Genre – Rock – Art Rock

Genesis – Foxtrot – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

After struggling with this album for YEARS, Foxtrot Hot Stamper are back! It is INSANELY difficult to find good sound for this album. We’ve laid out hundreds of bucks on clear Brit originals over the years hoping to find that magical pressing, but could not manage to get the kind of sound we were hoping for. We the started bringing in every variety of pressing we could find and finally found a few copies that actually delivered. Here’s the best of them all — a White Hot Stamper with an A+++ side one, and A++ to A+++ side two and quiet vinyl. Genesis fans, the long wait is over — it’s time to hear this album sound right.  

This pressing has the best sound we’ve heard for this album, bar none. Having said that, this is probably not going to be the first record you reach for when friends ask you to put something on so they can hear how good your system is sounding. This recording is all over the place — parts of it sound amazing but other parts are always a bit murky. In that respect it has much in common with all the Genesis recordings from the era. Finding one with presence and clarity in the midrange is no mean feat. Here’s one that we think fans of the band should have no trouble recognizing as superior to whatever they may have heard. Demo disc sound? Not exactly. Better than other pressings? Without a doubt. (more…)

Genesis – Nursery Cryme – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This QUIET Super Hot Stamper is actually on the Charisma Blue label, not the original, but it gave our best Pink label copies a run for their money, with superb bass, real rock energy and lovely midrange transparency. For fans of the Classic Lineup involving Phil Collins and Steve Hackett — this being the first album with them on board — side one of this copy will show you a Nursery Cryme the likes of which you have never heard. (If you own the Classic Heavy Vinyl pressing you are really in for a shock. That pressing is a smeary lifeless mess next to this LP.)  (more…)

Genesis – Live – Reviewed in 2010

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Superb sounding but somewhat noisy British Original (or what appears to be) pressing on the Charisma label. This album sounds RIGHT ON THE MONEY. I don’t think you can find a better sounding version than this one.

“A well-recorded showcase of the early group’s concert sound, much of what is here actually works better than the studio versions of the same songs…” AMG 

Genesis – Seconds Out – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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

STUNNING SOUND FOR ALL FOUR SIDES! This live album from 1977 has some of the best Genesis sound we’ve heard. Their studio recordings are often a bit flat and dull, so it’s really a treat to hear those songs with this kind of big, open, dynamic sound! Phil Collins handles the lead vocals here, but he does a great job even on the Peter Gabriel material.  (more…)

Ambrosia – Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This SUPERB WHITE HOT STAMPER copy is our overall winner from the recent huge Hot Stamper shootout we did for Ambrosia’s second — and second best — album. Friends, it’s been a long time coming but, judging by this copy and the others which fared well, it was worth it. We LOVE this music.

Ambrosia is one of the few groups that has mastered the technique of being both far-out galactic in scope of vision and mainstream AM commercial in execution… There is an unusual dreamlike quality that pervades its work. The songs seem to be reaching the listener direct from some strange and beautiful realm of the unconscious. It is an experience rare in popular music today, or at any time.

Billboard, 1977

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We here present one of the best sounding copies for Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled we have ever played. Side one rated A+++, As Good As It Gets, with a side two that was not far behind at A++. From beginning to end this pressing is KILLER. (more…)

Queen – News Of The World – Stomping and Clapping with the Fans

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of NOTW.

Side one starts out with Queen’s back-to-back anthemic classics, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”. Does it get any better for a Queen fan? Hell no! 

The stomps and claps that introduce the former should make you feel like you are in a stadium full of people with a single goal – to rock you. Those stomps and claps need weight and clarity, an unusual combination. One without the other is not going to cut it.

The record needs to be able to reproduce the room everybody is in, while still conveying the tremendous impact and power. Most domestic pressings are severely lacking in these areas. This kind of anemia can be frustrating — you want to rock but the sound won’t let you.

Another quality our best copies excelled in was the sound of Brian May’s guitar during his solo toward the end of the song. Here his tone is very boxy with no real highs or lows, but when that sound is exaggerated by bad mastering, it sounds like there are mattresses sitting in front of his amplifiers. The best copies had extension on the high end, restoring the clarity and complimenting his distinctive technique. (more…)

Frank Zappa / Captain Beefheart – Bongo Fury – Our Shootout Winning Copy from 2006

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Bongo Fury

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

This Minty looking Discreet LP has STUNNINGLY GOOD SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It’s very transparent and full-bodied from top to bottom. The bass is meaty and punchy, and the top end is wonderfully extended. You can hear lots of ambience the cymbals and hi-hats. It doesn’t sound like there’s anything between you and the music. I can’t remember ever hearing this record sound so good. 

Some of this music is recorded live and some of it is studio material. The live tracks offer some of the best live Frank Zappa sound you will EVER hear.

This recording is just plain wacky fun. You get the maximum entertainment value with this one. Muffin Man is the high point of this album. It’s one of my favorite Zappa tracks. (more…)

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (1st Album) on Classic Records Heavy Vinyl

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Sonic Grade: D

Another addition to our Hall of Shame from one of our favorite whipping boys here at Better Records, the late but hardly lamented Classic Records.

Bernie Grundman’s mastering approach for the first PG album is a disaster — brighter and cleaner, which turns out to be precisely the wrong sound for the music.

Crack The Sky – Animal Notes

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Both sides are big and rich in the same way that all the best Classic Rock albums from the ’70s are. It has plenty of rock ENERGY; here the sound jumps out of the speakers like practically no other copy we heard.

At the levels it was playing at it was nothing less than a thrill to hear the album I’d known for so long sound so much better than I remember it from back in the day. (Stereo has come a long way since 1976, that’s for damn sure.)

To my mind, speaking as both a fan and an audiophile, both the first two Crack the Sky albums succeed brilliantly on every level: production, originality, songwriting, technical virtuosity, musical consistency and, perhaps most importantly for those of you who have managed to make it this far, Top Quality Audiophile Sound. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Dynavector 17D3, The B-52’s and Peter Gabriel

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently: 

Hey Tom, 

Hey guys, before I talk about my very first Hot Stamper let me say this. I have been going to your site for well over two years and was very reluctant to spend the kind of money that you charge for a used record. Come on! Are you kidding?? But I was very intrigued by the description of your system. I had felt that the weakest part of my system may be the cartridge. So I sprung for the 17d3.

WOW! A first class improvement. So I thought “Well if these guys are right about the cartridge, maybe there is something about these used records. After all I can always send it back, right?” So I ordered the B-52’s first album (125.00) and played it. And played it. No No No, get up off your knees and stop begging. You can’t have it back. It’s MINE. Although I do not have this album in any format, it is now a reference or demo if you wish, that lets me know how good my system really is. It has also revealed to me that I have records that sound pretty darned good. It has also given me a lesson on critical listening.

I have been listening to music for over 55 years, and you are never to old to learn. Last week I received my new VPI with Disc Doctor package, and it seems to have been a wise addition. I have found a few treasures that have been lurking in my collection. And I ordered a Peter Gabriel today. I am a happy camper. (more…)