Bryan Ferry – Bete Noire

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  • An exceptional pressing, with Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Both sides of this hit-packed 1987 Ferry UK pressing are big, rich and tubey – dramatically fuller than most of the others we played
  • Kiss & Tell and The Right Stuff are two of the bigger bangers here, and they both sound the way they should – big and clear
  • Four Stars in AMG: “Bete Noire sparkles as the highlight of Ferry’s post-Roxy solo career… Here, his trademark well-polished heartache strikes a fine balance between mysterious moodiness and dancefloor energy…”

Bigger, richer and cleaner than nearly any other copy we played. Almost no grain or congestion – just sweet, sweet sound like you have never heard on this album before.

There’s much less phony processing and grit on Ferry’s voice than on most of the copies we played. The space and ambience are likewise excellent. The sound by track two is actually quite good (track one being a bit dull as a rule).

Import Vs. Domestic

In our experience, it’s not really much help to know what country the record was pressed in.

The domestic pressings are Direct Metal Mastered, the imports are not. Not being mastered DMM did not seem to confer any real benefit to the sound, which to us was a bit counterintuitive, but that’s the reason we do shootouts, so we know the actual sound of the vinyl rather than the sound our biases would lead us to expect.

Size

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

What are the criteria by which a record like this should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, vocal presence, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, and on and on down through the list.

When we can get all, or most all, of the qualities above to come together on any given side we provisionally award it a grade of “contender.” Once we’ve been through all our copies on one side we then play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner for that side. Repeat the process for the other side and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides matched up.

It may not be rocket science, but it is a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we’ve developed over the course of many years to ensure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can make them.

The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing — or your money back.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Limbo
Kiss & Tell
New Town
Day for Night
Zamba

Side Two

The Right Stuff 
Seven Deadly Sins
The Name of the Game 
Bête Noire

AMG Review

Hooking up with regular Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard as the co-producer of this album proved to be just the trick for Ferry. Bete Noire sparkles as the highlight of Ferry’s post-Roxy solo career, adding enough energy to make it more than Boys and Girls part two.

Here, his trademark well-polished heartache strikes a fine balance between mysterious moodiness and dancefloor energy, and Leonard adds more than a few tricks that keep the pep up… In sum, a great listen from start to finish.

Billboard

Former Roxy Music maestro’s much-awaited follow-up to “Boys And Girls” harbingers well for his new association with Reprise. Like past Ferry solo efforts, this displays the singer/writer’s usual suaveness; tunes hinge on his familiar theme of l’amour moderne on the rocks. Tracks are uniformly solid, although “Kiss & Tell” and “Seven Deadly Sins” stand out.