Demo Discs for Tubey Magic

David Bowie – Pin-Ups – Forget the Original British Pressings

xxx

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

We just finished our biggest-ever shootout for this fun Bowie album and this one was DRAMATICALLY better than most other copies. We played copies from all over the world — England, Germany, France, Canada, and the good ol’ USA — and heard all kinds of bad sound.

So what were the worst copies we heard? Hands down it was the British Originals, believe it or not. They tend to be dull, thick, and lifeless — not a good match for this punky, energetic material. [We have since found some very good sounding Brit originals but, that said, to date they have never won a shootout.]

On the other side, many of the other copies we heard were bright and grainy. It’s very tough to find a copy that strikes a balance, but we finally managed to dig up a handful that did the job. (more…)

Martin Denny – Exotica – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

xxxxx
xxxxx

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

This second label very quiet Liberty Stereo LP has at least Super Hot Stamper EXOTIC SOUND on both sides, with a side two that may be White Hot. It’s hard to know for sure whether side two can get any better than this — it’s pretty darn amazing, some of the most Magically Delicious sound we played in our recent shootout.  

Recorded in 1958, you can imagine there is a healthy amount of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness, although this second label copy seems to be cut a bit more cleanly and correctly than some of the first label Denny records we auditioned. The tonality is dead on the money, a quality that the most tubey recordings rarely exhibit; they can easily get overly lush and appear murky. (more…)

Marty Robbins – Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

xxxxx

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

TWO SUPERB TRIPLE PLUS SIDES, with the kind of ’50’s Tubey Magical Analog Sound that’s been lost to the world of recorded music for decades — decades I tell you! Nobody can manage to get a recording to sound like this anymore and it seems as if no one can even remaster a recording like this anymore, if our direct experience with scores of such albums counts as any sort of evidence.

Steve Hoffman is the guy that can get the closest in this regard, but the difference between The Real Thing and even the best of his Remasters is not the slightest bit hard to hear.

A Shocking Finding

We recently noted that the red label Columbia reissues of most of their catalog leave much to be desired. Here is an excerpt from a listing for The Byrds’ Greatest Hits.

One might assume that the later label copies would be the ones that would most likely have been cut with lower distortion equipment, the way the later Kind of Blues are cut so much cleaner than the earlier ones.

On The Byrds’ albums this is almost never the right approach. The Tubey Magic of the earlier pressings is absolutely crucial to the sound of these albums. It is the sine qua non of Classic 60’s Rock sound. Without it you might as well be playing a CD.

It turns out that some copies of Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs on the later red label can actually sound amazingly Tubey Magical, especially on side two. In fact we heard a red label side two that was even more rich than the best 360s.

Since the person listening to the record has no idea what the actual label is of the record being evaluated — which is about as close an approximation of the Scientific Method as we can manage around here — it was very surprising to hear such glorious Tubey Magical Richness and Sweetness come from such an unexpected source.

A good reason not to avoid later pressings and reissues absent any evidence of their inferiority.

And a good reason to judge your records by playing them whenever possible. (more…)

Elton John – Tumbleweed Connection

xxxxx
xxxxx
xxxxx

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

A side two for the ages — it beat our best Ref Copy to earn a Four Plus (A++++) grade. Both sides are stunning with superb Demo Quality sound: huge, rich, spacious, dynamic and lively. An incredible recording and longtime member of our Top 100 — our pick for Elton’s very best music and sound. 

We rate records with a Four Plus grade so rarely that we don’t even have a graphic for it on our Sonic Grade chart seen above. The scale only goes up to three pluses, but this side two blew our minds to earn a fourth!  

This is an incredible recording, but finding killer pressings like this is no walk in the park. We’ve had countless copies with promising sound that were just not in any condition to sell, and plenty of clean ones that just didn’t sound good.

This copy really delivers on the sound side — you get stunning immediacy, big-time presence, tons of depth to the soundfield, full-bodied vocals, amazing transparency, and BOATLOADS of Tubey Magic. Elton John fans, today is your lucky day.  (more…)

Dean Martin – Dream With Dean – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

xxxxx

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

This side one gets it JUST RIGHT. My notes read, “WOW! Master Tape Sound! So clear and unprocessed. Right amount of tubey magic. Dynamic and present like no other!” — hopefully that gives you a taste of just how much we loved the sound here. Side two is nearly as good but doesn’t have quite as much presence.  

