Genre – Soul / R&B

Four Tops – Still Waters Run Deep

xxxxx

  • The band’s 1970 release finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This copy is hard to fault – big, open, clear, with space and three-dimensionality that modern pressings can only dream of
  • It’s not easy to find Motown records with natural tonal balance and freedom from distortion, but here’s one that has both those qualities, and more
  • These guys helped establish the quintessential Motown sound that brought “Still Water (Love)” and “It’s All In The Game” instant success
  • “Everything from the vocals to the music to the brilliant production and songwriting came together here to form a near-masterpiece of soul-stirring entertainment.”

(more…)

Jimmy Reed – Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall

xxxxx

  • Jimmy Reed makes his debut on this site with this stunning copy of Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall
  • You’ll find Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on ALL FOUR sides of this killer album
  • A surprisingly good recording – this early stereo pressing is wonderfully big and rich, with natural tonality and more three-dimensional space than any other copy we played
  • It took us years to find enough early Vee-Jay stereo (and mono) pressings that played quietly in order to do this shootout, and here is the winner in all its glory!
  • 5 stars: “… In some ways, it almost does make for a greatest-hits compilation, as it contains most of Reed’s most popular tunes… it was highly popular and influential, making the Top 50 at a time when few blues LPs charted.”

(more…)

Anita Baker – Rapture

xxxxx

  • This quiet-storm classic earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades for sound on both sides and plays on exceptionally quiet vinyl to boot
  • Rapture is one of the best sounding recordings from the era – with all due respect to Whitney Houston, if I could have only one album of ’80s soulful female vocals, it would have to be this one
  • Key to the sound is richness and Tubey Magic, along with strong midrange presence, and on this Super Hot Stamper you get all three
  • 5 stars: “Rapture gave Baker one moving hit after another, including ‘Sweet Love,’ ‘Caught up in the Rapture,’ ‘Same Ole Love,’ and ‘No One in This World.'”

A Soul Classic — winner, and deservedly so, of 2 Grammy Awards: Best R&B Song and Best R&B Female Vocal. (more…)

Sly and The Family Stone – Stand

xxxxx

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

Finally, a Triple Plus (A+++) copy of Sly’s classic Stand album from 1969, one of the few times that this album has EVER sounded the way it is supposed to! Man, most copies of this album just plain suck — sonically of course.

Both sides here have lively punchy drums; a big soundfield, front to back and side to side; tonally correct vocals (which obviously are key and sound edgy and thin on most copies), and real resolution to the sound overall. Also just as importantly you lose the sibilance most copies suffer from and the smear on the horns goes away, thank goodness.

There are three Epic labels for this record; the originals are yellow, the first reissue is orange, and the last reissue is black. I can tell you that only one of those labels produced truly great sounding copies in our shootout. Beyond that you will have to buy a sample of each and do your own shootout. (more…)

King Curtis & Champion Jack Dupree – Blues at Montreux

xxxxx

  • Incredible sound throughout for this original Atlantic LP with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades  
  • Here’s the midrange magic that’s surely missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the tapes (or, to be clear, a modern digital master copied from who-knows-what-tapes)
  • “… Curtis and Dupree find a great deal of common musical ground. Dupree has quite a few witty vocals (particularly the near-classic “Junker’s Blues”) while taking choruses of irregular length that keep his sidemen continually guessing. Curtis’ distinctive tenor is also heard from, making one truly regret that this was his final recording.”

(more…)

War – Why Can’t We Be Friends?

xxxxx

  • A stunning sounding copy and the best to hit the site in many years — Triple Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Both sides here are incredibly lush, big and spacious with a huge bottom end, no smear and tons of energy
  • Extremely quiet for this title — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “Cut from the same cloth as the band’s 1973 Deliver the Word LP, War’s 1975 Why Can’t We Be Friends? is a masterpiece in its scope and breadth.” – All Music, 4 Stars

Low Rider sounds AWESOME on this one. This is the kind of record you can take to any stereo store or audiophile friend’s house and bring their stereos to their knees. Audiophile systems are rarely designed to play this kind of music at the levels it demands, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be. Records like this are the challenge we audiophiles need to make our stereos even better. When the music is this good it’s worth the effort! (more…)

Prince – Purple Rain

xxxxx

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

The shootout winner for this album earned top grades and showed us a Purple Rain we had never heard before. 

The best copies sound pretty much the way the best copies of most Classic Rock records sound: tonally correct, rich, clear, sweet, smooth, open, present, lively, big, spacious, Tubey Magical, with breathy vocals and little to no spit, grit, grain or grunge. That’s the sound of analog, and the best copies of Purple Rain have that sound. (more…)

David Bowie – Let’s Dance

xxxxx

Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

With Let’s Dance the name of the game is ENERGY, and boy does this copy have it! Both sides have the deep, punchy bass and sweet, extended highs that Bowie’s music needs to come ALIVE. With that big bass and smooth top end this is one record you can turn up GOOD and LOUD without fear of fatique. On a big pair of dynamic speakers you will really get your money’s worth from the best Hot Stamper pressings. 

Compression? No Thank You!

Most copies we came across during our extensive shootout were painfully compressed and thin. Sure, they could convey some of the enormous energy of this recording, but the highs always ended up being brittle and edgy. Subsequently the vocals would lose presence and the whole operation turned smeary. When this happens, tracks like “Modern Love” turn the joy of the music into boredom and even outright misery.

But the good ones boggle the mind, they practically defy understanding. How did they get that much punchy note-like bass onto a piece of vinyl, not to mention all those silky sweet highs? (more…)

Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s The Way of the World – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2011

More Earth, Wind & Fire

More That’s The Way of the World

xxxxx

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

This BEYOND White Hot Stamper Two Pack has AMAZING SOUND for both sides, which makes it BY FAR the best copy that has ever hit the site! Side two (of record two) earned our highest and rarest grade, A++++. It went beyond any side of any copy we have ever played. When you hear “Reason” on this side you will be floored at how well recorded it is. Think about it: How many people on the planet have ever heard it sound this good? We hadn’t until this copy came our way, and we’ve been playing the record since the ’70s!

On top of that, side one of the other record in this two pack has A+++ sound. Simply put, this copy has the best sound for this album you will ever hear from first note to last, a claim we happily back up with a 100% Money Back Guarantee.  

Record Two – Side Two

We’ve been known to award a “Four Plus” A++++ grade to a record that goes far beyond anything we’ve heard before, and that’s exactly what we heard on this side two — sound that went well beyond our former benchmark copy. (more…)

Al Green – Gets Next To You

xxxxx

  • Incredible sound throughout for this Hi Records pressing with each side earning Top Honors — Triple Plus (A+++) from start to finish
  • These sides are both stunning — clean, clear, dynamic and spacious with tons of bottom end weight 
  • “Al Green and producer Willie Mitchell established their classic sound with Green’s second album… Alternating between Sam Cooke’s croon and Otis Redding’s shout, Green develops his own distinctive style, and Gets Next to You only touches the surface of its depth.” – All Music 

(more…)