Genre – Rock – Pure Pop

Bee Gees et al. – Saturday Night Fever

More Bee Gees

More 5 Star Albums

  • An OUTSTANDING copy of this ’70s classic with top quality sound on all FOUR sides
  • There’s real Bee Gees vocal magic here – “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” “More Than a Woman,” “Jive Talkin’,” and more!
  • One of the most underrated tracks that holds up surprisingly well after all these years is “A Fifth of Beethoven,” and it sounds great here
  • 5 stars: “Saturday Night Fever is virtually indispensable as a Bee Gees album, not just for the presence of an array of songs that were hits in their own right but because it offered the Gibb brothers as composers as well as artists…”
  • If you’re a Bee Gees fan, this title from 1977 is surely a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1977 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

This copy of the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack has truly killer sound throughout, and that ain’t no jive talkin’! We collected a bunch of these and put them through the shootout process and were delighted to find out that some of the material on here can sound wonderful on the best pressings.

Like any compilation, some songs are going to sound better than others. The good news here is that most of the tracks you’d hope to be impressive actually are: “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love” and “Disco Inferno” are among the better-sounding songs here.

Find your favorite song on here, drop the needle, and see if the dramatically improved sound doesn’t bring back some special memories, and maybe even inspire you to bust a move!

(more…)

Jimmy Buffett – Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes

More Jimmy Buffett

  • Boasting two excellent Double Plus (A++) sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard Buffet’s 1977 Pop Masterpiece sound this good – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • 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 pressing like this one is the way to go
  • 4 stars: “…one reason Changes… is his best record yet is simply the sound… The main reason it’s Buffett’s best is the songs, most of which he wrote. Buffett has always been a good songwriter when he had the time to apply himself, and he’s been developing a persona that reaches its culmination here.”

(more…)

Elton John / Too Low For Zero – The Last in a Great Run

More of the Music of Elton John

Records We Only Offer on Import Vinyl

Much of the production — the smooth, sweet harmony vocals, the rich, grungy guitars, the solid, warm piano — reminds me of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, one of the classics from back in the day when Gus Dudgeon was running the show.

Caribou (1974) and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975) have a similarly glossy, perfectionist approach to production as well, of course.

It was 1975’s Rock of the Westies that went off in another direction.

The next six albums, from Blue Moves to Jump Up, at least to these ears, don’t sound good enough or have enough consistently good material compared to the six albums recorded from 1970 to 1973. Four of those are in our Top 100 Rock and Pop album list, and all four are Must Owns in my book. Pop music just doesn’t get any better.

So if Too Low For Zero reminds us in any way of those albums, especially in the songwriting department now that Bernie Taupin has rejoined team Elton after a too-long hiatus, that is all to the good.

(more…)

Whitney Houston – Self-Titled

More Whitney Houston

More Debut Albums of Interest

  • A stunning early Arista pressing, this copy earned killer grades throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This album has the kind of smooth, rich, tonally correct analog sound we thought they had forgotten how to record by 1985 – but here it is, thank goodness
  • Consistently strong material: You Give Good Love, Saving All My Love for You, How Will I Know, All at Once, and Greatest Love of All (the last of seven (!) singles released from the album)
  • “…introduced the world to ‘The Voice,’ an octave-spanning, gravity-defying melismatic marvel.”

Having done this for so long — 2020 marks our 33rd year in the record business — we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound — even as late as 1985! — 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; rather it lives or dies by its ability to recreate a solid, palpable, Whitney Houston singing live in your listening room. The best copies had an uncanny way of doing just that. (more…)

Astrud Gilberto – Windy

More Astrud Gilberto

More Bossa Nova

  • This superb pressing boasts Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • Forget whatever Heavy Vinyl imposter is in print – this vintage Verve stereo pressing has the kind of High-Rez Tubey-Magical Midrange that will bring Astrud’s soft samba music to life in your very own listening room
  • “… Windy nevertheless proves one of Astrud Gilberto’s most consistent and sublime efforts, artfully straddling the division between Brazilian bossa nova and American sunshine pop.” 

(more…)

Paul McCartney and Wings – Ram

  • This vintage pressing of McCartney’s 1971 Classic boasts outstanding sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides
  • A copy like this is a real audiophile treat – here is the rich, warm, clear, natural and lively sound you want for Ram   
  • Many of the man’s most memorable songs are here: Too Many People, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, Monkberry Moon Delight, Heart Of The Country and more
  • 5 stars: “These songs may not be self-styled major statements, but they are endearing and enduring, as is Ram itself, which seems like a more unique, exquisite pleasure with each passing year.”

I remember this album being dismissed as lightweight back in the day and I may have even felt the same to be honest. Heck, compared to Abbey Road and The White Album, the very same thing could be said about most of McCartney’s albums.

