Genre – Rock – Southern Rock

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country

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Bayou Country

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  • A KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) copy – you won’t find better sound for this band on vinyl 
  • Proud Mary and Good Golly Miss Molly are absolute MONSTERS on this early pressing – you will be floored
  • Our pick for the best sounding CCR recording – when you have a copy that sounds like this one, and, trust me, a copy as good sounding as this one is tough to find
  • 4 1/2 stars: “All the songs add up to a superb statement of purpose, a record that captures Creedence Clearwater Revival’s muscular, spare, deceptively simple sound as an evocative portrait of America.”

It’s beyond tough to find copies that aren’t bright, gritty, grainy or edgy — that’s how most Creedence records sound I’m afraid — but here’s a Bayou Country that’s fairly smooth, exceptionally lively, mostly transparent and just plain rockin’ enough to make your day. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory

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Cosmo’s Factory

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  • KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last – it doesn’t get any better than this folks! 
  • The sound is incredibly present and punchy with great clarity, excellent bass, freedom from grain and real swamp rockin’ energy
  • So many great songs: Run Through the Jungle, Lookin’ Out My Back Door, Who’ll Stop the Rain, etc.
  • A 5 star album and arguably the best record the band ever made: “…an album made during stress and chaos, filled with raging rockers, covers, and intense jams…”

We’ve made some strides of late (in 2015 as a matter of fact) finding the “right’ pressings for this band on some of their albums, especially this one, and with improved cleaning technologies we’re finding that the better copies such as this one are sounding the way we want our Creedence records to sound.  

Note that the Hoffman reissues and the MoFi pressing sound nothing like the Creedence records we all grew up with, and records that sound that small, lifeless, boring or wrong just can’t be what audiophiles want, can they? (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Creedence Clearwater…

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More Creedence Clearwater…

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

It’s unlikely you will be demonstrating your system with this record, but you may find yourself enjoying the hell out of it for what it is — an early example of Roots Rock that still holds up today.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I Put a Spell on You 
The Working Man
Suzie Q

Side Two

Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do)
Get Down Woman 
Porterville 
Gloomy 
Walk on the Water

AMG Review

Released in the summer of 1968 — a year after the summer of love, but still in the thick of the Age of Aquarius – Creedence Clearwater Revival’s self-titled debut album was gloriously out-of-step with the times, teeming with John Fogerty’s Americana fascinations. While many of Fogerty’s obsessions and CCR’s signatures are in place — weird blues (“I Put a Spell on You”), Stax R&B (Wilson Pickett’s “Ninety-Nine and a Half”), rockabilly (“Susie Q”), winding instrumental interplay, the swamp sound, and songs for “The Working Man” — the band was still finding their way. Out of all their records (discounting Mardi Gras), this is the one that sounds the most like its era, thanks to the wordless vocal harmonies toward the end of “Susie Q,” the backward guitars on “Gloomy,” and the directionless, awkward jamming that concludes “Walking on the Water.” Still, the band’s sound is vibrant, with gutsy arrangements that borrow equally from Sun, Stax, and the swamp.

We Shootout Cosmo’s Factory

[Note that we have not played the Heavy Vinyl pressing of CCR’s first album. Having heard AP’s Cosmo’s Factory we have no intention of playing any CCR title on that label. We’re assuming, rightfully or otherwise, that the AP versions will not be to our liking. Ultimately we guarantee that our Hot Stampers will beat any pressing you may have, including, perhaps especially, any of those by Analogue Productions.]

Our story begins: Years ago a customer sent me his copy of the Analogue Productions LP (mastered by Hoffman and Gray) in order to carry out a little shootout I had planned among the five copies I could pull together: two MoFi’s, the Fantasy ORC reissue, a blue label original, the AP, and another reissue.

Let’s just say there were no real winners, but there sure were some losers.

My take on the Hoffman version is simply this: it has virtually no trace of TUBEY ANALOG MAGIC. None to speak of anyway. It sounds like a clean, tonally correct but fairly bass-shy CD. No pressing I played managed to be so tonally correct and so boring at the same time. The MoFi has some funny EQ colorations, the kind that bug the hell out of me on 98% of their crappy catalog, but at least it sounds like analog. It’s warm, rich and sweet. The AP copy has none of those qualities.

This is simply more pointless 180g sound, to my ear anyway. I couldn’t sit through it with a gun to my head.

It’s an all-but-IMPOSSIBLE record to find with good sound. It’s shocking how bad most of the original blue label pressings are. No top, no bass and hard mids — not exactly a recipe for audiophile happiness. The ORC (Original Rock Classics) Fantasy reissues we’ve played are usually a joke as well; there’s not a whole lot above 6k on most of those pressings and the bass is hollow.

Bottom line: You would need a LOT of vintage tubes in your system to get the AP record to sound right, and then everything else in your collection would sound wrong.

The Allman Brothers – Brothers and Sisters

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Brothers and Sisters

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

A+++ sound on side one! It’s bigger, punchier and livelier with more texture to the instruments than any other copy we played. Finding great sound for this album is no mean feat. This one is definitely not a Demo Disc — no copy will truly be — but it’s a BIG step up from most of the copies we played. I don’t think you could find better sound for the first side no matter what you did!

