Genre – Rock – More Pop than Rock

Bonnie Raitt – Home Plate – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

xxxxx

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

This original WB Palm Tree label LP has THE BEST SIDE ONE we have ever heard here at Better Records. “A Triple Plus” sound means you’re probably hearing the album better than they did when they played back the master tape in the control room. (Studio monitors being what they are.) Since this is one of my three favorite Bonnie Raitt albums — the others being Sweet Forgiveness and Nine Lives — and quite possibly the best sounding album she ever made, it goes without saying that this is THE Must Own Bonnie Raitt Hot Stamper Pressing of All Time.

What about the Capitol albums she recorded with Don Was? (more…)

Billy Joel – Glass Houses – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

More Billy Joel

Glass Houses

xxx

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

A truly stunning copy of one of Billy Joel’s best-loved albums! We recently finished a massive shootout for Billy Joel’s hard-rockin 1980 release and most copies were pretty dreadful. Thankfully for us (and the Billy Joel fans out there) we managed to find a few copies that really work! This one absolutely nails it — they just don’t get much better than this, folks. 

Most of the copies we’re played were pinched in the midrange, which gave a hard, unpleasant copy to the vocals. Many pressings lack the kind of top end extension that helps the music come out of the speakers and gives it the energy it needs to rock. And make no mistake — this album NEEDS to rock for these songs to work. This is probably the most pure rock and roll album Billy Joel ever put out, and it’s a shame to hear these songs fall flat when they run into the problems of the typical pressing. The copies that keep you engaged are the Hot Stampers, plain and simple. Unfortunately, most copies won’t get you there.

If you’ve enjoyed a 52nd Street Hot Stamper from us, or just happen to be a huge fan of this album (and I certainly know there are more than a few of those out there) I imagine you will be very happy with the sound here! Leave the grueling work of huge shootouts to your friends at Better Records, and spend your free time enjoying great sound… not searching for it. (more…)

Electric Light Orchestra – ELO 2

xxxxx

  • Stunning sound from start to finish for this Harvest UK import with both sides earning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades, just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • These sides are huge, rich and Tubey Magical with wonderfully sweet and breathy vocals and a huge bottom end
  • “It was as personal an effort as Lynne had ever made in music, showcasing his work as singer, songwriter, guitarist, sometime synthesizer player, and producer, and it is more focused than its predecessor but also retains some of the earlier album’s lean textures… the album holds up well, and it and the single [Roll Over Beethoven] did go a long way toward getting them the beginnings of an audience in America.”

(more…)

Stevie Nicks – Bella Donna

xxxxx

  • Insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) sound from beginning to end for what is surely Ms Nicks’ best solo album
  • Both sides are big and clear, with plenty of rockin’ energy as would be expected from the team of Yakus and Iovine
  • Two of her biggest hits are here (and they still hold up): Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around & Leather And Lace
  • AMG raves: “Equally engaging are less exposed tracks like the haunting “After the Glitter Fades.” Hit producer Jimmy Iovine wisely avoids over-producing, and keeps things sounding organic on this striking debut.”

It’s easy to hear what the good pressings are doing. They’re big and rich, never thin nor harsh. They open up on the top end and go down deeper on the bottom. They’re smooth and full-bodied in the midrange. Stevie’s vocals are breathy and present. The energy of her performance drives the music the way you want it to.

In short, the best copies demonstrate the sound one could expect on a good Tom Petty album. Nothing surprising there; this album, like Petty’s, was produced and engineered by the same team, Jimmy Iovine and Shelly Yakus. They’ve made some great records together, Damn the Torpedoes being the best of the bunch for sonics. (more…)

Loggins & Messina’s Early Albums – Listening in Depth to Their Classic Yacht Rockers

More Loggins and Messina

More Loggins & Messina’s Early Albums

xxxxx

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your Loggins and Messina albums. (For those in need of some good sounding L&M vinyl, click on the link below to see what we have available and why we think at least some of their records belong in your collection.)

The elements that make up a good sounding Loggins and Messina album can be found, in varying degrees, on all the Hot Stamper pressings we offer. Permit us to break them down for you. (We’ve borrowed heavily from ourselves here so if this material looks familiar don’t be surprised, we’ve used it before.)

