Genre – Country & Country Rock

The Sons of The Pioneers – Down Memory Trail with The Sons of The Pioneers

More of The Sons of The Pioneers

More Country and Country Rock

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  • Down Memory Trail finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • These sides have a richness and sweetness that’s disappeared entirely from modern recordings yet they’re still incredibly clean, clear and spacious
  • If you want to know why people love Living Stereo records, playing either side of this record should be more than sufficient
  • “Another nostalgic journey through the west”

This vintage RCA Victor 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…)

Glen Campbell – Gentle On My Mind

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  • Campbell’s wonderful 1967 release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • This vintage Capitol pressing is spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience – here is the Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation these kinds of recordings are known for
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The best of Campbell’s early albums, and also his first real commercial success. . . Campbell’s cover of ‘Catch the Wind’ is one of the finest covers of a Donovan song ever done, stripping away any hint of the composer’s sub-Dylan pretensions and bringing out the song’s genuine beauty — it’s folk-pop, in the same manner that Peter, Paul and Mary’s cover of Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ was, but excellent folk-pop.”

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Emmylou Harris – Luxury Liner

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More Country Rock

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  • Luxury Liner makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • This copy 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
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Luxury Liner ranks as Emmylou Harris’ best-selling solo record to date, and it’s one of her most engaging efforts as well; her Hot Band is in peak form, and the songs are even more far afield than usual”

The sound that Emmylou and her producers were going for here is clean, detailed and low distortion, which is exactly what the best pressings like this one deliver. What really sets the good copies apart, though, is a natural, relaxed quality in the midrange. Emmylou sounds like a real person, with none of the too-clean, too-modern, tube-free sound that ruins many of the pressings of her records.  (more…)

Neil Young – Old Ways

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More Country and Country Rock

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  • This superb pressing of Old Ways boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Big, full-bodied and energetic, with wonderfully present vocals – shocking for a recording from 1985
  • Neil’s unabashed country album is guaranteed to make your MoFI pressing sound like the bad joke it was in ’96
  • “… this turns out to be his most carefully crafted album since Comes a Time… Pretty amazing.” – Rolling Stone
  • “Old Ways [is]…cut in the style of Harvest and Comes a Time, but with a stronger country leaning. Young depends heavily on friends, especially for vocals – Waylon Jennings sings harmony…

This is Neil heading out to the sticks with his buddies, authentic country greats such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and others (nice friends to have), doing what Neil loves to do — making the music that HE wants to make, not the music that anyone else wants him to, including David Geffen and his lawyers. Old friend Ben Keith (a huge part behind the sound of Harvest) shows up with his pedal steel guitar on a couple of tracks.

This probably wasn’t anyone’s favorite Neil Young album, but when it sounds like it does here it sure makes a lot more sense than it did when we heard it on the more mediocre pressings. The MoFi is a muckfest, as was to be expected from a record mastered during the Anadisq era, the darkest chapter in the dark and disgraceful history of Mobile Fidelity.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the string arrangements from becoming shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. (more…)

Emmylou Harris – Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town

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  • A KILLER pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are big, rich and sweet with wonderfully breathy vocals, excellent clarity and a plenty of bottom end weight
  • Old Timers like me remember the ridiculously bright and phony-sounding Mobile Fidelity pressing of the album as being one of their much-too-frequent embarrassments from back in the day
  • Our Hot Stampers will of course sound dramatically different, with tonally correct mids and highs and none of the blobby bass that is the unavoidable sonic signature of half-speed mastering
  • 4 stars: “Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town is a transitional effort that bridges the curveballs of Emmylou Harris’ earliest solo work with the more traditional country albums that comprise the bulk of the second phase of her career.

The sound that Emmylou and her producers were going for here is clean, detailed and low distortion, which is exactly what the best pressings like this one deliver! What really sets the good copies apart, though, is the natural, relaxed quality of the vocals. Emmylou sounds like a real person, with none of the harsh, sterile sound that ruins so many pressings. Check out the duet with Willie Nelson on “One Paper Kid” — both vocalists sound wonderful. That’s the sound you want. (more…)

Buffalo Springfield – Last Time Around

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More Country and Country Rock

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides and fairly quiet vinyl, this was clearly one of the most enjoyable copies we played in our last shootout
  • Relaxed, rich and tubey, yet clear, this is the kind of sound you always wanted from The Buffalo Springfield but had no way to hear, until now
  • Some of the best songs the band ever wrote are right here: I Am A Child, Kind Woman and too many more to list
  • If Buffalo Springfield Again deserves a Five Star rating then Last Time Around does too – it’s equally brilliant, and a real Desert Island Disc for yours truly

These two sides are relaxed, rich and tubey, giving you exactly what you would expect from a Top Quality pressing — without the noise, veiling and distortion that you’re used to hearing on the copies you picked up locally, or the one you mistreated back in the day (didn’t we all?).

