Genre – Exotica & Easy Listening

Dick Schory – Music for Bang, Baaroom and Harp

Living Stereo Titles Available Now

200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records

  • A vintage pressing boasting INSANELY GOOD Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Living Stereo sound from start to finish
  • Absolutely As Good As It Gets – it’s a real treat to hear such a crazy assortment of percussion instruments with this kind of amazingly clear, high-resolution sound!
  • This phenomenal copy is just plain bigger, richer and clearer than any we can remember playing – part of the reason for that is that it takes us about five years to find enough clean copies of a record like this in order to do a shootout
  • It also helps that both of these sides are in correct polarity, a subject you can read about on the blog if you would like to know more
  • If you’re a fan of percussion extravaganzas, this Living Stereo from 1958 is about as good as it gets

The hottest stamper pressings of this album are Demo Discs for three important qualities we listen for in our record auditions. Each of the links below will take you to other recordings we have found to be potentially superior in these areas of reproduction.

  1. Size and Space,
  2. Correct Timbre and
  3. Tubey Magic.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs, and rightfully so. It certainly can be a Super Disc, but only when you have the right pressing. This is one of the Demo Discs on the TAS List which truly deserves its status when, and only when, you have the right copy. (The typical copy is quite good, but it sure doesn’t sound like this.) Nothing else in our shootout could touch it. And it’s IN PHASE. Many copies are not.

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Dick Schory – Music To Break Any Mood

Hot Stamper Percussion Recordings Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Percussion Recordings

  • Both sides here earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades, making this one of the better copies from our recent shootout 
  • The overall sound is big, rich and Tubey Magical with a lovely bottom end and tons of energy
  • “Dick Schory’s second major outing for RCA is more self-assured, from the preposterous jacket art and liner notes to more upbeat tunes… Schory’s musical ideas are always fresher than those of Bobby Christian and Mike Simpson, who helped on the previous album. All but two tracks are good to great.” – All Music

This vintage RCA Living Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds. (more…)

Esquivel – Infinity In Sound, Vol. 2

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  • Infinity In Sound, Vol. 2 makes its Hot Stamper debut on this original RCA pressing with KILLER Living Stereo sound 
  • This Living Stereo pressing is spacious, lively and positively dripping with ambience – here is the Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation these kinds of recordings are known for
  • 4 stars: “This may be the Esquivel album that has it all: his signature style and sound, some experimentation (whistling), and an even mix of Latin and non-Latin standards.”
  • If you’re a fan of Juan Garcia Esquivel, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this Top Exotica/Easy Listening Title from 1961 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1961 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Chet Atkins – Chet Atkins in Hollywood (1959)

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  • An original RCA pressing of the original mix from 1959 with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Living Stereo sound or close to it from first note to last
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, with no marks that play or issues with the inner grooves
  • This TAS List recording will have you asking why so few Living Stereo pressings actually do what this one does. The more critical listeners among you will recognize that this is a very special copy indeed. Everyone else will just enjoy the hell out of it.
  • You won’t believe how natural, rich, tonally correct and Tubey Magical this copy is – until you play it, of course
  • The bass is exceptionally well recorded on this album – it’s so clear, deep and note-like, you may just want to use it as Bass Test Disc for your own system
  • 4 1/2 stars: “If the cover of At Home evokes the 1950s, the music on In Hollywood IS the 1950s: a warm, cozy, sophisticated album of mood music in the best sense.”
  • More Reviews and Commentaries for recordings engineered by Bill Porter

DEMO DISC SOUND! Fairly quiet and unusually clean for a record of its age. TAS List of course, and full of Living Stereo Magic. You can feel the cool air of the studio the minute the needle hits the groove.

I suppose we owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Pearson for pointing out to us with his TAS List what a great record this is, although I’m pretty sure anybody playing this album would have no trouble telling after a minute or two that this copy is very special indeed.

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Esquivel – Infinity In Sound

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Living Stereo Titles Available Now

  • You’ll find INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Living Stereo All Tube Chain sound throughout this original RCA pressing from 1960
  • Both sides are incredibly clear and open, yet rich and and oh-so-Tubey Magical, with brass that has little to none of the “blarey” quality that plagues most copies
  • Folks, I can tell you right now most original Living Stereo Popular (LSP) pressings, of this or any other LSP title, do not begin to recreate the Studio Wizardry found on this album
  • The sound rivals the best Chet Atkins albums and Bob and Rays in all their delicious three-dimensional Cinerama staging
  • Problems in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • AMG raves that “Esquivel returns to his full glory on Infinity in Sound.”

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Martin Denny / Quiet Village – Our Shootout Winner from Way Back

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More Recordings Engineered by Ted Keep

This superb sounding Hot Stamper copy of Quiet Village has a lot in common with the other Bachelor Pad / Exotica titles we’ve listed over the years, albums by the likes of Esquivel, Dick Schory, Edmundo Ros, Arthur Lyman and others.

But c’mon, nobody really buys these records for the music (although the music is thoroughly enchanting). It’s all about the Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation, the wacky 3-D sound effects (of real birds and not-so-real ones) and the heavily percussive arrangements. In all of these areas and more this record does not disappoint.

If you’re an audiophile, both the sound and the music are crazy fun. If you want to demonstrate just how good 1959 All Tube Analog sound can be, this is the record that will do it.

This copy is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the sound here is PHENOMENAL. This is vintage analog at its best, so rich and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to “improve” it. If you like the sound of vibes and unusual percussion instruments, you will have a hard time finding a more magical recording of any of them.

