The Good

The Everly Brothers – The Hit Sound Of The Everly Brothers

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  • You’ll find outstanding sound on this WB Gold Label Stereo original with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • The engineering team of Eddie Brackett and Lee Herschberg provide the exceptional recording fidelity – they would go on to win the Best Engineering Grammy for Strangers in the Night the same year
  • “Snow’s I’m Movin’ On rocks, and Little Richard’s Good Golly Miss Molly clearly provided the blueprint for CCR’s cover several years later. While they may not make you forget the Animal’s version of the House of the Rising Sun, they do a fine version themselves. They were still struggling to find where they belonged on this LP, but they take us on enough highs through the trip to make it a worthwhile 37 minutes.

For those who may not know the man’s work, Eddie Brackett is the engineer behind the best sounding Dean Martin record ever made, Dream With Dean. His credits run for days.

This Gold Label Stereo original pressing (skip the mono by the way) has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)

Peter, Paul & Mary – Moving

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  • An incredible sounding original WB Gold Label pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades – this is as good as it gets!
  • The overall sound is clean, clear and present with more Tubey Magic than makes their recordings such a joy to play
  • The vocals (obviously the main draw here) sound wonderful — breathy, natural and present 
  • PP&M’s second studio album, featuring Puff The Magic Dragon and This Land Is Your Land

This original stereo pressing of Peter Paul & Mary’s 1963 followup to their smash debut absolutely DESTROYED the competition. The warmth and presence of the vocals on this copy are OFF THE CHARTS!

Peter, Paul & Mary records live and die by the quality of their midrange reproduction. These are not big-budget, high-concept multi-track recordings. They’re simple, innocent folk songs featuring exquisite vocal harmonies, backed by straightforward guitar accompaniment. If the voices aren’t silky sweet and delicate, as well as full-bodied and present, let’s face it, you might as well put on another record.

Steve Hoffman’s famous phrase is key here — we want to hear The Breath Of Life. If P, P & M don’t sound like living, breathing human beings standing right between your speakers (and to either side), toss your LP and buy this one, because that’s exactly what they sound like here.

The TUBEY MAGIC of the MIDRANGE is practically off the scale. Until you hear it like this you almost can’t really even imagine it. It’s a bit disconcerting to hear each and every nuance of their singing reproduced so faithfully.

This is high-rez ’60s style; not phony and forced like so much of what passes for audiophile sound these days, but relaxed and real, as if the recording were doing its best to get out of the way of the music, not call attention to itself. This, to us, is the goal, the prize we strive to keep our eyes on. Find the music, leave the rest. (more…)

The Mahavishnu Orchestra – The Inner Mounting Flame

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  • With a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side one and a side two that’s close to it, this copy has much to recommend it
  • The band’s debut here is a true Jazz/Rock Fusion Demo Disc with the Big Sound we love here at Better Records 
  • This album was recorded in 1973, only a year after Bitches Brew single-handedly created the genre of Jazz Fusion itself
  • 5 Stars “…a furious, high-energy, yet rigorously conceived meeting of virtuosos that, for all intents and purposes, defined the fusion of jazz and rock…”

This is the first album by the band, recorded only a year after Bitches Brew single-handedly created the genre of Jazz Fusion itself. Or is it better described as an album of Prog Rock without the vocals? Remember, King Crimson had a violinist and not a whole lot of singing too.

Whatever it is, mostly what this music wants to do is rock. And on this copy it rocks like you will not believe. The louder you play it the better it sounds.

The best copies had huge amounts of bottom end weight as well as rich, Tubey Magical grungy guitar tone. Once you’ve heard it sound that way, on the copies without both you’ll notice that the sound falls flat pretty quickly.

It’s hard to think of another record that rocks as hard, and it’s not even a real rock record! We find ourselves playing albums like Zep II and Back in Black for hour after hour, with dozens of copies to get through, and we do it on a regular basis. If anybody knows Big Rock Sound, it’s us. But can we really say that those albums rock any harder than this one? (more…)

Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview

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  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • It’s unusual (to say the least) to find copies of Moondance or Astral Weeks that sound anything like the better copies of Saint Dominic’s Preview (or His Band and Street Choir for that matter)
  • One of the best sounding Van Morrison recordings thanks to the superb engineering skills of Donn Landee at Wally Heider’s
  • 5 Stars in Rolling Stone: “The coexistence of two styles on the same record turns out to be very refreshing; they complement each other by underscoring the remarkable versatility of Van’s musical imagination… the best-produced, most ambitious Van Morrison record yet released.”

