Author: humorem

Chet Atkins In Hollywood

More Chet Atkins 

More Chet Atkins In Hollywood 

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

This Minty looking RCA Victor LP has an AMAZING SIDE TWO backed with a great side one. Side two is full of the tubey magic that’s missing from the Classic Records version and it has a wonderfully extended top end. Side one lacks some of the top end extension found on side two but the first track has that tubey Nashville sound that we love here at Better Records. The rest of the side is pretty damn good as well.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs.

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review!

If the cover of At Home evokes the 1950s, the music on In Hollywood IS the 1950s: a warm, cozy, sophisticated album of mood music in the best sense. Yet this is not an album of film music (though a handful of film themes turn up). Rather, it is exactly what the title indicates: Chet Atkins recording an album in a Hollywood studio, as opposed to the familiar haunts of Nashville. Here, he places his often affectingly lovely guitar licks in front of full, lush, sometimes inspired string arrangements by Dennis Farnon. Sometimes, Atkins appears all by himself, caressing “Estrellita” before the strings kick in, and his fingerpicking technique appears on a piquant treatment of “Armen’s Theme” (originally a pre-Chipmunks hit for Ross Bagdasarian aka David Seville). Farnon is particularly good when he hooks onto a lush string motif and repeats it seductively on the “Theme From Picnic” or follows Atkins’s guitar in a broad, surpassingly lovely treatment of Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” — the two most gorgeous tracks on the record. For some, this record might fall under the category of guilty pleasures, but a pleasure it is, one of the great make-out records of its time. 

TRACK LISTING

Armen’s Theme
Let It Be Me 
Theme from “Picnic” 
Theme from a Dream 
Estrellita 
Jitterbug Waltz 
Little Old Lady 
Terry Theme from Limelight 
The Three Bells 
Santa Lucia 
Greensleeves
Meet Mister Callaghan

Albeniz / Falla / Granados / Spain / Reiner

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz 

More Albeniz / Falla / Granados / Spain / Reiner 

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

Spain has been an audiophile favorite for a very long time. Everybody should know it by now, what with both Chesky and Classic Records remastering it in the ’90s, dismally of course, as neither of these companies showed the slightest sense that they understood how lackluster, if not downright awful, the products of their efforts turned out.

No doubt Analogue Productions will see fit to ruin the recording the way they ruined Scheherazade.

Side One

The second piece on side one has very dynamic sound. There is the usual Living Stereo compression at work when the music is at its loudest but it does not seem to be nearly the problem that it often is on other RCA recordings.

Side Two

Similar sound. Again the second piece is big, rich, open and very clear.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Enrique Granados – Goyescas: Intermezzo 
Manuel De Falla – La Vida Breve: Intermezzo & Dance 
Manuel De Falla – Dances From “The Three Cornered Hat”

Side Two

Isaac Albéniz – Iberia: Navarra 
Isaac Albéniz – Iberia: Fete-Dieu A Seville
Isaac Albéniz – Iberia: Triana

AMG Review

Since its early beginnings in 1953, RCA’s Living Stereo sound has remained one of the most satisfying sound reproduction techniques, capturing the lush timbres and fiery characters of some of America’s greatest orchestras and conductors. This particular album features the music of Spanish composers de Falla, Albéniz, and Granados with the Chicago Symphony under Fritz Reiner. The orchestra brilliantly captures the sultry, sassy flair of El amor brujo. Together with soprano Leontyne Price — whose penetrating, throaty sound is ideally suited for this work — Reiner and the CSO deliver a performance that draws listeners in from the beginning and leaves them wanting more by the end.

Letter of the Week – Opening My Ears: Steely Dan, Half Speeds, Heavy Vinyl

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

Hi Tom,

Just a note to thank and curse you for opening my ears. On one hand, the
audio enhancements (Aurios, Stillpoints, Talisman and Disc Doctor fluid)
you’ve suggested have greatly improved my stereo system. I also upgraded
my phono cartridge and had the entire front end fine-tuned.

Now, LPs I’d once regarded as mediocre have shown new life and become
much more enjoyable. On the other hand, those I’d once thought sounded
impressive, have revealed themselves to be uninspiring. My entire Steely
Dan collection, for example, has become a major disappointment. Almost
all the half speeds, heavy vinyl and otherwise “audiophile” type
pressings have revealed themselves to be impostors.

What’s an audiophile to do? In my case, all the improvements I’ve made
have resulted in a thinning of the herd, so to speak, but I simply can’t
listen to crappy vinyl anymore. I’ve always maintained that the music
should be the most important thing but, what’s the point of listening to
sub par pressings when you find yourself becoming easily distracted and
wanting to hear something with some life in the grooves?

So I say damn you but thank you, Tom, for steering me in the right
direction. I’ll have a smaller collection as a result but will
appreciate the sonics of what’s left much more. You are a credit to a
hobby which is, otherwise, drowning in snake oil!

Bob M.
Huntington Beach, CA

See more of our Steely Dan albums in stock


Reviews of Audiophile LPs


Reviews of Heavy Vinyl LPs

TAS List Thoughts on Albeniz – Where on The List Is This Record?

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) 

More TAS List Thoughts on Albeniz 

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Another nail in the coffin for HP’s TAS List. The fact that questionable entries such as Reiner’s Pines of Rome make the cut, and an amazing recording such as this doesn’t, should tell you everything you need to know concerning the value of such an incomplete list.

