Genre – Jazz/Rock Fusion

Weather Report – Heavy Weather

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  • With outstanding Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish you will not believe how BIG and BOLD this copy is
  • Birdland on this pressing has some of the most dynamic, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling jam-packed sound ever committed to vinyl
  • Joe Zawinul and Jaco Pastorius are both here and at the absolute peak of their creative powers – this is a work of GENIUS
  • Allmusic 5 Stars: ”Birdland’ is a remarkable bit of record-making, a unified, ever-developing piece of music that evokes, without in any way imitating, a joyous evening on 52nd St. with a big band.”

The hottest of the hot stamper pressings demonstrate that this is a truly amazing recording, with some of the most dynamic, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling jam-packed sound ever committed to vinyl. The grit, grain and grunge of most pressings is nowhere to be found on these killer sides, and that alone puts them in a very special league indeed.

What To Listen For (WTLF)

We’ve discovered that the key to the hottest sounding pressings is a fairly simple one: the copies with high frequency extension and the tremendous rhythmic energy that results from it are consistently the best sounding.

You may have read elsewhere on the site that what separates many of the best Columbia LPs from their competition is an open, extended top end. For some reason, Columbia, seemingly more than any other label, had a bad habit of making slightly dull records. Slightly dull does not work for this album.

My notes on Palladium in the Track Listing sum it up: when the highs on the record are right, it almost always comes together. Unfortunately, most copies don’t have those highs. There’s more to it of course: some copies lack bass, some sound a bit grainy and gritty — the normal problems associated with vinyl records are all here.

But when you have good highs, you are way more than halfway hom; you are about 80 to 85% of the way toward a Hot Stamper. Just fill in the last few details (bass, dynamics, etc.) and the sound will more than likely blow your mind. (more…)

Al Di Meola – Casino

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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Di Meola’s 1978 release finally makes it to the site, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too. A fusion classic featuring the stunning technique and superb improvisations that keep us on the hunt for great Di Meola pressings like this one.   (more…)

The Mahavishnu Orchestra – The Inner Mounting Flame

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This is the first album by the band, recorded only a year after Bitches Brew single-handedly created the genre of Jazz Fusion itself. Or is it better described as an album of Prog Rock without the vocals? Remember, King Crimson had a violinist and not a whole lot of singing too.   

Whatever it is, mostly what this music wants to do is rock.

And on this copy it rocks like you will not believe. The louder you play it the better it sounds.

The best copies had huge amounts of bottom end weight as well as rich, Tubey Magical grungy guitar tone. Once you’ve heard it sound that way, on the copies without both you’ll notice that the sound falls flat pretty quickly.

It’s hard to think of another record that rocks as hard, and it’s not even a real rock record! We find ourselves playing albums like Zep II and Back in Black for hour after hour, with dozens of copies to get through, and we do it on a regular basis. If anybody knows Big Rock Sound, it’s us. But can we really say that those albums rock any harder than this one?

What to Listen For

The main problem we heard again and again on the copies we were auditioning was an obvious lack of top end extension and clarity. Without all the top there is not enough space for all the instruments to occupy. It then becomes easy for the sound to get congested and the musical lines to become jumbled, with the most subtle elements getting progressively more and more lost in the dense mixes the band is known for.

With everyone blasting away at the same time the mixes on the album get very dense indeed. Big speakers in a carefully treated room are a must if you want to play The Inner Mounting Flame at the loud levels we prefer.

The sides that had the most space and the biggest, tightest low ends tended to do everything else right as well. The energy was rarely less than phenomenal, but that energy only works to increase the listener’s involvement when there is enough space and enough weight to keep the sound opened up above and anchored down below.

5 Stars All Over the Place

Based on the reviews one would have to rank this album as one of the top Jazz/Rock Fusion Albums of All Time. Rolling Stone gives it Five Stars, Allmusic gives it Five Stars, and even Robert Christgau, the toughest grader of them all, gives the album an “A.”

In our experience, few recordings within this genre can begin to compete with the Dynamics and Energy of the best pressings of the album — if you have the system designed to play it. (Even if you don’t the album will still rock like crazy.)

TRACK LISTING

Side One

All songs are by John McLaughlin on both sides

Meeting of the Spirits
Dawn
The Noonward Race
A Lotus on Irish Streams

Side Two

Vital Transformation
The Dance of Maya
You Know You Know
Awakening

AMG 5 Star Review

This is the album that made John McLaughlin a semi-household name, a furious, high-energy, yet rigorously conceived meeting of virtuosos that, for all intents and purposes, defined the fusion of jazz and rock a year after Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew breakthrough. It also inadvertently led to the derogatory connotation of the word fusion, for it paved the way for an army of imitators, many of whose excesses and commercial panderings devalued the entire movement. Though much was made of the influence of jazz-influenced improvisation in the Mahavishnu band, it is the rock element that predominates, stemming directly from the electronic innovations of Jimi Hendrix.

The improvisations, particularly McLaughlin’s post-Hendrix machine-gun assaults on double-necked electric guitar and Jerry Goodman’s flights on electric violin, owe more to the freakouts that had been circulating in progressive rock circles than to jazz, based as they often are on ostinatos on one chord. These still sound genuinely thrilling today on CD, as McLaughlin and Goodman battle Jan Hammer’s keyboards, Rick Laird’s bass, and especially Billy Cobham’s hard-charging drums, whose jazz-trained technique pushed the envelope for all rock drummers.

