Genre – Rock – British Blues Rock

Led Zeppelin – Presence – The Drums and Cymbals Are Key to the Best Pressings

 


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  • A stunning sounding copy with a Triple Plus (A+++) side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two; you’ll hear massive amounts of Zeppelin Rock and Roll energy on this copy
  • This is all the power, dynamics, whomp, and presence (pun only slightly intended) you could hope for
  • Featuring a stripped down, harder rock sound, Presence really benefits from the killer bottom end found on this pressing
  • “Presence has more majestic epics than its predecessor, opening with the surging, ten-minute Achilles Last Stand and closing with the meandering, nearly ten-minute Tea for One.”

See all of our Led Zeppelin albums in stock

We just finished a massive shootout for this album and were reminded just how hard this album rocks. Achilles Last Stand, For Your Life and Nobody’s Fault But Mine are all KILLER on a Hot Stamper pressing like this one. After cleaning and playing a pile of copies we are pleased to report that the best of them are full of The Real Zep Magic. The average LP may not be much of a thrill but our Hot Stampers sure are, with all the energy, dynamics, whomp, and presence (pun only slightly intended) you could hope for.

That is EXACTLY the kind of sound we love here at Better Records. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Stripped – Bad on CD, Killer on Vinyl

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The best record The Rolling Stones made in the last 20 years! Superb sound. Highly recommended.  The CD sucks and the vinyl is rare and pricey but worth every penny.

  • A superb copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout too
  • Imported pressings such as this one are hard to come by, not to mention highly collectible, which explains why they run about a hundred bucks and up online
  • “The project was an extension of acoustic sets the group introduced on the Voodoo Lounge tour. The concept offered an invigorating opportunity to dust off some rough gems from the past that no longer felt at home on sloping stadium stages.”
  • “… they all went out and cut not merely another unplugged recap, but a live album that reprises their classic material and groove in an honorably autumnal spirit — an album that might tell you something a decade from now. Muddy Waters would be proud.” – Robert Christgau, A-

By 1995 records like this were only released on import vinyl and typically went out of print soon after they began their descent down the pop charts. I used to review them and sell the better sounding ones back in the day. Supplies were extremely limited and unpredictable – these small pressing run ’90s albums went out of print without warning and almost never came back. Once they were gone they were rarely ever reissued, although Simply Vinyl took a crack at filling that gap, with mixed results as I’m sure you know.

All of those factors conspire to make the cost of acquiring the mintiest pressings from overseas fairly high, and of course this is the main reason you have never seen the album on our site before. Be that as it may, we have this copy available and it is not only wonderful sounding but the music is every bit as good as I remember it.

You may remember that a controversy raged in the audiophile press at the time about how awful the CD sounded compared to the vinyl.  Turns out they had mastered the CD using some bad equipment, or a bad transfer of the tape, or some other such foolishness, and the result was that only us dinosaurs who had kept our turntables into the ’90s could actually stand to listen to the album. (more…)

Deep Purple – Made In Japan

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  • This outstanding UK pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades for sound or BETTER on all four sides 
  • Surpisingly clean, undistorted sound for a live album, yet every bit as big and lively as a Hard Rockin’ Live Album should be
  • In terms of Tubey Magic, richness and naturalness, Made In Japan might just be The Best Sounding Live Album of All Time
  • Rolling Stone: “They’ve done countless shows since in countless permutations, but they’ve never sounded quite this perfect.”

*A mark makes 5 loud to medium pops near the beginning of track 1, Highway Star.

Having just played a stack of copies of Made In Japan I’d put the album right up there with the best of the best. In terms of Tubey Magic, richness and naturalness — qualities that are usually in very short supply on live albums — I would have to say that the shootout winning copies of Made In Japan would be very likely to take Top Honors for Best Sounding Live Album of All Time.

Yes, the sound is that good.

Machine Head Live? That would not be far off, and the fact they brought Martin Birch along with them all the way to Japan in order to engineer a live album that was only supposed to sell to the Japanese market (!) could not have been more fortuitous for us audiophiles. (more…)

Humble Pie – Rock On – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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Rock On

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

This record is the very definition of TUBEY MAGIC. The sound is so rich and sweet it will make you want to take all your CDs and dump them in the trash, if you haven’t done so already.  

This is the sound WE LOVE here at Better Records, assuming the pressing in question still maintains some degree of presence, immediacy and transparency. Records like this can easily get thick and muddy; think of the typically dull Who’s Next or Sticky Fingers and you’ll know exactly what I mean. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

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

We won’t be surprised if you don’t have this one in your collection. Let’s face it, who in his right mind would keep throwing good money after bad, buying up one bad sounding copy after another in the hopes that someday one of them would sound good?

We would! Why shouldn’t we? We get paid good money to do that kind of dirty work, and beyond the money, we get the THRILL of being the first to play these wonderful records, full of the music we love. (Not too many Hot Stamper shootouts get done for bands and albums we don’t like. Who could get motivated enough to sit through copy after copy of some Audiophile Bullshit LP?) 

Here’s a record that we almost never have on the site — a stunning White Hot Stamper copy of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac — some of the hardest hitting Blues Rock ever made or ever to be made!

We Love the Early Fleetwood Mac

This is the band back in the day when they were playing their unique brand of Blues Rock, with Peter Green leading the band, about as far from Rumours as you can get. If you like British Blues Rock, I don’t think any other band can hold a candle to the Mac back then. Clapton may have been considered a god but I think Green is the better guitar player.