McCartney isn’t out to blow you away with high-production value rock here, apart from Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. He’s making some lovely pop music with his wife and sharing it with the world. And what’s so wrong with that? (more…)

America / History: America’s Greatest Hits

More America

More Hippie Folk Rock

  • With excellent grades from start to finish, this early Warner Bros. Palm Tree pressing is doing just about everything right
  • These sides are BIGGER and RICHER and have more of the rock solid energy that’s missing from the average copy
  • “Master Tape” sound lets this compilation of gems hold its own against the originals
  • 4 1/2 stars: “History: Greatest Hits perfectly spotlights both the polished and layered production of British studio legend George Martin and the West Coast tones of the band’s folk-pop style. An essential collection for fans who like their ’70s folk with a pop sheen, loads of hooks, and top-drawer arrangements.”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this classic from 1975 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1975 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

THE BIG SOUND on both sides lets this Greatest Hits compilation hold its own against the originals. They have plenty of bottom end that drives these songs with energy and life. Listen for the bells on ‘Tin Man‘; they have the correct transients and harmonics.

You never quite get back all of the Tubey Magic of the originals, but the detail and richness should be enough to make you fall in love with this high quality George Martin (re)production.

(more…)

James Taylor – Flag

More James Taylor

  • Taylor’s 1979 release returns to the site with INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them throughout this vintage Columbia pressing – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The best sides have Tubey Magical acoustic guitars, sweet vocals, huge amounts of space, breathtaking transparency, and so much more
  • Credit the engineering chops of Val Garay – the guy makes these sort of Demo Disc Quality Pop Records about as good as they can be made
  • Musically this is one of JT’s most underrated albums – it’s a Better Records Top Recommendation and Must Own LP

From the opening notes you will be amazed at how good this album sounds. As far as JT’s recordings go, it’s right up there at the top. Like his album JT, which came just before this one, the best copies of this record are smooth, rich, punchy and have great bass.

The average copy of this record is dreadful. All the recuts that were done by Columbia that I’ve ever heard are garbage. There are a number of different stampers for both sides one and two and it’s almost impossible to find two good sides on the same album.

(more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Mirage

  • An outstanding copy of Mirage, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from top to bottom
  • Most copies are washed-out, recessed, and lack weight, but this one will show you just how right this music can sound
  • The producing-engineering team of Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut return to provide top quality Rumours-like production
  • The album spent five weeks at Number One, probably on the strength of the amazingly fun single “Hold Me.”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, a killer copy of their 1982 release might just need a home in your collection, and is the last Fleetwood Mac album that we would recommend to anyone but the most diehard fan
  • The albums to come later — Tango in the Night (1987). Behind the Mask (1990), Time (1995) and Say You Will (2003) — have never been offered as Hot Stamper pressings, a fact that is unlikely to change
  • Like Tusk, this is a Digital Recording that sounds great on vinyl

Mirage is a surprisingly good album if you can find the right copy.

The mids and highs can be really silky and sweet. The whole album has a glossy sound, clearly the influence of Lindsay Buckingham and his production team. The sound of Fleetwood Mac in this period is their doing, and with a phenomenal run of success that’s rarely been seen in pop history, it’s hard to argue with either their approach to the material or the sound. It strikes us that they used every track on the multi-track recorder and then some. (more…)

Spandau Ballet – True

More Spandau Ballet

More Pure Pop Recordings

  • An early UK Chrysalis pressing of the band’s third studio album with surprisingly rich and natural – dare we say Analog? – Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Forget the dubby domestic pressings and 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 Brit Pop album, an import pressing like this one is the only way to go
  • “… a set of tunes aimed squarely at the charts. The one that succeeded most spectacularly, of course, was the title cut, a glossily-updated Motown-style ballad that became one of the decade’s biggest hits – aided by a video that cast singer Tony Hadley as a young Frank Sinatra, crooning about the sound of his soul.”
  • This is clearly the band’s best sounding album. Roughly 100 other listings for the Best Sounding Album by an Artist or Group (sounds like a Grammy Awards category, doesn’t it?) can be found here.
  • In our opinion, True is the only Spandau Ballet record you’ll ever need. Click on this link to see more titles we like to call One and Done

Forget the dubby domestic pressings. Like so many British bands on the Chrysalis label, when it came time to master the album for our domestic market, not theirs, the people in charge (whoever they may have been) took the easy way out and simply ordered up a dub of the tape to send across the pond.

Too many wonderful albums by highly accomplished bands had their records ruined by sub-generation masters. (Ruined for audiophiles. The general public couldn’t care less.)

But this is the real British-pressed vinyl from the real master tape, and that makes all the difference in the world. It 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…)