Month: March 2018

Peter Gabriel – This Is Our Favorite of His First Four Releases


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  • A KILLER shootout winning UK copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides, on quiet vinyl too
  • The overall sound here is incredibly big and full, with punchy bass and energy that’s off the charts
  • Probably his most consistent recording, with the estimable Robert Fripp on guitar – some of his most innovative mainstream music
  • A 4 1/2 star: “…stunning slices of modern rock circa 1978, bubbling with synths, insistent rhythms, and polished processed guitars, all enclosed in a streamlined production that nevertheless sounds as large as a stadium.”

This is one of our favorite Peter Gabriel albums around here, and may well be the best recording he ever made. The typical copy, though, barely hints at just how good this album can sound. Only the best early British pressings have any hope of sounding this good.

Thankfully the second PG album does not suffer from the digital spit, grit and hash of So and Security. It’s arguably his best recording overall with superb dynamics and a clean, punchy rock sound that perfectly fits the music. Some of the cymbal crashes on the hot copies of this album really CRASH.

This is The Peter Gabriel Rock and Roll Album. To my knowledge he never made another. (more…)

ELP – Pictures At An Exhibition and its Gigantic Organ Sound



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  • An incredible copy of this ELP classic with both sides earing a Triple Plus (A+++)
  • Both sides here are super big and full with a massive bottom end and huge amounts of energy
  • Quiet vinyl for this title — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • “A sufficiently bold use of Mussorgsky’s original to stimulate hours of delightful listening.” — Allmusic

This Island British Import LP has amazing sound! It’s super full-bodied with excellent clarity and transparency. The low end has real weight and heft, so when Emerson really lays into the organ it’ll rattle your walls! (more…)

Listening in Depth to The Beatles – Help

More Help

More of The Beatles

Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series, this time for The Beatles’ amazing fifth album, released in 1965, Help.

Much like we said about the Please Please Me Hot Stampers, on the top copies the presence of the vocals and guitars is so real it’s positively startling at times. Drop the needle on You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away and turn up the volume — on the best copies it will be as if John and Paul were right there in your living room!

The best import copies of this album sound AMAZING, but the typical one is pretty mediocre. Most tend to be dull, with not enough extension up top, as well as thin, lacking weight and body from the lower midrange on down.


 In-Depth Track Commentary (more…)

A Question for Classic Records – What Did You Do to My Beloved Hot Rats?

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This Is Analog?

You could’ve fooled me. And somebody’s been messing around with the sound of the drums on the new version — a certain Mr. Frank Zappa no doubt. He really did the album a disservice.

Classic Meddling

Bernie’s version for Classic beats a lot of copies out there — the later Reprise pressings are never any good — but it can’t hold a candle to a good one. What’s wrong with the Classic? Well, to my ears it just doesn’t sound natural or all that musical. Sure, it’s a nice trick to beef up those drums and give them some real punch, but does it sound right? The other quality that the best copies have going for them and the Classic has none of is Tubey Magic. The Classic is clean, and at first that’s a neat trick since the originals tend to be a bit murky and congested. But it’s clean like a CD is clean, in all the wrong ways. This is analog? Coulda fooled me.
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Our Audiophile Vinyl Scorecard – Now 162 Strong

Our Audiophile Vinyl Scorecard

Winners and Losers

 

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Click here to sort the section alphabetically by manufacturer.

We have a section specifically devoted to our favorite pastime here at Better Records, a little something we like to call Debunking The Pseudo-Audiophile LP. The Audiophile’s Choice — the record that will do the best job of communicating the music through its superior sound quality — is almost never going to be the one marketed to him as an Audiophile Pressing. If you find this in any way hard to believe, we encourage you to read on.

Elvis Presley – It Happened At The World’s Fair


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

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  • An insanely good sounding copy: Triple Plus (A+++) on the first side, Double Plus (A++) on the second
  • If you want to know just how rich, spacious, natural and Tubey Magical an Elvis record can sound, here’s your chance to find out
  • Fairly quiet vinyl throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus – it’s unlikely any early pressing would ever play as well
  • Elvis’s early albums are rarely in audiophile playing condition, so finding these later pressings with such good sound has been a real ear opener

See all of our Elvis Presley albums in stock

This pressing has the glorious sound of 1963 in its grooves. It has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Bob Florence – Here And Now – and Tough to Find in Stereo

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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Bob Florence – Here And Now

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

A Five Star Album in the All Music Guide!

