Genre – Country & Country Rock

Eagles / On The Border – A Country Rock Classic from 1974

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  • An outstanding British SYL copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound for this criminally underrated California Country Rock Classic – exceptionally quiet vinyl for this album, because early UK pressings are almost impossible to find in audiophile playing condition
  • If you’ve never heard one of these early pressings, you have simply never heard this album sound the way it should
  • You Never Cry Like A Lover and The Best Of My Love (their first No. 1) offer Glyn Johns magically delicious DEMO DISC quality sound
  • We’re HUGE fans of the album here at Better Records; it’s some of the most sophisticated, well-crafted, heartfelt music these guys ever made, and that’s saying a lot coming from us – we’ve been big fans for decades
  • This killer album from 1974 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1974 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
  • We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. On the Border is a good example of a record most audiophiles don’t know well but should.

Many of you have probably forgotten how good this album is (assuming you were ever familiar with it in the first place) probably because the typical domestic copy you would have played back in the day is fairly hard on the ears. Most pressings, even the British ones, barely hint at the kind of sound you’ll hear on this vintage UK pressing (the only kind we sell of course).

The LIFE and ENERGY of this pressing are going to knock you right out of your seat. Most copies leave you with a headache, but this one will have you begging to turn up the volume.

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this album. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings). (more…)

Willie Nelson – The Sound In Your Mind

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  • This Columbia Lone Star pressing is full-bodied and natural, with a nicely extended top end, plenty of space around the instruments and vocals, and few of the problems that plagued many pressings we played
  • “. . . an underrated gem! Great songs…his voice is in top form.”
  • If you’re a fan of Willie’s, a killer copy of his album from 1976 belongs in your collection

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Cowboy Junkies – Whites Off Earth Now!!

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  • An outstanding copy of the band’s debut album – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This pressing is well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs as well as an open and spacious soundfield
  • “Whites Off Earth Now!! establishes the spare country blues sound that took the band to international fame with their next album.” – Wikipedia
  • “… it’s fascinating to hear their signature country-on-valium sound develop. Margo Timmins sings beautifully.”

This vintage Latent Recordings pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

The Dillards – Wheatstraw Suite

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  • Stunning sound for this original Elektra Gold Label pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades and playing as quietly as these early pressings ever do
  • This is a SHOCKINGLY well recorded album, full of Tubey Magic and as relaxed, smooth and natural as any record from 1968 has a right to be
  • 4 1/2 stars: “It never got any better than this… 13 all-but-perfect tracks… this is a finer rural/rock fusion album than Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the first Flying Burrito Brothers album, or the Beau Brummels’ efforts during this same period, and an indispensable part of any collection of ’60s music.”

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Loggins and Messina – On Stage

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  • A STUNNING copy of this superb live double album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on two sides and outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on the remaining two
  • Tubey Magical, lively and clear, with three-dimensionality that will fill your listening room from wall to wall
  • A pressing this good puts you front and center at these live performances, recorded on two dates, at the famous Orpheum Theatre in Boston and the incomparable Carnegie Hall
  • 4 stars: “After a gorgeous yet subdued introduction by Loggins as a solo performer on a handful of numbers, Messina and the band take the stage and loft the proceedings into a bracing mix of folk- and country-rock.”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this 1974 release surely belongs in your collection

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Buffalo Springfield / Last Time Around – Extracting the Midrange Magic

So many copies of this album sound so bad and play so poorly that most audiophiles have given up by now and written it off as a lost cause.

But we didn’t. We kept at it. Our main motivation? The music.

Extracting the midrange magic from a album like this should be the goal of every right-thinking audiophile.

Who cares what’s on the TAS Super Disc List? I want to play the music that I love, not because it sounds good, but because I love it.

And if the only way to find good sounding copies of typically poorly-mastered, beat-to-death records such as this one is to go through a big pile of them, well then, I guess that’s what I’ll have to do.

Within the limitations of the recording, there are still copies that are surprisingly DYNAMIC and TRANSPARENT. Listen to all that space around the guitars and voices — who knew it was there?

