Month: November 2021

Today’s Cool Record Find from 1961 – Jack Sheldon And His All-Star Band

More Jazz Featuring the Trumpet

More of Our Favorite Titles from 1961

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) side two and a better than Double Plus (A++ to A+++) side one, here’s a copy that’s practically as good as it gets
  • This fun, lively, superbly well-recorded 1961 release is a real SLEEPER of Demo Disc Quality West Coast Jazz
  • Huge, spacious, clear, Tubey Magical, natural and above all REAL, this copy blew our minds when we stumbled on it in our shootout
  • 4 Stars: “High-quality and consistently swinging West Coast jazz … this was the initial album to gain wide recognition and helped to introduce the L.A.-based trumpeter’s talents to the East Coast.”

This is a wonderful example of the kind of record that makes record collecting FUN.

If you large group swinging West Coast Jazz is your thing — think Art Pepper Plus Eleven — you should get a big kick out of this one.
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Hall and Oates – Daryl Hall & John Oates

More Hall and Oates

  • Here the duo’s voices are rich, clear and present – they’re breathier and yet more natural, a combination that works wonders on this copy and is the main reason it won our shootout
  • Man, this is one tough nut to crack– gritty vocals, thin vocals, recessed vocals, smeary vocals — this music is all about the vocals and the vocals leave a lot to be desired on most of the copies we’ve played over the years
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… much of the album is lush and catchy, featuring ballads and midtempo numbers that are nearly as engaging as the duo’s breakthrough single, ‘Sara Smile.'”

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Haydn – 3 Quartets / The Janacek Quartet

More of the music of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Reviews and Commentaries for the music of Joseph Haydn

  • A wonderful album of chamber music with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Another one of those “sleeper” records we chance upon from time to time – it’s the very opposite of those echo-drenched recordings that some audiophiles like, with mics twenty feet away from the performers so that they are awash in “ambience.” Please.
  • If you’re looking for brilliantly performed quartet music recorded on an All Tube chain by the best engineers Decca had to offer (Gordon Parry in this case), hard to imagine you could do much better than this very disc

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Roberta Flack – Feel Like Makin’ Love

More Roberta Flack

  • This Atlantic pressing has insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • “Capping off a string of early-’70s hits with this album’s title track, Roberta Flack would soon take a sabbatical from the spotlight in 1975. And while she would return to the stage and studio, Flack never quite hit the heights of this and the handful of other MOR soul releases from the first half of the decade… Feel Like Making Love will still please the singer’s dedicated fans.”

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James Taylor / One Man Dog – Watch Out for Bass Blockage

More of the Music of James Taylor

Reviews and Commentaries for One Man Dog

Play Chili Dog here, one of our favorite tracks, and note not only the clarity and spaciousness, but the PUNCH and LIFE of the music. This song is supposed to be fun. The average somewhat compressed and dull copy only hints at that fact.

Then skip on down to the hit at the end of the side, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, another favorite track for testing.

There’s a lot of bass in the mix on this track, but the best copies keep it under control.

When it gets loose and starts blurring the midrange, the vocals and guitars seem “blocked.” The best copies let you hear all that meaty bass, as well as letting you hear into the midrange too.

One Man Dog, like many early WB pressings, has a tendency to be dull and opaque. (Most side twos have a real problem in that respect.) When you get a good, with more of an extended top end, it tends to come with much more space, size, texture, transparency, ambience and openness.

Of course it does; that’s where much of that stuff is, up high. Most copies don’t have nearly enough of it, but thankfully the best copies do.


FURTHER READING

Records that Are Good for Testing Bass and Whomp

Records that Are Good for Testing Bass Definition

Records that Are Good for Testing Energy

Records that Are Good for Testing the Lower Midrange and Mid-Bass

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Kenny Burrell – God Bless The Child

More Kenny Burrell

More recordings by Rudy Van Gelder

  • Amazing sound from start to finish on this Shootout Winning TRIPLE TRIPLE (A+++) copy
  • One of our favorite CTI albums, and surely one of the best sounding, especially on this pressing
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space that the superbly well-recorded orchestra occupies
  • AMG raves “This is Burrell at his level best as a player to be sure, but also as a composer and as a bandleader. Magnificent.”