This is truly DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Records simply do not get any more spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet.

Our Hot Stamper Classical Pressings will be dramatically more transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings tend to fall short in in our experience.


Further Reading

Check out our new section: The Better Records Hall of Fame for Orchestral Music.

We have a section for all the Classical Records we have reviewed on the site to date.

We also have a section for all the Heavy Vinyl Classical Records we have reviewed on the site.

We have a number of Commentaries specifically addressing issues we’ve encountered when playing classical recordings.

Chet Atkins – The Atkins-Travis Traveling Show – Reviewed in 2011

More Chet Atkins 

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

Somewhat better than Hot Stamper sound for this Chet Atkins record from 1974, recorded at the legendary (especially for audiophiles who appreciate naturalness) Nashville RCA Studios. There’s plenty of Tubey Magic on both sides of this pressing, just a bit more than ideal in fact, as it can get a little thick at times. But the sound of these two pickers pickin’ away is positively JUMPIN’ out of the speakers, with that live-in-the-studio sound we love here at Better Records. We grade both sides A+ to A++. The sound was essentially the same on both sides, the differences not worth mentioning.

The music is just as fun and entertaining as you would expect from these two Old Pros.

AMG Review

Neither Atkins nor Travis had anything to prove by the time this pairing rolled around, and there’s something of an “old friends getting together for the heck of it” feel to both their picking and their relaxed, almost nonchalant occasional vocals. It was a refreshingly plain production for a time when the country scene in which Atkins and Travis had started as youngsters was getting pretty slick.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Down South Blues
Mutual Admiration
Muskrat Ramble
If I Had You
Cannonball Rag
Boogie for Cecil

Side Two

Is Anything Better Than This?
Dance of the Golden Rod
Who’s Sorry Now?
Nine Pound Hammer
I’ll See You in My Dreams

 

Adam / Giselle / Fistoulari

More Mercury Recordings 

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

Remastered by Philips from a Golden Age Classical Recording by Mercury, originally released in 1961.

This Mercury Golden Import 2 LP set has VERY GOOD sound. The average copy tends to be a bit dark and recessed, but this one is refreshingly free from those problems. It’s not quite up to Hot Stamper status, but it is a very enjoyable record!

Sarah Vaughan – After Hours on Emus

More Sarah Vaughan

More After Hours

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last, this copy of After Hours put the living, breathing Divine One right between our speakers
  • With simple arrangements, featuring Mundell Lowe’s guitar and George Duvivier’s double bass, Vaughan’s soulful voice can take center stage
  • This copy was pressed on exceptionally quiet vinyl – it plays as quietly as any copy we have ever heard
  • “…a quiet and intimate affair, with Vaughan more subtle than she sometimes was… some fine jazz singing.”

This early Emus Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio, this is the record for you. It’s what Vintage Records are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds. (more…)

Chet Atkins – Caribbean Guitar

More Chet Atkins 

More Caribbean Guitar 

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

This RCA Living Stereo LP has an A++ side two! It’s rich, warm and sweet with great transparency and clear transients — if it had just a bit more top it would be right up with the very best copies. Side one is not quite up to the same standards, and is very noisy. The vinyl plays about Mint Minus Minus on side two, but its a rare copy that plays any quieter.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs.

This is one of Chet Atkins’ best albums. Sonically it’s right up there with The Other Chet Atkins and the Hollywood album. It seems like Bill Porter just doesn”t know how not to make an amazing sounding Living Stereo recording. Everything the guy touches is GOLD! (more…)

The Association – Goodbye, Columbus

More by  The Association

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

This green label original pressing TROUNCED our other copies. Recorded by Bones Howe, the midrange is pure tubey magic! If you have the kind of system that brings out that quality in a recording, you will get a lot out of this one. It’s so good, it made me appreciate some of the instrumentals on the album which I had previously dismissed as filler. When you hear them sound this good, you can actually enjoy them!

You get rich, sweet, open, textured, natural, tonally correct sound here on side, A++ all the way! Side two is almost as good at A+, with some smear causing us to drop the grade.

Bones Howe produced and engineered the show here; Bones is a man who knew his way around a studio as well as practically anybody in the ’60s. He’s the one responsible for all the tubey magic of this recording and so many others from the era, including the Association’s masterpiece, Insight Out. That’s his sound. Those of you who appreciate that sound will find much to like here. If, on the other hand, you prefer the sound of a band like, oh, Dire Straits, a group with a dry, processed, transistory approach to recording, the sound of this LP is unlikely to move you as much as it moved us here at Better Records. (more…)

The Curtis Counce Group – Landslide

More Contemporary jazz

More The Curtis Counce Group – Landslide

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

This very nice looking Contemporary Yellow Label LP has the BREATH OF LIFE! Both the sax and the trumpet sound superb – you can really hear the air moving through the instruments. The clarity and transparency are superb, and the tonality is Right On The Money. The generous extension up top lets the cymbals really come to life.

Jack Sheldon is absolutely amazing and completely original on trumpet here. Check out his stellar work on the first track, Landslide. Not only that, but the sound of his instrument is wonderful — you’ll never hear a trumpet sound so rich and full on a Rudy Van Gelder recording, that’s for sure! (more…)