Genre – Country & Country Rock

Willie Nelson – Sings Kristofferson – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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Sings Kristofferson

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

A MINDBLOWINGLY GOOD A+++ SIDE ONE, the best we heard in the whole shootout! Side two earned an A++, making this the best copy to ever hit the site! We’ve heard great copies of this one in the past, but after throwing one on just for fun last year and hearing pretty mediocre sound, we decided that we’d collect a bunch of them to find out just how good the best pressings could sound — and how mind-numbingly average the typical copy can be. It’s not easy to find a copy that gets EVERYTHING right, but this side one seems to do it all.  

This is one of the better Willie Nelson records, not quite in the same league as Stardust (musically or sonically, I’m afraid), but certainly one of his strongest efforts from the period. Some songs are recorded better than others (when ain’t that the case?) but just about everything sounds great and the best stuff is out of this world. (more…)

Emmylou Harris – Pieces Of The Sky – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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Pieces Of The Sky

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

This album has the real Country Sound, with plenty of top players sitting in on these sessions, musicians who know country music as well as anyone alive. The legendary guitarist for Elvis (and half the stars of Nashville), James Burton, lends a hand on Electric and Dobro. On vocals and guitar Herb Pederson, who still plays locally. (Together with Chris Hillman they put on a great show of old Country and Honky Tonk favorites. If they come to your town check them out.) Ricky Skaggs on fiddle, Billy Payne on piano, Bernie Leadon on banjo — no doubt a good time was had by all in the studio and that spirit of like-minded musicians who love this music comes through in the recording. 

The presence of the vocals here is startling — Emmylou is IN THE ROOM with you, belting out these heartfelt, emotional songs. If her voice here doesn’t give you chills, I don’t know what will!

Dynamic Vocals!

One quality we heard on this album really took us by surprise. The vocals are shockingly DYNAMIC — it’s almost as if Emmylou’s mic has no limiter on it at all. If there’s any compression on her track it is very very subtle, that’s for sure. (more…)

Emmylou Harris – Elite Hotel – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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Elite Hote

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

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES, including an AMAZING A+++ SIDE ONE! It is TOUGH to find great sound for this album, but this copy really nailed it. Emmylou’s voice, obviously the key element, is just killer here. Most copies we play have their fair share of problems, but when you get one like this the sonic issues fade into the background, letting you focus on one thing — the MUSIC.   (more…)

Emmylou Harris – Blue Kentucky Girl

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Blue Kentucky Girl

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

One of the best copies to come out of our recent shootout. Very present and dynamic vocals, with no phony EQ or accentuated detail (a big problem with Emmylou’s recordings as a whole).  

Note how natural, clear and transparent the sound is — believe me, we didn’t hear too many do what these two sides were doing.

Breathy clear vocals and guitars, with none of the edge that plagues so many of her recordings. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Sweet Memories

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Sweet Memories

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

Excellent sound for these tough-to-come-by early Willie Nelson songs! This is a compilation of material from some of Willie’s earlier albums, records that are very hard to find these days and almost impossible to find with great sound and clean surfaces. Fortunately, this record was cut very well, giving us a chance to hear just how good this music can sound.   

This album features a bunch of Willie originals plus great covers of Help Me Make It Through The Night, Everybody’s Talkin’ and Both Sides Now. Tracking down the original albums these songs come from would be a tough task for anyone, and acquiring Hot Stamper copies would be prohibitively expensive for all but the most die-hard fans of the Red Headed Stranger. (more…)

Willie Nelson – The Troublemaker

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The Troublemaker

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this is an excellent copy from our most recent shootout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • It’s richer, fuller, more musical and more natural – Willie’s breathy voice is reproduced with a solidity and immediacy that’s not easy to find
  • “The Troublemaker is Willie Nelson’s first all-gospel album, but country gospel in his hands doesn’t sound like traditional country gospel — it’s a Willie album, through and through… Consequently, it’s every bit as wonderfully idiosyncratic as any of his other mid-’70s work and, in some ways, even more so, because inspirational songs and religious material are usually not given arrangements as imaginative and free-spirited as this… “

This Columbia LP has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s surely 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…)

Emmylou Harris – Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town

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

This is a Warner Brothers Palm Tree Label LP with SUPERB SOUND, dramatically better than that of the typical copy. We recently undertook a huge shootout for this album and this pressing finished way up top with an A+++ grade on side one and an A++ for the second side. The grit and edge that mess up most copies out there are kept in check here, allowing the music to sound smooth and sweet.   (more…)

Emmylou Harris – Roses In The Snow – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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Roses In The Snow

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

AMAZING A+++ SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! The immediacy of the vocals is startling — Emmylou is IN THE ROOM with you, belting out these heartfelt, emotional songs. If that doesn’t give you chills, I don’t know what will! We’ve done several shootouts for this album now, and we’ve completely fallen in love with both the music and the sound. When you hear a copy like this, it’s easy to see why. Even our single plus (A+) sides sound wonderful, but our Super Hot (A++) and White Hot (A+++) sides are OUT OF THIS WORLD. You won’t find too many records from 1980 with sound this good, that’s for sure!

Both sides have wonderful clarity and transparency. Emmylou’s vocals are breathy with lots of texture, the stringed instruments have the proper amount of pluck and twang, and the bass is Right On The Money. Yee-haw!  (more…)

Gram Parsons – Grievous Angel


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • A KILLER copy of this country rock classic and the first to hit the site in over a year
  • Amazing Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two backed with an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one
  • The sound here is incredibly rich, full and tubey magical with plenty of presence and none of the harshness that plagues most copies
  • “… one would be hard pressed to name an artist who made an album this strong only a few weeks before their death — or at any time of their life, for that matter.” – All Music

It’s tough to find clean early pressings of this album, let alone copies that have excellent sound and quiet surfaces on both sides. We just had our second big shootout for this album and found a lot to like about this pressing. The sound here is big, rich and open with excellent clarity and transparency. Gram’s voice sounds just right here, as does Emmylou Harris’s. Most copies have some grit and edge that really hurts the uptempo numbers, but this copy remains smooth and sweet enough to work throughout. (more…)

Buffalo Springfield – Listening for Tubey Magic Down Low

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More Last Time Around

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On even the best copies there’s a bit too much Tubey Magic in the bass I regret to say. Tubbiness and bloat were par for the course. This may explain why so many copies have rolled off bass; the engineer cut the bass because he heard how tubby it was and figured no bass is better than bad bass. 

Which is just not true. Cutting the bass leans out and “modernizes” the sound, making the voices sound thin and dry. This pretty much ruins everything on this album just the way it ruins everything in practically every modern recording I hear. Having your bass under control on the playback side isn’t easy — in fact it’s probably the hardest thing to achieve in audio — but it can be done, and with good bass control the slightly wooly bass is just part of the sound you learn to accept.

It doesn’t actually interfere much with your enjoyment of the music, mostly because all the other instruments and voices sounds so magical. (more…)