Genre – Soundtracks & Soundtrack Music

Rozsa / Music From the Film Ben Hur – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame. 

This TAS List Super Hot Stamper pressing of one of the greatest and most famous Orchestral Blockbuster Soundtracks ever recorded more than lives up to our expectations for Decca Phase 4. This is Phase 4 done RIGHT.

As with all the best Herrmann releases, the huge size and scope you hear is the sound of orchestral music recorded in glorious ANALOG!

The sound is so clear, spacious and three-dimensional that you will feel as if your speakers have disappeared before your very eyes.

The layering of depth is really something to hear on this copy, with choirs of brass instruments located precisely in space, some further back, some off to the side of the soundstage. And what a soundstage it is, so wide and deep. Transparency – a quality you find on both sides of this copy — is what makes this all sound so REAL.

Opacity Vs. Transparency

Note that we have been especially anti-heavy vinyl in our recent commentaries for their consistently opaque character, the opposite of what is necessary in order to hear into the music, deep into the soundstage, to see and hear ALL the instruments, even the ones at the back. Try that with any Classic Record or Speakers Corner pressing. It’s records like this that show you precisely what you have been missing all these years if you have been collecting and playing releases from those labels and the others like them. (more…)

Herbie Hancock – Blow-Up Soundtrack on Heavy Vinyl

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Years ago we wrote the following:

TOP RECOMMENDATION from Better Records. What an amazing discovery! I can’t take credit for it, the credit belongs to Four Men with Beards.

Herbie Hancock manages to get a lot of different jazz artists to play some of the most interesting jazz I’ve ever heard. I have no idea who all is playing but each of the different songs involved different players playing in different groupings: sometimes it’s guitar and organ, sometimes it’s saxophone-led quartet; it pretty much runs the gamut of jazz. And the amazing thing is every track is great. And the sound is great.

If you want a jazz primer that introduces you to the different ways jazz groups are arranged, I can hardly think of a better record.

If you want a great jazz record to demonstrate your stereo, it works on that level too. The sound is that good.

Side 1 has the best music overall; it’s superb from beginning to end. Side 2 is very good as well, but side 1 has the real demo disc quality material in my opinion.

We can’t be sure that we would still feel the same way. My guess is that this is still probably a good record if you can get one for the 25 bucks we used to charge for it.

Miles Davis – Jazz Track

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  • Davis’ superb 1959 release arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Davis partners here with jazz greats, including John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley and others
  • “… it should become clear why ‘Jazz Track’ is a vital Miles album as well as a testimony to the importance of the movies to jazz–as a medium for improvised soundtracks and, more importantly, as a source of theme music potentially as rich as the music of Broadway…”
  • “It’s doubtful that “On Green Dolphin Street” and “Stella by Starlight” would have caught on without Bill [Evans’] artistry (which is not to take anything away from Red [Garland], whose ballads simply lacked the intricate, delicately shaded beauty of Bill’s pensive voicings on the slow ballads).”

We had a number of original pressings on hand, some costing a pretty penny, but this is the only one that did not have serious scratches or inner groove damage. The vinyl is not quiet, but the tics stay mainly underneath the music. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


The nine minute plus long Green Dolphin Street that opens side two is nothing short of amazing, some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear, on any record, at any price. With Stella by Starlight and Fran Dance on the same side, that gives you about 20 minutes of great sounding jazz by Miles’ classic Kind of Blue lineup. (more…)

Willie Nelson & Family – Honeysuckle Rose

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  • Honeysuckle Rose finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on all FOUR sides
  • This surprisingly well recorded live album has the kind of smooth, rich, tonally correct analog sound we thought they had forgotten how to achieve by 1980, but here it is!
  • 4 stars: “The soundtrack to Honeysuckle Rose is… a collection of songs by Willie Nelson and his Family band as well as a host of friends… Nelson’s readings of his own tunes like “On the Road Again,” and others are solid, inspired, and rollicking. His versions of tunes written by Kris Kristofferson (“Loving Her Was Easier Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again”), Rodney Crowell (“Angel Eyes”), and Lee Clayton (“If You Could Touch Her at All”) blow away the studio versions.”

