A List of Great Sounding Live Albums

Sinatra At The Sands – My Introduction to Audiophile Sound

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  • This superb 2 LP set boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all four sides! 
  • Truly one of the greatest live albums of all time, recorded late at night in the big room at the Sands Hotel in Vegas
  • This is Basie and Sinatra in their natural habitat and in their prime, putting on the show of a lifetime – quiet vinyl too
  • “Basie and the orchestra are swinging and dynamic, inspiring a textured, dramatic, and thoroughly enjoyable performance from Sinatra … the definitive portrait of Frank Sinatra in the ’60s.” – AMG

This double album presents Sinatra and Basie at the height of their powers, in a setting especially conducive to both men’s music, the big room at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. If you missed it — and I’m sure most all of us did — here’s your chance to go back in time and be seated with the beautiful people front row center. This two disc all tube-mastered analog set is practically the only way you’ll ever be able to hear the greatest vocalist of his generation — in his prime no less — fronting one of the swingingest big bands of the time.

You Are There

The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Turn it up and Frank is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. (more…)

Some of the Best Live Rock Sound Ever Recorded

Cream Goodbye 

 

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When you get a good side one of Goodbye you’ll have no trouble hearing why we think it’s one of the Best Sounding Live Rock Albums of all time.

Goodbye has the Big Rock Sound that we go crazy for here at Better Records. The best pressings, the ones that are full-bodied and smooth, let you crank the levels and reproduce the album good and loud the way live rock music is meant to be heard.

It’s clearly one of BILL HALVERSON‘s Engineering Triumphs, along with Deja Vu and Steve Stills’ first album (now that’s a trio!). Live Rock Music on record just does not sound better than a White Hot Stamper side one of Goodbye. (more…)

ELP – Pictures At An Exhibition – Our White Hot Shootout Winner


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • An incredible copy of this ELP classic with both sides earing a Triple Plus (A+++)
  • Both sides here are super big and full with a massive bottom end and huge amounts of energy
  • Quiet vinyl for this title — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • “A sufficiently bold use of Mussorgsky’s original to stimulate hours of delightful listening.” — Allmusic

See all of our Emerson Lake and Palmer albums in stock

This Island British Import LP has amazing sound! It’s super full-bodied with excellent clarity and transparency. The low end has real weight and heft, so when Emerson really lays into the organ it’ll rattle your walls! (more…)

Are You a Detail Freak? – At Better Records We Call that Pitfall Number 1

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Is that where the music is — in the details? Brighter ain’t necessarily better; most of the time it’s just brighter. 

This album isn’t about clarity. It’s about the sound of a live Rock and Roll concert. It’s about the raw power of one of the most phenomenal rhythm sections to ever be captured in performance.

Next time you try out some audiophile wire or a new tweak play this record to make sure you haven’t lost the essential weight and power of the sound. It doesn’t care about your love of detail. It wants you to feel those bass notes going right through you. If the new wire can’t get that right, it’s got to go.

Our Hot Stamper Commentary for 801 Live Circa 2007

This is a one of my All Time Favorite records — a Desert Island Disc if there ever was one. I treasure this album. And I just now finally figured out how to tell the good ones from the not-so-good ones. I confess I was listening for the wrong things in the shootouts I was doing over the last few years, and in that I have the feeling I was not alone. I think this is a fairly common Major Audiophile Pitfall that we all get stuck in on occassion.

In this case I was trying to find a more transparent copy, one with more shimmer to the cymbals and air around the instruments. The first track is a little opaque and I wanted to be able to hear into the music better. I tried many import and domestic copies, but none of them seemed to have the particular qualities I was looking for. They all sounded different, but I could not for the life of me find one that sounded clearly better. (more…)

Herbie Mann – Live At The Village Gate


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • A killer Triple Plus (A+++) side one backed with a solid Double Plus (A++) side two for what is probably the most well known album Herbie Mann ever made
  • Both sides here are full-bodied, open, spacious and balanced with plenty of bottom end weight
  • One of the better flute jazz albums we’ve heard, both in terms of sonics and music
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic: “In addition to “Comin’ Home Baby,” Mann and his men perform memorable versions of “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So”; the latter is 20 minutes long. Recommended.”

See all of our Herbie Mann albums in stock

We’ve been trying to track down top pressings of this one for ages, but they are tough to come by and often noisy.

Both sides really shine with a meaty bottom end, lots of energy, an extended top and wonderful transparency. The soundstage is big and open with lots of depth, giving room to all the various players and their instruments.

Would you believe a song from this album was sampled and turned into a big hit in the ’90s? The great version of Gershwin’s Summertime on side one provided the backbone for the band Sublime’s 1997 single Doin’ Time. Maybe not of much interest to most of us baby boomer audiophiles, but the younger guys around here all had a good laugh when they recognized the break. Maybe your kids will too? (more…)

Harry Belafonte – Belafonte… Live!

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Vocal Classics

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Harry Belafonte – Belafonte… Live!

