Core Collections

Neil Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

More Neil Young

One of Our Favorite Titles from 1969


  • This outstanding copy of Neil’s second studio album boasts superb sound
  • The best tracks have that Live-in-the-Studio quality Neil is famous for (of which Zuma is the best example), with minimal processing and maximum ENERGY
  • Includes some of Neil Young’s most beloved classics: “Cinnamon Girl,” “Cowgirl in the Sand,” and “Down by the River” just to name three
  • 5 stars: “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere was breathtakingly different when it appeared in May 1969, both for Young and for rock in general, and it reversed his commercial fortunes….”

Although not quite in the league with the best of the best — the likes of Gold Rush, Harvest, or Zuma, all titles we have a devil of a time keeping in stock — the best sounding tracks here are a rough guide for to what was to come as Neil and his producer, David Briggs, got better and better until they were As Good As It Gets by the time they got around to After the Gold Rush in 1970 (for which they seem to get no credit, outside of Better Records’ raves for the album of course).

We absolutely love the Live-in-the-Studio quality that only the best pressings of this album can give, with minimal processing and maximum energy. Man, with a good copy played back on a big pair of speakers this album can ROCK like nobody’s business. Nine minutes of “Down by the River”? A ten minute long version of “Cowgirl in the Sand”? “Cinnamon Girl”? We are so there!

This kind of musical, natural sound is not easy to come by. If you own any copy of the album you know what we mean. (more…)

Phineas Newborn, Jr. – A World of Piano!

More Phineas Newborn, Jr.

More Contemporary Label Jazz Recordings

  • One of the most musically impressive jazz piano recordings we’ve played in years – Newborn’s improvisational skills are operating at a very high level
  • The team of Roy DuNann and Howard Holzer insure that everything you want in an Audiophile Quality piano trio recording is here
  • If you don’t have any Phineas Newborn albums in your collection, this is definitely the place to start
  • 5 stars: “Phineas Newborn’s Contemporary debut (he would record six albums over a 15-year period for the label) was made just before physical problems began to interrupt his career…. He performs five jazz standards and three obscurities by jazz composers on this superb recital…”

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Johnny Cash / Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison

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More Country and Country Rock

  • At Folsom Prison returns to the site on this early Columbia 360 Stereo pressing with incredible Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades throughout – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Cash’s vocals sound right here – present, full and natural, with virtually none of the hardness, strain and edge you get on the average copy
  • It literally took us YEARS to find a copy that was worthy enough to put on the site, so don’t miss out on this one if you’re a fan
  • 5 stars: “…At Folsom Prison is the quintessential Johnny Cash album, the place where his legend burns bright and eternal.”

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Tears For Fears – The Seeds Of Love

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More Art Rock

  • Boasting two incredible Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this vintage import copy of the band’s Pop Masterpiece is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We guarantee the sound is dramatically bigger, richer, fuller, and livelier than any pressing you have ever heard, and on this record that is saying a LOT
  • A tough record to find in audiophile playing condition – copies with vinyl this quiet and with no audible marks were neither easy nor cheap to source from overseas
  • The band’s Magnum Opus, a Colossal Production to rival the greatest Prog, Psych and Art Rock recordings of all time (Whew!)
  • 4 stars: “Thanks to the duo’s uncompromising stubbornness, expansive creative vision, and Dave Bascombe’s final production, The Seeds of Love has dated better than either of its predecessors and is inarguably Tears for Fears’ masterpiece.”

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Ravel / Dukas et al. – Works by Ravel, Honegger and Dukas / Ansermet

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

More Music Conducted by Ernest Ansermet

  • An incredible London pressing of this superb release with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades on both sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that even our most well-cared-for vintage classical titles have trouble playing at
  • This spectacular Demo Disc recording is big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic – here you will find some of the best orchestral Hot Stamper sound we offer
  • The sound of the orchestra is dramatically richer and sweeter than you will hear on practically all other pressings – what else would you expect from Decca’s engineers and the Suisse Romande?
  • 1963 was a great year for classical recordings – other Must Own Orchestral releases can be found here.

The sound is clear, with wonderful depth to the stage. As a rule, the classic ’50s and ’60s recordings of Ansermet and the Suisse Romande in Victoria Hall are as big and rich as any you may have ever heard. These recordings may just be the ideal blend of clarity and richness, with depth and spaciousness that will put to shame 98% of the classical recordings ever made.

