Month: March 2020

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

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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)

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  • 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

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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

Sonic Grade: D-

Hall of Shame pressing. It’s yet another Disastrous Heavy Vinyl release with godawful sound.

What a murky mess.

Hard to imagine you couldn’t find a common domestic pressing that wouldn’t sound better.. 

“Mann’s hit version of “Comin’ Home Baby” from this live set became his first big hit. Composer Ben Tucker plays second bass on that cut, and Mann’s other sidemen include vibraphonist Hagood Hardy, bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik, drummer Rudy Collins, and Chief Bey and Ray Mantilla on percussion. In addition to “Comin’ Home Baby,” Mann and his men perform memorable versions of “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So”; the latter is 20 minutes long. Recommended.” – AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review 


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

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

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…)

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

  • 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…)

AC/DC – High Voltage

  • A KILLER sounding import copy of AC/DC’s original Australian debut album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • These sides are doing just about everything right — big, full-bodied, lively and dynamic with tight punchy bass and wonderfully rich and present vocals
  • “As debut album titles go, AC/DC’s High Voltage supplied a perfect encapsulation of the band’s electrifying brand of rock & roll. So perfect, in fact, they actually used it twice: for their first album proper, the Australian-only version of High Voltage, released in February 1975; and for the better-known international debut from mid-1976, which was essentially a collection of highlights from the former and its late-1975 successor, TNT.”

(more…)

Steve Miller Band – The Joker – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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It took two separate pressings — on two different Capitol labels no less — to bring you White Hot Stamper sound from first note to last on this, Steve Miller’s breakthrough album. The Joker may have topped the charts in January of 1974, but the average pressing has that song sounding worse than it does on the radio! Most copies of this record just plain suck (to use the vernacular appropriate to the band). Dry, thin, flat, opaque, smeary, small, midrangy — we’ve all heard ’70s Capitol pressings with this sound, and most copies of this album have some, even most, of these shortcomings.

Which is why it takes two different records from two different eras in order to get you good sound for both sides. (more…)

Dexter Gordon – Our Man In Paris

 

  • Both sides of this vintage RVG-mastered Deep Groove pressing earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus grades (A+++) on this Dexter Gordon classic from 1963
  • The sound of the saxophone is so full-bodied and Tubey Magical you won’t believe it – where is that sound today?
  • The top opens up nicely and there is plenty of space in the studio, giving all the players room to breathe
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Gordon is at the very top of his game here. His playing is crisp, tight, and full of playful fury. Powell, who at this stage of his life was almost continually plagued by personal problems, never sounded better than he does in this session.”

The cover is exceptionally nice on this copy by the way.

The sound here is lively and energetic with plenty of low end weight. These sides have the whomp that you don’t hear on too many Blue Note LPs! The sound of the saxophone is captured beautifully – it’s breathy with clearly audible leading-edge transients.

The bluesy version of Willow Weep For Me on side one is wonderful. Scrapple From The Apple (also on side one) has a silky top end anchored by deep, well-defined bass.

It was not that many years ago that we didn’t care a fig about Dexter Gordon. After finding Crazy Hot copies of One Flight Up and now this amazing record, we’re counting ourselves ardent members of his fan club.

If you’re looking for an original stereo pressing — and good luck finding one in audiophile playing condition — this is not the copy for you. If you’re looking for an exceptionally good sounding stereo pressing, regardless of label, one that plays reasonably quietly for a 50+ year old record, this simply cannot do better than this very LP. (more…)