Forgotten Classics – Rock & Pop

Jethro Tull – Stand Up – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018


  • A stunning Island Pink Label Import LP with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • This is a True Tull Classic, and a VERY tough record to come by with this kind of sound
  • Both British sides give you richness, Tubey Magic, clarity and resolution few copies can touch – and what’s more, IT ROCKS
  • Their best album? It gets my vote, and this copy will really make the case if you turn it up good and loud

See all our Jethro Tull albums in stock

We just finished a big shootout for Stand Up with a variety of Brit pressings and a few domestics (which most of the time are awful but occasionally you run across one that’s pretty good on one side or another).

The following are some older notes that apply to the album in general.  

Tough Sledding with Stand Up

It’s very common for pressings of Stand Up to lack bass or highs, and more often than not both are lacking. The bass-shy ones tend to be more transparent and open sounding — of course, that’s the sound you get when you take out the bass. (90 plus percent of all the audiophile stereos I’ve ever heard were bass shy, no doubt for precisely that very reason: less bass equals more detail, more openness and more transparency. Go to any stereo store or audiophile show and notice how bright the sound is. Another good reason not to go to those shows, and we rarely do.)

Just what good is a British Classic Rock Record that lacks bass? It won’t rock, and if it don’t rock, who needs it? You might as well be playing the CD.

The copies that lack extreme highs are often dull and thick, and usually have a smeary, blurry quality to their sound. When you can’t hear into the music, the music itself quickly becomes boring.

If I had to choose, I would take a copy that’s a little dull on top as long as it still had a meaty, powerful, full-bodied sound over something that’s thin and leaned out. There are many audiophiles who can put up with that sound — I might go so far as to say the vast majority can — but I am not one of them. (more…)

Neil Young – Old Ways – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018


  • A surprisingly good sounding album, with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides here are incredibly big, full-bodied and energetic, with wonderfully present vocals and a huge bottom end – not bad for 1985
  • Neil’s unabashed country album (hello Waylon Jennings!) has been a long time coming; it’s the first copy to hit the site in over five years
  • We guarantee this one will make your MoFI pressing sound like the bad joke it was back in 1996 or your money back and then some

See all of our Neil Young albums in stock

We just finished a major shootout for Neil’s country-fried album from the mid-’80s and this was one of the best copies to hit our table. Most of the pressings we played were too gritty and grainy to hold our interest, but this one was sweeter and smoother by a country mile!

This is Neil heading out to the sticks with his buddies, authentic country greats such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and others (nice friends to have), doing what Neil loves to do — making the music that HE wants to make, not the music that anyone else wants him to, including David Geffen and his lawyers. Old friend Ben Keith (a huge part behind the sound of Harvest) shows up with his pedal steel guitar on a couple tracks.

This probably wasn’t anyone’s favorite Neil Young album, but when it sounds like it does here it sure makes a lot more sense than it did when we heard it on the more mediocre pressings. The MoFi is a muckfest, as was to be expected from a record mastered during the Anadisq era, the darkest chapter in the dark and disgraceful history of Mobile Fidelity. (more…)

Neil Young – Time Fades Away – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017


  • Triple Triple! Only the second Top Copy of this album to EVER hit the site
  • Both A+++ sides are big, rich and full-bodied with wonderful size and separation
  • Never released on CD, this is probably the toughest Neil album to come by
  • “Time Fades Away ranks with the bravest and most painfully honest albums of his career — like the tequila Young was drinking on that tour, it isn’t for everyone, but you may be surprised by its powerful effects.” — Allmusic, 4 stars

See all of our Neil Young albums in stock

Unlike most “live” albums this one was cut direct-to-disc with no fixes or overdubs, and on the best pressings that warts-and-all approach really pays off. There’s real openness, and the tonality on the better copies is both rich and sweet. This kind of sound has the potential to put you right in the front row. Unlike most “live” albums this one was cut direct-to-disc, with no fixes or overdubs, and on the best pressings that warts-and-all approach really pays off. There’s good weight, real openness, and the tonality on these better copies is both rich and sweet. This kind of sound can put you right in the front row.

Finding a copy like this is no walk in the park. The stamper numbers are all over the map, providing little if any guidance. Also, since the album didn’t sell all that well and was never released on CD, there just aren’t that many clean copies floating around. Complicating matters even further, the eight songs here were recorded at seven different shows, so the sound, of course, varies a bit from track to track. It took a long time and a lot of work to make sense of it all, but you Neil Young fanatics are going to get a thrill out of the sound on a Hot Stamper copy — guaranteed. (more…)

Steve Miller Band – Fly Like An Eagle – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017


  • Amazing “Triple Triple” sound from start to finish with both sides earning our top A+++ grade
  • This album KILLS on a copy like this — lively, spacious, rich and clear. You won’t find better SMB sound on vinyl!
  • The title track and Take The Money and Run both sound amazing, as does everything else
  • “The key is focus, even on an album as stylishly, self-consciously trippy as this, since the focus brings about his strongest set of songs (both originals and covers), plus a detailed atmospheric production where everything fits.”