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Chet Baker – Chet

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

Chet is one of the best sounding Chet Baker records we’ve ever played, although that’s not saying much because finding good Chet Baker records is like finding hen’s teeth these days. The albums he did for Pacific Jazz in the ’50s can be wonderful but few have survived in audiophile playing condition. The Mariachi Brass albums are as awful as everyone says — we know, we’ve played them too. The album he recorded for CTI in 1974, She Was Too Good To M, is excellent and will be coming to the site again soon I hope.

We’ve never heard the record sound better than in our most recent shootout, and that’s coming from someone who’s been playing the album since it was first reissued in the ’80s.

These guys are playing live in the studio and you can really feel their presence on every track — assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one. (more…)

Jimmy Heath – Swamp Seed

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  • Jimmy Heath makes his site debut here with this superb Riverside Black Label stereo pressing of his 1963 album, which boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • With Donald Byrd on trumpet and Herbie Hancock on piano (as well as French horns and a tuba!), this is a fun session with top players 
  • Based on what we’re heard, this is an outstanding recording – the top opens up nicely and there’s plenty of space in the studio, giving all the players room to breathe
  • “This is a delightful if underrated set… The multi-talented Jimmy Heath has many consistently rewarding and distinctive tenor saxophone solos..

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Joan Baez Diamonds and Rust – The Half-Speed that Beats Most Originals

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Sonic Grade: B+

One of the best Half Speed Mastered Records we have ever played.

In our recent shootout we were shocked — shocked — to hear how good our old copy of Diamonds and Rust on Nautilus sounded head to head against the best first pressings. Hard to believe, but it actually beat every one.

If I hadn’t heard it with my own two ears I wouldn’t have believed it. 

OUR MOST RECENT HOT STAMPER COMMENTARY

  • If all you know are the originals you will be surprised at just how rich, natural and Tubey Magical the sound here can be
  • Guaranteed to handily beat the Nautilus Half-Speed as well as the TAS List-approved MoFi (which is awful by the way)
  • Five Stars: “…the real hit was the title track, a self-penned masterpiece and… her finest moment as a songwriter…”

Wonderful sound — rich, full, warm, and sweet. The vocals are full-bodied and breathy. The acoustic guitars are fairly natural for a pop recording from 1975.

Play Jesse on side two to hear the lovely space of the studio, as well as more harmonic extension on the acoustic instruments. Watch out for track two; the EQ on the vocal is always a problem. (more…)

Jerry – Garcia (Compliments)

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  • STUNNING sound for Jerry’s sophomore solo effort with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • “This was an opportunity for Garcia to do something different — to sing, to perform, and to arrange a variety of songs however he wanted. As a result, he surely sounded like he was having the time of his life…” – John Metzger, The Music Box

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The Curtis Counce Group – Vol. 2: Counceltation

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  • Insanely good sound throughout for this Contemporary Yellow Label pressing with both sides earning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades, just shy of our Shootout Winner 
  • These sides are superb — clean, clear, full-bodied and dynamic with tons of energy
  • Counce is a wonderful bassist and here he’s joined by Jack Sheldon, Harold Land, Carl Perkins and Frank Butler; I think you’ll be very impressed with how good this music from the late ’50s still sounds today
  • “Bassist Curtis Counce led one of the finer West Coast-based groups of the 1950s, a quintet that was greatly underrated… This excellent music falls somewhere between hard bop and cool jazz.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

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.

This vintage Contemporary Yellow Label pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings 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.

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1957
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on Vol 2: Counceltation

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The instruments aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Complete
How Deep Is The Ocean
Too Close For Comfort
Mean To Me

Side Two

Stranger In Paradise
Counceltation
Big Foot

 

Ella Fitzgerald – Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie – Our Favorite Female Vocal Album of All Time

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

The first “Triple Triple” MONO copy to ever hit the site — A+++ from start to finish. Our knockout mono pressing here was fuller, more natural and more involving than any copy we heard in our shootout. with immediacy to put Ella practically in the room with you, it’s her performance that really comes to life. It’s our single Favorite Female Vocal album here at Better Records, one that gets better with each passing year.

Check out what the lucky owner of this copy had to say about it.

PR Writes

As you probably know, I own superb copies of the stereo. They both fade into pastel in comparison with this mono. (more…)