God Bless The Child is one of our favorite orchestra-backed jazz records here at Better Records. A few others at the top of my list would be Wes Montgomery’s California Dreaming (1966, and also Sebesky-arranged), Grover Washington’s All the King’s Horses (1973) and Deodato’s Prelude (also 1973, with brilliant arrangements by the man himself).

What’s especially notable is how well-recorded the strings are. They have just the right amount of texture and immediacy without being forced or shrill. They’re also very well integrated into the mix. I wouldn’t have expected RVG to pull it off so well — I’ve heard other CTI records where the orchestration was abominable — but here it works as well as on any album I know of.

The bass is deep and defined; the tonality of the guitar and its overall harmonic richness are beautifully rendered. The piano has the weight and heft of the real thing.

This kind of warm, rich, Tubey Magical analog sound is gone forever. You have to go back to 1971 to find it. (more…)

Santana – Welcome

More Santana

More Fusion Jazz

  • The sound is big and rich, yet still wonderfully clean, clear and open with fantastic energy – you will not believe all the space and ambience here
  • An ambitious follow-up to Caravanserai, Welcome continued Carlos Santana’s foray into Jazz-Rock Fusion with music that remains powerful and intriguing even today
  • “Welcome was merely ahead of its time as a musical journey and is one of the more enduring recordings the band ever made. This is a record that pushes the envelope even today and is one of the most inspired recordings in the voluminous Santana oeuvre.” 

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Frames of Reference, Carefully Conducted Shootouts and Critical Listening

More Lessons Learned from Record Experiments

Hot Stamper Decca and London Pressings Available Now

180+ Reviews and Commentaries for Decca/London/Argo

The sound we were hearing on this copy during a recent shootout was both rich and sweet, with easily recognized, unerringly correct timbres for all seven of the instruments heard in the work. The legendary 1959 Decca Tree microphone setup had worked its magic once again.

And, as good as it was, we were surprised to discover that side two was actually even better! The sound was more spacious and more transparent. We asked ourselves, how is this even possible?

Hard to believe but side two had the sound that was TRULY Hard To Fault.

This is precisely what careful shootouts and critical listening are all about.

If you like Heavy Vinyl, what exactly is your frame of reference? How many good early pressings could you possibly own, and how were they cleaned?

Without the best pressings around to compare, Heavy Vinyl can sound fine. It’s only when you have something better to play that its faults come into focus.

We, of course, have something much, much better, and we like to call them Hot Stampers!

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Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus

  • An incredible sounding copy and one that we rarely have on the site — rich, full-bodied, Tubey Magical and super dynamic with tight note-like bass and a lovely clear and natural top end
  • About as quiet a vintage copy as we are ever likely to find – this pressing plays Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, which in our experience is practically a miracle
  • 5 Stars: “Sonny Rollins recorded many memorable sessions during 1954-1958, but Saxophone Colossus is arguably his finest all-around set… Essential music”

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George Shearing and the Montgomery Brothers – The Best Sounding George Shearing Record We’ve Ever Played

More Jazz Piano Recordings

More Wes Montgomery

  • This superb collabration makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish on this early Jazzland stereo pressing
  • With a rich, lively, present piano, as well as dead-on timbral accuracy for everyone else, this is by far the best sounding George Shearing record we have ever played
  • “… features a rich blend of sound between piano, guitar and vibes all firmly supported by Monk Montgomery’s formidable bass work and Walter Perkins’ solid drumming.”
  • 4 stars: “Pianist George Shearing meets up with guitarist Wes, vibraphonist Buddy, and bassist Monk Montgomery on this enjoyable if slightly lightweight outing… some fine soloing by the principals.”

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