See all of our Steve Miller Band albums in stock

On this killer copy you get plenty of richness and warmth, front and center immediacy, extension both up top and down low, and loads of energy. The synths have texture, the guitars are full-bodied and the bottom end is nice and meaty.

The top end of this album is a problem on most pressings — dry and somewhat brittle — but on a copy like this the highs are silky sweet and smooth. The soundfield is open and transparent with three-dimensional space that brings out the “trippy” qualities the band threw in all over this album.

To break it down further, 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 1976
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments (and effects!) 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 of course the only way to hear all of the above

We originally went into this shootout without high expectations, but we were BLOWN AWAY by the sound of the best copies. Not only did we find some that actually delivered the spacey goods, but the best of the best were actually Demo Disc quality! We never expected to hear this music sound so good. (more…)

Bryan Ferry – Let’s Stick Together – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017


  • Our shootout winner for side two and only the second copy to hit the site in many years – Triple Plus (A+++) on side two, Double Plus (A++) on one  
  • For material and sound I consider this to be the best of Bryan Ferrry’s solo albums – it’s a blast from start to finish
  • The energy, presence, bass, and dynamic power (love that horn section!) place it well above his other side projects
  • 4 Stars: “The title track itself scored Ferry a deserved British hit single, with great sax work from Chris Mercer and Mel Collins and a driving, full band performance. Ferry’s delivery is one of his best, right down to the yelps, and the whole thing chugs with post-glam power.”

More Roxy Music

We shot out a number of other imports and this killer side two is As Good As It Gets. The presence, bass, and dynamics place it head and shoulders above the competition. It has what we like to call Master Tape Sound — right in every way.

As for material, he covers some early Roxy songs (brilliantly I might add); Beatles and Everly Bros. tunes; and even old R&B tracks like ‘Shame, Shame, Shame’. Every song on this album is good, and I don’t think that can be said for any of his other solo projects. Five stars in my book.

Speaking of Roxy Music

Outside of their first two releases (1972-73), there is simply no Roxy album that is as well-recorded as the first three Ferry solo projects: These Foolish Things (1973); Another Time, Another Place (1974) and Let’s Stick Together (1976).

They are the very definition of rich, smooth, Tubey Magical, natural sound. They also tend to have lots and lots of bass — thanks, we assume, to engineers John Punter and Steve Nye– and we love that sound!

Imports or Domestic Pressing

Import, and only from the UK. All the domestic pressings are made from dubs. (more…)

Reversed Polarity on Bang Baaroom and Harp


Music for Bang Baaroom and Harp is yet another one of the many pressings we’ve discovered with reversed polarity on some copies.

Are audiophile reviewers or audiophiles in general listening critically to records like this? I wonder; I could not find word one about any polarity issues with this title, and yet we’ve played four or five copies with reversed polarity on side two. How come nobody is hearing it, apart from us?

We leave you, dear reader, to answer that question for yourself.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs, and rightfully so. It certainly can be a Super Disc, but only when you have the right pressing. It’s a real treat to hear such a crazy assortment of percussion instruments with this kind of amazingly clear, high-resolution sound!

This is one of the Demo Discs on the TAS List which truly deserves its status when, and only when, you have the right copy (read: Hot Stamper).





Willie Nelson – Tougher Than Leather – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017


  • Triple Plus (A+++) on side one and almost as impressive on side two, this is as good a copy of Tougher Than Leather as can be found
  • It’s richer, fuller, more musical and more natural – Willie’s unique voice is reproduced with a solidity and immediacy not heard on other copies
  • This is the first Hot Stamper to make it to the site, and we’ve been trying since 2011! Not that many good sounding copies out there…
  • As one Amazon reviewer wrote “This is a must buy album for any true Willie Nelson fan. This is good Willie – THERE IS NO BAD WILLIE!”

See all of our Willie Nelson albums in stock

The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to ever hit the site and it’s one for the ages. It’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble.

The presence and immediacy here are outstanding. Turn it up and Willie is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. He’s clearly one of our favorite male vocalists, and this superb copy will show you why.

The sound is big, open, rich and full. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than others big time.

