Genre – Folk

Harry Belafonte – The Many Moods of Belafonte

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Living Stereo full-bodied sound these recordings need to work their magic – qualities which are rarely evident on the modern reissues made from whatever tapes they are using
  • Several crowd-pleasers were introduced on this album for the first time: the calypso “Zombie Jamboree,” which soon replaced “Matilda” as Belafonte’s epic audience participation song; and the showtune “Try to Remember,” from the off-Broadway show The Fantasticks.

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Peter, Paul & Mary – Self-Titled

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Peter, Paul and Mary - Self-Titled - White Hot Stamper

  • The band’s debut finally arrives on the site with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) stereo sound throughout – relatively quiet vinyl for a pressing of this vintage
  • This TAS List title has real depth to the soundfield, full-bodied, present vocals, plenty of bottom end weight, and Tubey Magical analog warmth the likes of which you may have never heard
  • 4 stars: “The debut album by Peter, Paul & Mary is still one of the best albums to come out of the 1960s folk music revival. It’s a beautifully harmonized collection of the best songs that the group knew, stirring in its sensibilities and its haunting melodies as it crosses between folk, children’s songs, and even gospel”

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings). (more…)

Simon and Garfunkel – Sounds of Silence

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides of Simon & Garfunkel’s sophomore release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget that critical listening stuff and just notice that these wonderful early pressings are simply more relaxed, musical and involving
  • Although the rock tracks come to life and really do sound good, the Tubey Magical folky tracks are the real reason to play the album
  • “A work of finely expressed folk. It’s arguably the duo’s big breakout, a crossover success with some handsome hits.” — COS

The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the performers front and center. This 360 Stereo pressing also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s no doubt missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the 50+ year old tapes. As good as that pressing may be, we guarantee that this one is dramatically more REAL SOUNDING. It gives you the sense that Simon and Garfunkel are right in the room with you. (more…)

Donovan – A Gift From a Flower To a Garden

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  • An outstanding copy with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side three mated with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to in for sides one, two, and four
  • This copy has real depth to the soundfield, full-bodied, present vocals, plenty of bottom end weight, and lovely analog warmth
  • Wear Your Love Like Heaven is superb here – rich, natural and relaxed
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… stands out as a prime artifact of the flower-power era that produced it… the sheer range of subjects and influences make this a surprisingly rewarding work.”

*NOTE: On side three, Track 5, The Mandolin Man And His Secret, plays closer to EX++.

This is a longtime Better Records favorite for both music and sound. It may not be one of the more popular titles we do our unique shootouts for, but for those of you who love folky, acoustic guitar pop — we often call it Hippie Folk Rock — you should find a lot to like about this album.

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings).

Natural vocal reproduction is absolutely key for this album. Many copies had “hyped-up” phony sound — fine for the old consoles and radios of the day (1967) but not too enjoyable on the modern, much more revealing rigs we use today. The tonality of the midrange — where the guitars and vocals are found of course — must be correct for this music to work. This copy really gets it right! (more…)

Doc Watson / Home Again – Another Dog from Cisco Records

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Folks, if you made the mistake of buying the Cisco Heavy Vinyl reissue of this album that came out in the early 2000s, you are in for treat if you are able to grab one of our Hot Stamper pressings.

Instead of Doc and his bandmates playing from behind a thick curtain at the back of your sound room, they can now be heard where they should have been all along: front and center between your speakers!

The difference between a truly outstanding vintage pressing and a modern mockery of analog could not be more striking.

We never got around to putting the Cisco pressing in our Hall of Shame (300+ strong!). There are just not enough hours in the day…

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Bob Gibson and Bob Camp – At The Gate Of Horn

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  • This wonderful 1961 folk gem makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Tubey Magical, rich, smooth, sweet – everything that we listen for in a great record is on display for everyone to hear (everyone with audiophile equipment that is)
  • If you want to know just how good Elektra’s All Tube recording system was in 1961, this amazing sounding disc will show you like no other
  • 4 stars: “Recorded in 1961 at Chicago’s legendary folk club, the Gate of Horn, Gibson and Camp’s live set was really one of the opening volleys in the coming folk revival, and while neither of these guys got much of the credit, they should have.”

