Genre – Exotica & Easy Listening

Dick Schory – The Happy Hits – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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Side One – A++. This side is full and rich yet clear. Listen to that crazy banjo on track two; that’s not an easy instrument to get to sound right, but the RCA engineers pull it off. The brass is a bit “hot” at times so we took off one plus. For all we know this is as good as it gets. 

Side Two – A++, not quite as warm as side one, but more lively and really jumpin’. The last track is truly Demo Disc quality. The bottom and top are extended and the sound is rich in the best possible sense of the word. Superb sound and plenty of fun, wacky music!

  • Super Hot on both sides on this rare title – the sound is killer on most tracks
  • Side one is rich and tubey yet clear, our favorite combination
  • Side two has the best sounding track on the album – Demo Disc quality
  • Quiet vinyl, with sound that’s more lively and energetic than most Schory discs

As is usually the case with these vintage Living Stereo pressings, the vinyl may not be dead quiet but it’s certainly quiet enough for any problems to stay hidden well underneath the music.  (more…)

Perez Prado (and Better Records) Implore You to Turn Up the Volume

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Another in the long list of recordings that sounds its best when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Tube smear is common to most pressings from the late ’50s, and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least amount of smear, or none, yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich. Full sound is especially critical to the horns: any blare, leanness or squawk ruins much of the fun, certainly at the loud levels the record should be playing at.

Which brings up a point that needs making. The tonality of this record is correct when it is playing loud. The trumpets do not get harsh at loud volumes the way they will on, say, a Chicago record. The timbre of the instruments is correct when loud, which means that it was mixed loud to sound correct when loud.

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 from top to bottom.

If you like the sound of percussion instruments of every possible flavor, including some you have never tasted before, you will have a hard time finding a more magical recording of them than this. (more…)

Sons of the Pioneers – Cool Water

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  • A stunning sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • These sides have a richness and sweetness that’s disappeared entirely from modern recordings yet they’re still incredibly clean, clear and spacious
  • If you want to know why people love Living Stereo records, playing either side of this record should be more than sufficient
  • “The original release, issued at the height of the stereophile boom of the late 1950s, was a vivid display of close, intimate presence and discreet channel separation.” – All Music

This original RCA Black Label Living Stereo LP has two AMAZING sides, making this without a doubt the best sounding pressing we have ever had the distinct pleasure to play! We were as shocked to hear this copy as you will no doubt be (if you end up with it of course; there’s only one like this to go around.) (more…)

Perez Prado – Pops and Prado

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  • Outstanding sound for this Living Stereo pressing with each side earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades and playing about as quietly as any RCA from 1959 ever does
  • These sides are unbelievably Tubey Magical, dynamic and spacious – this is vintage Analog Exotica at its best
  • Credit for the Demo Disc sound of this one must go to one of our favorite engineers, Bob Simpson, here working with the glorious acoustics of Webster Hall
  • “… the use of two organs, or double the signature sound of the next phase of Prado, is significant and very effective. This is more fun than any of his previous attempts at safe commercialism.”

Bob Simpson won the Grammy for engineering Belafonte at Carnegie Hall you may recall. (more…)

Gary McFarland – Does The Sun Really Shine On The Moon?

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Look at the track listing — these are pop tunes by The Beatles and The Beach Boys set to jazzy arrangements, perfect for your bachelor pad. Enjoy this one for what it is — enchanting pop tunes without the vocals, superbly well recorded and well played by jazz guys who know how to have fun with these kinds of songs. 

DCC did this title on CD and if you want one just drop us a note and we will include one with your order gratis.

This copy is dramatically more open and spacious than any of the other copies we’ve heard. The organ and bass are especially well recorded.

Drop the needle on God Only Knows to get a taste of how good side one sounds. (more…)

Los Admiradores – Bongos / Flutes / Guitars

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First things first: one of the main bongo players is none other than Ray Barretto himself. You jazz guys out there will know exactly who that is, a man whose reputation for brilliant rhythmic contributions to some of the greatest classic jazz albums of the ’60s is beyond dispute. One listen to Midnight Blue will do the trick. The man had a gift. And he is here joined by two other top players.

And of course the guitarist has to be the incomparable Tony Mottola, the man behind one of our favorite jazz guitar records of all time: Warm, Wild and Wonderful.

Soundfield, Timbre and Dynamics

The spaciousness of the studio is reproduced with uncanny fidelity, with both huge depth and width, but there is another dimension that this record is operating in that Bang, Baa-room and Harp, just to take one example, does not — the instruments here are capable of jumping out of your speakers, seemingly right into your listening room.

The effect is astonishing. I have never heard these instruments sound more real than they do here. The timbre is perfection. The dynamics are startling.

Add to those clearly unattenuated dynamics, high and low frequencies that are also not attenuated, and microphones capable of deadly accuracy, and you have yourself a recording of virtually unparalleled fidelity. We’ve played these kinds of records by the score but I have rarely heard one that can do what this one is doing. (more…)

Esquivel – Infinity In Sound

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  • Stunning Living Stereo Sound from 1960; Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
  • 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
  • AMG raves that “Esquivel returns to his full glory on Infinity in Sound.”

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The Doowackadoodlers – Doo Wacka Doo – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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  • Incredible sound for this original RCA Living Stereo pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them
  • This copy was just plain bigger, richer, and more Tubey Magical than every other copy we played; the energy level is off the charts and the bottom end is right on the money
  • “These albums aren’t quite as wild as Esquivel’s, but they’re worth looking for if you like music with a big zing, zang, zoom in it.” – spaceagepop.com

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Perez Prado – Big Hits By Prado

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  • A STUNNING copy of Prado’s 1960 RCA stereo release with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from top to bottom
  • Spacious and transparent, this copy has the three-dimensional soundstaging and layered depth that makes these kinds of record such a joy to play
  • There is plenty on offer for the discriminating audiophile, with the spaciousness, clarity, tonality and freedom from artificiality that are hallmarks of the better Living Stereo recordings
  • “Big Hits actually is a powerhouse anthology: the first definitive, stereo collection of mambo hits. All were re-recorded for stereo in “new arrangements” as the jacket advertises… easy to find [but not in audiophile playing condition with sound this good] and very worthwhile.”

*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 8 moderate pops at the end of track 4, Guaglione, into the beginning of track 5, Mambo No. 5.

This copy of Big Hits By Prado has a lot in common with the other Decca and Living Stereo titles we’ve listed over the years, albums by the likes of Henry Mancini, Esquivel, Dick Schory, Edmundo Ros, Arthur Lyman and a handful of others. Talk about making your speakers disappear, these records will do it!

An album like this is all about Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation. For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1960 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you.

This pressing is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it. (more…)

Hugo Winterhalter – Goes Latin – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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

1959 Tubey Magical Living Stereo sound like you will not believe! Both sides are nearly White Hot, with shocking amounts of space and depth. This is RCA’s approach to Exotica, with the added benefit of Living Stereo strings. Gorgeous harmonically rich percussion – the tambourine is to die for

This record lives and dies by its Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation and the heavily percussive arrangements. In all of these areas and more this copy excels.

1959 Tubey Magic

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 live-in-the-studio 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.

Regrettably no recordings will ever be made like this again. Worse, and no CD or digital media seems capable of capturing what is in the grooves of this record.

Side One

This side is doing pretty much everything right — it’s big, lively, super clear and high-rez wiith TONS of space around all of the instruments, a wonderfully extended top end, and all the energy you could ever want.

Listen to how clear and harmonically rich the guitars are on the second track!

Side Two

The music may be a bit goofy but the sound is so good it quickly pulls you into the fun. (more…)