Author: humorem

Donald Fagen – Morph The Cat – A Heavy Vinyl Disaster

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame Pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

Hopelessly murky, muddy, opaque, ambience-free sound, and so artificial I honestly cannot make any sense of it. Pure sludge.

This is someone’s idea of analog? It sure ain’t mine.

Music for robots?  And Kamikiriad from 1993 was musically every bit as bad.

Why waste vinyl on crap like this?

Nina Simone – Silk And Soul

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  • Outstanding sound for this RCA pressing with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER
  • Both sides here are superb – clean, clear and full-bodied with wonderfully present vocals and lots of space around all of the players
  • “After moving from the blues to soul for her second RCA album, Nina Simone’s extroverted, confident delivery proved a natural match with the ranks of soul shouters working the crowds during the late ’60s…”

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Letter of the Week – Armed Forces: “…an occult experience, as the sound emanating was totally inexplicable.”

Armed Forces

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

Hey Tom,   

My nearly white hot stamper of “Armed Forces” has literally and honestly left me in tears. I didn’t know my system could sound so… elevated? Perfect? Whole?

Listening to “Two Little Hitlers” was an occult experience, as the sound emanating was totally inexplicable.

Understand, I own over 10 versions of this album. I have collected original UK pressings and I have one that I was pretty sure you couldn’t match. I’m a damned expert of “Armed Forces”. Pathetic, but true.

Language fails.

I was going to return this slab. I had made up my mind before I heard it that it’s going back. The old me, before I went though your transformative experience of Crowley-esq audio magik, said smugly that:
“This was just an experiment. I’m not going to spend that kind of money on a LP, especially when I own so many good versions.”

No. You’re not getting my copy of “Armed Forces” back. F*ck off.

And I guess you’ll be hearing a lot more from me and my credit card.

I hate you

Love
Adam Gates

 

Gino Vannelli – Brother to Brother – A Desert Island Disc

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

I love this album! It’s very pop, beautifully arranged, the kind of popular music they just don’t make anymore. Four stars in my book! Gino doesn’t get a lot of respect, but he has plenty of talent and his music still holds up today.

Joe Jackson – Night and Day – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This White Hot Stamper of Night And Day BLEW OUR MINDS by taking this great album to a whole new level! The sound is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING, with superb clarity and transparency, shocking You-Are-There immediacy, and amazing weight and punchiness to the bottom end. The overall sound is airy, open, spacious, lively, rich, and full-bodied with unusually high resolution — on BOTH sides. Fans of Joe Jackson should be sure not to hesitate on this one; it’s one of the best sounding copies of Night And Day OF ALL TIME — A+++ for side two, A++ for side one, and quiet vinyl throughout! 

Rich solid piano tone, lively drums, tight powerful bass and tons of presence make this one come ALIVE and sound just the way it should. You’ll want to turn it up to get the full effect, because the music really swings on a copy that sounds as good as this one. It not only swings, it ROCKS.

From that opening big drum on ‘Another World’, you know you’re in for some wonderful sound: BIG, spacious, transparent, dynamic — you name it, this record has it all. Lesser original copies can be grainy, irritating, flat and lifeless. Nothing new there, right?

Most reissues are clearly made from sub-generation tapes. They sound smeared and dead and are guaranteed to bore you to tears. With the right originals the sound is MAGIC.

Night and Day is Joe Jackson’s masterpiece. The music is simply WONDERFUL from start to finish. This is precisely the kind of adult music that belongs in any serious record collection. (more…)

Schubert / The Trout Quintet / Curzon / Vienna Octet – Original Versus Reissue

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This unusual 2-pack combines two very different pressings from very different eras to create a complete performance of The “Trout” Quintet with SUPERB Super Hot Stamper (or better) on both sides. One pressing, the one shown, is from the early ’60s; the other is from 1982. How could an imported budget late reissue beat a superb Golden Age pressing on any side you ask? Well, the answer to that question is provided by the records we will send you. 

Side one of this London Whiteback pressing is dark and opaque, with a serious lack of both top end and clarity. Side two however is GORGEOUS: so big, rich, clear and lively, it earned a sonic grade of A++ to A+++! In our shootouts the person reviewing the records (in this case me) never knows which pressing is being critiqued. Imagine my surprise when the late London handily beat the early one.

