Genre – Folk

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

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

This amazing Mono pressing is the first Triple Triple copy to ever hit the site! Both A+++ sides are incredibly rich and warm, with dynamics and smoothness to the harmonica you almost never hear. As impressive as the best stereo copies can be, the mono version is our preferred mix for the album.  (more…)

Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

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The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

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  • This 360 stereo copy has outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides– exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • You’ll find this copy surprisingly spacious, full-bodied and natural, with relatively few of the problems that plague most pressings
  • It’s clear these classic songs have stood the test of time: Blowin’ in the Wind; Girl from the North Country; Masters of War; A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall; Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right and many more
  • 5 stars: “This is rich, imaginative music, capturing the sound and spirit of America… Dylan, in many ways, recorded music that equaled this, but he never topped it.”

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan is clearly our favorite of the early Dylan albums for both music and sound. We’re picking up both mono and stereo copies when we see them clean (which is rare) and both can sound out of this world.

Hearing these great songs sound so intimate and lifelike on a top quality pressing can be a sublime experience. We should know; we enjoyed the hell out of this very copy. (more…)

Taj Mahal – Oooh So Good ‘N Blues

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Oooh So Good ‘N Blues

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  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this 1973 album of primarily acoustic Folky Blues
  • If you like the music of Ry Cooder this album should be right up your alley – it’s as well recorded as Ry’s stuff, and that’s saying something 
  • As quiet as we can find them – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “Ooh So Good ‘N’ Blues takes a more straight-ahead approach that keeps the experimentation down to a minimum. As a result, this is one of his most consistently enjoyable and even albums.”

Taj does his own material and a few classics by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Elmore James and Willie Dixon. With the Pointer Sisters singing backup on some of the songs, fans of authentic acoustic blues will find much to like here. (more…)

Taj Mahal – Giant Step / De Ole Folks at Home

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Giant Step / De Ole Folks at Home

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  • KILLER sound throughout with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on sides two, three and four, and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first side
  • On the acoustic side the harmonics of the stringed instruments — banjo and guitar — ring out clearly and naturally
  • Two complete LPs worth of material: the first electric, the second acoustic, something for everybody — it even includes the Monkees hit “Take A Giant Step” if you can believe it
  • 4 Stars: “Parties searching for an apt introduction when discovering Taj Mahal’s voluminous catalog are encouraged to consider Giant Step as a highly recommended reference point.”

The best copies are not hard to spot. They have the richest, breathiest, most present vocals, surrounded in the most space. The balance between the guitar, bass and drums on the electric side is correct. On the acoustic side the harmonics of the stringed instruments — banjo and guitar — ring out clearly and naturally.

A sweeter midrange, with less grit and spit on the vocals, was especially welcome and helped propel three of these sides right into the final round of the shootout, with side three eventually coming out on top. (more…)

Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2016

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

This is a 2-pack of two Mono pressings, each with a killer Triple Plus (A+++) side. The White Hot sides are amazingly spacious, full-bodied, natural and clear with great presence. We greatly prefer the best Mono pressings to the best stereo copies, but they are very hard to come by.

This is our favorite of the early Dylan albums for both music and sound! We’re picking up both mono and stereo copies when we see them clean (which is rare) but the best mono copies truly take this music to a whole new level. (more…)

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

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

This 360 Label Original Columbia Mono LP, complete with the rare lyric sheet, has two LOVELY sounding sides that rate A++ or better. I was actually a big fan of the Sundazed Mono, but this has more of that Tubey Magic, richness, and overall naturalness that you find on old records, qualities that seem to be sorely lacking on even the best 180 gram remasterings. MoFi also did this record and ruined it in the process (shocker!).  (more…)

Doc Watson – Home Again

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  • An outstanding copy of Watson’s 1966 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This LP has the Tubey Magic, as well as in-the-room performance intimacy, that will surely bring Doc’s music to life in a way you’ve never heard before
  • “[H]is most affecting folk-style record, with unexpectedly warm vocals matched to the quiet virtuosity of his playing. [The album] features Watson performing lively, achingly beautiful renditions of popular folk standards. All are played with very imposing dexterity by Watson, joined by his son Merle and Russ Savakus on upright bass.
  • “A great showcase for Watson’s voice — vaguely similar to but rougher-hewn than Burl Ives — which is often overlooked in the aura of his playing.”

Folks, if you made the mistake of buying the Cisco Heavy Vinyl reissue of this album that came out in the early 2000s, you are in for treat. Instead of Doc and his band mates playing from behind a thick curtain at the back of your sound room, they can now be heard where they should have been all along: front and center between your speakers! The difference between a truly outstanding vintage pressing and a modern mockery of analog could not be more striking. We never got around to putting the Cisco pressing in our Hall of Shame (300+ strong!). There are just not enough hours in the day…

This vintage Vanguard stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, tubey sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). (more…)

Peter, Paul & Mary – Album 1700 – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

LOVELY MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE TWO, plus unusually quiet vinyl throughout! Side one is excellent as well, earning an A+ – A++ grade in our big shootout this week. We went through a big stack of Gold Label originals and various Green Label pressings and we didn’t hear a better sounding side two on any of them. Check out the extended top end, the stellar transparency, and the superb clarity — that’s what we like to hear on this album!

It’s getting harder and harder for us to track down enough clean copies of these old PP&M records to get proper shootouts going. Bad surfaces are deadly on an album like this, so we have to be very selective when finding copies in the bins. (more…)

Townes Van Zandt – Delta Momma Blues

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  • Excellent sound throughout for this original Tomato LP with both sides earning Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER
  • The overall sound here is rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with plenty of energy and bottom end weight
  • No one does beautifully spare and gut-wrenching country music quite like TVZ – this set contains two of his best songs — Tower Song and Nothin’

This vintage Tomato 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. (more…)

Peter, Paul & Mary – See What Tomorrow Brings

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  • This incredible copy boasts killer Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • Wonderfully rich, sweet vocals – it’s hard to imagine this trio sounding much better than they do on this very copy
  • Very quiet for a WB Gold label original — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “See What Tomorrow Brings is a strong album that plays to the strengths of Peter, Paul, & Mary. There is a good variety of material within their folk format, and a nice esprit de corps that pervades the recording. All members sing lead, which brings a good balance to the proceedings.”

Peter, Paul & Mary records live and die by the quality of their midrange reproduction. These are not big-budget, high-concept mulit-track recordings. They’re simple, innocent folk songs featuring exquisite vocal harmonies, backed by straightforward guitar accompaniment. If the voices aren’t silky sweet and delicate, while at the same time full-bodied and present, let’s face it — you might as well be listening to something else. (As we say below, the average copy will have you looking for another record to put on.)

The Breath Of Life

Steve Hoffman’s famous phrase is key here: we want to hear The Breath Of Life. If P, P & M don’t sound like living breathing human beings standing right between your speakers, toss yours and buy this copy, because that’s exactly what they sound like here. The TUBEY MAGIC of the MIDRANGE is practically off the scale. Until you hear it like this you almost can’t really even imagine it. It’s a bit disconcerting to hear each and every nuance of their singing reproduced so faithfully. (more…)