Genre – Soundtracks & Soundtrack Music

Stevie Wonder – The Secret Life of Plants

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  • Wonder’s wonderful documentary soundtrack from 1979 makes its Hot Stamper debut here with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound or close to it on all four sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • The sound here is bigger and livelier than practically any other we played – above all it’s balanced, avoiding the tonality issues we heard on so many other pressings
  • “… there is beauty here. Stevie’s unquenchable desire for experimentation and love for melody are in full effect, and some of the magic and mystery of the botanic planet is evoked.”

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Bernard Herrmann on Vinyl – These Are Some that Didn’t Make the Grade

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These are just some of the recordings of the music of Bernard Herrmann that we’ve auditioned and found wanting. Without going into specifics we’ll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place on our site, in your collection, and might even belong in a Hall of Shame.

A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.

Bernard Herrmann – The Fantasy Film World of…

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  • This early British London pressing has excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • On the better copies such as this one you can hear the power of the orchestra come to life right in your very own listening room
  • The soundfield is big, open and transparent, with the kind of size and spaciousness that may just leave you in awe
  • A superb Phase 4 recording by Arthur Lilley, taking advantage of the legendary acoustics of Kingsway Hall

The soundfield is big, open and transparent, with the kind of three-dimensionality most orchestral recordings just can’t approach. The brass here is excellent, and you can really hear the pluck of the strings on the harp.

Harry Pearson put the Decca pressing of this title on his TAS List of Super Discs. (We take issue with that choice.) (more…)

Pink Floyd – Obscured By Clouds – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

EXCELLENT SOUND and some seriously strange music! This obviously isn’t Floyd’s greatest album, but we still found a lot to like about this record and specifically this copy. It’s a British Import Harvest Green Label pressing that rates close to A+ on both sides — slightly better on side one, not quite there on side two. Those of you who enjoy Meddle will certainly get a lot out of this one.

We rated side one between A+ and A++. The second and the fifth tracks were our favorites on this side, while the fourth track honestly left us a bit cold. We played other copies that couldn’t come near this side in terms of clarity, transparency or bass definition.

Side two has a bit of a thick, Moody Blues-esque sound. It’s tonally correct from top to bottom with good energy. The lead guitar sounds particularly good, as does the organ.

Don’t expect a fully realized album a la Dark Side, because this ain’t that. It’s a nice collection of songs and instrumentals that should provide a nice thrill to Floyd fans who really dig the prog-psych aspect of the band. (more…)

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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