Genre – Jazz/Rock Fusion

King Crimson – Lizard

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  • Stunning sound throughout for this vintage Island Sunray pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to them
  • Every bit the sonic equal of the first album – if colorful Big Production Jazzy Prog Rock (with mellotron!) is your thing, you can’t go wrong here
  • 4 stars: “Lizard is very consciously jazz-oriented — the influence of Miles Davis (particularly Sketches of Spain) being especially prominent — and very progressive, even compared with the two preceding albums.”

This is probably the last White Hot Stamper pressing you will see on the site for many years to come. Our sources for records such as this — really, anything by the band — have dried up. It is unlikely we will find many new ones. For the time being this is it. Fans of rare records such as this one may want to get while the gettin’ is good. (more…)

Jeff Beck – Wired

More Jeff Beck

More Jazz Fusion

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  • An excellent copy of Jeff Beck’s third solo effort with Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big and full with a punchy bottom end and driving jazz/rock energy, here are the elements critical to the best sounding copies
  • Wired, the sequel to the hugely successful Blow by Blow, was produced by Sir George Martin and mixed by Geoff Emerick
  • “Within a two-year span, the twin towers Blow by Blow and Wired set a standard for instrumental rock that even Beck has found difficult to match. On Wired, with first-rate material and collaborators on hand, one of rock’s most compelling guitarists is in top form.”

Copies with the most bass, the richest lower midrange and the most extension up top (to keep the upper midrange from becoming too hard and shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course.

So many things can go wrong on a record. We know, we heard them all. We’re glad to report this copy was doing just about everything right, hence the high Hot Stamper grades. (more…)

Joni Mitchell – The Hissing of Summer Lawns

More Joni Mitchell

More Jazz Rock Fusion

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  • Joni’s superb 1975 release finally returns with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from top to bottom
  • Lots of Tubey Magic, textured synths, big bass and breathy vocals – this copy brings Joni’s jazzy folky fusion to life
  • Check out the big bottom end on The Jungle Line, which features the Drummers Of Burundi
  • Who made a more original, forward looking and interesting album in 1975 than this? I can’t think of anyone, can you?
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Joni Mitchell evolved from the smooth jazz-pop of Court and Spark to the radical Hissing of Summer Lawns, an adventurous work that remains among her most difficult records [as difficult as it is brilliant] … a strange and beautiful fusion of jazz and shimmering avant pop.”

Both sides here are airy, open, and spacious, with plenty of ambience. The bottom end is tight and punchy throughout with good solid weight, and the top end is silky sweet. Many copies of this album have a phony hi-fi “glare” that made us wince, but the sound here is warm and natural.

After hearing a few copies that bored us to tears years ago we had pretty much given up on finding good sound for this album, but once we found some truly hot Hot Stampers we found ourselves really enjoying this sophisticated Jazzy Folk Pop music. (more…)

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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