Month: March 2020

It’s a Beautiful Day – Why Has Nobody Noticed that Side One Is Often Summed to Mono? (Besides Us)

itsab

This Super Hot Stamper Red Label pressing gives you most of the 360 Label’s rich, Tubey Magical sound, and that’s saying a lot; most red label pressings of this record are absolute junk. About half of the side ones are in MONO — how about that! Who knew, right?

Just did a search and cannot find a single mention of this fact.

Seems that someone should have noticed it by now (besides us of course).

How critically can music lovers and audiophiles be listening to their records if they don’t notice such a glaringly obvious change in the sound?

Here’s what we had to say about a copy on our site a while back:

Going through our clean 360 label pressings (which aren’t cut quite as loud by the way so watch out when doing your own shootouts), we found one that was better and one that was worse. Others were just too noisy. This red label pressing was BY FAR THE BEST of the red label reissues, with A++ sound on both sides that frankly took us by surprise.

As we so often say, Who knew? Now that we’ve heard red labels that sound this good we are on the hunt! They can be found, and they’re usually not in trashed condition the way the 360s are.

Which is a shame because the music is WONDERFUL. Unlike some of their contemporaries, this band had excellent songwriting and arranging skills. This album is good from first track to last, with plenty of time set aside for those “progressive” excursions that make this such a ’60s Psych Classic.

And a mostly undiscovered audio gem too. The sound is wonderfully spacious and Three Dimensional, with tight bass and real dynamics. Of special interest to audiophiles is the vocal reproduction. La Flamme sings lead with a female doing high harmony, and the best way to describe this sound is MAGICAL.

Add to this lovely sound the added benefit of having a violin as the lead instrument and you have a record unlike any other in your collection. Take the intro to White Bird as just one example: the plucking strings you hear at the opening are not those of an acoustic guitar, but rather the pizzicato playing of a violin. These unique sonic qualities can be found everywhere on the album, making it a real treat for audiophiles and music lovers alike. (more…)

Jerry Garcia (Compliments)

xxxxx

  • STUNNING sound for Jerry’s sophomore solo effort with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • “This was an opportunity for Garcia to do something different — to sing, to perform, and to arrange a variety of songs however he wanted. As a result, he surely sounded like he was having the time of his life…” – John Metzger, The Music Box

(more…)

Frank Sinatra – Songs for Swingin’ Lovers – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

xxxxx

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

This is a Minty Capitol Black Label original LP with No Bar Code. They don’t come any better than this! It is amazingly quiet for an old Capitol, with excellent sound throughout.

Many of the Sinatra Capitol Black Label releases do not sound good. They’re full of harmonic distortion, much like The Beatles’ records from that era. This copy is the exception. It’s full of life and clearly made from a good tape.

Sinatra pressings like this one benefit from better mastering, with those occasionally shrill upper mids under control while keeping the rich, warm sound of Sinatra’s voice intact. (Many reissues are flat and compressed, not to mention thin, grainy, and irritating.)  (more…)

Herbie Mann – Live At The Village Gate on Audio Fidelity Heavy Vinyl

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: D-

Hall of Shame pressing and another Audio Fidelity / DCC LP debunked.

A murky mess. Hard to imagine you couldn’t find a common domestic pressing that wouldn’t sound better..  (more…)

The Curtis Counce Group – Vol. 2: Counceltation

xxxxx

  • Insanely good sound throughout for this Contemporary Yellow Label pressing with both sides earning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades, just shy of our Shootout Winner 
  • These sides are superb — clean, clear, full-bodied and dynamic with tons of energy
  • Counce is a wonderful bassist and here he’s joined by Jack Sheldon, Harold Land, Carl Perkins and Frank Butler; I think you’ll be very impressed with how good this music from the late ’50s still sounds today
  • “Bassist Curtis Counce led one of the finer West Coast-based groups of the 1950s, a quintet that was greatly underrated… This excellent music falls somewhere between hard bop and cool jazz.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

(more…)

Letter of the Week – Countdown to Ecstasy, Katy Lied and John Barleycorn

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

Hey Tom, 

Guys, seriously, all three copies, completely out of control !! Unbelievable difference in sound, outstanding!!!!