One important note: it’s pretty clear that Ramblin’ Man and Jessica were not cut from the real master tapes. We’ve talked about this issue before; there are many instances where the master tapes were used to cut the singles and then dubs were used for those tracks on the albums. (It’s why the versions of the songs on The Best Of Traffic sound so much better than they do on the regular albums, for example.)

Those Harmonizing Guitars

One of the keys to the Allman’s sound is obviously the guitars and the way they blend with one another. The typical copies tend to be dry, congested, and grainy, which hurts the effect of two soaring, harmonizing leads. When you get a copy with smoother, more tubey magical, more open sound, you really understand what the band was going for. It’s a great sound, and no one ever did it better than these guys. (more…)

The Allman Brothers – The Allman Brothers Band

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The Allman Brothers – The Allman Brothers

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

The first Hot Stamper copy of the Allman’s incredible debut to EVER hit the site! This album has some of the ABB’s very best music and on a copy like this, sonics, but MAN is it tough to find a good one. We’ve been picking these up for years and the fact that it took us until 2016 to get any copy at all on the site should tell you something. (more…)

What to Listen For on Eat a Peach

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EAT A PEACH

What do high grades give you for this album? Unbelievably Tubey Magical guitars, huge whomp factor on the bottom end, incredible dynamics and life, shocking transparency and clarity, and the kind of immediacy that puts these crazy southern rockers right in your very own living room. The overall sound is impressively BIG, BOLD, and POWERFUL!

This and Live At Fillmore East are the two monumental albums these guys ever put out, and they have a lot in common. You know what you’re gonna get with the Allmans: dueling electric guitars, sweet acoustic guitars, energetic drumming, and full-bodied vocals throughout. There’s obviously a lot of exploration — two complete sides are dedicated to the song Mountain Jam — but the heartfelt radio-friendly songs such as Melissa and Little Martha keep up the energy and provide maximum enjoyment factor.

The Three Keys: Transparency, Energy, and WHOMP

A great copy like this one really lets everything that’s great about this music come through. You can easily pick out each of the musicians and follow their contributions over the course of the songs. The huge WHOMP factor throughout kicks up the excitement factor and sets the foundation for the extended guitar jams to work their Southern bluesy magic. The top end extends beautifully to bring out all the ambience and spaciousness of the Fillmore. (more…)

Letter of the Week – … At Fillmore East

… At Fillmore East

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

Hey Tom,  

Oh. My. God.

Apologies for sounding like a 13-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert, but … screw it, that’s the way I feel. I’ve just finished sides one and four of the Allman’s “Live at Fillmore East,” and I am in awe. I have never never NEVER heard this album sound so good, and I’ve been listening to it for almost 40 years, in every format one can.

It’s not just the drums (and cymbals!), it’s the whole thing. It’s energetic, the bass is powerful yet refined, the soundstage is HUGE, and it’s got more air than any live rock recording I’ve ever heard. 

You’ve outdone yourselves on this one, gentlemen. Well worth my $500, and probably a steal at twice the price … but don’t get any ideas!

Keep it up, and thanks,

Bill

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Pendulum

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Pendulum

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  • This Fantasy stereo pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus ( A++) side two
  • Both sides here are quite a bit richer and fuller than most with a big bottom end and solid midrange presence and energy
  • 4 stars: “John Fogerty spent time polishing the production, bringing in keyboards, horns, even a vocal choir. His songs became self-consciously serious and tighter, working with the aesthetic of the rock underground — Pendulum was constructed as a proper album, contrasting dramatically with CCR’s previous records, all throwbacks to joyous early rock records where covers sat nicely next to hits and overlooked gems tucked away at the end of the second side.”

(more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Willy and the Poor Boys

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

The typical copy of this album is grainy, murky, and veiled — and that’s just for starters. It took us a HUGE stack of copies to find ANY that had bottom end weight, midrange presence, freedom from grain (mostly) and real energy.

Those of you who have been watching the site for a while have probably noticed that we hardly ever list Hot Stamper copies of Creedence records. That’s because it is DARN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE to find copies that sound any good, a fact that many of you have probably stumbled upon on your own. (more…)

Gregg Allman – Laid Back

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

We were surprised at how well recorded the album is, dramatically better than the Allmans’ album from the same year, Brothers and Sisters. Full-bodied and Tubey Magical, with especially smooth, present vocals, this is the sound we love at Better Records.

AMG Review

Recorded in the same year as the Brothers and Sisters album, this solo debut release is a beautiful amalgam of R&B, folk, and gospel sounds, with the best singing on any of Gregg Allman’s solo releases. He covers his own “Midnight Rider” in a more mournful, dirge-like manner, and Jackson Browne’s “These Days” gets its most touching and tragic-sounding rendition as well. Although Chuck Leavell and Jaimoe are here, there’s very little that sounds like the Allman Brothers Band — prominent guitars, apart from a few licks by Tommy Talton (Cowboy, ex-We the People), are overlooked in favor of gospel-tinged organ and choruses behind Allman’s soulful singing. (more…)