Month: February 2018

Belafonte at Carnegie Hall – Our Shootout Winner for 2018

 


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • This later black label pressing boasts excellent sound, with a shootout-winning Triple Plus (A+++) side three and excellent Double Plus (A++) grades or close to it for sides one, two and four
  • You’ll hear a very large group of musicians bring their wonderful energy to this music, all backing Harry live on the stage in real time and in ANALOG
  • Harry Pearson made his reputation bringing this kind of amazing recording to the attention of the audiophile public, and for that we owe him a debt of gratitude
  • 5 stars: “The granddaddy of all live albums, this double-LP set captures the excitement of a Harry Belafonte concert at the height of his popularity.”

See all of our Harry Belafonte albums in stock

Harry Pearson brought this record to the attention of audiophiles with his TAS list a long time ago, and rightfully so: it’s an amazing recording.

We happen to love the music too, which makes it one of the most recommendable records we have ever offered. If you can find a better combination of demo disc sound, with music worth the hassle and expense of reproducing it properly, more power to you. We sure can’t.

Because this is a live recording, because it has lots of natural instruments as well as a vocal, because it was recorded in the Golden Age by one of the greatest labels of all time, RCA, by Bob Simpson no less — for this and many other reasons, it has to be considered one of the most amazing recordings in the history of the world.

That said, it is our contention (and the basis of our business model) that the brilliant quality of the recording can only be appreciated if you have the pressing that captured the sound that the engineers recorded. In other words, a Hot Stamper. (more…)

Eric Dolphy – Copenhagen Concert

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

Forgotten Jazz Classics

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Eric Dolphy – Copenhagen Concert

A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

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.

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

See all of our Eric Dolphy albums in stock

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. (more…)

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

 

More Down in L.A.

More Brewer and Shipley

Listening in Depth

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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

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

Forgotten Rock and Pop Classics

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The Joe Cocker You Don’t Know

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and Cocker’s MASTERPIECE of White Soul, and, sadly, a Classic That’s All but Forgotten.

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 Joe Cocker (more…)

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

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

Forgotten Jazz Classics

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Charles Mingus – Mingus Revisited

A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

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.

Billy Joel – Glass Houses – Our Shootout Winner for 2017

 

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017
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  • A superb pressing: Triple Plus (A+++) on the second side, Double Plus (A++) on the first
  • The sound is just right for this album full of rockers — big, rich and punchy with great space and dynamics
  • This title has some of his biggest hits: You May Be Right, Don’t Ask Me Why and It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Instead of turning out to be a fiery rebuttal to his detractors, the album is a remarkable catalog of contemporary pop styles … That’s not a detriment; that’s the album’s strength.”

See all of our Billy Joel albums in stock

A truly stunning copy of one of Billy Joel’s best-loved albums! We recently finished a massive shootout for Billy Joel’s hard-rockin’ 1980 release and most copies were pretty dreadful. Thankfully for us (and the Billy Joel fans out there) we managed to find a few copies that really work! This one absolutely nails it — they just don’t get much better than this, folks.

The Midrange Is Key (As Usual)

Most of the copies we’re played were pinched in the midrange, which gave a hard, unpleasant quality to the vocals. This is probably the most pure rock and roll album Billy Joel ever put out, and it’s a shame to hear these songs fall flat when they run into the problems of the typical pressing. The copies that keep you engaged are Hot Stampers, plain and simple.

Best Practices

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.

The process is simple enough. First you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

You May Be Right
Sometimes a Fantasy
Don’t Ask Me Why
It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me
All for Leyna

Side Two

I Don’t Want to Be Alone
Sleeping With the Television On
C’Etait Toi (You Were the One)
Close to the Borderline
Through the Long Night

Every Picture Tells A Story – Our Shootout Winner for 2017

 

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017
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  • A truly incredible copy with a Triple Plus (A+++) side two and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one – a sonic powerhouse and Demo Disc par excellence
  • If you’re a fan of BIG DRUMS in a BIG ROOM, with jump-out-of-the-speakers sound, this is the album for you
  • A Top 100 album, and Rod’s best music and best recording by far – nothing can touch it
  • “It’s a beautiful album, one that has the timeless qualities of the best folk, yet one that rocks harder than most pop music — few rock albums are quite this powerful or this rich.” – 5 Stars

More Rod Stewart / More Faces

This is a superb recording, and on a pressing like this it is a Demo Disc with little competition (if you have the kind of system designed to play these sorts of recordings).

Not too many of our Hot Stamper titles are going to ROCK the way this one can. We put it in a class with Led Zep II, Sticky Fingers, Nevermind, and Back In Black — elite company to say the least.

If you’re a fan of BIG DRUMS in a BIG ROOM, with jump-out-of-the-speakers practically direct-to-disc sound quality, this is the album for you. The opening track on side one has drums that put to shame 99% of the rock drum kits ever recorded. The same is true of I Know I’m Losing You on side two. It just doesn’t get any better for rock drumming, musically or sonically. Micky Waller is brilliant throughout. Kenney Jones, who only plays on the showstopping “(I Know) I’m Losing You”, is clearly out of his mind).

Some of the best rock bass ever recorded can be found here too — punchy, note-like and solid as a rock. If you have the system for it you are going to have a great time playing this one for your friends, audiophiles or otherwise. (more…)

Jim Reeves – The Intimate Jim Reeves

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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Jim Reeves – The Intimate Jim Reeves

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

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music found here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1963 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you.

All the copies we played were stereo. We’ve had very poor luck with mono pressings of Living Stereo recordings and tend to avoid them.

Produced by Chet Atkins in Nashville, 1960, with Bill Porter engineering. This is superb countrypolitan pop by the man who practically invented it.

More Living Stereo

Jim Reeves is lucky to have had the Bill Porter and his staff of RCA engineers from the era on his team. Although we love to do these vintage Hot Stamper shootouts, finding clean copies of these albums is getting harder every day.

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. The instruments here are recorded 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 any of you out there who pick this one up are guaranteed to get a real kick out of it!

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.

Bottom line? While this may not be a record that’s going to blow anyone’s mind like a killer copy of Zuma or Deja Vu, it does a very good job of bringing this music to life in a way that most copies out there just won’t. If you’re a fan of U2, you won’t find a better sounding copy than this.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Where the Streets Have No Name
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
With or Without You
Bullet the Blue Sky
Running to Stand Still

Side Two

Red Hill Mining Town
In God’s Country
Trip Through Your Wires
One Tree Hill
Exit 4
Mothers of the Disappeared