Genre – Rock – Psych Rock

Listening in Depth to In Search Of The Lost Chord

More of the Music of The Moody Blues

Reviews and Commentaries for The Moody Blues

Achieving just the right balance of Tubey Magical, rich but not too rich “Moody Blues Sound” is no mean feat. You had better be using the real master tape for starters. Then you need a pressing with actual extension at the top, a quality rarely found on most imports. Finally, good bass definition is essential; it keeps the bottom end from blurring the midrange. No domestic copy in our experience has ever had these three qualities, and only the best of the imports manages to combine all three on the same LP.

On the best of the best the clarity and resolution comes without a sacrifice in the Tubey Magical richness, warmth and lushness for which the Moody Blues recordings are justifiably famous. In our experience the best LPs are correct from top to bottom, present and alive in the midrange, yet still retain the richness and sweetness we expect from British (and Dutch) Moody Blues records. They manage, against all odds, to remove the sonic barriers put up by most pressings of the Moodies’ unique music. Who knew, after so many years and so many bad records, that such a thing was even possible?

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Departure

The beginning of this track is fairly quiet and noise will be audible behind the music. Side two will suffer likewise.

Also, for some reason this track tends not to sound as good as those that follow. We had never really noticed that effect before but during a shootout many years ago it became obvious that the real Moody Magic starts with track two.

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The Moody Blues / In Search Of The Lost Chord

More of The Moody Blues

Reviews and Commentaries for The Moody Blues

  • Chock full of Moodies Magic: warm, full-bodied, rich and smooth, with tremendous space and plenty of rock energy
  • The first Moody Blues album to feature their trademark mellotron arrangements, and what a glorious sound that is when it sounds like this
  • “…the album on which the Moody Blues discovered drugs and mysticism as a basis for songwriting and came up with a compelling psychedelic creation, filled with songs about Timothy Leary and the astral plane and other psychedelic-era concerns.”

This early Deram British Import LP has STUNNING SOUND and fairly quiet vinyl. It has higher resolution, is more dynamic, sweeter and clearer than most copies, WITHOUT SACRIFICING the richness, warmth and lushness for which the Moody Blues recordings are justifiably famous. I’ll put it this way — this pressing is correct from top to bottom, so present and alive, while still retaining all the richness and sweetness we expect from British Moody Blues records, that I find it hard to believe you can do any better.

This copy has all the elusive elements that we search for: vocal clarity, real weight down low, great energy, tight punchy bass, and lots of texture to the keyboards and synths. This copy is full of Tubey Magic and, importantly, it doesn’t sound too murky or muddy. That’s a neat trick for any copy of this album, as those of you who’ve been playing it for years certainly know by now.

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The Moody Blues – On The Threshold Of A Dream

More of The Moody Blues

Reviews and Commentaries for The Moody Blues

  • You will not believe how punchy, lively, dynamic, and exciting some of these tracks sound here – this is one of their best albums for both music and sound!
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage UK pressing is the way to go
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… [I]n 1969 this was envelope-ripping, genre-busting music, scaling established boundaries into unknown territory, not only “outside the box” but outside of any musical box that had been conceived at that moment…”

Both sides give you silky highs, surprising clarity, amazing openness and transparency, real weight to the bottom end, lots of air in the flutes, wonderful texture to the strings, and so much more. The acoustic guitars sound impressive, with the proper balance between pluck and body. The vocals are shockingly clean and clear throughout.

Copies like this bring all the psychedelic Moody Blues magic to life in your living room. The richness, sweetness, and warmth on this one give you exactly the sound you want for this wild music. You get lovely Tubey Magic and clarity. The sound is cleaner, clearer, richer, sweeter, and more present that you could have imagined.

It has been my experience that, as good as the British originals of the Moody Blues records are — and I think they are the best sounding pressings of their music that can be found — their one consistent shortcoming is an overly smooth top end. We managed to find a handful of copies that break with that tradition, and the results are wonderful. (more…)

The Doors / Waiting For the Sun

More of The Doors

More Psych Rock

  • The sound is present, lively and tonally correct, with Jim Morrison’s baritone reproduced with the weight, presence, space and depth all but missing from the reissues
  • It’s tough (not to mention expensive) to find these early Gold Label pressings with this kind of sound and reasonably quiet vinyl
  • “Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore were never more lucid… This was a band at its most dexterous, creative, and musically diverse …”
  • If you’re a fan of Jim and his band, this early pressing of their 1968 classic belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1968 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Here is THE BIG SOUND that makes Doors records such a thrill to play. Morrison’s vocals sound just right here — full-bodied, breathy and immediate. The transparency makes it possible to easily pick out Bruce Botnick’s double tracking of Morrison’s leads.

