Genre – Exotica & Easy Listening

Bob and Ray – Throw a Stereo Spectacular – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

It’s been nearly two years but the waiting is over — we’ve found another copy of the famous Bob and Ray on Living Stereo with DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Without a doubt this is the best sound I have ever heard for side one of this album. The sound here is so amazing I’m willing to go out on a limb and make the following recklessly bold statement. Buck Dance on this pressing has the most extended, natural and harmonically correct high frequencies I have ever heard from my speakers (or anyone else’s for that matter). 

And the crazy thing about it is, when played against an actual original pressing of Music for Bang, Baa-room and Harp, this copy, which one would assume is made from a dub, SOUNDS FAR BETTER. Now of course we don’t have ten copies (or even two copies) of LSP 1866 which would allow us to find one with an even better Buck Dance than the one heard here on Bob and Ray, which means we cannot be definitive in any way about the disparity in sound between the two albums. We can only judge the records we have in hand, not the ones we might have heard years ago or — even worse — speculate about the sound of records we have not actually played, recently or otherwise. (more…)

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

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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…)

Dick Schory – Music for Bang, Baa-room and Harp – Check Your Polarity!

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises .

An amazing discovery from Better Records. Many copies of this album are REVERSED POLARITY on side two (the side with Buck Dance, one of the better tracks on that side and great for testing). Yes, once again you heard it here first, folks. We had two 4S copies of the album and both of them had side two out of polarity.  

NEWSFLASH: 7s on side two is out of polarity too. Just played one today. There’s practically no real top end extension until you reverse the polarity.

Reversing the absolute phase on this record today was a REVELATION. There before me was all the ambience, openness, sweetness, silkiness and warmth I had come to expect from the best pressings of this longtime member of HP’s TAS List of Super Discs, a record that really is a Super Disc when you hear a good one, and this is a very very good one indeed, on side two anyway. (more…)

Martin Denny – Primitiva – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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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…)

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

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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…)

Dick Schory – Music for Bang, Baa-room and Harp – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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

This one is absolutely As Good As It Gets on side one. It’s a real treat to hear such a crazy assortment of percussion instruments with this kind of amazingly clear, high-resolution sound! It’s just bigger, richer and clearer than any side we can remember playing. 

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. 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. (The typical copy is quite good, but it sure doesn’t sound like this.) Nothing else in our shootout could touch it. And it’s IN PHASE. Many copies are not.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Top end, plain and simple. It’s the RARE copy that really has the incredible extension of this side two. The space, the clarity, the harmonic complexity — perhaps one out of ten copies will show you a side two such as this. (more…)

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…)