Actually it’s easy to imagine my surprise, because there was simply no surprise to imagine. In our shootouts here at Better Records late pressings beat early pressings regularly. We let the records speak for themselves, and that’s what they told us, at least on side one of The “Trout”. The reason the late pressing even made it into our shootout was that in a preliminary round it showed us that it had very good sound on side one. Side two didn’t hold up, but any record with good sound on any side is going to go in the shootout, regardless of the “incorrectness” of its label or country of origin.

On the earlier pressing (CS 6090) the sound is rich and sweet; some might say it’s too rich, but for this music it works. The piano and the strings have that Golden Age Tubey Magical sound we love. It’s been years since I’ve had the opportunity to play this record; most copies are just too beat up to bother with, so I was glad to find this one in such minty condition. (more…)

Love – Da Capo – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

ONE OF THE BEST SIDE ONES WE’VE EVER HEARD on unusually quiet vinyl! Since side two is just one long track that we just can’t get too worked up about, this is EXACTLY the kind of copy we’d want to own. We had a chance to shootout a handful of copies recently and didn’t hear anything that could compete with side one of thie Elektra Gold Label Original Pressing. We are HUGE fans of Love and side one has three of our favorite songs by the band: Stephanie Knows Who, Orange Skies and Seven & Seven Is. Get ready to rock out with this one! (more…)

The Traveling Wilburys – Volume One – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE ONE backed with an excellent side two, both on very quiet vinyl! It took us ages to put together enough clean copies to get this shootout going again. Many of the pressings we played suffered from too much compression and a phony hi-fi quality. We knew there had to be great copies out there somewhere, so we kept dropping the needle until we found a few good men. Here’s the best of them all — it rates our top grade of A+++ on side one and A++ on side two. Drop the needle on Handle With Care to hear how wonderful this music can sound when it’s cut right!

Side one of this copy is As Good As It Gets! The sound is natural, balanced, and tonally correct from top to bottom. Most copies we played weren’t nearly this open or transparent. The energy factor here is OFF THE CHARTS and the clarity is superb. We heard a lot of copies with a spitty, gritty top end, but this one is smooth like butter and sweet like candy! Side two is nearly as good but doesn’t have quiet the same energy factor. It’s still dramatically better than most copies out there.

It’s hard not to enjoy this music. Put Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne in a recording studio together and something good is bound to happen, right? This may not be these guys at the very top of their game, but the songs are still a lot of fun. Now that we’ve discovered these Hot Stampers, the sound is finally where we want it to be. Until this week, we were convinced that these songs sounded better on the radio! (That’s what tons of compression will do for you.) (more…)

Mel Torme – I Dig The Duke – I Dig The Count

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  • Torme’s 1962 release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • This is not one of Mel’s better known albums, but we found it to be prime Velvet Fog, right up there with the best of his work auditioned to date – if you haven’t heard the man in his prime, this would be a great place to start
  • Val Valentin did the engineering – as he often did over the course of his long and storied career, he knocked this one out of the park
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Recorded with the Johnny Mandel Orchestra at sessions in Los Angeles, it includes one half Duke Ellington and one half Count Basie… With all these things going for it, how can Tormé do wrong?”

*NOTE: A small mark in the middle of track 3, I Like The Sunshine, makes 12 moderate pops.

Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl. The best sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl not withstanding. If you can tolerate the problems on this pressing you are in for some killer Mel Torme music with exceptional sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


The sound of this superb jazzy ensemble is big, lively, open and clear, with Tubey Magical richness you will not find anywhere but on these early Verve stereo LPs.

Why is that? Well, for starters, this vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Stardust – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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

Finding this LP after a day of searching through about twenty mostly run-of-the-mill (and frustrating) copies was nothing short of a REVELATION! Yes, we had found a handful of wonderful sounding copies, but we were holding our hopes out for something that would really knock our socks off.. Sure, there were some solid A’s and even a few A+’s — those are grades we give to records that sound right, not to records that blow our minds. When we dropped the needle on this copy, it was like lighting the fuse on the dynamite in our heads. A living breathing Willie Nelson had suddenly appeared right in front of us.

Finally, here was the sound that lived up to the hype. Veil upon veil had lifted. (more…)