Genre – Rock – Singer / Songwriter

Leonard Cohen – Songs From A Room

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

A stunning sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish. The sound on this 360 Label LP is incredibly big, clean and clear with a solid bottom end and lots of space around all of the instruments.

Copies with rich lower mids did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural ambience and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to pressings from every era and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This 360 Label pressing has a SUPERB A+++ SIDE ONE backed with a strong A++ side two. We had a big stack of 360s and Red Labels with good stampers to compare, and this copy had a side one that could not be beat. It’s got big time immediacy, tons of energy, loads of tubey magic and exceptional clarity. The bottom end is punchy with real weight and the soundfield is open, spacious and so transparent. 

Side two has amazing clarity and transparency as well. Compared to side one it’s just a bit dry — those of you with tubey systems will probably go crazy for this sound. This was the best side two we heard this time around, but since side one was clearly more impressive we topped off the grade for the second side at A++. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Another Side of Bob Dylan – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

We played a bunch of these this week and only a very small handful of sides had enough magic to be considered Hot Stampers. The typical pressing loses its steam in (at least) one of two ways: honky mids and veiled vocals. The copies with the honk can be nearly unlistenable when Dylan starts blowing his harmonica, and the copies with veiled vocals and no real immediacy bored us to tears. 

This copy has the magic on side two. The sound is full-bodied, natural, and rich with excellent presence and real depth to the soundfield. (more…)

Various Artists – A Tribute To Steve Goodman (2 LPs)

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

This is a famous record here at Better Records. I’ve been raving about this album for close to 15 years. There was a time when albums like this could be found sealed in my catalog for $15 or $20. Those were the days.  

This All-Star tribute to Steve Goodman has some wonderful music on it. The high point for me is the duet between Bonnie Rait and John Prine on Angel From Montgomery. It’s one of my favorite Bonnie Rait songs, and hearing it live with John Prine singing takes it to another level. It’s followed by John Prine singing My Old Man, which is also a classic. (more…)

Jackson Browne – For Everyman

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

This SUPER Hot Stamper pressing has TWO A++ sides, with clarity and transparency that left most copies in the dust. The average copy of this record is absolute MUD, but this one shows you that the master tape of For Everyman is a whole lot better than most audiophiles would ever suspect. (The first album is the same way.)

The vocals on side one are breathy, the result of actually having a top end with real extendion. Want a quick test for transparency? Listen to the piano on I Thought I Was a Child. On most copies you can’t really hear the attack of the hammers hitting the strings, but here you can. If the tonal balance is correct — and it is on this copy — then you know you are getting a pressing of very high quality. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Blonde On Blonde – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

AMAZING A+++ SOUND on the first three sides, giving you killer Master Tape Sound for every song except Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands! We just finished a huge Blonde on Blonde shootout and this copy murdered the competition on sides one, two and three, earning our top grade for each. The sound is SUPERB — I don’t think I’ve ever heard this album sound any better! It’s rich, full-bodied, warm, natural and has the energy of live music in a way no other copy we played could compare to. The presence and immediacy are OFF THE CHARTS.  (more…)

Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan

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Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan

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  • An outstanding MONO copy of Bob Dylan’s self-titled debut (recorded in mono) with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish 
  • Both sides here have the immediacy, the warmth and the studio space the reissues fail to reproduce
  • “… a sterling effort, outclassing most, if not all, of what came before it…”

This is a true solo album — Dylan himself plays the guitar and harmonica — and it’s a lot of fun to hear a young (20!) Bob playing the way he might have played in the coffee shops and folk clubs of Greenwich Village.

This is clearly a recording that sounds best in mono. The stereo copies put the vocal, guitar and harmonica — you know, the sounds that the one skinny kid in the middle of the room is making all by himself — in separate locations widely spaced in the soundfield. This sound may have been cool when playing on the old consoles of the day, but on a modern system it’s just plain ludicrous. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Infidels

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

This is one of the better sounding Dylan records from the ’80s. It’s not exactly Blood on the Tracks, the only Dylan album we think is qualified to be on our Top 100 Rock and Pop List, but it sounds good for a record from this era. 

Here are some things we specifically listen for on a record by Mr Bob Dylan – whether from 1963 or 1983, makes no difference to us. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited

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Highway 61 Revisited

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  • A superb 360 Stereo pressing of Dylan’s 1965 release with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • Live-in-Your-Listening-Room sound throughout – guaranteed miles beyond any copy you’ve ever heard 
  • In the same way Sgt. Pepper changed music a mere two years later, Highway 61 Revisited left all of Dylan’s contemporaries behind, scrambling to keep up with the standard it set
  • 5 stars: “Dylan had not only changed his sound, but his persona, trading the folk troubadour for a streetwise, cynical hipster … it proved that rock & roll needn’t be collegiate and tame in order to be literate, poetic, and complex.”

(more…)

Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

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The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

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  • This 360 stereo copy has outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides– exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • You’ll find this copy surprisingly spacious, full-bodied and natural, with relatively few of the problems that plague most pressings
  • It’s clear these classic songs have stood the test of time: Blowin’ in the Wind; Girl from the North Country; Masters of War; A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall; Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right and many more
  • 5 stars: “This is rich, imaginative music, capturing the sound and spirit of America… Dylan, in many ways, recorded music that equaled this, but he never topped it.”

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan is clearly our favorite of the early Dylan albums for both music and sound. We’re picking up both mono and stereo copies when we see them clean (which is rare) and both can sound out of this world.

Hearing these great songs sound so intimate and lifelike on a top quality pressing can be a sublime experience. We should know; we enjoyed the hell out of this very copy. (more…)