Al Di Meola – Land Of The Midnight Sun

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

A Top Copy of this Fusion Guitar classic! Both sides are incredibly lively, full-bodied, open and present — the sound, in a word, is HUGE. A great lineup including Chick Corea, Jaco Pastorious, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, Steve Gadd and more.  

If you’ve enjoyed the sonics on one of our Hot Stamper Return To Forever, Weather Report or Santana LPs, I think you’d find a lot to like about this record. (more…)

Return to Forever – A Masterpiece of Jazz/Rock Fusion

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Romantic Warrior is my favorite JAZZ/ROCK FUSION album of all time. As good as the music is, the sound is even better. This is the Jazz/Rock Demo Disc that stands head and shoulders above the rest. In my experience, no record of this kind is more DYNAMIC or has better BASS. Not one. Demo Disc doesn’t begin to do this kind of sound justice.

Simply put, not only is this one of the greatest musical statements of all time, it’s one of the great recording statements. Few albums in the history of the world can lay claim to this kind of POWER and ENERGY.

But the Super Sound has a purpose, a raison d’etre. This is the kind of music that requires it; better yet, DEMANDS it. In truth, the sound is not only up to the challenge of expressing the life of the music on this album, it positively ENHANCES it.

Those monster Lenny White drum rolls that run across the soundstage from wall to wall may be a recording studio trick, but they’re there to draw your attention to his amazing powers, and it works! The drums are EVERYWHERE on this album, constantly jumping out of the soundfield and taking the music into the stratosphere where it belongs.
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Miles Davis – Live-Evil

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  • A STUNNING copy of Davis’ superb 1971 release, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on all four sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied sound that blew away every other copy we played
  • A wonderful double album of both live and studio-recorded music, featuring numerous jazz greats, including Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette
  • Pitchfork’s Ryan Schreiber believed it was “easily the most accessible of Miles Davis’ late-’70s electric releases,” describing its music as “at once both sexually steamy and unsettling.” He said the live recordings “run the gamut from barroom brawl action-funk to sensual bedroom jazz magic, creating two hours of charged eccentricity you’ll never forget.”

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The Mahavishnu Orchestra – The Inner Mounting Flame

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  • With a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side one and a side two that’s close to it, this copy has much to recommend it
  • The band’s debut here is a true Jazz/Rock Fusion Demo Disc with the Big Sound we love here at Better Records 
  • This album was recorded in 1973, only a year after Bitches Brew single-handedly created the genre of Jazz Fusion itself
  • 5 Stars “…a furious, high-energy, yet rigorously conceived meeting of virtuosos that, for all intents and purposes, defined the fusion of jazz and rock…”

This is the first album by the band, recorded only a year after Bitches Brew single-handedly created the genre of Jazz Fusion itself. Or is it better described as an album of Prog Rock without the vocals? Remember, King Crimson had a violinist and not a whole lot of singing too.

Whatever it is, mostly what this music wants to do is rock. And on this copy it rocks like you will not believe. The louder you play it the better it sounds.

The best copies had huge amounts of bottom end weight as well as rich, Tubey Magical grungy guitar tone. Once you’ve heard it sound that way, on the copies without both you’ll notice that the sound falls flat pretty quickly.

It’s hard to think of another record that rocks as hard, and it’s not even a real rock record! We find ourselves playing albums like Zep II and Back in Black for hour after hour, with dozens of copies to get through, and we do it on a regular basis. If anybody knows Big Rock Sound, it’s us. But can we really say that those albums rock any harder than this one? (more…)

The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Visions of the Emerald Beyond

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

On the first track of side one we will happily state for the record: no record rocks harder. When you hear Ponty’s double-tracked violins explode out of each speaker on the first track you will know what we mean when we say this record is as big and as bold a recording statement as any you have ever heard.

It’s yet another triumph from one of our favorite engineers, KEN SCOTT.

This may be jazz, but it’s jazz that ROCKS harder than 98% of the rock records we’ve ever played, and we’ve played thousands.  (more…)

Donald Byrd – Fancy Free

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  • Fancy Free makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from top to bottom
  • The overall sound here is Tubey Magical, lively and clear, with three-dimensionality that will fill your listening room from wall to wall
  • Credit must go to Rudy Van Gelder once again for capturing the jazz energy and performance space of this superbly sympathetic ensemble
  • “1969’s Fancy Free marked the beginning of Donald Byrd’s move away from hard bop, staking out fusion-flavored territory… the rare Donald Byrd album that holds appeal for rare-groove fanatics and traditionalists alike.”

*NOTE: On side one, a tiny mark makes 2 moderately dull pops at the end of track 1, Fancy Free.

If you’re ready to take a mindblowing jazz fusion trip with sonics to match, you should definitely check this one out. (more…)

Donald Byrd – Electric Byrd

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  • Incredible sound throughout for this later Blue Note pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Both of these sides are clean, clear and natural sounding with a lovely bottom end and lots of space around all of the players
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • Donald Byrd’s transitional sessions from 1969-1971 are actually some of the trumpeter’s most intriguing work, balancing accessible, funky, Davis-style fusion with legitimate jazz improvisation. Electric Byrd, from 1970, is the best of the bunch, as Byrd absorbs the innovations of Bitches Brew and comes up with one of his most consistent fusion sets of any flavor… indisputably challenging, high-quality fusion.” – 4 1/2 Stars

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