A List of Great Debut Albums

Peter Frampton – Wind of Change

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  • Incredible Demo Disc sound throughout: Triple Plus (A+++) on side two and close to that (A++ to A+++) on side one 
  • This British original is the very definition of TUBEY MAGIC, with sound so rich and sweet it will make you want to take all your CDs and dump them in the trash (now that record stores don’t even want them anymore)
  • The best copies like this one keep what’s good about the recording while letting us hear into the soundfield with glorious transparency
  • “The sound is crisp, the melodies catchy, and Frampton’s distinctive, elliptical Gibson Les Paul guitar leads soar throughout… “

This is some of the best High-Production-Value rock music of the ’60s and ’70s. The amount of effort that went into the recording of this album is comparable to that expended by the engineers and producers of bands like Supertramp, Yes, Jethro Tull, Ambrosia, Pink Floyd, Elton John and too many others to list. It seems that no effort or cost was spared in making the home listening experience as compelling as the recording technology of the day permitted.

The best song Peter Frampton ever wrote (and performed) is on this very record, in White Hot Stamper sound no less: All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side). It has the Tubey Magical sound WE LOVE here at Better Records. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced

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Are You Experienced

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

STUNNING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It is no easy task trying to find good copies of this album (or any Hendrix album, really). This one is absolutely killer. The bottom end is big and weighty, the top is open and transparent, and there’s plenty of rich, full tubey magic. It’s going to be incredibly hard to find a pressing that comes anywhere close to this one.

No matter what version you’ve been playing, we guarantee you’ll be blown away by the energy and punch on this one. 

Ready to go on a trip? You’ve come to the right place. While the sound is not Demo Quality on every track, the acid-drenched soundscapes created by Jimi and engineer Eddie Kramer are certainly going to be exciting to the kind of audiophile who still digs Classic Rock. Unfortunately, most copies are missing a lot of the magic — the space, the tubes, the ambience, the size, the weight. (more…)

Crowded House – Crowded House

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

This original domestic pressing offers killer Hot Stamper sound for both sides of Crowded House’s wonderful debut. 

Musically side one is absolutely brilliant from first note to last. Crowded House may have wanted to be the New Beatles, but those are some pretty big shoes to fill. They fell a bit short — who can compete with The Beatles? — but in their heyday, 1985-1993, they were better at making intelligent, original, melody-driven pop than practically any other group I was listening to. If you like the Art Rock of the ’70s, this album shows that smart, adult rock music could still be made a decade or more later. (more…)

Jellyfish – Bellybutton

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Bellybutton

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume

One of the very best copies we’ve ever heard! Both sides earned top honors in our shootout, with side one even surpassing our reference copy to earn a “Four Plus” A++++ grade. It goes far beyond anything we’ve heard before.

Out of the thousands of Hot Stampers we’ve listed over the years, less than twenty have earned Four Pluses. That alone makes this a very special copy indeed. (more…)

Jethro Tull – This Was

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This Was

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

Guaranteed to MURDER any Pink Label Island original you have ever heard – these are the Hot Stampers. 

Folks, this is the best copy we are going to have on the site for a very long time. It took years and hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to get this shootout going and this killer copy is the result. (more…)

Andrew Gold – Andrew Gold – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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Andrew Gold – Andrew Gold

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

As audiophiles we all know that sound and music are inseparable. My comments for this side two note how spacious and present and full of energy it is. After dropping the needle on a dozen or so copies, all originals by the way, you KNOW when the music is working its magic and when it’s not.

As with any pop album there are always some tracks that sound better than others, but when you find yourself marvelling at how well-written and well-produced a song is, you know that the sound is doing what it needs to do. It’s communicating the Musical Values of the material. This Hot Stamper copy brings Andrew Gold’s music to LIFE. (more…)

George Harrison – All Things Must Pass

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All Things Must Pass

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

To say that this one has been a long time coming would be an understatement! FINALLY, an incredible sounding copy of All Things Must Pass. Stunning shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on all six sides (!).  

It’s also worth mentioning that this is one of the nicer boxes we’ve come across for this title. It’s the thicker box which has stood the test of time a little better than the narrower version. Those are usually in pretty poor shape and we should know because we have a bunch of problematical boxes sitting right here. (more…)

Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn

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  • An amazing Shootout Winning pressing with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from the first note to the last 
  • This shockingly well-recorded album is a big step up from many that followed and surely the best sounding Floyd until Meddle
  • We made a huge breakthrough during our shootout, discovering a very special label and stampers that took the sound to a whole new level
  • 5 stars: “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn successfully captures both sides of psychedelic experimentation — the pleasures of expanding one’s mind and perception, and an underlying threat of mental disorder and even lunacy; this duality makes Piper all the more compelling in light of Barrett’s subsequent breakdown, and ranks it as one of the best psychedelic albums of all time.”

Amazing sound for this classic early Floyd album featuring Syd Barrett! We did not expect to hear sound this good for the album. If you’ve played other versions of this one you’re going to be surprised — shocked even — at how big, rich and solid the sound is. Astronomy Domine and Interstellar Overdrive are especially impressive. We don’t think you’ll have much luck finding a copy with even one side this good, let alone two! (more…)

10cc – 10cc

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  • With a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side one and a side two that’s close to it, this copy was great fun to play 
  • The sound is big, lively, clear and present, probably pretty close to what the band was going for 
  • 4 stars: “Displaying a command of pop styles and satire, 10cc showed that they are a force to be reckoned with on their first album. Hooks abound, harmonies shine, and instrumentation is dazzling without being overdone. Whether doing loving parodies of the music they grew up with or satirizing contemporary issues, 10cc show themselves to be top-level purveyors of pop on their debut recording.”

One interesting finding from this, our first extensive shootout, was that some of the domestic pressings could actually sound quite good, something I would not have expected to be true for this album (or Sheet Music for that matter). (more…)

The Beatles – Please Please Me – Which Is More 3-Dimensional, Mono or Twin Track?

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With all due respect to Sir George Martin, we’ve played a number of mono pressings of this album in the past twenty or so years and have never been particularly impressed with any of them. The monos jam all the voices and instruments together in the middle, stacking them one in front of the other, and lots of musical information gets mashed together and simply disappears in the congestion. 

But is Twin Track stereo any better? Yes, when you do it the way Norman Smith did on Please Please Me.

Twin Track stereo (which is actually not very much like two-track stereo, I’m sure Wikipedia must have a listing for it if you’re interested) is like two mono tracks running simultaneously. It allows the completely separate voices to occupy one channel and the completely separate instruments to occupy another with no leakage between them.

On some stereos it may seem as though the musicians and the singers are not playing together the way they would if one were hearing them in mono. They are in fact recorded on two separate mono tracks, the instruments appearing in the left channel and the singers in the right, separated as much as is physically possible.

Stuck in their individual stereo speakers, so far apart from one another, the members of the band don’t even seem to be playing together in the same room.

That’s on some stereos, and by some stereos I mean stereos that need improvement. Here’s why. (more…)