Side One

Bolero (Ravel)

Tubey and clear, with both the snare and the flute coming from so far back in the hall. OUTSTANDING energy and dynamic power.

Turn it up and it really comes to life like LIVE MUSIC. It’s big, wide and believable. We loved it.

Side Two

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Dukas)

ZERO compression. ZERO distortion when loud. Which means it has ZERO compressor distortion, something not five out of a hundred Golden Age recordings can claim. Nice extended top too.

There is depth and richness to beat the band, as well as clarity and tonal correctness that let you forget the recording and just enjoy the music. This piece is not quite as transparent as the Ravel, but still has earned every one of its Three Pluses.

The timbre of the brass is right on the money. As we have noted before, the brass of the Suisse Romande is some of the best to have ever been committed to analog tape.

Again, this side had OUTSTANDING energy and dynamic power the likes of which we think you may never have heard.

La Valse (Ravel)

Again, with that wondrously huge hall adding a sense of space that will allow your speakers to disappear. The performers are not too close, which is very much in keeping with live music.

In his tribute to Ravel after the composer’s death in 1937, Paul Landormy described the work as follows:

“….the most unexpected of the compositions of Ravel, revealing to us heretofore unexpected depths of Romanticism, power, vigor, and rapture in this musician whose expression is usually limited to the manifestations of an essentially classical genius.”

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Saint-Saens / Chabrier / Danse Macabre / Espana and More

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)

  • Both sides here are BIGGER and RICHER than any other we played – they’re super clean and clear, tonally correct from top to bottom, and have all of the weight of the orchestra down low (not to mention some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we’ve ever heard)
  • If you want a classical record to TEST your system and DEMO your system, you will have a hard time finding a better pressing than this very copy!
  • This Demo Disc Quality recording should be part of any serious Orchestral Music Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.
  • There are about 150 orchestral recordings we’ve awarded the honor of offering the Best Performances with the Highest Quality Sound, and this record certainly deserve a place on that list.

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Tears For Fears – Songs From The Big Chair

More Tears For Fears

More Art Rock

  • This UK pressing is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other Songs From The Big Chair you’ve heard, with superb Double Plus (A++) grades throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Rich, spacious and lively, with an open, extended top end – this is the sound you’ve been waiting for from Tears for Fears
  • More great songs than practically any other record made in the ’80s – “Shout,” “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and “Head Over Heels” are just a few of the better known hits from this, their breakthrough third album
  • 4 1/2 stars: “It is not only a commercial triumph, it is an artistic tour de force. And in the loping, percolating “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” Tears for Fears perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the mid-’80s while impossibly managing to also create a dreamy, timeless pop classic. Songs From the Big Chair is one of the finest statements of the decade.”

This is a classic in the Tears for Fears canon, probably the album most people regard as their best. I myself prefer Seeds of Love, which should take nothing away from Big Chair — both are exceptional productions from the ’80s no matter how you look at them.

SFTBC went to Number One on the charts for a reason. There’s really not a bad song on either side and mostly absolutely brilliant ones.

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Led Zeppelin / Self-Titled on Domestic Vinyl

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Reviews and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin I

  • In 2021 we came across a superb original domestic pressing of Zep’s debut with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl, especially considering that this is an early Atlantic pressing
  • Note that from our perspective in 2023 we would be very unlikely to try another domestic original
  • The story of how we came to possess this pressing is told below
  • 5 stars: “Taking the heavy, distorted electric blues of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Cream to an extreme… But the key to the group’s attack was subtlety: it wasn’t just an onslaught of guitar noise, it was shaded and textured, filled with alternating dynamics and tempos.”

There’s an interesting story behind this copy.

I bought it from an erstwhile customer who also had one of our Hot Stamper imports from years back, and he swore up and down that this original domestic pressing was a step up in class, a true White Hot Stamper pressing.

Well, that turned out not to be the case, and it’s the main reason shootouts on highly tuned, properly calibrated, extremely resolving large audio systems are the only way to separate the winners from the also-rans.

This copy is excellent and is guaranteed to beat any copy you throw at it — unless it’s one of ours with higher grades.

For the real Led Zep magic, you just can’t do much better than their debut — and here’s a copy that really shows you why. From the opening chords of “Good Times Bad Times” to the wild ending of “How Many More Times” (“times” start the album and end it, too, it seems) this copy will have you rockin’ out!

