosted top, there’s no bloated bottom, there’s no sucked-out midrange. There’s no added digital reverb (Patricia Barber, Diana Krall, et al.). The microphones are not fifty feet away from the musicians (Water Lily) nor are they inches away (Three Blind Mice).

This is Hi-Fidelity for those who recognize The Real Thing when they hear it. I’m pretty sure our customers do, and whoever picks this one up is guaranteed to get a real kick out of it.