Author: humorem

John Coltrane – Blue Train – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This Blue Note pressing has THE BEST SIDE TWO we’ve ever heard or expect to hear! It does EVERYTHING right, giving you the kind of Blue Train sound that most jazz fans have dreamed of forever but certainly have never heard before. The sound is absolutely KILLER, sounding dramatically more like live music than any copy we’ve played. It’s full-bodied and rich with tons of energy, YOU ARE THERE immediacy and wonderful clarity. There’s also a ton of tubey magic and an unbelievably strong bottom end, making this the kind of record that’s going to BLOW YOU AWAY. I bet you never believed Blue Train could sound like this — heck, we sure didn’t! (more…)

McCoy Tyner – Extensions

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Extensions

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  • With nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side one this copy has the real Blue Note magic 
  • The sound on side one was bigger, clearer, less boxy and simply more relaxed and musical than almost any other side we heard
  • The really good RVG pressings like this one sound shockingly close to live music
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “The all-star sextet stretches out on lengthy renditions of four of Tyner’s modal originals, and there is strong solo space for the leader and the two saxophonists. Wayne Shorter in particular is often quite intense. Stimulating music.”

With Alice Coltrane on harp, this is one trippy album! For those with adventurous tastes you are sure to have an interesting musical experience with this one.

We enjoy the sound of a great many Blue Note pressings from the ’70s, although to be fair there are plenty of dogs out there too. The reason this LP and others from the era have such transparency and such an extended top end compared with some of RVG’s older recordings is due, at least to some degree, to the better cutting equipment he had available to him in the ’70s. (more…)

Getz Au Go Go on the 1987 Reissue – Isn’t This Record Supposed to Be Stereo?

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As part of our recent shootout for the album we played what turned out to be a later reissue. According to my research it’s most likely from the late ’70s or early ’80s.   

As a general rule we make a point to go out of our way to play practically any copy we can get our hands on, in the off chance that a reissue will beat the original. It’s happened plenty of times. Those of you with White Hot Stamper shootout winning copies of some of our favorite titles know what I’m talkin’ about.

Imagine our surprise when this pressing — in a stereo jacket with the label you see in the picture with the word “stereo” printed right on it — turned out to be dead MONO!

The sound was godawful — small, flat, and bereft of the ambience that makes this recording so enjoyable. The same would probably be true for the mono originals but since I haven’t played one of those in decades I will just say that that would be no more than a guess, to be taken for what it’s worth

Yet another reason not to believe a word you read on an album jacket or label.

A public service from your record loving audiophile friends here at Better Records.

Cool Jazz

I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of this Getz album than any other, including those that are much more famous such as Getz/Gilberto (which doesn’t sound as good by the way). This one is (mostly) live in a nightclub and it immediately puts you in the right mood to hear this kind of jazz.

Listening to side one I’m struck with the idea that this is the coolest jazz record of cool jazz ever recorded. Getz’s take on Summertime is a perfect example of his “feel” during these sessions. His playing is pure emotion; every note seems to come directly from his heart.

What really sets these performances apart is the relaxed quality of the playing. He seems to be almost nonchalant, but it’s not a bored or disinterested sound he’s making. It’s more of a man completely comfortable in this live setting, surrounded by like-minded musicians, all communicating the same vibe. Perhaps they all got hold of some really good grass that day. That’s the feeling one gets from their playing. As one is listening, there’s a certain euphoria that seems to be part of the music. This is definitely one of those albums to get lost in.

AMG Review

… this recording hails from the venerable Greenwich Village venue, the Café Au Go Go, in mid-August of 1964 — two months after “Girl From Ipanema” became a Top Five pop single. However, the focus of Getz Au Go Go steers away from the Brazilian flavored fare, bringing Astrud Gilberto into the realm of a decidedly more North American style. That said, there are a few Antonio Carlos Jobim compositions — “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)” and “One Note Samba” — both of which would be considered as jazz standards in years to follow — as well as the lesser-circulated “Eu E Voce.” Getz and crew gather behind Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “It Might as Well Be Spring,” and the scintillating instrumental “Summertime,” from Porgy & Bess. Other equally engaging cuts include affective vocal readings of “Only Trust Your Heart,” and the diminutive, yet catchy “Telephone Song.” There is also some great interaction between Getz and Burton on “Here’s to That Rainy Day.” Getz Au Go Go is highly recommended for all dimensions of jazz enthusiasts.