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

White Hot Stampers on sides one and three! This copy also has an A++ side two and an A+ side four, so there’s a ton of good sound on this fun concert LP. This album features Harry performing on all four sides, but also includes music from some of the guests he brought along to perform with him at the early ’70s shows in Toronto from which these performances are taken. The first three sides are all KILLER — you get real-life immediacy, excellent clarity, breathtaking transparency and boatloads of tubey magic!

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Be sure to click the AMG Review tab above, they give it four out of five stars and do a better job of describing the music than I am capable of.

This double album isn’t quite as essential as the great Carnegie Hall album, but Hot Stampers of that one are very tough to come by. These kind of grades on Belafonte at Carnegie Hall would run you a heckuva lot more dough than this, that’s for sure.

Only side four rated below A++, and at A+ it was certainly no slouch. It just didn’t have the kind of You Are There presence that you get on the three sides that precede it.

What Other Live Rock Record Sounds This Good?

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One of the best — if not THE best — rock concert albums we have ever heard. Can you imagine if Frampton Comes Alive sounded like this? If you want to hear some smokin’ Peter Frampton guitar work from the days when he was with the band, this album captures that sound better than any of their studio releases, and far better than FCA on even the best copies.

Grungy guitars that jump out of the speakers, prodigious punchy deep bass, dynamic vocals and drum work — the best pressings of Rockin’ The Fillmore have more live firepower than any live recording we’ve ever heard. Who knew?

Eddie Kramer, King of the Rockers

What Eddie Kramer did for Led Zeppelin II he’s done for Humble Pie on this album, and that’s saying a lot. If Zep II is the hardest rocking studio album in the history of the world, Rockin’ The Fillmore is its close companion, the hardest rockin’ live album in the history of the world.
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Wheels of Fire and its Glaring Lack of Bass

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It’s EXCEPTIONALLY difficult to find even decent sounding copies of this album. We’ve played SCORES of original domestic copies, original imports, and all kinds of reissues — trust me, most of them would make you cringe.

When you get a good copy, this music is AWESOME! For ’60s power trio hard rock, you just can’t do much better than the studio material.

White Room, Sitting On Top Of The World, Politician, Born Under A Bad Sign — this is the very essence of Classic Blues Rock. Unfortunately, the typical copy barely hints at the potential of this recording, and the audiophile pressings are even worse. (The DCC Gold CDs are especially bad in our opinion; they sound nothing like the good pressings we’ve played over the years.)

Where’s The Bass?

Most early pressings you find these days are thrashed beyond belief. We used to pick up every clean Plum & Gold label copy we’d find back in he day, but no more. We gave up. The Cream magic was just plain missing from the early domestic pressings. The problem is simple: a glaring lack of bass.

Let’s think about that. Cream is a power trio. The music absolutely demands a solid, weighty bottom end. Sacrifice the bass and the sound is just too lean to rock.

We can sum up the sound of the whomp-less copies in a word: fatiguing. As is always the case, some copies sound better than others, but none could give us the kind of bass that we were hoping for. (more…)

Deep Purple’s Amazing Made In Japan

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Machine Head Live? That would not be far off, and the fact they brought Martin Birch along with them all the way to Japan in order to engineer a live album that was only supposed to sell to the Japanese market (!) could not have been more fortuitous for us audiophiles.

Machine Head is clearly one of the best sounding hard rock records ever made, and Made In Japan, its successor, sounds more like a top quality studio production than any live album I’ve ever heard. It’s shocking how clean and undistorted the sound is. Equally shocking is the fact that it’s every bit as big and lively as a Hard Rockin’ Live Album should be.

This is a combination the likes of which we have never heard.

We’ve raved about a number of live albums over the years. Some of the better sounding ones that come readily to mind (in alphabetical order) are Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, David Live, Johnny Cash At San Quentin, Donny Hathaway Live, The Jimi Hendrix Concerts, Performance – Rockin The Fillmore, Live Wire – Blues Power, Waiting For Columbus, Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out and Live at Leeds. I would be proud to have any of them in my collection.

Having just played a stack of copies of Made In Japan I’d put it right up there with the best of the best. In terms of Tubey Magic, richness and naturalness — qualities that are usually in very short supply on live albums — I would have to say that the shootout winning copies of Made In Japan would be very likely to take Top Honors for Best Sounding Live Album of All Time. Yes, the sound is that good.

More Great Live Albums For Sale

More Great Live Albums We’ve Reviewed

 

Little Feat’s Hoy-Hoy Rocks

Little Feat Albums with Hot Stampers

Little Feat Albums We’ve Reviewed

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Hoy-Hoy.

The recording quality of many of these songs is OUT OF THIS WORLD, as good as any rock record I can think of. Although Waiting For Columbus is arguably the best sounding live rock ‘n roll album ever made, some of the tracks on this album are every bit as good or BETTER. (And the promo EP is practically in a league of its own for sound!)

Little Feat’s studio recordings rarely did justice to the band’s energy and drive. With so many live tracks, this is the album that really shows the band at their enthusiastic best. If I were going to choose one Little Feat album to own, it would be hard to argue with this one musically, and sonically the stuff here just can’t be beat — if you are lucky enough to own a copy with Hot Stampers for all four sides, no mean feat.
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