TAS Super Disc List

Cat Stevens – Tea For The Tillerman

More of the Music of Cat Stevens

More Reviews and Commentaries for Tea for the Tillerman

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  • This superb Brown Label A&M pressing of TFTT – The Pinnacle of British Folk Rock from 1970 – earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • It was mastered by the same guy who cut the British pressings – Lee Hulko – and we guarantee the sound will hold its own against any copy you’ve ever played
  • The emotional power of the songs is communicated completely – we can assure you the experience will be like playing the album for the first time (so this is your chance!)
  • 5 Stars on Allmusic, a stunning Demo Disc, and a permanent member of the Better Records Top 100

Hearing this Hot Stamper is a PRIVILEGE that affords the listener insight into Cat Stevens’ music that is simply not possible any other way. The emotional power of these songs is communicated so completely through our better copies that we can assure you the experience will be like playing the album for the first time.

This is, I hope it goes without saying, one of the greatest Folk Rock records of all time, the kind of music that belongs in any collection. I’ve been playing this album for 40 years and I can honestly say I’ve never once tired of hearing it. I do get tired of hearing bad copies.

Cat’s mixes are full of subtle elements that may require many listening sessions over the course of years, even decades, to recognize and appreciate. Consider them an extra reward for having played the record so many times. I’ve played hundreds of copies over the last thirty plus years and never tired of it once. As every music lover knows, the best albums only get better with time.

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Rachmaninoff / The Complete Piano Concertos – Wild / Horenstein

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

More TAS Super Disc Recordings

  • The vinyl is as quiet as we can find it – like most Shaded Dogs and Mercs, Mint Minus Minus is about the best you can hope for (and no marks are audible, which is always nice)
  • We have been readying this shootout for probably twenty years – we had 8 box sets, all in excellent condition, and this set represents some of the best sound we uncovered for these famous TAS List recordings
  • Wild’s playing of the Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini here is one of our favorites on vinyl
  • Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – here’s all the proof anyone with two working ears and top quality audiophile equipment needs to make the case
  • “Rachmaninoff’s music . . . changes as the composer goes along, moving from Romantic to a tentative Modernism in such works as the fourth piano concerto and the Symphonic Dances. In this sense, he walks a path similar to Puccini’s, incorporating new approaches to extend that [which was] already essentially his. Certainly, the works here show these changes, as the composer picks up more experience, both in writing and in hearing music.”

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Bernard Herrmann – The Mysterious Film World of Bernard Herrmann

More Bernard Herrmann

More Reviews of Soundtrack Music

  • An outstanding recording with a huge three-dimensional stage, open, clear, extended up top and down low — the sound on this pressing is nothing short of amazing
  • 4 stars: “The sound glitters, some of the brightest and richest audio of its period (attested to by the album’s being part of Decca/London Phase 4 Stereo), and the performances have a dignity and intensity that makes the music — drawn from the key parts of Herrmann’s scores for the Ray Harryhausen-created fantasy films The Three Worlds of Gulliver, Mysterious Island, and Jason and the Argonauts — seem even more serious and profound than it originally did.”
  • If like us you’re a fan of Blockbuster Orchestral Recordings, this is a killer album from 1975 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1975 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Side one boasts some wonderful material from Mysterious Island and Jason and the Argonauts. Who else but Herrmann could have orchestrated such phantasmagorical goings on?

The Three Worlds Of Gulliver Suite takes up all of side two. The complete score from which the suite is taken can be found on the original Herrmann album The Three Worlds of Gulliver, a long-time and extremely rare member of the TAS Super Disc List.

