Month: January 2020

Art Blakey – Meet You At The Jazz Corner… Volume 1

xxxxx

  • The first in this superb 2-volume live set makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Tubier, more present, more alive, with more of that “jumpin’ out of the speakers” quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has
  • Credit goes to RVG once again for the huge space that the superbly well recorded combo occupies
  • “Here all ears are tuned to the proverbial “jazz corner of the world,” better known as Birdland, where the quintet serves up a healthy sampling of its concurrent catalog… a welcome addition to the library of most any jazz lover.”

(more…)

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers

xxxxx

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

This is the best record the Stones ever made (along with Let It Bleed and Beggars Banquet – all three have the potential for outstanding sound — the trick is, as always, finding the right pressing).

The sound is exactly what you want from a Stones album: deep punchy bass and dynamic grungy guitars. This record is to be played loud like it says on the inner sleeve and the surface noise is to be ignored. The louder you play it, the less bothersome the noise will be. This album ROCKS and it was not made to be listened to in a comfy chair with a glass of wine. (more…)

Paganini / Violin Concertos 1 & 2 – Expensive Heavy Vinyl Trash

xxxxx

Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning (usually old) records. 

Had I paid good money to buy this pressing in the hopes of hearing the supremely talented Yehudi Menuhin of 1961 tear it up on Paganini’s legendary first two concertos, I can tell you one thing: I would be pissed.

Where is the outrage in the audiophile community over this kind of trash? I have yet to see it. I suspect I will grow quite a bit older and quite a bit greyer before anyone else notices just how bad this record sounds. I hope I’m proven wrong.

Screechy, bright, shrill, thin and harsh, it’s hard to imagine worse sound to be subjected to from this piece of Heavy Vinyl trash.

NO warmth. NO sweetness. NO richness. NO Tubey Magic. In other words, NO trace of the original’s (or the early reissue’s) analog sound. I may own at most one or two classical CDs that sound this bad, and I own quite a few. I have to wonder how records this awful get released. Then again, the Heavy Vinyl Buyer of today is not known for his discrimination; if he were Sundazed and Analogue Productions would have gone out of business many years ago. (more…)

Nat King Cole – Just One Of Those Things

xxxxx

 

  • This outstanding vintage Stereo Capitol pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) sonic grades on both sides
  • Here is the sound we love at Better Records – these sides are full-bodied and Tubey Magical, with especially smooth, present vocals
  • “Cole gives an assured, unhurried performance. And that’s the point: that Cole has tamed the rambunctious May does not mean he doesn’t give wonderful interpretations to some wonderful songs: ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,’ ‘Just One of Those Things,’ ‘The Song Is Ended (But the Melody Lingers On).’ And the light-handed swing supports those efforts well.” – All Music

(more…)

David Bowie – Space Oddity – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

xxx

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

One of the reasons the song “Space Oddity” sounds so amazing is that it was produced by none other than Gus Dudgeon, the man behind all the best Elton John records. It has Paul Buckmaster doing the string arrangements as well. His work on Elton’s self-titled album is awe-inspiring; we know of none better. (more…)

Art Pepper – Saturday Night At The Village Vanguard

xxxxx

  • KILLER sound throughout with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too  
  • This is Art Pepper at its best, and if anyone can capture the realism of a live jazz club, it’s the engineers and producers at Contemporary, in this case Bob Simpson and Lester Koenig
  • One of the man’s most enjoyable albums – the sound here was bigger and livelier than any other – above all it’s balanced, avoiding many of the problems we heard on other pressings
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The great altoist was clearly excited to be playing at the famous New York club, and his rhythm section — pianist George Cables, bassist George Mraz and drummer Elvin Jones — consistently stimulates his imagination.”

This album features the great Elvin Jones on drums, plus Geoge Cables on piano and George Mraz on bass.

We played all four volumes of Art Pepper’s Village Vanguard series recently, and this copy was one of the best of the bunch. It features an intense live version of Pepper’s tune The Trip, from the wonderful album of the same title, as well as extended versions of the tunes You Go To My Head and Cherokee. (more…)

Pink Floyd / Dark Side of the Moon – “NEVER would I have thought a single record could make this kind of difference…”

pinkfdarks

pinkfdarkside180

Dan, our letter writer, is a new convert to the world of Hot Stampers. Although his system is modest by his own admission, the sound he was able to conjure up in his living room was “…a revelation…”
A good Dark Side can have that effect on you.