Both sides have the BIG ZEP SOUND. Right from the start we noticed how clean the cymbals sounded and how well-defined the bass was, after hearing way too many copies with smeared cymbals and blubbery bass.

When you have a tight, punchy copy like this one, “Good Times Bad Times” does what it is supposed to do — it really rock! With this much life, it’s lightyears ahead of the typically dull, dead, boring copy. The drum sound is perfection.

Drop the needle on “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” to hear how amazing Robert Plant’s voice sounds. It’s breathy and full-bodied with in-the-room presence. The overall sound is warm, rich, sweet, and very analog, with tons of energy. “Dazed and Confused” sounds just right — you’re gonna flip out over all the ambience!

“Communication Breakdown” sounds superb — the sound of Jimmy Page’s guitar during the solo is shockingly good.

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Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 3 / Janis / Dorati

The music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Reviews and Commentaries for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concertos

  • Stunning sound for this classic Byron Janis Mercury album, with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
  • The piano is huge and weighty, the strings rich and highly resolving, and the overall presentation is powerful, balanced, dynamic and exciting like few other piano concerto recordings we have ever had the pleasure to audition
  • Not only is this the consistently best sounding copy we have had to offer in years, but we are happy to report that the vinyl is reasonably quiet for a vintage Mercury stereo pressing
  • If you have the system to play a record as big and powerful as this Mercury from 1961, we cannot recommend it any more highly
  • There are about 150 orchestral recordings we’ve awarded the honor of offering the Best Performances with the Highest Quality Sound, and this record certainly deserve a place on that list.

Not only is the sound amazing — yes, it’s on the TAS Super Disc list, and for good reason: a copy as good as this one really is a Super Disc — but this copy has another vitally important characteristic that most copies of the record do not: no Inner Groove Distortion.

We can’t begin to count the times we have had to return (or toss) a copy of these famous Byron Janis records because the piano breakup for the last inch or so of the record was just unbearable. That’s a sound no serious listener could possibly tolerate, yet I would venture to guess that a great many Mercury Piano Concerto recordings suffer from this kind of groove damage.

Enough about those typically bad copies, let’s talk about how good this one is!

This is a reasonably quiet early Mercury Plum label stereo pressing of one of Byron Janis’s most famous performances (along with the Rachmaninoff 1st. It’s a longtime member of the TAS Super Disc list).

The sound is rich and natural, with lovely transparency and virtually no smear to the strings, horns or piano. What an amazing recording! What an amazing piece of music.

The recording is explosively dynamic and on this copy, the sound was positively jumping out of the speakers. In addition, the brass and strings are full-bodied, with practically no stridency, an unusual feat the Mercury engineers seem to have accomplished while in Russia.

Big, rich sound can sometimes present problems for piano recordings. You want to hear the percussive qualities of the instrument, but few copies pull off that trick without sounding thin. This one showed us a piano that was both clear and full-bodied.

With huge amounts of hall space, weight and energy, this is DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND by any standard. Once the needle has dropped you will quickly forget about the sound (and all the money you paid to get it!) and simply find yourself in the presence of some of the greatest musicians of their generation, captured on the greatest analog recordings of all time.

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Steely Dan – Aja

More Steely Dan

Reviews and Commentaries for Aja

  • With two outstanding Double Plus (A++) or BETTER sides, this copy of Steely Dan’s magnificent Jazzy Pop breakthrough album will be very hard to beat
  • Punchy, full and smooth, with the kind of rhythmic energy that brings out the jazzy funk in the music
  • A Better Records Rock and Pop Top 100 album and a true Demo Disc on a pressing that sounds as good as this one does
  • If I were to make a list of my Favorite Rock and Pop Albums from 1977, this album would definitely be right at the top
  • Considering how dismal the releases by Cisco Music and Mobile Fidelity turned out to be, it seems that no one outside of Bernie Grundman back in 1977 managed to get Aja sounding right on vinyl. Will his upcoming UHQR be any good? We might just have to buy one and find out.

Folks, there’s not much I can tell you about this copy of Aja that’s going to make you want this record, other than to say this: If you’re in the market for a superb pressing of what’s gotta be the most beloved Steely Dan record they made, look no further. It’s right here. (more…)