This lively big band LP has excellent sound!

At 32, Florence already largely had his writing style together. He utilized top L.A. studio players for this set including such soloists as altoist Bud Shank, the tenors of Bill Perkins and Bob Hardaway, and trombonist Herbie Harper, but it is the tricky charts on the four originals and four standards (including “The Song Is You” and “Straight No Chaser”) that make this an LP worth searching for.” – AMG

More recordings engineered by Bones Howe

The Moody Blues / In Search Of The Lost Chord – Listening in Depth

More of The Moody Blues

Reviews and Commentaries for The Moody Blues

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Achieving just the right balance of Tubey Magical, rich but not too rich “Moody Blues Sound” is no mean feat. You had better be using the real master tape for starters. Then you need a pressing with actual extension at the top, a quality rarely found on most imports. Finally, good bass definition is essential; it keeps the bottom end from blurring the midrange. No domestic copy in our experience has ever had these three qualities, and only the best of the imports manages to combine all three on the same LP.

On the best of the best the clarity and resolution comes without a sacrifice in the Tubey Magical richness, warmth and lushness for which the Moody Blues recordings are justifiably famous. In our experience the best LPs are correct from top to bottom, present and alive in the midrange, yet still retain the richness and sweetness we expect from British (and Dutch) Moody Blues records. They manage, against all odds, to remove the sonic barriers put up by most pressings of the Moodies’ unique music. Who knew, after so many years and so many bad records, that such a thing was even possible?

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Departure

The beginning of this track is fairly quiet and noise will be audible behind the music. Side two will suffer likewise.

Also, for some reason this track tends not to sound as good as those that follow. We never really noticed that effect before but during the shootout it became obvious that the real Moody Magic starts with track two.

Ride My See-Saw
Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?

This is THE key track for side one. The chorus “we’re all searching…” can sound shrill and hard on some copies. When it sounds ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL you have a Hot Stamper for side one.

House of Four Doors
Legend of a Mind

This is the famous Timothy Leary song. Every studio trick in the book is used on this track, brilliantly. This song perfectly encapsulates everything that’s good about The Moody Blues in this period. If you have any audiophile friends visiting, and you have a top quality, big speaker system, play them this song from this pressing and blow their minds. I guarantee you they have NEVER heard it sound like this! (Or the Moody Blues for that matter.)

House of Four Doors, Pt. 2

Side Two

Voices in the Sky
The Best Way to Travel

An outstanding psych arrangement — turn it up good and loud and let it rock!

Visions of Paradise
The Actor
The Word
Om

Listening in Depth to Joni Mitchell – Blue

More Joni Mitchell

More Blue

More Albums with Key Tracks for Critical Listening

The main reason it’s so difficult to find a good sounding pressing of this record is that most copies have a tendency towards hardness, shrillness and aggressiveness. There is a great deal of mid- to high-frequency information in this recording, and the problems arise when you take all that energy and try to stamp it into a piece of domestic vinyl.

If the vinyl wasn’t good on the day they pressed the record, it doesn’t matter how good the mastering is. The result is grain and grunge. Since Joni pushes her voice hard into her higher registers on many of these songs it’s often enough to make you leave the room. At the very least you would have to turn down the volume.

That’s on the copies that are mastered right! The copies that are mastered with thin and aggressive sound to start with can only get worse. Those are the rule, not the exception.

Breathy Vocals and Hot Stampers (more…)

James Taylor’s Last Good Album – Dad Loves His Work

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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James Taylor – Dad Loves His Work

This is one of our favorite James Taylor albums here at Better Records, a Forgotten Classic from 1981. It’s the last album written and performed by this hugely talented man that bears much resemblance to the quality of his early work. It’s steeply, steeply downhill after DLHW. (Case in point: His specials for PBS of the last few years are a positive cure for insomnia, with every song slowed down and all the energy drained from the material.)

But he still had fire in his belly when he made this one — one listen to Stand and Fight is all the evidence you need; the song rocks as hard as anything the guy ever did. And it’s got plenty of cowbell, always a good sign. (more…)