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Simon & Garfunkel – Wednesday Morning, 3 AM

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  • Earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades for sound on both sides, this early 360 stereo pressing is outstanding from first note to last
  • It’s clean, clear, open and spacious with lovely breathy vocals and plenty of Columbia Tubey Magic
  • You won’t find this kind of transparency or clarity on the typical vintage pressing, and the red label reissues are completely hopeless
  • Their one true Folk Duo album, featuring the original version of The Sound Of Silence

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Collins, Judy – Colors of the Day: The Best of Judy Collins

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  • This superb compilation boast a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is especially rich, warm and natural, with exceptional immediacy to Judy’s vocals and Tubey Magic for days
  • Tons of breath of life, superb production and mastering, and some of the best sounding echo ever recorded
  • Note that Artisan cut this record a whole helluva lot better than DCC – the so-called audiophile label – ever did
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Lovingly programmed (it leads off with her excellent country-pop hit ‘Someday Soon,’ an Ian Tyson classic), this is Collins at her finest… This anthology brings the ‘best-of’ collection to a new art form.”

I remember being a bit taken aback by how much better my original Artisan pressing sounded compared to the supposedly superior DCC, pressed at high quality Heavy Vinyl at RTI to the most exacting standards possible.

What finally turned me completely against DCC were the awful Paul Simon solo albums they remastered.  Two were released, two I had as unreleased test pressings, and all of them were barely second rate compared to a good original pressing.

So much for believing in DCC. Since that time we have learned that placing your faith in any record label or cutting operation is a mistake. You have to play the records to know how they sound. Nothing else works, and nothing else can work. (more…)

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Mono Versus Stereo

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The noisy (aren’t they all?) mono copy we keep around as a reference presents Dylan and his guitar in a starkly immediate, clear and unprocessed way. The stereo version of the album is simply that sound with some light stereo reverb added.

More than anything else the mono pressing on some tracks sounds like a demo. It’s as if the engineers threw up a mic or two, set the EQ for flat and proceeded to roll tape. This is a good sound for what it is, but it has a tendency toward dryness, perhaps not on all of the tracks but clearly on some. Certainly the first track on side one can have that drier sound.

What the stereo reverb does is fill out the sound of Dylan’s voice respectfully. The engineers of the late ’50 and ’60s had a tendency to drown their singers in heavy reverb, as anyone who’s ever played an old Tony Bennett or Dean Martin album knows all too well.

But a little reverb actually benefits the vocals of our young Mr. Dylan on The Times They Are A-Changin’, and there is an easy way to test that proposition. When you hit the mono button on your preamp or phono stage, the reverb disappears, leaving the vocal more clear and more present, but also more dry and thin. You may like it better that way. Obviously, to some degree this is a matter of taste.

The nice thing about this stereo copy, assuming you have a mono switch in your system (which you should; they’re very handy), is that you have the option of hearing it both ways and deciding for yourself which approach you find more involving and enjoyable — if not necessarily truthful.

We suspect your preference will be both listener- and system-dependent. Isn’t it better to have the option and be able to make that determination for yourself? (more…)

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

Dear Reader,

We have just recently moved our record business to our new Shopify store. None of the links to the old site will work anymore. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to be able to rectify the situation soon. For now please check out Better Records, Mach II, home of the ultimate vinyl pressing, the White Hot Stamper.

Tom Port – Better Records

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  • This 360 stereo pressing offers outstanding sound from first note to last, with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades – relatively quiet vinyl too
  • The keys to this stark recording – just Bob, his acoustic guitar, and harmonica – is correct tonality, as well as vocal presence with breathy intimacy, and here you get a good helping of all three
  • If you’ve played the MoFi or Sundazed LP, on the CD, the Tubey Magic here might just blow your mind
  • “These are beautifully crafted, tightly focused mini-masterpieces. And they have a radical edge, a political toughness, that one rarely finds in the folk music of the period. …the songs are uncompromising in their anger and unsparing in their analysis.”

Just about everything you could want in the sound is here: wonderful clarity, mindblowing transparency, clearly audible transients on the guitar, breathy texture to the vocals, full-bodied acoustic guitars, and more. If you’ve played other copies of the album — on MoFi, Sundazed or Columbia LP, on the CD, on whatever — the immediacy of the vocals and the Tubey Magic of the midrange are going to blow your mind. (more…)