This vintage London Phase 4 Stereo 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. (more…)

Rimsky-Korsakov / Espana / Argenta – We Crown a New King of Espana

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

Hot Stamper Pressings of Orchestral Spectacular Recordings

  • This vintage London LP features Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • For the longest time we thought that Ansermet’s Espana could not be beat, but here is a performance that can go head to head with his and might even come out on top
  • The Capriccio Espagnol is easily one of the best on record – I always thought it was the best reason to own this album, but now I see that both sides are practically as good as it gets for orchestral showpieces
  • This is a spectacular recording – it’s guaranteed to put to shame any Heavy Vinyl pressing of orchestral music you own
  • Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – here’s all the proof anyone with two working ears and top quality audiophile equipment needs to make the case
  • If you’re a fan of orchestral showpieces such as these, this London from 1957 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1957 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Chet Atkins – Caribbean Guitar

More Chet Atkins

More Recordings in Living Stereo

  • This famous TAS Super Disc RCA Living Stereo LP boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last and plays about as quietly as any RCA pressing from the early ’60s ever will
  • If you have ever heard one of our luscious Living Stereo Chet Atkins records, you know what to expect – off the charts Tubey Magic unlike anything made in the last fifty years, or more!
  • This album is a little more lively than some of his other recordings, which can be criticized for being a little too laid back. For example, try side 2, cut 2 where Chet actually jams.
  • Engineer Bill Porter just doesn’t know how not to make an amazing sounding Living Stereo recording – everything the guy touches is GOLD!

This is one of Chet Atkins’ best albums. Sonically, it’s right up there with The Other Chet Atkins and the Hollywood album. It seems like Bill Porter just doesn’t know how not to make an amazing sounding Living Stereo recording. He knocked this out of the park.

I suppose we owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Pearson for pointing out to us with his TAS List what a great record this is, although I’m pretty sure anybody playing this album can tell after a minute or two that it’s in that very special class of great recordings.

The last track on side 2 where Chet is joined by a trumpet player is my favorite on the album. That guitar-trumpet combination is pretty magical on that song. And you’ve got to love the kind of sound Bill Porter gets from a trumpet. That’s the kind of sound we audiophiles drool over. I do anyway.

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Miklós Rózsa – Quo Vadis (Music From the Film)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

More Orchestral Spectaculars

  • This London Phase 4 Stereo pressing boasts STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two mated with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on side one 
  • These sides are clear, full-bodied and present, with plenty of space around the players, the unmistakable sonic hallmark of the properly mastered, properly pressed vintage analog LP
  • This 1978 re-recording of Rózsa’s original work for the 1951 film, here performed by the Royal Philharmonic in glorious orchestral sound
  • The Decca pressing is on the TAS Super Disc List, but as readers of this site know all too well, that Decca is very unlikely to be competitive with one of our White Hot Stamper pressings
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Rózsa gets spirited performances out of the orchestra and the chorus, but with the latter he also achieves a level of subtlety in their performance of his work which greatly enhances the finale to the piece.”

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Gershwin / All the Works for Orchestra – This Set Was on the TAS List?

More of the Music of George Gershwin

Hall of Shame 3 Record set that had us asking: Why would anyone want to own these awful records? Isn’t the music of George Gershwin better than this?

TAS List or no TAS List, the performances of the works listed below are much too slow to be taken seriously.

This is one of those records that make you wonder what the hell some audiophile reviewers, including Harry Pearson himself, must have been smoking back in the day.

I get that The TAS Super Disc List is about sound, not music, but the sound is not that great here either, and the bargain vinyl is the typical gritty, grainy, noisy crap that VOX records tend to be made with.

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of George Gershwin

Reviews and Commentaries for TAS Super Disc Recordings

Records, Like This One, That Do Not Belong on a Super Disc List

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Saint-Saens / Symphony No. 3 (“Organ”) / Fremaux

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

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • For the first time in over a year, one of Saint-Saens’ greatest masterpieces returns to Better Records with truly STUNNING Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Clear and transparent and natural – your ability to suspend disbelief requires practically no effort at all
  • What this copy did better than practically any other was show us just how rich, smooth and Tubey Magical 1973 EMI sound could be
  • “The whole work is a magnificent and fantastical symphonic machine that’s an apotheosis of the orchestral technology of the late 19th century.”
  • TAS List Super Discs with Hot Stampers
  • Reviews and Commentaries for TAS Super Discs

