Genre – Rock – Art Rock

Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells

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

You’ll find incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this British Virgin LP – this one is doing everything right! The space, the richness and the clarity all combine to make this a powerful listening experience. It’s incredibly hard to find good sounding copies of this record – this is the first White Hot copy to hit the site in a long time.

These sides sound good from top to bottom — the top end extension brings out the harmonics in the bells, and the deep bass really brings the organ to life. Many copies are smeary and veiled, but this one has no such problems.

There is a lot going on here, and unless you have a clear and transparent copy like this one it just turns into a mess. This one has all the presence and space required to bring this music to life, with no attendant sacrifice in richness or Tubey Magic. (more…)

David Bowie – The Lodger – Our Shootout Winner from Way Back

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

White Hot Stampers for Lodger discovered — this wasn’t easy, folks! We’ve been trying to find a great sounding Lodger for years but it’s taken us until now, which should tell you just how tough it is to get a killer copy of this album. This one has the best side one we’ve ever heard and a strong side two to boot.

Side one has the correct balance of elements, just what we were looking for. It’s rich and smooth but not overly so, it’s got a nice top end but never gets aggressive, and it’s got a serious bottom end but never gets too thick or bloated. There’s lots of texture and body to the synths, which really brings Eno’s contributions to life in a way that didn’t happen on most copies. The vocals are clean and clear with good presence. We gave it an A+++.

Side two is clean, clear, natural and balanced. The vocals sound right and the bass is tight and punchy. Side one gives you a little more in the way of energy and presence, but this is still one of the stronger side twos we’ve heard in all these years. We rated it A+ to A++. (more…)

Roxy Music – Country Life – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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

Many of the best songs Ferry ever wrote and Roxy ever played are on this album. Musically it’s right up there with the first album and Siren, both early ’70s Art Rock landmarks.

In our experience the right British original Sunray (Pink Rim) Island pressing will always win the shootout if you have a good pile of copies to play. There are some bad sounding Island LPs out there, so don’t assume the Sunray is the answer. It’s potentially the right answer. Without at least five copies in hand you won’t know for sure whether the copy you like is truly a Hot Stamper or not-that-hot-of-a-stamper.

The sound on some tracks is noticeably better than others. These British pressings give you the richest, fullest, biggest sound with the least amount of sibilance, grain and grunge. It’s the rich, full-bodied ANALOG sound — with some problems to be sure — that we adore here at Better Records. (more…)

Roxy Music – Stranded

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

Stranded is one of the higher quality recordings by the band, coming in second for sonics only to the first album, which is really saying something considering that the first album is a Top 100 title. The Tubey Magic on the early albums has to be heard to be believed.

In our experience the right British original Sunray Island pressing will always be the Ultimate Pressing. (There are some bad sounding Island LPs out there, so don’t assume the Sunray is the answer. It’s potentially the right answer. Without at least five copies in hand you won’t know whether the copy you like is a true Hot Stamper or a not-that-hot-Hot Stamper.)

The domestic, German, Japanese and Dutch pressings are not remotely competitive with the Brits on this album (which is not true for all of Roxy’s albums but true for this one, Siren being the clear exception to the rule).

Now for those of you who are not Roxy Music fans and don’t know this music, this album may take a bit of getting used to. We assure you it will be well worth your while. We think it’s brilliant!

The sound on some tracks is noticeably better than others. Amazona is a KNOCKOUT here. These British pressings give you the richest, fullest, biggest sound with the least amount of sibilance on the vocals, grain or grunge. It’s the rich, full-bodied ANALOG sound we adore here at Better Records.

We thank Chris Thomas for his production and John Punter for his engineering work at AIR Studio. This album and the first one are without question the two best sounding Roxy albums, and that’s true for any incarnation of the band.

Both belong in any serious rock and pop collection, and if you are a fan of Art Rock, every Roxy album should be on your shelf, along with all your Bowie, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Eno, Peter Gabriel, 10cc and so many others (most of which are personal favorites of mine, albums I have played hundreds of times over the last 30 years and plan to play hundreds of times in the next).

My Story

I’ve been a giant Roxy Music fan since 1975. Rolling Stone gave Siren a rave review that year, and I went right out and bought myself a copy on their say-so. I then proceeded to play it every day. This went on for weeks. I’m a bit obsessive that way. (Being obsessive is extremely helpful if you have a desire to excel in audio. It may in fact be the most important trait of them all.)