For a thrill just drop the needle on Not To Touch The Earth. Halfway through the song the members have sort of a duel — Robbie Krieger wailing on the guitar in one channel, Ray Manzarek pounding on the keyboards in the other, and John Densmore responding with drum fills behind them. On the average copy, the parts get congested and lose their power, but when you can easily pick out each musician, their part will raise the hair on your arms. It’s absolutely chilling, and it will no doubt remind you why you fell in love with The Doors in the first place. Who else can do this kind of voodoo the way that they do?

Check out the piano on Yes The River Knows on side two (such an underrated song!) or the big snare thwacks on Five To One to hear that Hot Stamper magic. The overall sound is airy, open, and spacious — you can really hear INTO the soundfield on a track like Yes The River Knows. The opaque quality that so many pressings of this album suffer from is nowhere to be found here. Not only that, but you will not believe how hard these sides rock. (more…)

The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour

Reviews and Commentaries for Magical Mystery Tour

  • An excellent copy of Magical Mystery Tour with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from beginning to end – exceptionally quiet vinyl too – this copy is guaranteed to blow your mind
  • A stunning pressing with some of the best Beatles sound money can buy – superb work from Ken Scott here
  • Demo Quality Sound for “I Am The Walrus,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Baby You’re A Rich Man” and more
  • You won’t believe how powerful the sound is – it’s big, rich, open and lively beyond any expectations you may have had
  • A longtime Top 100 album and Psych Masterpiece that knocks us out every time we do the shootout

The soft cardboard covers for these German pressings almost always show some seam wear. We will include the best cover we have at the time of your order. Of course, your satisfaction is always guaranteed.

Please ignore the sticker in the image. It’s the best picture we could find. Our records do not come with stickers except under rare circumstances, and not so here.


Drop the needle on “Fool On The Hill” and you’ll see why we get so worked up over top copies that sound as good as this one does. This is a STUNNING recording, but you need a killer Hot Stamper pressing to appreciate just how well recorded the album is.

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The Moody Blues – To Our Children’s Children’s Children

More of The Moody Blues

More Psych Rock

  • An early UK Threshold pressing with lush but clear Tubey Magical Double Plus (A++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • You get richness, fullness and warmth on both of these sides, which is exactly what you want for the Moodies’ music
  • We shot out a number of other imports and this one had the presence, bass, and dynamics that were missing from most other copies we played
  • “It is the fourth of what are popularly considered the group’s “core seven” (or Classic Seven) albums from 1967 to 1972, and as such represents the peak of their career to some.”
  • “There are no extended suites on this album, but Justin Hayward’s ‘Watching and Waiting’ and ‘Gypsy’ have proved to be among the most popular songs in the group’s history.”

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The Doors – How Do the Butterfly and Small Red E Pressings Sound?

More of the Music of The Doors

More Hot Stamper Pressings of Psych Rock Albums

The Butterfly and Small Red E labels are so contemptibly thin and harsh they are not worth the vinyl they were pressed on.

You would be much better off with the DCC Gold CD than any of the reissue vinyl we’ve played.

Good digital beats bad analog any day.


This a Must Own Record, a 1967 recording with unbelievable RAW POWER. Most audiophiles very likely have no idea how well recorded this album is, simply because most pressings don’t do a very good job of translating the energy and life of the master tape onto the vinyl of the day.

The second Doors album is without a doubt one of the punchiest, liveliest, most POWERFUL recordings in the entire Doors catalog, right up there with their debut.

I’m guessing this statement does not comport with your own experience, and there’s a good reason for that: not many copies of the album provide evidence of any of the above qualities. Most pressings are opaque, flat, thin, veiled, compressed and lifeless. They sound exactly the way so many old rock records sound: like any old rock record.