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Mark Knopfler – Local Hero

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  • A KILLER Warner Brothers pressing of Knopfler’s 1983 soundtrack album, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and a solid Double Plus (A++) side one
  • This one is doing everything right– it’s bigger, bolder, richer and more clean, clear and open than anything else we played
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler’s intricate, introspective finger-picked guitar stylings make a perfect musical complement to the wistful tone of Bill Forsyth’s comedy film, Local Hero… The low-key music picks up traces of Scottish music, but most of it just sounds like Dire Straits doing instrumentals, especially the recurring theme, one of Knopfler’s more memorable melodies.”

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Myrow & Seagrave – Phantasm (OST)

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  • A stunning sounding copy of this Varese Sarabande TAS list record with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • These sides are clean, clear and dynamic yet still super rich and full-bodied with plenty of bottom end weight; exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • “The music by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave is properly eerie and involving.” – The Hollywood Reporter
  • “Their magnificent theme is an integral component of the worldwide success of Phantasm and its several acclaimed sequels.” – Liner Notes

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Henry Mancini – Hatari! – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

This Super Hot Stamper pressing is one of the BEST COPIES we’ve ever played! Both sides earned very high A Double Plus honors, beating practically all the other copies we played it against. The sound is relaxed, natural, and musical, with an incredibly sweet top end. 

The overall sound is airy, open, spacious, and SUPER transparent. The brass on this copy also sounds just right: breathy with a nice bite, avoiding most of the blare-y quality we heard on so many other pressings. (There is a touch of smear on even the best copies; this one is no different.)

The sound is Super 3-D. You’re not going to believe all the ambience surrounding this room full of musicians, especially on the drums! We LOVE that sound. (more…)

Henry Mancini – Charade – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

This Living Stereo RCA LP has TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES, giving you a healthy dose of the Living Stereo Tubey Magic we love here at Better Records. As is usually the case with Mancini’s records, some tracks sound far better than others. Charade is a particularly good sounding song on side two, with superb reproduction of both female and male voices, rich and sweet in the best tradition of RCA from the Golden Age. More good stuff on side two? Drop the needle on Latin Snowfall to hear exactly what I’m talking about.

As an added bonus, the last track, Charade (Carousel), has absolutely no IGD on the glockenspiel or Calliope. Few copies will not be groove damaged on that track — we speak from experience here.

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music found here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1963 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you. (more…)

Henry Mancini – More Music From Peter Gunn – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

The Super Hot Stamper Sound found on side two of this original Living Stereo pressing will show you just how LIVELY and FUN this music can be! The sound is really JUMPIN’, much more than the other copies we played (and this side one as well). You also get a healthy dose of Tubey Magic on both sides as befits Mancini recordings on RCA. 

Mancini is lucky to have had the RCA engineers from the era on his team. Six of his albums are in our Hall of Fame and this one will make seven. We love to do these Hot Stamper Mancini shootouts but finding clean Living Stereo copies of his albums is getting harder every day. Fans may want to jump on this one while the jumpin’ is good.

Side One

With a grade of A+ to A++ this side had much to offer, mostly Tubey Magic. It’s a bit dark and smeary compared to side two but quite musical and enjoyable.

Side Two

Super Hot Stamper A++ sound. It’s clear and has very low distortion, even a pretty extended top, something you rarely hear on the old Living Stereo pressings. There’s bass but what it really lacks is Whomp Factor down low. It just needs more weight down there, something that would have put it right up there with the best we’ve heard by Mr. Mancini. (more…)

Henry Mancini – The Music From Peter Gunn – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This early White Dog pressing (4s-6s) has plenty of the Living Stereo Magic RCA was justly famous for back in 1958. Both sides earned a sonic grade of A+ to A++. (The best Hot Stamper copies of More Music from Peter Gunn show you just how well this kind of music can be recorded.)

Listen to all that crazy reverb on the piano and drums — it may not be the most natural sound in the world but it’s pretty cool when it’s done this well.

Both sides here had excellent brass as well. So often the pop records from this era have smeary, blary, shrill brass reproduction, but this copy managed to avoid that problem. The brass could use a bit more weight on side one and on side two it sounded a bit more crude than we had heard previously.

There was plenty of 3-D space on both sides, although the overall sound was a bit more distant and dark than we would have liked. (more…)