A List of Great Sounding Live Albums

Bob Dylan & The Band – Before The Flood – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

One of the great Live Classic Rock albums of all time, now available in White Hot Stamper form! We recently undertook a massive shootout for this spirited double LP and three of the better sides from the whole shebang are on this here pressing. Sides one and two each earned our top grade of A+++, while side four clocked in at A++. Side three, as is often the case, was not quite up to the same standards. 

We feel that the best material is contained on the other three sides, so we doubt this will be a dealbreaker for many of you. (more…)

Bill Evans – California Here I Come

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California Here I Come

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  • This wonderful live double album boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish 
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs
  • Recorded live at Village Vanguard in New York City in August of 1967, this LP captures this stellar trio’s superb sound
  • 4 1/2 stars: “[Evans] trades introspection for upbeat on this entertaining live set featuring the propulsive drumming of ‘Philly’ Joe Jones and Evans’ new young bassist Eddie Gomez… This trio swings and sparkles through a varied song-list that includes show tunes, some jazz standards and a few originals.”

(more…)

Dire Straits – Alchemy: Dire Straits Live – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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More Alchemy: Dire Straits Live

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

Two of the sides of this original Vertigo British pressing are two of the best we played in our recent shootout, with transparency and spaciousness only hinted at by most of the copies we auditioned. 

Of course, this being a live rock album, clarity and detail are not at the top of the list of qualities were looking for. We’re after ROCK AND ROLL ENERGY more than anything else, and that means vocal presence, a solid bass foundation and plenty of dynamics. We want this music to come alive in your listening room and this is the copy that can do it! (more…)

Sinatra At The Sands on Dahlquist DQ-10s – My Neophyte Audiophile Mind Is Blown

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The story of our latest shootout is what real Progress in Audio is all about.

Back in the early ’70s this was actually the album that first introduced me to honest-to-goodness “audiophile” sound.  

I was at my local stereo store listening to speakers one day, and the salesman made a comment that the speakers we were listening to (the old Infinity Monitors with the Walsh tweeter) sounded “boxy”. I confessed to him that I didn’t actually know what that meant or what it would sound like if it weren’t boxy. 

So he hooked up a pair of Dahlquist DQ-10s and put Sinatra at the Sands on. I was amazed at how the sound just floated in the room, free from the speakers, presenting an image that was as wide and deep as the showroom we were in. That speaker may have many flaws, but boxiness is definitely not one of them.

This description is pretty close to what I thought I heard all those years ago

The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Turn it up and Frank is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. Very few records out there offer the kind of realistic, lifelike sound you get from this pressing.

This vintage stereo LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues. As good as some of them can be, this one is dramatically more real sounding. It gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in front of you.

He’s no longer a recording — he’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. His voice is so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

Or so I thought at the time. (more…)

Dave Brubeck Trio Featuring Gerry Mulligan – Compadres

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  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this Brubeck Mulligan Masterpiece  
  • The fullness of the lower midrange on this Columbia 360 Stereo pressing brings out all the magic of this pair’s piano and baritone, respectively
  • Recorded in Mexico, the superb sound captured here was no easy feat, but the Columbia engineers were clearly up to the challenge
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “This fine LP was the debut of Brubeck’s new Quartet, a group featuring baritonist Gerry Mulligan… this enjoyable set showed that for Brubeck there was life after Paul Desmond.”

If you haven’t heard one of our killer Gerry Mulligan vintage Columbia pressings, with the fullness of its lower midrange bringing out all the magic of the man’s remarkably rich baritone, this is your chance.

And if too much baritone sax is not your thing, this may be just the right record for you, with Brubeck taking half the leads.

As is the case with most live albums, the sound of the crowd tells you a lot about the recording, and on this copy the crowd sounded exceptionally clear and natural. Many live albums have crowds that are either too bright, or too loud between tracks, both of which can be very off-putting. When the crowd is recorded and mixed right — again, these are pros from Columbia Records who really know their jazz — you feel as if you are immersed right there with them in the audience. (more…)

Joni Mitchell – Miles of Aisles

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Miles of Aisles

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  • This Joni Mitchell classic boasts STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on all four sides
  • The sound is incredibly rich, warm and Tubey Magical with huge amounts of space and breathy presence on her vocals
  • Joni reworks all her material here, giving the songs new arrangements and making them fresh again – it’s got a cool Court and Spark vibe
  • “It’s a strong album of her best songs performed mostly informally… Much of the material here is beautiful, replete with the patented Mitchell tension. And a word for engineer Henry Lewy—the sound is terrific, the best reproduced concert album I’ve heard.” Rolling Stone

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Donny Hathaway – Live

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  • Stunning sound throughout for this superb live album with both sides earning shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Hathaway and his band are on fire here playing for an enthusiastic small club audience – this is the best album the man ever made and a true Must Own
  • Clean originals of this Classic Soul album are practically impossible to find in audiophile condition, and this one has its fair share of problems, but with music and sound this good, it’s a lot easier to overlook them
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Donny Hathaway’s 1972 Live album is one of the most glorious of his career… Live solidified Hathaway’s importance at the forefront of soul music.”

This is an absolutely superb recording. The best copies capture the feeling of a live club like few recordings you’ve ever heard. The enthusiasm of the crowd, the honest, emotive performances, the superb musicianship — it’s all there on a Shootout Winning Hot Stamper copy like this! (more…)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – War Heroes – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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War Heroes

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

Hendrix fans, we have a very special record for you, with one very special quality that sets it well apart from other Hendrix records you may have heard in the past: THE BEST HENDRIX SOUND EVER. Side two of this copy beats any studio release we’ve ever heard, any postmortem release, any release we’ve ever had on our turntable. We love Hendrix, but finding good sounding pressings of his most famous albums is practically impossible. (Note that no Hot Stamper listing exists for Are You Experienced just to cite one example.) 

But here’s one, a White Hot copy in fact, with the kind of sound you always dreamed Hendrix records could have. It’s right here on this side two, and side one is very nearly as good!

We played about half a dozen copies this week, split between domestics and Brit imports — and this bad boy absolutely MURDERED most of the competition. Drop the needle at the start of side two and prepare to be floored! You won’t believe the big-time presence, the mindblowing energy, or the massive WHOMP factor! This copy has some of the tightest bass we’ve ever heard for any Hendrix album, plus an unbelievable amount of tubey magic. The sound is WALL to WALL. (more…)

Benny Goodman – Benny Goodman Swings Again

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Benny Goodman Swings Again

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  • Benny Goodman Swings Again makes its Hot Stamper debut with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too 
  • This Columbia Six Eye stereo pressing was hard to fault – big, open, clear, with space and three-dimensionality that modern pressings can only dream of
  • On a live recording such as this, the transparency of this All Analog recording has the power to transport you to the front row of Ciro’s in West Hollywood – what a thrill!
  • “With a particularly strong lineup that includes vibraphonist Red Norvo, tenorman Flip Phillips and trumpeter Jack Sheldon, this out-of-print LP features Benny Goodman at his best (even if the swing era had supposedly ended 15 years earlier).”

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Hendrix In The West

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Hendrix In The West

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

We’re still surprised at how well recorded the album is, and a pressing like this allows you to really hear the live Jimi Guitar God Magic.

Rock and roll Legend EDDIE KRAMER, the man who engineered these live recordings, really knocked it out of the park. Drop the needle on Little Wing and you are going to be FLOORED. (more…)