Botnick Knocks It Out of the Park

But this album is engineered by Bruce Botnick. The right pressings give you the kind of low-end punch and midrange presence you hear on Love’s first album (when you play the right gold label originals). Botnick engineered them both, and what’s even more amazing is that The Doors second is in many ways an even better recording than Love’s!

All tube from start to finish, the energy captured on these Hot Stampers has to be heard to be believed. Not to mention the fact that the live-in-the-studio musicians are swimming in natural ambience, with instruments leaking from one mic to another, and most of them bouncing back and forth off the studio walls to boot.

But the thing that caught us most by surprise is how much LIFE there is in the performances on the better Hot Stamper copies. Morrison pulled out all the stops on songs like Love Me Two Times and the last track on the album, When the Music’s Over. Unless you have a very special pressing there is almost no chance you will ever hear him with this kind of raw power.

Top 100? If we could find more than a sporadic few clean, good sounding copies each year it would surely make the list, joining the other three of the band’s first four albums on there now.

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Robin Trower / Bridge of Sighs – A Demo Disc for Size and Space 

More Robin Trower

Reviews and Commentaries for Robin Trower and Procol Harum

A Demo Disc for Size and Space 

  • An outstanding copy of Trower’s amazingly well recorded Psych masterpiece with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • This early UK pressing is huge, rich and punchy, with guitar solos that soar like few others you’ve heard
  • The title track is on this killer side one – you have never begun to hear it sound like this!
  • Brilliant engineering by Geoff Emerick at George Martin’s AIR studios – maybe the best sounding album Emerick ever made
  • Top 100 and 4 1/2 stars on AMG: “…his most stunning, representative, and consistent collection of tunes. Bridge of Sighs holds up to repeated listenings as a timeless work, as well as the crown jewel in Trower’s extensive catalog.”

We’d been wandering around in the dark for more than a decade with Bridge of Sighs — that is, until about 2015 when we finally stumbled upon a certain UK Chrysalis pressing in audiophile playing condition.

Now we know just how good this album can sound. How good? Astonishingly good. The three-dimensional space is positively breathtaking on the best UK copies.

There is a substantial amount of Tubey Magic and liquidity on the tape, recalling the kind of hi-rez vintage analog sound that makes the luminous A Space in Time (1971) such a mind-expanding experience. Both albums have the kind of High Production Value sound that we go crazy for here at Better Records.

You can find many of our favorites in our Rock and Pop Top 100, and if we can find more of this title, it will surely be on the list as well. (more…)

Love / Self-Titled – Killer Sound from Bruce Botnick

More Love

More Psych Rock

  • An original Gold Label stereo pressing of Love’s debut album with excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl doesn’t begin to do this one justice – I simply cannot remember a time that a copy with sound this good played this quietly, and we have been doing shootouts for Love for 15 years or more
  • A classic from 1966, a combination of proto-punk and psychedelia featuring “My Little Red Book,” “Hey Joe” and more
  • The first Love album is without a doubt the punchiest, liveliest, most POWERFUL recording in the Love catalog
  • Engineered by none other than Bruce Botnick, here is the kind of massive bottom end weight and energy that we like to call WHOMP
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Love’s debut is both their hardest-rocking early album and their most Byrds-influenced…”

Some of you may not know this music, but it’s a true Must Own Psychedelic Gem from the ’60s, a record no rock collection should be without, along with other groundbreaking albums from the ’60s such as Surrealistic Pillow, The Doors’ debut, the first Spirit album and too many others to list.

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Buffalo Springfield – Again

  • Buffalo Springfield’s sophomore release is back on the site with INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Tubey Magical Analog sound or close to it from from start to finish – unusually quiet vinyl for an ATCO original as well
  • Consistently brilliant songwriting and production: “Mr. Soul,” “A Child’s Claim To Fame,” “Expecting To Fly,” “Bluebird,” “Hung Upside Down,” “Rock & Roll Woman,” “Broken Arrow” and more!
  • These days it takes us years to find enough clean copies of an album like this with which to do a shootout – nice originals are thin on the ground and getting thinner by the day
  • A true Desert Island Disc – 5 stars: “…this record stands as their greatest triumph… its classic status cannot be denied.”
  • If you’re a fan of The Buffalo Springfield, this early pressing from 1967 surely belong in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1967 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 of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. This band’s second and third albums are both good examples of records many audiophiles may not know well but should.

Listen 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. (more…)