 

 

Letter of the Week – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, A Little Touch of Schmilsson and Stardust

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

Hey Tom, 

I was totally blown away by the Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 album you sent me. The lovely, sweet female vocals and the awesome percussion was to die for. For a supposed easy listening album, I was getting very excited! In fact, I cannot stop listening to it. My only compliant is it is too short in duration. When it is over, I want (need?) more! Do his other albums sound like this? If so, I will be buying more.

This is what I love about you guys, you turn me on to albums I would never have even thought to listen to. For example, on your recommendation, I ordered Harry Nillsson’s A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night. This is an album I would never have given a second look at, yet, as soon as the needle hit the groove, I was floored. The vocal presence is startling. It is like Harry is in the room singing to me. It reminds me a lot of one of my other favourites I bought from you a while back – a White Hot copy of Willie Nelson’s Stardust. 

Willie, Harry and Sergio as demo discs…who would have thought! (more…)

Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow (Mono) – Sundazed Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: C-

Back around 2000 I spent a fair amount of time comparing this pressing with both an RCA 1S Black Label original, two different RCA Orange Label reissues, and the DCC 180 gram pressing. To make a long story short, if you’re willing to buy this record for the songs that really sound amazing on it, like “Today”, then you should try one.  (more…)

Chopin / Ashkenazy in Concert – Reviewed in 2009

More of the music of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

Superb sounding Decca British Import LP!

This live recording has very natural sound. I normally do not care for Ashkenazy’s playing, but here he plays with a conviction that is usually lacking. Check out the 2nd movement on the sonata. (more…)

Bob Dylan and The Band – The Basement Tapes – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This Columbia Double LP pressing has some of the very best sound we’ve heard for this album, with all four sides finishing strongly in a recent shootout. Of course, given the nature of these recordings, you don’t get stunning sonics along the line of, say, Magical Mystery Tour or Dark Side Of The Moon, but at least you get to hear these great songs sound the way they were intended to, without the complications of bad mastering and pressing getting in the way.  (more…)

Harry Belafonte – Jump Up Calypso – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES on this Living Stereo pressing that should easily beat your DCC version — or your money back! We played a big stack of these recently and are happy to report that the best copies deliver that old-school RCA tubey magic that brings out the best in Belafonte’s music. The sound here is big, lively, rich and full. Only the better copies like this one really brought out the FUN in the music, an essential quality for this material.

Unfortunately, the big hit “Jump In The Line” is not one of the better sounding tracks on this album. It has a bit of radio EQ, meaning it’s a little brighter and leaner in a way that’s designed to jump out of your AM radio, but not the best effect on a high resolution audiophile system. Still, on a copy like this it’s still musical and enjoyable; on many copies we played it was absolutely painful.

Side one, at A++, has big time presence and tons of energy! Silky, smooth and sweet, this side really blows away the typical pressing.

At A+ to A++, side two is nearly as good! Much easier on the ears than the typical bright, edgy copy, if this side had just a bit more weight down low it would be right there with side one.

Play it against your DCC version and you’ll see what we’re talking about, or just drop the needle on it and enjoy very good sound for what the All Music Guide calls “one of his most energetic albums”. (more…)

Falla / Three-Cornered Hat / Argenta (CS 6050) – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat is positively WONDERFUL on this copy (A++), and the Sinfonia Sevillana by Turina on side two is every bit as good! The second suite on side one is particularly lovely — check out how rich and full the sound is. Side two has a HUGE soundstage, as wide as they come. The sound is very rich and full of audiophile colors — this is the kind of record that you’re going to love playing for your audio pals!  

Argenta brings the authentic Spanish flavor out in these works. Like so many audiophile reviewers over the years, you may find these performances definitive.

The strings on the first side are a bit dry to start,  like the sound many of you will recognize from Mercury’s classical records. Still, there’s much to like about the sound and you’ll have a very hard time finding a copy that’s any better. Most pressings do not have such an extended top end, and that quality here really brings this music to life. (more…)

The Doobie Brothers – The Captain and Me – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

OH BABY! This is the HOTTEST copy of The Captain And Me to ever hit the site, bar none. The sound is nothing short of PHENOMENAL from the first cut to the last. Side two earned our top A+++ grade while side one clocked in just half a plus behind. You can’t even begin to imagine what we’ve gone through trying to find Hot Stampers for this album. Here’s the copy that proves it was all worth it. 

We had TWICE tried to shootout this album and gave up both times with little to show for it. The one great sounding, reasonably quiet copy we found had a nasty edge warp that obliterated the first track on both sides. So we knew that great copies of this album must be out there, but where? We had OVER THIRTY COPIES of this record on our shelves and none of them were worth listing. The warped copy sounded so much better than any of the rest, and we felt it was wrong to call even the best of the rest a Hot Stamper. (more…)