Listen also especially to the vocal harmonies — you can separate out all the parts much more clearly on these Hot Stamper pressings. You can really hear precisely who’s in there and what part they are playing in the vocal arrangement. I can’t remember ever hearing it sound so clear. The best copies really let you hear into the music.

The bass is also much better defined and note-like. On most copies the sound is lean, and what little bass there is sounds like a smeary blob underneath the vocals. With the better pressings you can follow every note, which is important if for no other reason than the fact that many of the arrangements are fairly simple, so losing the sound of one instrument is losing a lot of what the song has to offer.

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Music Does the Driving

Jerry Jeff Walker / Mr. Bojangles

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  • Clean and clear, rich and natural, with good vocal presence and wonderful energy throughout
  • The title track sounds amazing, but that’s just one of the great songs with excellent sound on the album
  • The engineering team of Tom Dowd and Phil Iehle really worked their magic on this one
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…Walker favored the country and folk side of folk-rock much more than the rock side.”

This is only the second title by Jerry Jeff that we’ve been able to do shootouts for. Most of the records we’ve played of his from the ’70s left a lot to be desired sonically and more often than not musically, so we gave up on them.

His Vanguard release from 1969 has superb sound, as does this Atco from 1968. There may be one or two more coming down the pike but that could be many years from now. His records never sold all that well, and not many of them can be found in Southern California.

And they are hard to find in audiophile playing condition. (more…)

Buffalo Springfield – Self-Titled

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  • Incredible sound on both sides of this original ATCO pressing with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish, just shy of our Shootout Winner – unusually quiet vinyl too
  • We rarely have this title in stock, mostly because it is purely a matter of luck when we’ve managed to chance upon enough clean copies of the commonly-abused album to get a shootout going
  • 4 stars on Allmusic: “… this debut sounds pretty great, featuring some of their most melodic and accomplished songwriting and harmonies, delivered with a hard-rocking punch… The entire album bursts with thrilling guitar and vocal interplay, with a bright exuberance that would tone down considerably by their second record.”

For whatever reason, all the mastering engineers who cut this first album rarely managed to put any real top or bottom on the record. Why I can’t imagine. Highs and lows are on the tape; the best pressings prove it.

Listen for Tubey Magic, richness, bottom end, presence and freedom from distortion. The more copies you have tried in the past, the more astonishing the sound of this copy will be to you. (more…)

J.J. Cale – Troubadour

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More of Our Favorite Titles from 1976

  • Cale fans take note: this early Shelter pressing was doing almost everything right — rich, full and musical with great bass
  • Eric Clapton described the man as “one of the most important artists in the history of rock.”
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “J.J. Cale’s albums are so steeped in his introspective style that they become interchangeable. If you like one of them, chances are you’ll want to have them all.”

If you’re hankerin’ to hear Cocaine on the authentic original, you will really have to work hard to hear it sound any better than it does on this pressing.

Wikipedia lists his many styles as “Americana, Cajun, blues, swamp rock, country rock, Red Dirt, Tulsa Sound” but we think Americana is probably all you really need.

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Jimmy Dean – Everybody’s Favorite

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Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound…

and a Record We Will Probably Never Shootout Again

Here is the kind of Tubey Magical richness records routinely offered in 1963. Don Law produced Everybody’s Favorite down in Nashville so it’s the real deal all right. If you liked our killer Marty Robbins’ Hot Stampers you most likely will get a big kick out of this one too. A forgotten sound? Not at Better Records it isn’t.

If you need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings, we have just the ticket. 

Our first Hot Stamper listing for Jimmy Dean, and it’s an exceptionally good one indeed. The material is of consistently high quality, the superbly talented Jordanaires are here on backup vocals (click on the tab above), with Don Law, one of the greatest country producers of all time (again with the tab) in charge of the whole affair.

If you hear the Tubey Magical sound of the best Marty Robbins recordings, it’s not an accident. If you don’t know that sound, you are missing out!

Side One

Rich, full-bodied, tubey vocals and plenty of sweet, natural reverb in a huge space make this side a Demo Disc for this style of music.

Side Two

Very nearly as good, the Tubey Magic on this side is nearly off the charts. Jimmy is so clear and present and natural and real on the first track it may make you despair at the loss of this kind of recording quality.