Hi Tom,
I received this DSOTM yesterday…

First I played the 180gm 25th anniversary release, so I listened to the first side. While it didn’t necessarily ‘grab’ me, I sat through and listened, with the assumption that I really needed to get a feel for this to do a somewhat critical A/B listening experience.

Then I put this Hot Stamper on.

From the very beginning, I heard vocals I never heard before, in my 12 years of listening to this album. There was such a dramatically engaging ‘dreamlike’ flow to the music, that I have never experienced before! The soundstage was so 3-dimensional, the speakers disappeared, and moment after moment, I completely forgot I was sitting in my living room!

NEVER would I have thought a single record could make this kind of difference… it was TRULY one of those rare experiences – a revelation, of recreating an actual concert in one’s listening room.

While my system is quite modest by most accounts, this is a new chapter in the music playback book, to hear/ listen to something that is so lifelike, everything else disappears.

I look forward to enjoying this for a lifetime.

Sincerely,
Dan E.

Dan started out by emailing me about having some records cleaned, especially a copy of the Dark Side on Heavy Vinyl remastered for the 25th Anniversary of its release, by Doug Sax with the assistance of Kevin Gray (basically just using Kevin’s mastering chain).

My less-than-artful reply:

Dan, this is not a good sounding record. Cleaning it won’t help it much. Boosted top, zero ambience, it’s a dog on most levels.

My excuse for being curt? Simply this: Who has time to waste talking about a bad sounding record? The world is full of them. Their shortcomings are obvious to anyone with even a halfway-decent stereo. (Apparently such stereos are in shorter supply than one would think.) But everything is relative; the Heavy Vinyl beat Dan’s SACD, so he naturally concluded that it must be pretty good, since SACD is widely considered the latest and greatest digital software around.

But we here at Better Records think all this digital foolishness is a load of crap, a dead end. The reason we think that is that we have access to amazing sounding pressings of records like Dark Side, and they have the kind of sound no CD or digital media of any kind has — in our experience — ever had. We call them – you guessed it — Hot Stampers.

When Dan asked if we had a Hot Stamper that would blow his mind and blow that Heavy Vinyl version right out of the water, I said “Hell Yeah!”

The rest is history I guess. (more…)

Julie Is Her Name – A Boxstar Bomb

 

londojulieis_debunk_1258562077

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex / Boxstar.

One question: Where’s the Tubey Magic?

We would never have pointed you in the direction of this awful Boxstar 45 of Julie Is Her Name, cut by Bernie Grundman, supposedly on tube equipment. I regret to say that we actually sold some copies, but in my defense I can honestly and truthfully claim that we never wrote a single nice thing about the sound of the record. That has to count for something, right? (more…)

Oscar Peterson – Plays The Jimmy McHugh Song Book

xxxxx

  • This superb Oscar Peterson album boasts a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The piano has heft, the drums are big, and everything is relaxed and natural – this copy is doing pretty much what we want a top quality ’50s Peterson album to do
  • Songs you know well – I’m In The Mood For Love; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, etc.
  • The last in the “Oscar Peterson Plays” series – Oscar puts his sublime touches to these timeless Jimmy McHugh classics
  • “[Peterson’s] sound was consistently classy and first rate here, as it was for his entire career… impeccable taste and technique and the best songs out there…”

(more…)

10cc – Sheet Music – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

xxxxx

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

A KILLER SIDE ONE backed with a STRONG side two. We just finished our first shootout in years for this great album and this copy has a side one that just couldn’t be beat. The sound is lively, full-bodied and rich with exceptional clarity and transparency. Those of you who have gotten a kick out of our Deceptive Bends or Original Soundtrack albums are obviously going to find a lot to like here.

Side two has nice weight to the bottom end and good presence, but doesn’t have the last degree of resolution that side one gives you. There’s a touch of grain on the vocals, but that’s par for the course. We gave this side an A+, which means it should beat the pants off most copies out there.

If you are not familiar with this recording, you will find few rock records as dynamic immediate, punchy and as full of ambience and openness as this. Eric Stewart was and is a studio wizard and he worked his magic big time on this album.

I would have to say that this is the most consistently well written 10cc album, with every track being excellent, one song flowing into the next and never a dull moment to be found. This is arguably the best record they ever made, although I’m such a fan, I think they’re all great! (The first five albums anyway.) (more…)