Quick Notes

We were surprised that a number of copies were neither transparent nor spacious. For a while there we thought of giving up, but then we played this Black Label original copy and all was right with the world.

Unsurprisingly, we ran into plenty of noisy vinyl, too noisy to enjoy as the music is frequently quiet for extended periods.

There is a shocking amount of rich, deep bass in the recording. You could play fifty ’70s rock records and not hear this much richness and weight down low. Having played scores of Exotica titles over the years we were very pleasantly surprised to hear the bass  on this title surpass them all.

Side Two

Every bit as rich, sweet and tubey as side one, but this side is transparent, three-dimensional and spacious like no other side of any copy we played. The perfect music to demo your stereo with for anyone who thinks audio recording technology has improved in the last thirty years.

Side One

Super Hot Stamper sound, with a big stage, Tubey Magic and correct tonality from top to bottom. From top to bottom the tonality is Right On The Money. It’s very lively, with tight, clear bass.

Listen to how open the drum sound is. That sound is just not to be found on popular albums anymore.

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Herb Alpert / Whipped Cream & Other Delights – Top End Extension Is Key

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The better pressings have the kind of Tubey Magical, big-bottomed, punchy, spacious sound that we’ve come to expect from Larry Levine‘s engineering for A&M. If you have any Hot Stamper pressings of Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66’s albums, then you know exactly the kind of sound we’re talking about.

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 air and space, and instruments will lack the full complement of harmonic information.

In addition, when the top end is lacking, the upper midrange and high frequencies get jammed together — the highs can’t extend up and away from the upper mids.

This causes a number of much-too-common problems that we hear in the upper midrange of many of the records we play: congestion, hardness, harshness, and squawk.

Painstaking Vertical Tracking Angle adjustment is absolutely critical if you want your records to play with the least amount of these problems, a subject we discuss in the Commentary section of the site at length.

Full-bodied sound is especially critical to the horns.

Any blare, leanness or squawk ruins at least some of the fun, certainly at the louder levels the record should be playing at.

The frequency extremes (on the best copies) are not boosted in any way. When you play this record quietly, the bottom and top will disappear (due to the way the ear handles quieter sounds as described by the Fletcher-Munson curve).

Most records (like most audiophile stereos) are designed to sound correct at moderate levels. Not this album. It wants you to turn it up. Then, and only then, will everything sound completely right musically and tonally from top to bottom.

The Ames Brothers with Esquivel – Hello Amigos

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Living Stereo Titles Available Now

  • By far the best sound we have ever heard for The Ames Brothers
  • 1960 Webster Hall vocals in RCA Living Stereo sound at its best
  • Huge, rich, smooth and natural, the Tubey Magic is off the charts
  • Esquivel and His Orchestra bring some fun Exotica flourishes to these Latin tunes

This copy is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. This is vintage analog at its best, so rich and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to “improve” upon it.

This recording is the very definition of The Sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, nor will any CD ever be able to capture what is in the grooves of this pressing.

For the audiophile of wide ranging taste, both the sound and the music should be lots of fun. If you want to demonstrate just how good 1960 All Tube Analog sound can be, I’d be hard pressed to think of another record that could do the job better than this one.

Perfect for demo-ing your stereo to anyone who thinks audio recording technology has improved in the last forty years. (more…)

Tony Mottola / Warm, Wild and Wonderful

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Guitar

More Exotica Albums with Hot Stampers

  • You’ll find KILLER solid Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to it on both sides of this original Project 3 pressing – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • Tubier, more transparent, more dynamic, with plenty of that “jumpin’ out of the speakers” quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has
  • We have never heard the electric guitar sound more real than it does here – the timbre is perfection and the dynamics are startling
  • The arrangements of these mostly familiar songs are clever and innovative – the last thing this music could be called is boring or obvious

This is clearly one of the best sounding guitar records we’ve ever had the pleasure to play here at Better Records. Project 3 was an audiophile label in the truest and best sense of the word: a label that not only cared about the sound of their recordings, but actually proved they could produce title after title of the highest quality, equal or superior to anything on the market.

This, of course, places them in stark contrast with the audiophile labels of the modern era, the last forty years say, which only on rare occasion produce records of any real quality. Instead these modern labels endlessly grind out one mediocrity after another to the consternation of those of us who know the difference.

But I digress.

We had a mind-blowing percussion record on the Somerset label years ago that raised the bar for us regarding that genre, and this jazz guitar record on Project 3 has achieved the same effect. Some of the following is borrowed from the listing for that Somerset record.

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Herb Alpert – Whipped Cream & Other Delights

More Sixties Pop Recordings

More 5 Star Albums

  • Tubey Magical, big-bottomed, punchy, spacious sound – what we’ve come to expect from Larry Levine’s engineering
  • An INCREDIBLE copy of this wonderful 1965 release, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Tubey Magical, punchy, spacious, natural sound – this copy has what we love about Larry Levine’s engineering, with special emphasis on the HUGE amounts of deep bass that Herb liked to put on his records back in 1965. (Quick question: Where did that sound go?)
  • Not many audiophiles know how well recorded some of these early Herb Alpert albums were, but we count ourselves among the ones that do, going back more than twenty years now
  • It’s almost impossible to find clean copies of this album nowadays, which is why our last shootout took place in 2020 – now that we know the hottest stampers, we hope to do this shootout again before too long
  • Alpert’s most famous album, 5 stars on Allmusic: “Three Grammy Awards alone for the update of the Bobby Scott and Ric Marlow-penned theme ‘A Taste of Honey.'”

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