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Art Garfunkel / Breakaway – Generally Grainy, Harsh and Shrill

Reviews and Commentaries for TAS Super Disc Recordings

Records that Do Not Belong on a Super Disc List

The problem with this album is that, for whatever reason, practically every copy you find is, to some degree, grainy, harsh and shrill in the loudest passages of the music. When the music gets loud, the sound often becomes strained and unpleasant. A copy like this one that doesn’t do that is the exception, not the rule.

Listen to the song ‘Disney Girls’ on side one. If you own the average pressing – odds are your copy is in fact quite average unless you went through a pile of copies and played them in order to find a good one – parts of that song will sound painfully hard and shrill, assuming your playing the record at the kinds of levels we do.

Which is the main reason I’ve never understand what qualified this record to be on the TAS Super Disc list. Now, having heard the best of the best copies sounding so big, rich and tubey, I can certainly say I hear what impressed HP (he likes that sound, as do we). It may indeed be a very well recorded album, but we feel it falls a bit short for our own Rock and Pop Top 100 List. (To be fair, as you know we play a lot of amazing albums around here.)

The Best Songs

The late Harry Pearson knew little about popular music and may have been more impressed by this album than those of us who play pop and rock albums by the boatload.

Most of the pop albums on his Super Disc TAS list are a joke. Only the people who listen almost exclusively to classical or jazz seem to take them seriously, in my experience anyway. (Check out the 12″ pop singles for a good laugh.)

That said, there are some wonderful songs on this album. Check out Break Away or 99 Miles From L.A. for some very good sounding, very well produced adult pop music. The version of Jobim’s Waters of March here is another high point.


WHAT TO LISTEN FOR

Choruses that Are Big, Clear and Lively

Grit and Grain

Midrange (Upper) – Shrillness

Respighi / Pines Of Rome – Another Title Not Fit for a Super Disc List

Our Favorite Pines of Rome

More Reviews and Commentaries for The Pines of Rome

Sonic Grade: C (at best)

I found a bit of commentary in a listing for Scheherazade, and right away it was clear to me that the shootout we did for that title had much in common with the one we did recently for The Pines of Rome.

Here it is with the necessary changes having been made.

We did a monster shootout for this music in 2021, one we had been planning for more than twenty years. On hand were quite a few copies of the Reiner on RCA; the Ansermet on London; the Maazel on Decca and London (the Decca being on the TAS List), the Kempe on Readers Digest, and quite a few others we felt had potential.

The only recordings that held up all the way through — the last movement being a real Ball Breaker, for both the engineers and musicians — were those by Reiner and Kempe. This was disappointing considering how much time and money we spent finding, cleaning and playing about twenty or so other pressings.

We learned from that first big go around something that we think will remain true for the foreseeable future: the 1960 Reiner recording with the Chicago Symphony on RCA just can’t be beat.

Could other pressings be better sounding? Of course they could.

Would we ever buy another copy? Not a chance.

Here are the notes for the Decca pressing I played, mastered by G, Ted Burkett.

Hey, here’s an idea. Why don’t you buy a bunch of them and see if any of them do not have the problems described on my notes.

If you find a good one, please let me know the stampers so I can go out and find one myself.

The above is of course all in good fun. We both know that there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that anyone reading this commentary is going to go out and buy some Decca pressings of The Pines of Rome, clean them up and critique them.

The most likely thing is that, if you have any Decca pressing of Maazel’s Pines, it’s sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Odds are it has not been played in a very long time.

Which is as it should be. Good records get played and bad ones sit on shelves.

Hot Stamper Pressings of The Pines of Rome

TAS List Super Discs with Hot Stampers

Reviews and Commentaries for TAS Super Disc Recordings

Records that Do Not Belong on a Super Disc List

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