I consider Roxy to be one of the greatest Art Rock bands in the history of the world. Although the general public and probably most audiophiles would surely cast their vote for Avalon as the band’s masterpiece, I much prefer the music of these others — their eponymous first album, Stranded, Country Life and Siren — to the more “accessible” music found on Avalon. To be fair, that’s splitting hairs, because any of those five titles are absolute Must Own Albums that belong in any serious popular music collection.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Street Life
Just Like You
Amazona
Psalm

Side Two

Serenade
A Song for Europe
Mother of Pearl
Sunset

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

Without Brian Eno, Roxy Music immediately became less experimental, yet it remained adventurous, as Stranded illustrates. Under the direction of Bryan Ferry, Roxy moved toward relatively straightforward territory, adding greater layers of piano and heavy guitars. Even without the washes of Eno’s synthesizers, Roxy’s music remains unsettling on occasion, yet in this new incarnation, they favor more measured material, whether it’s the reflective “A Song for Europe” or the shifting textures of “Psalm.” Even the rockers, such as the surging “Street Life” and the segmented “Mother of Pearl,” are distinguished by subtle songwriting that emphasizes both Ferry’s tortured glamour and Roxy’s increasingly impressive grasp of sonic detail.

Webr Rave Review (Author Unknown)

Feeling that the band couldn’t handle two egos (and talents) moving in opposite directions half the time, Eno quit the band after For Your Pleasure. This move made Roxy Music less quirky (and innovative), but more focused, without ugly synth grunts unsettling Ferry’s mannered music and melodies.

There’s still plenty of weirdness and odd sound effects, but these are incorporated more subtly – the telephone ringing on “Street Life”, the castanets punctuating “Mother Of Pearl”. Roxy practically reinvented their sound on each album, and here they are elegant and stately, with Latin rythms reinforcing its Mediterranean flavor. Smoothed out, they sound like a much different band – no longer would their music contain the hint of anarchy; every piece is integrated without seeming patched on. When Manzara’s guitar cuts through the stroll of “Amazona”, it’s the kind of shock that you live for, a half-court jump and slam-dunk through the net of Ferry’s pretensions.

The operative adjective for Roxy’s first true masterpiece is gorgeous (it’s the same adjective for their final one, too), a far remove from the first two albums. “Just Like You” contains lovely falsetto singing from Ferry, and a razor-lyrical guitar solo from Manzanera. The futurism of the first two albums gives way to the world-weary nostalgia of “Song For Europe”, which admits “There’s nothing left for us to share but yesterday.”

The centerpiece, “Mother Of Pearl”, might be Roxy’s finest seven minutes. Charging in with blazing guitars, the music suddenly gives way to a stately piano ballad – the effect is startling. Ferry soliloquizes on the elusiveness of true love, rhyming odd metaphors like “serpentine sleekness/was always my weakness”, summing it all up with the so-true phrase, “If you’re looking for love in a looking glass world, it’s pretty hard to do.” Continue that quest for thy damsel in distress, Bryan, as long as you always keep it this interesting.

David Bowie – Low – Our Shootout Winner from Long Ago

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

[This is an old listing that we ourselves are fairly skeptical of. We present it as more of a historical document than a guide to finding good sound on Low.]

This is the first Hot Stamper copy of Low to ever hit our site, and it’s a darn good one — especially on side one, where all the “pop” songs are found. We just had a huge shootout for this album featuring all the copies we’ve picked up over the years, and this domestic (!) pressing shocked us by blowing away our Brit copies on side one.

If you aren’t interested in the instrumental Bowie/Eno synth-heavy soundscapes that fill side two, this is THE copy to own.

I’ve said it on the site numerous time, but I spent a good portion of the ’70s playing art-rock records like Taking Tiger Mountain, Crime Of The Century and Deceptive Bends. I remember being blown away when Low came out, and it was a blast to hear how good a Hot Stamper pressing can sound on a highly-evolved stereo system today. Side one of this album features the more traditional (not really the right word, but I digress) Bowie rockers like Sound and Vision and Be My Wife, while side two sounds more like the instrumental synth music of Kraftwerk or Eno. (more…)

David Bowie – Station To Station

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

Here’s an amazing White Hot Stamper copy of one of the toughest nuts to crack in the whole Bowie catalog! Full, punchy and present with a wide open soundstage and super dynamics, this is exactly the right sound for this material. This is dense, difficult music, and the typical pressing just can’t do it justice! Bowie fans, I’m sure you’ll agree this has been a long time coming.

Clean copies of this album — heck, clean Bowie records in general (at least for the most part) — are getting harder and harder to find. You can find British copies on eBay if you’re willing to be patient and drop some dough, but most of them don’t sound right. The typical domestic pressing ain’t much better but copies with certain stampers can be excellent. The bad news is that copies with the very same stampers can sound awful too, so the only way to find a good one is to clean and play a number of pressings and hope to get lucky. (Or you could buy one of our Hot Stampers and save yourself the struggle!). (more…)

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

More Genesis

More Nursery Cryme

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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

More Genesis

More Seconds Out

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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…)