Top End Extension

Absolutely critical to this record. Most copies of this album have no extreme highs, which causes the percussion and guitar harmonics to be blunted and dull. Without extreme highs the percussion can’t extend up and away from the other elements in the mix. Consequently these elements end up fighting for space in the midrange and getting lost in the dense mixes that Jim Messina favors (and we audiophiles love). (more…)

Annie Lennox – Diva

xxxxx

  • This vintage import offers outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER for both sides of this Annie Lennox classic from 1992
  • Dramatically bigger, richer, smoother, more transparent and just more ANALOG sounding than any other copy you’ve heard, guaranteed or your money back
  • “State-of-the-art soul pop, Annie Lennox’s solo debut is sonically gorgeous…” – Rolling Stone
  • “Diva glides with a rich, feminine dignity that stands tall in pop history.” – Slant

By 1992 records like this were only released on import vinyl and typically went out of print soon after they started their descent down the pop charts. I used to sell them back in the day and supplies were extremely limited and unpredictable. And once they were gone they were virtually never reissued. All of those factors conspire to make the cost of acquiring the mintiest pressings from overseas fairly high, and of course 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. (more…)

The Kinks – Something Else – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More The Kinks

Something Else

xxxxx

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

This Original Reprise Tri-Color Steamboat Label pressing is one of the best sounding Kinks records we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing here at Better Records. It sounds nothing like the typically dull and smeary domestic Kinks LPs we are used to hearing. The overall sound is lively, musical, and natural. Drop the needle on No Return for wonderful sound and music — it’s got a bit of a Jobim vibe. 

After dropping the needle on a wonderful sounding copy a few months back, we started pursuing these in the hopes of getting a proper shootout together. It didn’t happen easily or inexpensively — clean looking copies of this one go for as much as $50 in the local bins, and that’s obviously with no guarantee of good sound or quiet vinyl. We found a few good ones and a few stinkers, but this copy went beyond our expectations. It’s got punchy bass, great energy, and real texture to everything. Most copies tend to be too smooth and veiled, but this one passed our tests with flying colors.

Play David Watts or No Return on side one for the best sound, and Afternoon Tea or Waterloo Sunset on side two for the same. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Future Games

xxxxx
xxxxx

  • An awesome pressing with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades on both sides, just shy of our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too! 
  • The sound is HUGE on this early pressing – it’s also wonderfully sweet and spacious, two qualities that are key to the best sounding copies of Future Games
  • Fleetwood Mac practically invented Space Rock, which reached its apotheosis in 1973 on Mystery to Me, my personal favorite by the band
  • A criminally underrated Fleetwood Mac album which is unlike anything you’ve heard, and a Better Records favorite for more than 40 years 

(more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Future Games – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

More Fleetwood Mac

More Future Games

xxxxx
xxxxx
xxxxx

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

Finally, SUPERB SOUNDING STAMPERS have been discovered for this wonderful Fleetwood Mac album, a personal favorite from 1971! We can GUARANTEE you have never heard one that sounds like this, because practically every copy we’ve ever played sounded like an old cassette. Unless you have a very special copy — domestic, not Brit, more about that later — and know how to clean it right, the pressing you own of Future Games will have virtually no top end, no real ambience, and no presence to speak of.

The band will sound like it’s playing somewhere near the back wall of your listening room, maybe even behind it. In other words dead as a doornail. This is exactly how the album sounded for the first thirty years or so that I was listening to it. 

Not long ago I ran across a copy that blew my mind and I’ve been digging them up in preparation for this shootout ever since. Of course the stereo has gotten quite a bit better of late, which helped the album immensely; check out our Revolutionary Changes in Audio commentary for the latest improvements.  (more…)

Billy Joel – The Stranger – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

More Billy Joel

The Strangere

xxx

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

THE BEST SOUNDING COPY OF THE STRANGER THAT WE’VE EVER HEARD! We just finished a major shootout for this album, and no copy came close to this bad boy. Side one has incredibly lively, MASTER TAPE quality sound, and side two isn’t far behind. (more…)