Thank you.

Alonso,

It was our pleasure! Now you know what Hot Stampers are all about — the sound you can’t find any other way.

Best, TP


Countdown to Ecstasy


Katy Lied


John Barleycorn Must Die

Ella Fitzgerald – Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie – Our Favorite Female Vocal Album of All Time

xxxxx

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

The first “Triple Triple” MONO copy to ever hit the site — A+++ from start to finish. Our knockout mono pressing here was fuller, more natural and more involving than any copy we heard in our shootout. with immediacy to put Ella practically in the room with you, it’s her performance that really comes to life. It’s our single Favorite Female Vocal album here at Better Records, one that gets better with each passing year.

Check out what the lucky owner of this copy had to say about it.

PR Writes

As you probably know, I own superb copies of the stereo. They both fade into pastel in comparison with this mono. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Out of Our Heads

xxxxx

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

This is the first truly killer copy to ever hit the site, quite possibly the best we’ve ever heard, A+++ on both sides. It’s a problematical recording, but these British sides impressed us with their better balance, more bass, and least amount of grit and edge. With top engineers like Dave Hassinger and Glyn Johns one would hope for better sound, but this, folks, is about as good as it gets as far as we know.

Like the really good Decca version of Aftermath, this record has amazing transparency, rich bass and relatively little distortion compared to other versions we have played. Also, like Aftermath some songs sound much better than others. That’s just the way old Stones record are. Part of this album was recorded in Hollywood and part of it was recorded in Chicago — that may explain some of the variation in the quality. (more…)

John Coltrane – Coltrane’s Sound – Forget the ’70s Reissues

More John Coltrane

xxxxx

This is yet another superb Tom Dowd recording of Coltrane in his prime, with support from the brilliant McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones.

Advice

Forget the later Red and Green Atlantic pressings. Every one we’ve ever played was flat, dry, and thin. They sound like the cheap reissues that Atlantic churned out in the ’70s. Don’t get me wrong; there are some good sounding records on the Red and Green label, but you really have to know what you are doing — or be really lucky — to find them.

We’ve played them by the score, and found relatively few winners among a slough of losers. If you want to take your chances on some, knock yourself out, more power to you, but expect to come up with nothing to show for your time and money almost every time. That’s been our experience anyway.

And be very thankful if you happen to run into one of these early Atlantic stereo pressings, especially if it plays as quietly as this one does. Few Classic Coltrane albums survived the jazz lovers of the day and their awful turntables

The Players

John Coltrane — tenor saxophone on all except “Central Park West” soprano saxophone on “Central Park West” and “26-2”
McCoy Tyner — piano
Steve Davis — bass
Elvin Jones — drums (more…)

Dean Martin – Holiday Cheer

Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound…

and One We Will Probably Never Shootout Again

Some records never justified the time and money required to find Hot Stamper pressings of them in order to make it worth our while to do them again. This is one such album, and the link above will take you to many more.

xxxxx
xxxxx
xxxxx

  • Exceptionally good Double Plus sound (A++) sound or close to it on both sides — big, rich and full
  • With a voice that is relaxed, smooth and warm, Dino is the perfect guy to sing these songs
  • More songs on this copy than on the original?! However many there are, they’re all good
  • Subtitled “Romantic vocals for the warmest kind of winter season”

Both Sides

Big and rich without the excessive, phony sparkle we hear on so many copies. There’s some nice clarity here as well — the background singers on the second track sound rich and clear, just the way they should.

A surprisingly large number of copies suffered from a lack of Tubey Magic, including even the 1959 originals we had on hand. Dino also gets a little hot and sparkly in the upper midrange depending on the song — watch for it.

All the copies we played were stereo. We’ve had very poor luck with mono Dean Martin records in the past and tend to avoid them. (The mono of Dream With Dean is a joke. Don’t waste your money.)   (more…)