Genre – Jazz – Bossa Nova

Stan Getz – Getz Au Go Go – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This WHITE Hot Stamper Stan Getz record has the kind of LIVE JAZZ CLUB SOUND that audiophiles like us (you and me) dream of. More importantly, this ain’t no Jazz at Some Pawnshop — this is THE REAL THING. Stan Getz, Gary Burton, Kenny Burrell and the lovely Astrud Gilberto, the living embodiment of Cool Jazz, are coming to a listening room near you (assuming you have two hundred and fifty bucks you’re not doing anything else with).

Side One

A+++. It’s White Hot — so relaxed and musical, spacious and transparent, this one will have your speakers disappearing before your very eyes. Or leave them open so that you can “see” the room before you. Getz’s sax is breathy, immediate and dynamic. There is no audiophile pressing in the world that gets that sound better than this copy, and we are happy to back up that statement with this very record.

Side Two

A++, big, rich and sweet, much like side one, but not quite as clear and not quite as smooth. Compare the two sides for yourself and we think you will hear what we mean.

Cool Jazz Is Right

I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of this Getz album than any other, including those that are much more famous such as Getz/Gilberto (which doesn’t sound as good by the way). This one is (mostly) live in a nightclub and it immediately puts you in the right mood to hear this kind of jazz. (more…)

Sergio Mendes And Brazil ’66 – Crystal Illusions – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

A White Hot Stamper side one on this A&M LP means it’s the BEST sounding copy of Crystal Illusions to ever hit the site. Yes, it’s a recording that has many problems, but the best copies seem to be able to overcome most of them, and that’s precisely what we are offering here: a White Hot copy that gets the sound of this music about as right as it’s going to get. And the vinyl is QUIET. 

If you are not familiar with Sergio and his magical band, this is not the place to start. Try the first two albums or Stillness if you want to hear the best material recorded with the highest quality. This is a second tier album in the Sergio canon, and priced accordingly. There are of course some truly great songs on this one, just as there are on every Brazil ’66 album.

I would draw your attention especially to the Otis Redding classic Dock of the Bay, which is on this killer side one. Fans will no doubt find much to like here; others maybe not so much. If you get a thrill out of FINALLY hearing a famous album sound the way you always wished it could, even if it’s only on one side, this copy is for you. (more…)

Antonio Carlos Jobim – Tide – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

GREAT SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We’ve been trying our hardest to find a Jobim record with Hot sound, because we love the music so much. It’s taken some time, but we’ve finally found a few magnificent copies of Tide — and this one’s the champ!    

Viva Brazil!

Jobim is the master of samba music, and this is one of his best albums! Normally I don’t like flute jazz. The L.A. Four bores me to tears. Herbie Mann has one good album, Live at the Villiage Vanguard (with two string bass players, the only record of its kind that I know of), but the flute works great for Brazilian music, because the music itself is so light and airy, it just fits. You don’t see us recommending too many CDs around here, but the 3-disc Man From Ipanema set is WONDERFUL. (For those looking for Brazilian music with more of a rock influence, we definitely recommend starting with Sergio Mendes’ early A&M albums. If you want to go a bit further, search for some Gilberto Gil or Caetano Veloso.)

One Tough Ticket

It’s beyond difficult to find great sounding copies of Jobim’s albums, but we keep on picking up his records because we love to play them so much. Many of the pressings we bring back are weak sonically, too noisy, or both. Recently, we threw a copy of Tide on the table just for fun, and were thrilled when we heard some promising sound. We hit the shelves and the stores determined to pull together enough copies with the right stampers to make this shootout happen.  (more…)

Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto – Getz-Gilberto – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

We have been trying to find great sound (on reasonable surfaces) for this album for YEARS — I kid you not — but this 2-pack is the first Hot Stamper version to ever hit the site. We have fired up this shootout multiple times since 2006 and been left empty-handed each and every time until the last go-around. We have sunk an insane amount of dough into trying to get a few killer copies because we love the music so much, but we just haven’t had much to show for it. If you love this Brazilian-flavored cool jazz as much as we do, you might want to snap this one up because who knows when or if we’ll find another one.

Stan Getz is a truly great tenor saxophonist, the cool school’s most popular player. This LP is all the evidence you need. Side one has those wonderfully relaxed Brazilian tempos and the smooth sax stylings of Stan Getz. (more…)

Getz Au Go Go on the 1987 Reissue – Isn’t This Record Supposed to Be Stereo?

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As part of our recent shootout for the album we played what turned out to be a later reissue. According to my research it’s most likely from the late ’70s or early ’80s.   

As a general rule we make a point to go out of our way to play practically any copy we can get our hands on, in the off chance that a reissue will beat the original. It’s happened plenty of times. Those of you with White Hot Stamper shootout winning copies of some of our favorite titles know what I’m talkin’ about.