This is my favorite Dean Martin record of all time; just Dean and a jazz guitar quartet behind him (featuring Contemporary favorites Barney Kessel and Red Mitchell!) doing standards. On the best copies, the immediacy is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s a shame that there aren’t more Frank Sinatra records that sound like this! (more…)

Martin Denny – Forbidden Island – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Martin Denny

More Forbidden Island

xxxxx

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

This original looking Liberty Black Label Stereo LP has White Hot Stamper WONDERFULLY EXOTIC SOUND. This copy is so super spacious and sweet it’s positively dripping with ambience. It’s EXACTLY the kind of sound you expect from Denny and his Island bandmates.  

We played a big pile of Martin Denny records during our shootout, not having enough clean copies of any one of them to do it the way we would with rock or jazz records, and this pressing was CLEARLY the best of the bunch.

Picture yourself on a beautiful South Pacific island. Now imagine you’re in a jazz bar on the mainland. Combine the two moods into one glorious sound and you have the music of Martin Denny! (more…)

Martin Denny – A Taste of Honey – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More Martin Denny

More A Taste of Honey

xxxxx

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

This early stereo Liberty label pressing has BETTER than Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, earning a sonic grade of A++ to A+++. This is not just another exercise in Bachelor Pad Exotica; there is some fun, swingin’ jazz here. The pianist — whoever he is, he’s uncredited along with the rest of the band — has real jazz chops and sympathetic sidemen to play with. 

The music is indeed excellent but the real thrill of course is to hear the richness and sweetness of a 1962 Tubey Magical pressing such as this one. Folks, as you well know, they don’t make ’em like they used to. (more…)

Martin Denny – Primitiva – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Martin Denny

More Primitiva

xxxxx

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

This original looking and fairly quiet Liberty Black Label Stereo LP has Super Hot Stamper EXOTIC SOUND on both sides. The cover says it’s The Ultimate in Transistorized Stereophonic Hi-Fidelity Sound, but I hear an awful lot of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness — maybe not quite as much as some of the best early Denny recordings, but plenty nevertheless. The tonality is actually dead on the money, a quality that the most tubey recordings rarely exhibit; they can easily get overly lush and turn murky. (more…)

David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust – Our Shootout Winning Copy from 2011

More David Bowie

More Ziggy Stardust

xxx

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

Is this one of the Greatest Rock Albums of All Time? Unquestionably. It’s the pinnacle of Glam Rock. Every track is superb; not a moment is less than stellar from beginning to end.

Is it Bowie’s Masterpiece? Absolutely. No other Bowie record ranks higher in my book. No other Bowie record would command a similar price, regardless of its sonic merits.

Is it amazingly well recorded? You better believe it. This is not just Bowie’s masterpiece; it’s Ken Scott’s as well. For BIG, BOLD, wall to wall, floor to ceiling sound, look no further.

Ken Scott engineered this record and he did his usual amazingly good job. The guitars may not sound “real”, they way they actually do in real life, but they sure sound GOOD! Lots of rich, sweet tubey magic, the sound we love here at Better Records. (more…)

Martin Denny – The Versatile Martin Denny – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More Martin Denny

More The Versatile Martin Denny

xxxxx
xxxxx

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

This early stereo Liberty label pressing has BETTER than Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, earning a sonic grade of A++ to A+++. This is not just another exercise in Bachelor Pad Exotica; there is some fun, swingin’ jazz here. Martin Denny on piano has real jazz chops and sympathetic sidemen to play with. 

The music is indeed excellent but the real thrill of course is to hear the richness and sweetness of a 1957 Tubey Magical pressing such as this one. Folks, as you well know, they don’t make ’em like they used to.

Fans of TUBEY MAGIC, Golden Age Exotica or Bang, Baa-room & Harp should find much to like here.

No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There actually IS a CD of this album, and youtube videos of it too, but nothing beats Hot Stamper vinyl when it comes to Martin Denny. (more…)