Month: April 2019

Philippe Entremont – The Chopin I Love

More of the music of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This is an undiscovered Columbia gem from 1970. Both musically and sonically this record is superb. Who knew Columbia could record a piano this well? You could play fifty vintage piano recordings and not find one as good as this! We know, we’ve played plenty, including a number of Entremont’s Columbia records that don’t sound too good to us. Maybe we need to find a Hot Stamper of some of the weaker titles, but it hasn’t happened yet. A word of advice: avoid the piano concertos. We have yet to hear a good one. Those steely Columbia strings are far from our idea of good sound.

These solo piano pieces are performed with consummate skill and deep feeling by the legendary Phillipe Entremont. His liner notes are beautifully written and insightful as well — well worth reading.

Fortunately this record has no strings, just a solid, clear piano in a big hall. (more…)

Bread – The Best of Bread Vol. 2 – Reviewed in 2010

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

This very nice looking Elektra Butterfly Label LP has the best sound I’ve ever heard for this compilation. Keep in mind that this is an album of mostly weak material, not in the class with the first ’Best of Bread’ by a long shot. However, some of these songs sound quite good here, easily better than the typical Bread album from which they are taken. Listen to ‘Been Too Long On The Road’ or ‘He’s A Good Lad’ to hear the best sounding Bread.

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um

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More Mingus Ah Um

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout
  • Another amazing 30th Street Studio recording by the legendary Fred Plaut – if you like Kind of Blue, here’s another album with that sound (same year, same studio, same engineer)
  • The rich, sweet, spacious sound of the vintage tubes used to record the session is reproduced faithfully here
  • 5 stars: “Mingus Ah Um is a stunning summation of the bassist’s talents and probably the best reference point for beginners… Mingus’ compositions and arrangements were always extremely focused, assimilating individual spontaneity into a firm consistency of mood, and that approach reaches an ultra-tight zenith on Mingus Ah Um”

This is one of the better sounding copies from our most recent shootout. We were lucky enough to acquire a few clean LPs over the course of the last year, and this was far and away better than most copies.

That Vintage Jazz sound is on the tape, and I know that because the mastering for this copy is modern, no doubt from the early ’70s, long after tubes had been banished from the chain. In this case, you get the best of both worlds, with the tonal correctness, clarity, presence and energy of modern cutting equipment as well as the richness and sweetness of the vintage tubes used to record the sessions. (more…)

Chico Hamilton – The Further Adventures of El Chico

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

This very nice looking Impulse LP with No Bar Code features the amazing Gabor Szabo along with other top players like Clark Terry and Ron Carter.

Good pop jazz with excellent sound (except for the first track), and it plays quietly.

If you like Gabor Szabo, this record might be right up your alley.

The fold-open cover, with a paste-on back, has a small Promo hole in the bottom left hand corner. This record looks brand new!

“Chico Hamilton, a subtle and creative drummer, will probably always be better known for the series of quintets that he led during 1955-1965 and for his ability as a talent scout than for his fine drumming.” — AMG

Dexter Gordon – Our Man in Paris – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

AMAZING SOUND ON SIDE ONE, great sound on side two and quiet vinyl throughout. Most importantly, the music here is EXCELLENT. We shot out all the copies in the house, and nothing could hold a candle to this Blue Label pressing on side one. (more…)

Letter of the Week – America and Eagles

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

I want to tell you I bought America’s 1st lp from you some couple of years back. White Hot designation at that time. I don’t know if you have found one better since then. Paid big dollars and I still cannot believe the sound. Worth every penny. When I play that LP, I cannot avoid getting goose bumps or getting totally enveloped with the music. The guitars and vocals are flat out surreal. It is just as amazing as the Eagles 1st lp Hot Stamper. Un******believable that any record could sound that good.

Bill P.
Bluffton, OH

America

Eagles

The Ames Brothers – The Blend and the Beat

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  • Superb sound throughout with both sides earning a solid Double Plus (A++) for sound or BETTER – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • With Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation like you will not believe, this copy is spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience
  • If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good the All Tube Analog Recording Chain was that created the magic of Living Stereo for RCA in 1960, this killer pressing might just be the record that can do it

This copy of The Blend and the Beat has a lot in common with the other Decca and Living Stereo titles we’ve listed over the years, albums by the likes of Henry Mancini, Esquivel, Dick Schory, Edmundo Ros, Prez Prado and a handful of others. (more…)

Grateful Dead – Wake Of The Flood

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  • Stunning sound throughout with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides and vinyl that is about as quiet as we can find
  • This original pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce
  • A difficult album to find audiophile quality sound for, this is one of the best copies to ever hit the site
  • “Wake of the Flood was certainly as good – if not arguably better than – most of their previous non-live efforts.”

This is the album that comes after American Beauty on the Grateful Dead timeline, and while it’s certainly not in the same league as that masterpiece, there’s still a lot of good music on here. The All Music Guide gives it four stars out of five and calls it “certainly as good — if not arguably better than — most of their previous non-live efforts”. (more…)

Carly Simon – Hotcakes – What to Listen For

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Hotcakes.

Many copies of this album suffer from (at least) one of two problems: unnatural hi-fi sound or considerable grit and grain. Both are in large part due to the processing-intensive production of Richard Perry. On the best copies it’s easy to understand his choices as the sound is quite lovely. Unfortunately that rich, sweet sound he obviously got on to the master tape didn’t quite make it to the average vinyl pressing of the album.

The effects used on Carly’s vocals turn her voice into a gritty, grainy mess on most copies — certainly not the kind of sound that audiophiles want to hear. It took a few exceptional copies to make us understand what Simon and Perry were going for. Compare this Hot Stamper to the typical copy and you’ll hear it for yourself right away. (You DEFINITELY want your electricity really cookin’ for this shootout, because bad electricity will certainly exacerbate problems with grit and grain.) (more…)