Genre – Vocals – Female

Ella Fitzgerald – Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie – Our Favorite Female Vocal Album of All Time

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

The first “Triple Triple” MONO copy to ever hit the site — A+++ from start to finish. Our knockout mono pressing here was fuller, more natural and more involving than any copy we heard in our shootout. with immediacy to put Ella practically in the room with you, it’s her performance that really comes to life. It’s our single Favorite Female Vocal album here at Better Records, one that gets better with each passing year.

Check out what the lucky owner of this copy had to say about it.

PR Writes

As you probably know, I own superb copies of the stereo. They both fade into pastel in comparison with this mono. (more…)

Astrud Gilberto – The Shadow Of Your Smile

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The space is HUGE and the sound so rich. The vocals have dramatically less hardness and the orchestra sounds right for once. Prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD.

More Astrud Gilberto

If you don’t like at least some reverb on your vocals, this album is probably not for you. The standard recording approach for Male and Female Vocals in the ’50s and ’60s was to add reverb to them. Sometimes it sounds right and sometimes it’s too much. For “too much” play some of Nat King Cole’s records from the era to hear what I mean. (Try “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer” from 1963 if you want a good place to start.)

Like any processing of the sound in the studio — compression, limiting, reverb, EQ, etc. — it can be used with taste and discretion and make the recording better, or it can be overdone and ruin everything. For our part we think Astrud Gilberto’s recordings use reverb more or less tastefully. And of course there sure aren’t going to be any versions of this music coming along any time soon without the added echo. Getting the reverb to sound right is one of the things a good Hot Stamper has to do on a record like this. (more…)

Sarah Vaughan – After Hours At The London House

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  • Vaughan’s 1959 live album finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • No other copy could touch this pressing for warmth, richness, and, most especially, vocal intimacy and in-the-room presence
  • The multiple takes Sarah Vaughan does on Thanks for the Memory here blows my mind to this very day – pull it up on youtube and hear it for yourself
  • “… the producers invited a small group of friends and well-wishers to another Chicago club, London House, for an after-hours session. Vaughan expanded her trio with a quartet of Count Basie titans, including trumpeter Thad Jones and tenor Frank Wess, and… decided to record a set that, in true after-hours fashion, was completely improvised.”

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Ella Fitzgerald – Hello Love

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  • Ella’s 1959 release finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Mono sound from first note to last
  • The sound is relaxed, full-bodied and lively, with Tubey Magical richness befitting the 1957 and 1959 recording dates of these sessions
  • Skip the stereo pressing on this title – none of the copies we played could hold a candle to this killer mono LP
  • “The album focuses on well-known songs not included in Fitzgerald’s epic Songbooks project, and several of the songs are tunes that she had recently recorded in duet with Louis Armstrong.”
  • 4 stars: “A fine gem among the diamonds of Ella Fitzgerald’s late-’50s period with Verve… Wrapped in the strings of Frank DeVol’s orchestra, Fitzgerald is a bewitching presence singing these dreamy standards…”

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Sarah Vaughan – Golden Hits – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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

This is Sarah in her prime – the recordings date from 1954-58. A good overview of her Mercury recordings.

We’ve been fortunate to have a number of excellent sounding Sarah Vaughan records hit our turntable over the course of the last few years, but this is officially our first Sarah Vaughan shootout title to make it to the site.

Most of the reason for this unfortunate fact can be attributed to the lack of clean copies of her prime albums for Mercury sitting in our local record store bins. Her best albums are either missing or scratched. (Plenty of Pablos and Mainstreams, sure, but we have never been all that impressed with either label’s recordings of vocalists.)

This Greatest Hits album apparently stayed in print long enough to produce the supply necessary for one of our shootouts, and the result is we now have some wonderful Sarah Vaughan performances with superb sound to share with our customers. (more…)

Nina Simone – Silk And Soul

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  • Outstanding sound for this RCA pressing with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER
  • Both sides here are superb – clean, clear and full-bodied with wonderfully present vocals and lots of space around all of the players
  • “After moving from the blues to soul for her second RCA album, Nina Simone’s extroverted, confident delivery proved a natural match with the ranks of soul shouters working the crowds during the late ’60s…”

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Sarah Vaughan – Sassy

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  • Sarah Vaughan’s brilliant Sassy album from 1956 finally debuts on the site, and what a copy it is, taking top honors with Triple Plus (A+++) sonics on both sides
  • No other copy could touch this original Blue Label Mono Emarcy pressing for richness, space, clarity, dynamics and, most especially, vocal intimacy
  • If all you know is the grainy, bright and warmth-challenged Speakers Corner pressing from years back, the one we gave a failing grade to of course, then our Shootout Winner here should be a sonic treat you have never experience before
  • An original Emarcy pressing that has no audible marks and plays as quietly as this one does is a rare find indeed – it seems to be the quietest copy from our shootout, and even better, IT WON

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Julie Is Her Name – A Boxstar Bomb

 

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A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex / Boxstar.

One question: Where’s the Tubey Magic?

We would never have pointed you in the direction of this awful Boxstar 45 of Julie Is Her Name, cut by Bernie Grundman, supposedly on tube equipment. I regret to say that we actually sold some copies, but in my defense I can honestly and truthfully claim that we never wrote a single nice thing about the sound of the record. That has to count for something, right? (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Like Someone In Love

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

The space is HUGE and the sound so rich. The vocals have dramatically less hardness and the orchestra — especially on side two — is not brash for once.  

Prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD.

Take it from an Ella fan, you can’t go wrong with this one, assuming you can put up with some ticky vinyl. This is about as quiet as we can find them. Like Someone in Love is five times more rare than Clap Hands, and twice as likely to be noisy. (more…)

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Ye-Me-Le – our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

THE BEST SIDE ONE WE’VE HEARD! It’s big and bold, with dramatically less grit and grain than the average copies. This White Hot Ye-Me-Le has MINDBLOWING, YOU ARE THERE IMMEDIACY and MASTER TAPE SOUND on side one. The sound is punchy and lively with wonderful transparency. You can really hear the sound of the room around the musicians! Many of the tracks on this copy are DEMO DISC quality. 

Side one has virtually no strain, EXTENDED highs, and is overall fairly quiet. Listen to track two (a great version of Norweigan Wood)– it doesn’t get any better than that! Track one is so silky and sweet, it may become your favorite song to demonstrate your stereo. It’s certainly one of mine. Even the last track here, which almost never sounds good, is fairly sweet on this pressing. (more…)