Genre – Jazz/Rock Fusion

Al Di Meola et al. – Friday Night in San Francisco on Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl

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Sonic Grade: D?

The Speakers Corner remastered Heavy Vinyl pressing of this famous jazz album has two big strikes against it from the get go. It’s both congested and hard.

When these guys are hell-bent on one-upping each other right off of the stage, even our best Hot Stamper pressings struggle with clarity, transparency and harmonic sweetness

Do you really want to add all the problems of the modern remastered heavy vinyl pressing to a  tape that has no small share of its own?

Congested and hard is the kind of sound Speakers Corner should be quite familiar with by now. You can hear it on plenty of their mostly mediocre pressings. Sourced from a digital tape of the master? Maybe, but who cares what tape was used to make this dog?

It’s a loser and should be avoided at any price.

Our Hot Stamper pressings of this very album will be dramatically more transparent, open, harmonically-correct, resolving of musical information, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are the most obvious areas in which heavy vinyl pressings tend to fall short, if our experience with hundreds of them over the last few decades has any bearing.

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The Recordings of Weather Report – These Three Didn’t Make the Grade

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These are just some of the Weather Report recordings we’ve auditioned over the years 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 in your audiophile collection.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

You can find this one in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.  These are also records you can safely avoid.)

Note that most of the entries are audiophile remasterings of one kind or another. The reason for this is simple: we’ve gone through the all-too-often unpleasant experience of comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stamper pressings.

When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more inexcusable.

Miles Davis – Water Babies

More Miles Davis

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  • This superb compilation album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Tubier, more transparent, more dynamic, with that “jumpin’ out of the speakers” quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has
  • Huge amounts of three-dimensional space and ambience, along with boatloads of Tubey Magic – here’s a 30th Street recording from 1967 and 1968 that demonstrates just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then
  • “Time has revealed this band to be as daring and fascinating as any in the long Davis career, and Water Babies contains some of its best music. There is simply so much happening here; hear it.”

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Al Dimeola / Elegant Gypsy – Di Meola’s Masterpiece

More Al Di Meola

More Jazz Rock Fusion

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  • One of the best copies of this phenomenal Fusion Guitar Jazz Classic to ever hit the site — Triple Plus (A+++) throughout
  • Both sides are incredibly lively, full-bodied, open and present — the sound is HUGE and WEIGHTY and it rocks
  • 5 stars: “Generally an explosive affair, although it does have a fair amount of variety. A near classic in the fusion vein.”

SHOCKINGLY GOOD SOUND for one of the all-time great guitar albums! We were positively BLOWN AWAY by how lively, dynamic and full-bodied this copy sounds. There’s real texture to all the instruments and the bottom end is tight and punchy beyond belief. They just don’t make records with this kind of Tubey Analog Magic anymore.

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

This album still holds up today. The All Music Guide gives it five big stars, and on a copy like this one I bet you’ll rate the music just as highly. When you have a pressing with this kind of weight, power, clarity and transparency, you can easily appreciate just how amazing the musicianship is. (more…)

The Crusaders – Chain Reaction

More of The Crusaders

More Jazz Fusion

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  • An outstanding copy of Chain Reaction with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • The overall sound here is Tubey Magical, lively and funky, with the kind of rich, solid sound that will fill your listening room from wall to wall
  • If you own the Mobile Fidelity remaster, or some Heavy Vinyl LP, you are in for a real treat – this pressing will show you just how good the recording is
  • 4 1/2 stars: “One of the tastiest concoctions of the mid-’70s jazz-fusion era, Chain Reaction finds the Crusaders at the top of their form. The compositions are both accessible and memorable, and the playing is uniformly excellent.”

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Pat Metheny – Offramp

More Pat Metheny

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  • Offramp finally returns with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last
  • This is the sound of the Master Tape — worlds better than what most record lovers have ever had the privilege of hearing
  • Offramp held the Number One spot on the Jazz Album charts for 16 weeks back in 1982
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… the thoughtful Metheny makes excellent use of space, choosing his notes wisely and reminding listeners that, while he has heavy-duty chops, he’s not one to beat everybody over the head with them.”

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Lee Ritenour – Captain Fingers

More Lee Ritenour

More Jazz Fusion

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  • Captain Fingers finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • The sound is huge, spacious, lively, transparent and punchy – this is jazz fusion that really rocks
  • Full-bodied and warm, exactly the way you want your vintage analog to sound – the guitar is surprisingly real here

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John McLaughlin / Extrapolation – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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INCREDIBLY POWERFUL AND DYNAMIC DEMO QUALITY SOUND THROUGHOUT! If you’re looking for a jazz-fusion guitar album that will wake your system up (and show off its best qualities to boot), this is the hot ticket right here. We had been slowly compiling various pressings for a big shootout for ages, and we finally let it rip recently. This was one of the most impressive pressings, earning an A++ on side one and an A+++ on side two. If you’re a fan of ’70s Miles Davis or the Birds Of Fire album, you probably already know that you need this in your collection!  (more…)

Miles Davis – Miles In The Sky

Hot Stamper Pressings of Miles’ Albums Available Now

More Columbia 30th Street Studio Recordings

Reviews of Recordings Made at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio

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  • This outstanding Columbia pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) or close to it from first note to last
  • Excellent sound courtesy of Arthur Kendy’s and Frank Laico’s engineering at the famed Columbia Studio B in NYC
  • Miles here is backed by his classic ’60s All Star crew – Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter & Tony Williams
  • “…Miles Davis explicitly pushed his second great quintet away from conventional jazz, pushing them toward the jazz-rock hybrid that would later become known as fusion… intriguing music…”

*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 5 light ticks at the beginning of Track 2, Paraphernalia.

We just finished a big shootout for this superb Miles Davis album and this copy was dramatically better sounding than many. Both sides have excellent bass, correct sounding brass, wonderful transparency and loads of Tubey Magic.

Many copies didn’t have the kind of transparency or openness that we heard here, which made it harder to appreciate the contributions of the different players. This one puts plenty of separation between the various instruments, so you can make sense of what each of these heavy-hitters adds to the mix. You will have a very hard time finding a copy out in the bins that sounds as good as this one!

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds. (more…)

Al Di Meola – Land Of The Midnight Sun

More Al Di Meola

More Jazz Rock Fusion

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  • A stunning copy of this Fusion Guitar classic with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides are incredibly lively, full-bodied, open and present — the sound, in a word, is HUGE
  • 4 1/2 stars: ” A very impressive beginning to di Meola’s solo career”
  • 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…)