Month: May 2019

Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – The Earliest Stampers Sound the Best, Right?

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More Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

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Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

We had a White Hot stamper listing a while back with these comments featured prominently in the description: 

This is BY FAR the best sounding Goodbye Yellow Brick Road to ever hit the site, and BY FAR the best sounding copy we have ever played here at Better Records. And for those of you who think that the early stampers must be the best, note that this killer copy had no side with a stamper under three. How about them apples? As we like to say, screw all that Platonic thinking; we find the empirical approach of playing the records works a whole lot better, thank you very much.

We certainly never expected to hear it sound like this, I can tell you that. I’ve never begun to hear these songs have the energy, presence and rock and roll POWER that they do here. (more…)

Rod Stewart – Never A Dull Moment – 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 NADM. 

Most copies tend to be dull, veiled, thick and congested, but the trick with the better pressings is being able to separate out the various parts with ease and hear right INTO the music.

Just listen to those meaty electric guitars, the note-like bass or that amazing snare drum sound with such a huge THWACK — that’s the raw power of rock n’ roll, baby.

It’s also surprisingly airy, open, and spacious — not quite what you’d expect from a bluesy British rock album like this, right? Not too many Faces records sound like this, we can tell you that.

But the engineers here managed to pull it off. One of them was Glyn Johns (mis-spelled in the credits Glynn Johns), who’s only responsible for the first track on side one, True Blue. Naturally that happens to be one of the best sounding tracks on the whole album. (more…)

Ron Nevison – One of Our Favorite Engineers

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More of Our Favorite Engineers

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RON NEVISON is one of our favorite engineers. He recorded Bad Company’s debut, a Top 100 album for us, as well as Straight Shooter. In 1973 he engineered Quadrophenia, taking the reins away from Glyn Johns after his success with the amazing Who’s Next.

1977 saw him working on the sprawling mess that turned into Physical Graffitti.

Engineering

Bad Company was one of RON NEVISON’S early engineering jobs. The year before (1973) he had been behind the board at Ronnie Lane’s Mobile Studio for Quadrophenia, one of the best sounding Who albums we know of and a longtime member of our Top 100 (as is this album). He also knocked it out of the park on Bad Company’s followup release, 1975’s Straight Shooter. In 1977 he worked on the sprawling mess that turned into Physical Graffitti.

If you have top quality copies of any of them you should be able to recognize the qualities they all seem to have in common. This guy definitely knew how to get The Big Rock Sound onto analog tape.

Our job here at Better Records is simply to find you the very special pressings that actually reproduce all the energy and rock and roll firepower that Nevison captured. It ain’t easy but we don’t mind doing it — these are clearly some of the All Time Great Rock Albums of the ’70s (or any other decade you care to name) and we just never get tired of hearing them.

Nevison went on to do many of the biggest selling rock albums of the ’80s, but The ’80s Sound has never held much appeal for us. This explains why you find so few recordings from the era on our site, silk purses, sow’s ears and all that. Ron Nevison This very album was one of Ron’s first big engineering jobs .(They passed on Glyn Johns if you can imagine that.) He went on to do Bad Company’s debut, a Top 100 album for us, as well as Straight Shooter, which in some ways I like even better as a recording, and then the sprawling mess that turned into Physical Graffitti. He went on to do lots of the biggest selling monster rock albums of the ’80s, but The ’80s Sound has never held much appeal for us, which is of course why you find so few recordings from that era on our site, silk purses, sow’s ears and all that. (more…)

Letter of the Week – After The Gold Rush

After The Gold Rush

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

Hey Tom,  

I just wanted to thank you for helping me own my first “White Hot Stamper.” I have had two copies of After the Gold Rush and none of them comes close to my WHS copy. I’m perfectly happy owning Hot Stampers and a few Super Hot Stampers, but this WHS is really different. To begin with, it is a quiet copy that allows you to hear and almost feel the texture of the instruments. It also has lots of energy, tight bass, big sound stage, and most of all a silky top end. Without exaggeration, the overall sound is like as if I have upgraded my entire system.