This original Columbia LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from The Typical Modern 180 Gram Reissue. This record is dramatically more real sounding than anything that’s been remastered for the audiophile market in years. (more…)

Buckingham Nicks – Buckingham Nicks – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017


  • A wonderful sounding copy with two superb sides: Triple Plus (A+++) on the second and Double Plus (A++) on the first
  • The sound is excellent throughout – super rich and full-bodied yet still clean, clear and open with a massive bottom end
  • This is an album we almost never find and very rarely have on the site — don’t miss this one!
  • Features the early version of Crystal that they later brought with them to Fleetwood Mac

See all of our Buckingham Nicks albums in stock

British Sound from Yanks

Those of you who read our commentary for Commoner’s Crown will recognize this bit, lifted practically whole from the listing. The British Sound? This record has it in spades:

The sound is rich and full in the best tradition of English Rock, with no trace of the transistory grain that domestic rock pressings so often suffer from. The bass is deep, punchy, full up in the mix and correct. There’s plenty of it too, so those of you with less than well controlled bass will have a tough time with this one.

But never fear; it’s a great record to tweak with and perfect for evaluating equipment.

Things have changed as we never tire of saying here at Better Records, but in a way you could say they have stayed the same. This used to be a demo disc, and now it’s REALLY a Demo Disc. You will have a very hard time finding a record with a punchier, richer, fuller, better-defined, dare I say “fatter” bottom end than the one found on both these sides.

Notice how there is nothing — not one instrument or voice — that has a trace of hi-if-ishness. No grain, no sizzle, no zippy top, no bloated bottom, nothing that reminds you of the phony sound you hear on audiophile records at every turn. Silky-sweet and Tubey Magical, THIS IS THE SOUND WE LOVE. (more…)

The Byrds – Ballad of Easy Rider – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018


  • A stunning original pressing, earning a Triple Plus (A+++) sonic grade on the first side and a strong Double Plus (A++) on the second
  • We’re always blown away at just how much further the best copies are able to take the music – what a difference
  • Jesus Is Just Alright is the killer track here and it rocks like you will not believe
  • “Ballad of Easy Rider was the album where the new lineup really hit its stride.” Allmusic, 4 stars

See all of our Byrds albums in stock

Every now and then we manage to stumble on one with some serious magic, and this is one of the best of those to ever make it onto our site. You won’t believe how much better this great country-rock material sounds when you have a copy that sounds as good as this one does.

Jesus Is Just Alright is the killer track here and it rocks like you will not believe! It’s one of the All Time Best Byrds tracks, especially for sonics, with Rock and Roll energy that shows just how good a band these four guys had become.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Here are some of the things we specifically listen for in an Electric Folk Rock record from 1969.

Our hottest Hot Stamper copies are simply doing more of these things better than the other copies we played in our shootout.

The best copies have:

  • Greater immediacy in the vocals (most copies are veiled and distant to some degree);
  • Natural tonal balance (many copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; those with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);
  • Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);
  • Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);
  • Tubey Magic, without which you might as well be playing a CD;
  • And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sometimes simple, sometimes complex and sophisticated recording.


Elvis Costello – This Year’s Model – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017


  • WOW — an incredible Triple Plus (A+++) side two backed with an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one for this Elvis Costello classic!
  • You’re gonna love the sound here – full-bodied and punchy with a solid low end and excellent presence for Elvis’s vocals
  • The bass is right – the moment-to-moment rhythmic changes in the songs are clear and the band swings the way it’s supposed to
  • 5 stars on Allmusic: “The most remarkable thing about the album is the sound — Costello and the Attractions never rocked this hard, or this vengefully, ever again.”

See all of our Elvis Costello albums in stock

PUMP IT UP! This British Import Radar LP has TWO AMAZING SIDES that brilliantly and powerfully convey the energy of this hard rockin’ music.

The overall sound is punchy, lively, and dynamic with plenty of tight, note-like bass. This is key to the best copies.

The Low End Theory

A correct bottom end is absolutely CRITICAL for this album. Like Trust and Armed Forces, there’s a TON of low-end on this record; regrettably, most copies suffer from either a lack of bass or a lack of bass definition. I can’t tell you how much you’re missing when the bass isn’t right on this album. (Or if you have the typical bass-shy audiophile speaker, yuck.)

It’s without a doubt the single most important aspect of the sound on this album. When the bass is right, everything falls into place, and the music comes powerfully to life. When the bass is lacking or ill-defined, the music seems labored; the moment-to-moment rhythmic changes in the songs blur together, and the band just doesn’t swing the way it’s supposed to. (more…)