Genre – Rock – Folk Rock (American)

Gordon Lightfoot / Summer Side of Life

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  • Gordon’s wonderful 1971 release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • So transparent, open, and spacious that nuances and subtleties that escaped you before are now front and center
  • Everything you want in the sound of a good Folk Rock album is here in abundance – enjoy!
  • “. . . an album that has him curling up with both his guitar and his kind, fragile voice . . . . Summer Side of Life helped strengthen his songwriting and refine his delicate vocal style.”Summer Side of Life helped strengthen his songwriting and refine his delicate vocal style.”

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. 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…)

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…)

Judy Collins – Who Knows Where The Time Goes

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More Folk Rock

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  • Judy’s superb 1968 release finally returns to the site after nearly 8 years with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • The sweetness and transparency to the guitars and vocals on this wonderful pressing won us over
  • “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” – one of our favorite Judy Collins songs – is achingly powerful here
  • 4 stars: “Enthusiasts of Judy Collins rank this among their favorite recordings and it is likewise a perfect touchstone for the burgeoning listener as well.”

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Judy Collins – Wildflowers

More Judy Collins

More Folk Rock

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  • Judy Collins superb 1967 release finally returns to the site after many years with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this Gold Label original stereo pressing
  • The sound is rich, sweet and open, with Judy’s voice especially clear and breathy – if you’re not quite sure what Tubey Magic is all about, the sound of this pressing will show you just how Tubey Magical the real deal can be
  • There is plenty of wonderful music on this album, including two of best songs Judy ever recorded (in our opinion), Michael from Mountains and Since You Asked, as well as two of Leonard Cohen’s best-penned tunes
  • “Soothing. Unique. Natural. These are clear adjectives used best when describing the style and grace of Judy Collins and her album Wildflowers. Her blend of folk and meditative music paints a tapestry of soft, nurturing colors that transcends the mind of the listener and seeks one’s soul.”

The first three songs on side one alone are worth the price of the album, three of the best Judy ever recorded. Joni Mitchell’s Michael from Mountains is one of the best songs on her debut album; Judy sings it with comparable taste and skill. Since You Asked is Judy’s own composition, her first to be recorded in fact. In this writer’s opinion, it’s the best song she ever wrote, “as good as it gets” as we like to say. And of course, Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy is one of his many masterpieces and brilliant in all respects as performed here.

Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance that year by the way. (more…)

The Mamas & The Papas – The Mamas & The Papas

More of The Mamas and The Papas

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  • This superb pressing boasts insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Clear, rich, present vocals, tons of Tubey Magic, and a solid bottom end; this quintessential 60’s pop album really comes to life here
  • 4 stars: “Sometimes art and events, personal or otherwise, converge on a point transcending the significance of either… For the Mamas & the Papas, it happened twice, with their first album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, and, on a more complex level, with this album.”

This album is ridiculously difficult to find good sound for, but this pressing finally hit the mark! While we have to wade through dozens of copies to find one this impressive, we’re happy to do it because we love records and we love the music of The Mamas and the Papas.

Unfortunately, most copies of this album sound like distorted cassettes. They’re clearly made from tapes that are at least one and probably more like two or three generations down from the master two-track mix.

The CD that Hoffman cut for MCA back in the day can be quite good, and the Creeque Alley double CD set sounds fine to these ears as well. But they’re CDs. They won’t satisfy the serious analog devotee.

Enough about that stuff. Let’s talk about the sound of the best pressings. (more…)

Simon and Garfunkel – Sounds of Silence

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides of Simon & Garfunkel’s sophomore release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget that critical listening stuff and just notice that these wonderful early pressings are simply more relaxed, musical and involving
  • Although the rock tracks come to life and really do sound good, the Tubey Magical folky tracks are the real reason to play the album
  • “A work of finely expressed folk. It’s arguably the duo’s big breakout, a crossover success with some handsome hits.” — COS

The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the performers front and center. This 360 Stereo pressing also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s no doubt missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the 50+ year old tapes. As good as that pressing may be, we guarantee that this one is dramatically more REAL SOUNDING. It gives you the sense that Simon and Garfunkel are right in the room with you. (more…)

Neil Young – After The Gold Rush

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  • This outstanding pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides for its remarkably Tubey Magical sound from start to finish
  • This is the vinyl embodiment of the Classic Analog Rock sound we love – smooth, rich, full-bodied, warm, punchy, dynamic and clear
  • 5 Stars in Allmusic, Top 100, and a Demo Disc that is guaranteed to knock your socks off
  • “It’s a magnificent, style-setting album which saw the Canadian’s elevation to rock hero. For those who like their emotion raw.”

*NOTE: On side one, a mark on the edge makes 9 light to very light tics. On side two, a mark on the edge makes 30 moderately light to light tics at the beginning of Track 1, Oh Lonesome Me.

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG and may be a bit better than that.


Folks, a Hot Stamper collection of the Greatest Rock Records of All Time would not be complete without a knockout copy this album. That’s why it’s been a Better Records All Time Top Ten Title right from the start. (more…)

Thinking About the Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitars of Bread and Cat Stevens

In many ways this recording is state-of-the-art. Listening to the Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitars on the best copies brings back memories of my first encounter with an original Pink Label Tea for the Tillerman. Rich, sweet, full-bodied, effortlessly dynamic– that sound knocked me out twenty-odd years ago, and here it is again. 

Of course I’ve always been a sucker for this kind of well-crafted pop. If you are too then a Hot Stamper copy of Manna will no doubt become a treasured demo disc in your home as well.

Audiophiles with high quality turntables literally have an endless supply of good recordings such as this to discover and enjoy. No matter how many records you own, you can’t possibly have even scratched the surface of the vast recorded legacy of the last sixty years. (The first stereo recordings date from 1954, the year of my birth, good timing on the part of my parents.) That’s the positive thought for the day.

We here at Better Records look forward to helping you find recordings that do justice to the music you have yet to hear. (more…)

Joni Mitchell – Ladies Of The Canyon

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • Ladies of The Canyon is a very strong album for Joni, with some of her most well known, seemingly timeless songs: Morning Morgantown, For Free, Big Yellow Taxi, Woodstock, The Circle Game and more
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Yet another essential listen in Mitchell’s recorded canon.”

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.


*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 4 moderate pops and 1 loud pop at the end of Track 5, Woodstock.

The best pressings have revealed nuances to this recording — and of course the performances of all the players along with it — that made us fall in love with the music all over again. Of all the tough nuts to crack, this was one of the toughest, yet somehow copies emerged that allowed us to appreciate the sonic merits of LOTC and ignore its few shortcomings. Hot Stampers have a way of doing that. You forget it’s a record; it’s now just Music.

The right record and the right playback will bring this music to life in a way that you cannot imagine until you hear it. That is our guarantee on Ladies of the Canyon– better than you ever thought possible or your money back. (more…)