My biggest challenge now is, with few exceptions, all my favorite non-Hot Stamper albums need upgrading too. But with you guys around, I just have to wait till my favorite albums show up on your Hot Stampers list.

GG

Delibes / Sylvia and Coppelia / Rignold – Reviewed in 2008

More of the music of Leo Delibes (1836-1891) 

More Sylvia and Coppelia / Rignold 

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

DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND. This record was thoroughly enjoyed by its previous owner and I know why: it’s great! This title is also extremely rare for some reason. One of the top five Vics. Look for a clean one; you won’t be disappointed. 

[This is a very old commentary so take it for what it’s worth.]

Tony Bennett – The Many Moods Of Tony

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  • Both sides of this vintage Black Print 360 pressing earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades for their superb sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Everything that’s good about All Tube Vocal Recordings from the ’50s and ’60s is precisely what’s good about the sound of this record 
  • “The moods vary from a wild Caravan, introduced with a drum solo by Chico Hamilton joined by flute and bass and seemingly held together by Tony’s voice alone, to Don Costa’s almost cinematic big orchestra styling of Spring in Manhattan as well as the lightly melancholy moods of When Joanna Loved Me and Don’t Wait Too Long. Throughout the album, Tony’s effortlessly soaring voice gives meaning to every number.”

Albums such as this live and die by the quality of their vocal reproduction. On this record Mr. Tony Bennett himself will appear to be standing right in your listening room, along with the other other musicians from theses sessions.

Transparency and Tubey Magic are critical to the sound of the orchestra and you will find both in abundance on these sides. (more…)

Our Favorite Tchaikovsky 1812 – The Alwyn Performance on Decca

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1812 / Marche Slave / Alwyn

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

A BEYOND White Hot Quadruple Plus side one – hear Tchaikovsky’s 1812 in Demo Disc sound. This is the most exciting and beautifully played 1812 we know of, with the best sound ever to boot on this copy. This is an exceptional Decca remastering of a superb Golden Age recording on very good vinyl.

The WHOMP FACTOR on this side one has to be heard to be believed. If you’ve got the woofers for it this record is going to rock your world!

Strings Are Key

The lower strings are rich and surrounded by lovely hall space. This is not a sound one hears on record often enough and it is glorious when a pressing as good as this one can make that sound clear to you. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Sticky Fingers

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

Hey Tom, 

I bought the Sticky you suggested (seemed like a dare). Like I said, I have several pressings, including the horrible MFSL. This sounds better than all of them, by far. My sense is that it’s a tough album, deliberately a bit muddy and smeared and inconsistent from track to track, which made the quest even more appealing. This one is great; involving, NOT smeared, 3D — most of all it invites me in, instead of saying “OK, this may be a bit cloudy, but try to enjoy anyway.” I’m on my 5th listen. And Catch Bull at Four is also seriously good. Such an underrated album. I’ll be back, inasmuch as most of my other vinyl sounds flaccid > compared to these.

John

 

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The Recordings of Tony Bennett – These Are Some that Didn’t Make the Grade

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More of that Didn’t Make the Grade

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These are just some of the recordings by Tony Bennett that we’ve auditioned recently 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.   

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

Tony Bennett Albums with Hot Stampers
Tony Bennett Albums We’ve Reviewed

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Pendulum

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Pendulum

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  • This Fantasy stereo pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus ( A++) side two
  • Both sides here are quite a bit richer and fuller than most with a big bottom end and solid midrange presence and energy
  • 4 stars: “John Fogerty spent time polishing the production, bringing in keyboards, horns, even a vocal choir. His songs became self-consciously serious and tighter, working with the aesthetic of the rock underground — Pendulum was constructed as a proper album, contrasting dramatically with CCR’s previous records, all throwbacks to joyous early rock records where covers sat nicely next to hits and overlooked gems tucked away at the end of the second side.”

(more…)