Imagine our surprise when this pressing — in a stereo jacket with the label you see in the picture with the word “stereo” printed right on it — turned out to be dead MONO!

The sound was godawful — small, flat, and bereft of the ambience that makes this recording so enjoyable. The same would probably be true for the mono originals but since I haven’t played one of those in decades I will just say that that would be no more than a guess, to be taken for what it’s worth

Yet another reason not to believe a word you read on an album jacket or label.

A public service from your record loving audiophile friends here at Better Records. (more…)

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Ye-Me-Le – Listening in Depth

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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 copy of Ye-Me-Le.

The first three tracks on side 1 are the best reason to own this album, especially the first two (Wichita Lineman and Norwegian Wood), which are as good as anything the group ever did. I’m a big fan so that has to be seen as high praise indeed.

Let’s be frank: the average LP of this album is terrible. Shrill, aggressive sound is the norm, but compression and overly smooth (read; thick and dull) sound are also problems common to Ye-Me-Le. There’s also a “strained” quality to the loud vocal passages on almost every copy; only the best are free of it.

Our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale

This recording is quite Difficult to Reproduce, which means it ranks high on our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale (DORS). Do not attempt to play it using any but the best front ends. Unless you are using a very good cartridge and arm the vocals are apt to tear your head off when they get loud (which they do; this is a dynamic recording).

In a way, this is the perfect record to demonstrate how much progress you have made in audio. I remember playing these albums many years ago and hearing lots of harmonic distortion and other unpleasant sonic qualities. Those very same pressings sound DRAMATICALLY better today. (more…)

Antonio Carlos Jobim – Wave – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

This A&M / CTI Brown Label LP is the first Hot Stamper copy to hit the site in many years! It’s noticeably more TRANSPARENT than most copies. You really HEAR INTO THE MUSIC on this LP in a way that just doesn’t happen on the typical pressing. Side one is tonally correct and natural with good size and big bass — we gave it an A++. 

I love the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. This is one of his best albums. It belongs in any serious Latin Jazz record collection. We’ve had some luck with Tide and The Composer Of Desifinado plays, but for the most part it’s pretty darn difficult to find copies of his albums that sound good. (more…)

Bud Shank – Brazilliance Vol. 2

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  • Shank’s 1962 collaboration with Laurindo Almeida arrives with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Another superb Rickard Bock production from the early ’60s, with huge amounts of studio space and Tubey Magic to die for
  • The combination of Shank’s sax and flute with Almeida’s Brazilan folk-influenced guitar creates a delightful and unique fusion of bossa nova-influenced jazz
  • These two would go on to form the L.A. 4, but we much prefer their earlier work on this album
  • 4 stars: “…once again combining Brazilian rhythms and folk melodies with cool bop improvising… highly recommended.”

This World Pacific pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 musicians, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Francis A. Sinatra & Antonio C. Jobim

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Francis A. Sinatra & Antonio C. Jobim

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  • This outstanding original stereo pressing of Sinatra and Jobim’s sublime collaboration earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades for sound on both sides and plays about as quietly as any copy ever does  
  • The Tubey Magical space, ambience and richness of the sound here is the only way we know of to bring the Chairman of the Board and his Brazilian buddy into your listening room
  • This is a magical album from start to finish, one of a handful of a Must Own Sinatra releases, and my personal favorite of all his recordings
  • 4 1/2 stars: “After a few plays, the album begins to slowly work its way underneath a listener’s skin, and it emerges as one of his most rewarding albums of the ’60s.”

This is, in our opinion, one of the two best sounding Sinatra album on Reprise (the other being September of My Years from 1965). The recording is so rich, sweet, and Tubey Magical you would think it was prime Capitol period Sinatra — but it’s not, obviously, it just sounds that way. (more…)

Sergio Mendes – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

MASTER TAPE SOUND AND QUIET VINYL THROUGHOUT! Both sides are lively and transparent with super low distortion and lovely breathy vocals. The sound is Right On The Money all the way around — superb clarity, mind-blowing transparency and tons of dynamics. This copy is ALIVE! The drums and percussion are powerful and punchy with lots of room around them, and the bass is PERFECTION. There’s plenty of whomp and lots of extension on the top end. This side two really conveys a sense of the amazing performances of these great musicians. It’s rich, full, smooth, sweet, open, spacious — everything you’d expect from an A+++ / A+++ record. 

Funky Brazilian Music For Audiophiles

This is one of my favorite albums, one which certainly belongs in any Audiophile’s collection. Better sound is hard to find — when you have the right pressing. Unfortunately those are pretty hard to come by. Most LPs are grainy, shrill, thin, veiled and full of compressor distortion in the louder parts: this is not a recipe for audiophile listening pleasure. (more…)