When you get hold of the right copy and know how to clean it right, you find that some of these pressings are a damn sight better than the most audiophiles think they are.

The kind of MIDRANGE MAGIC on this pressing let us hear into the music in a way we (and you too I’m guessing) never imagined was possible.

Most copies have no bass, no real top, and are compressed so badly they sound more like cardboard than vinyl. But not this copy — it breaks the mold, revealing to the world (well, our world anyway, the world at Better Records) that those badly recorded Buffalo Springfield records from the ’60s weren’t so badly recorded after all. (more…)

The Gregg Allman Band – Playin’ Up A Storm

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  • This stunning sounding 2-pack of the band’s sophomore release boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • A surprisingly well-recorded album – the sound is exceptionally rich, smooth and natural in the best tradition of Seventies Analog
  • “Playin’ Up a Storm is a well-made, expertly performed set of blues-rock, soul-pop, and straight-ahead rock & roll …the thing that makes it one of Allman’s best solo efforts is the terrific performances. Not only is he in fine voice, delivering each song with conviction, but his supporting band – featuring such luminaries as Dr. John and Bill Payne – is sterling.”

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Linda Ronstadt / Heart Like A Wheel – Truly a Country Rock Masterpiece

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  • With Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them, this copy was giving us KILLER sound for Linda Ronstadt’s Best Album
  • Both sides here are rich, full-bodied and warm, with harmonically rich guitars and real immediacy to Linda’s heartfelt vocals
  • A Must Own Classic, the best album Ms Ronstadt ever made, and a True Country Rock Masterpiece virtually without peer
  • 5 stars: “What really makes HLAW a breakthrough is the inventive arrangements that producer Peter Asher, Ronstadt, and the studio musicians have developed. …[they] help turn Heart Like a Wheel into a veritable catalog of Californian soft rock, and it stands as a landmark of ’70s mainstream pop/rock.”

I’ve been playing HLAW since the year it came out, roughly 46 years by my calculation, and I can tell you it is no easy task to find this kind of smooth, sweet, analog sound on the album. Folks, we heard it for ourselves: the Heart Like A Wheel magic is here on practically every song.

Pay special attention to Andrew Gold’s Abbey Road-ish guitars heard throughout the album. He is all over this record, playing piano, guitar, percussion and singing in the background. If anybody deserves credit besides Linda for the success of HLAW, it’s Andrew Gold.

A key test on either side was to listen to all the multi-tracked guitars and see how easy it was to separate each of them out in the mix. Most of the time they are just one big jangly blur. The best copies let you hear how many guitars there are and what each of them is doing. (more…)

Marty Robbins – More Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs

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  • This superb follow up to Marty’s 1959 release arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These sides are doing most everything right — they’re full-bodied, clear, and solid, with the Tubey Magical Midrange that can only be found on recordings from this era
  • 4 1/2 stars: ” Robbins’ originals are authored in an authentically vintage style, interspersed with public domain titles that are the real article, some established works by Bob Nolan of the Sons of the Pioneers, and a handful of new compositions (notably by Jim Glaser).”

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Johnny Cash – The Fabulous Johnny Cash

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  • An outstanding vintage stereo pressing with solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout for Cash’s first Columbia album – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are Tubey Magical yet clear, with plenty of performance energy and a lovely musical quality that’s noticeably missing from many of the copies we’ve played over the years (and no doubt the Heavy Vinyl pressing)
  • For a country album from 1958, “Fabulous” is very well recorded, with consistently engaging songs sung from the heart
  • 4 1/2 stars: “What makes it so entertaining are the songs themselves. From ‘Don’t Take Your Guns to Town’ and ‘Frankie’s Man, Johnny’ to ‘Pickin’ Time’ and ‘The Troubadour,’ the album is filled with first-rate songs.”

We had a wealth of different pressings to play — original 6 Eye stereos, one mono (with a crude and unappealing side one but excellent side two), some later Columbias, and even some of the Special Edition brown label editions which appear to be from the ’70s.

This was one of the better copies we heard. It has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.).

The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Johnny Cash singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 61 years old), 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 less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide. (more…)