AGAIG Sound

Side two is As Good As It Gets — Triple Plus (A+++). The pluck of the guitar transients aren’t smeary and dull for once. There’s real extension up top, a big help to the cymbals, and the voice sounds tonally correct with just the right presence, placing Green front and center but still keeping the band in the mix. Like a good vintage Brit record, the sound is smooth, rich and full. This is ANALOG baby; they don’t make ’em like this anymore because they don’t know how. (more…)

Eric Clapton – E.C. Was Here

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E.C. Was Here

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  • Superb sound for this UK import pressing with both sides earning Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades, which means that this LP had some of the best sound for the album we heard in our shootout all day
  • Forget the dubby domestic pressings – here is the energy, the dynamic power, the low end whomp, and the Clapton-live-in-your-listening-room presence you’ve never experienced on the album before, guaranteed
  • “E.C. Was Here makes it clear that Clapton was and always would be a blues man. The opening cut, “Have You Ever Loved a Woman,” clearly illustrates this, and underlines the fact that Clapton had a firm grasp on his blues guitar ability, with some sterling, emotionally charged and sustained lines and riffs… [the album] remains an excellent document of the period.”

*NOTE: A mark makes 3 moderate pops at the beginning of track 2, Presence of the Lord.

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

Two Very Special Tracks

Check out Clapton’s superb arrangements and performances of two of the best songs from his short-lived Blind Faith period: Presence of the Lord and Can’t Find My Way Home. They’re two of the highpoints on an album filled with good material that does not seem to get the credit it is due. I bought this album when it came out in 1975 and never really got into it. Of course I had an inferior domestic pressing and a stereo that couldn’t have done the album justice anyway, but in my defense I would have to say that there really wasn’t any such stereo system on the face of the earth; we still had a long way to go. (more…)

Free – Tons Of Sobs

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  • Two stunning sides rating at or near A+++
  • Big, bold sound with plenty of detail and texture
  • Relatively quiet vinyl for this album — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • A 4 1/2 star album in the AMG

This is the just the kind of sound you want on an album like this — Big and Bold! If you’ve got the full range dynamic speakers to play the album good and loud, you will discover, as we have, what a powerful British Blues Rock album this is. No hits, just heavy electric blues played with feeling, a year before Zeppelin came along and took it to a whole new level.

Years ago — in 2011 to be exact — we said the following in a listing for a very good sounding domestic pressing:

Solid bass, present vocals, plenty of energy — the only thing missing here is the Tubey Magical richness and sweetness that only the British originals (in our experience) have, and in spades by the way. But try to find one! Over the last two or three years I think we’ve managed to get hold of exactly one clean copy.

Fast forward almost eight years and we’ve only had a couple more! I personally have seen the original British pressing of this album sell on the web for more than 1000 dollars, which explains why we never have them. (more…)

Cream – Fresh Cream

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

After playing this copy and the other ones that came close, this music sounds so much better than I ever thought it could, it’s given me a whole new appreciation for the album. I’ve grown to love it, and consider it one of the all time greats. It’s probably my favorite Cream record now. That’s what a good copy can do.

We recently finished a shootout for this band’s hard-rockin’ debut album and were once again delighted to hear how good this music can sound when you get a great pressing like this. The band is really rockin’, but you need the kind of open top end and tight, weighty lows this copy has to really make it work! (more…)

The Faces – A Nod Is As Good As A Wink – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This Warner Bros. Green Label LP has a STUNNING SIDE ONE backed with MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE TWO! If you like your hard rock dirty and bluesy, you can’t do much better than this record. You’re going to freak out over the meaty guitars, the HUGE bass, and the ROTM (Right On The Money) vocals. We played a ton of copies and most of them couldn’t hold a candle to this one. 

  • This album was produced by one of our very favorite engineers around here, Mr. Glyn Johns. He’s the man behind tons of Better Records faves — Sticky Fingers, Eagles 1st, Joan Armatrading’s self-titled, Who’s Next, and many more.

But no Faces album — Glyn Johns-produced or not — will ever have Demo Disc Sound. It’s just not what the band was going for. The proper sound for a band like this is RAW AND ROCKIN’. Any phony EQ or overproduction would really make a mess of what the band does here, which put simply is kickin’ out the jams. It would be fair to call these guys a bar band, but they’re the best darn bar band I’ve ever heard!

The best Faces pressings have amazing live-in-the-studio sound that completely conveys the power of one of the hardest rockin’ bands of all time. What more can you ask for? (more…)

The Faces – Long Player – Their Best Sounding Album – Best Music Too

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WA 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.

We knew this album could sound good, but back in the day we sure didn’t know it could sound like this. The best pressings of this album have amazing live-in-the-studio sound that conveys completely the raw power of one of the hardest rockin’ bands of all time. 

Both musically and sonically I don’t think the group ever recorded a better album than this one.

Take the wonderful Bad ‘N’ Ruin (the opening track on side one) for example. It’s the sound of open mics in a big studio space — nothing more, nothing less. It’s totally free from any phony mastering or bad EQ, and on a Hot Stamper copy like this one, it’s absolute magic.

MARTIN BIRCH was the engineer for the first two tracks on side one. You may know him from his work with Fleetwood Mac (1969-1973) and Deep Purple (1969-1977), including the amazingly well-recorded albums Machine Head and Made In Japan. (more…)