Genre – Exotica & Easy Listening

Esquivel – 4 Corners Of The World – Reviewed in 2011

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

This RCA Living Stereo LP has an A+ to A++ side two. The sound is three-dimensional and transparent, but could use a bit more top. This album tends to have a bit of variation from track to track, but this one gets more right than most. Side one, unfortunately, is not quite up to Hot Stamper status. 

This is an excellent sounding record from 1958! (more…)

Dick Schory – Music To Break Any Mood

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Music To Break Any Mood

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  • Both sides here earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades, making this one of the better copies from our recent shootout 
  • The overall sound is super big, rich and Tubey Magical with a lovely bottom end and tons of energy
  • “Dick Schory’s second major outing for RCA is more self-assured, from the preposterous jacket art and liner notes to more upbeat tunes… Schory’s musical ideas are always fresher than those of Bobby Christian and Mike Simpson, who helped on the previous album. All but two tracks are good to great.” – All Music

This vintage RCA Living 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…)

Xavier Cugat – Chile Con Cugie

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

Amazing nearly White Hot stamper sound on side two. It’s so big and fun, jumping with energy in a huge space. 1959 Living Stereo three-dimensionality from Webster Hall. Lots of exotica percussion and rhythm make for fun stereo listening.  (more…)

Martin Denny – Exotica: Vol. 2

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Exotica: Volume II

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

This Liberty ’60s Label Stereo LP has 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. The tonality is actually right on the money, a quality that the heavily tubey recordings rarely exhibit: they can easily get overly lush and turn murky.

  • Side two is White Hot – the sound positively JUMPS out the speakers
  • It’s shockingly 3-Dimensional, rich and Tubey Magical – you won’t believe it
  • Side one is quite good at A+ to A++ – it gets better as it plays
  • One of our favorite Martin Denny records – wonderfully spacious Exotica sound from 1957

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 one of the best we heard, musically and sonically. (more…)

Esquivel and Other Vintage Recordings – What to Listen For

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your vintage ’50s and ’60s All Tube recordings.

Folks, I can tell you right now most original LSP pressings, of this or any other Living Stereo Popular title, do not begin to recreate the Studio Wizardry found on this album. The sound rivals the best Chet Atkins albums and Bob and Rays in all their delicious three-dimensional Cinerama staging.  (more…)

Martin Denny – Exotic Percussion

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

This Liberty stereo LP has A++ DEMO DISC SOUND on side one, mated to a pretty darn good side two. The sound is very three-dimensional and has a wonderfully extended top end on this copy. The music just JUMPS out of the speakers. Soundstaging and depth are both superb.

Side two is not quite as open and transparent as side one but we still rate it an A+ for sound; it’s far far better than the average copy of this record you can find, if you can find a clean one at all. Fans of TUBEY MAGIC, Golden Age Exotica or Bang, Baa-room & Harp should find much to like here.

The Ames Brothers – The Blend and the Beat

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  • Superb sound throughout with both sides earning a solid Double Plus (A++) for sound or BETTER – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • With Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation like you will not believe, this copy is spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience
  • If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good the All Tube Analog Recording Chain was that created the magic of Living Stereo for RCA in 1960, this killer pressing might just be the record that can do it

This copy of The Blend and the Beat has a lot in common with the other Decca and Living Stereo titles we’ve listed over the years, albums by the likes of Henry Mancini, Esquivel, Dick Schory, Edmundo Ros, Prez Prado and a handful of others. (more…)

Perez Prado – “Prez”

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  • A Shootout Winning copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides – this bad boy is a HUGE step up from anything Perez Prado record you have ever heard, guaranteed 
  • With Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation like you will not believe; this copy is spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience
  • The driving, syncopated, heavily percussive arrangements add immensely to the fun, with the timbre of every scratcher and drum rendered in glorious Technicolor sound
  • This is Vintage All Tube Analog at its best – the magic hidden in the grooves of the record really comes through on this pressing

This SUPERB sounding copy of Prez has a lot in common with the other Living Stereo / Exotica titles we’ve listed over the years, albums by the likes of Henry Mancini, Esquivel, Arthur Lyman, Dick Schory, Edmundo Ros, Ted Heath, Martin Denny and a handful of others. Talk about making your speakers disappear, these records will do it! (more…)

Martin Denny’s Quiet Village – Our Shootout Winner from Way Back

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

This Superb sounding Hot Stamper copy of Quiet Village has a lot in common with the other Bachelor Pad / Exotica titles we’ve listed over the years, albums by the likes of Esquivel, Dick Schory, Edmundo Ros, Arthur Lyman and others.

But c’mon, nobody really buys these records for the music (although the music is thoroughly enchanting). It’s all about the Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation, the wacky 3-D sound effects (of real birds and otherwise) and the heavily percussive arrangements. In all of these areas and more this record does not disappoint.

If you’re an audiophile, both the sound and the music are crazy fun. If you want to demonstrate just how good 1959 All Tube Analog sound can be, this is the record that will do it! (more…)

Herb Alpert – Whipped Cream & Other Delights

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  • Two excellent sounding early stereo sides, each rating Double Plus (A++) or better
  • Tubey Magical, big-bottomed, punchy, spacious sound – what we’ve come to expect from Larry Levine’s engineering
  • An excellent recording with a studio crew full of pros – this is a dynamite combo on a strong copy like this!
  • Alpert’s most famous album, 5 stars on Allmusic: “Three Grammy Awards alone for the update of the Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow-penned theme “A Taste of Honey.”

We finally pulled together enough clean copies of this classic album with which to do a serious shootout. We soon found out that the better pressings can give you the kind of Tubey Magical, big-bottomed, punchy, spacious sound that we’ve come to expect from Larry Levine’s engineering for A&M. If you have any Hot Stamper pressings of Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66’s albums then you know exactly the kind of sound we’re talking about. (more…)