Genre – Rock – Singer / Songwriter

Bob Dylan – Empire Burlesque

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  • A truly KILLER pressing of Empire Burlesque, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too – folks, this one is As Good As It Gets!
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, 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: “Say what you want about Empire Burlesque — at the very least, it’s the most consistent record Bob Dylan has made since Blood on the Tracks, even if it isn’t quite as interesting as Desire. However, it is a better set of songs, all deriving from the same place and filled with subtle gems… this is as good as Dylan gets in his latter days.”

This is one of the better-sounding Dylan records from the ’80s. It’s not exactly Blood on the Tracks, the only Dylan album we think is qualified to be on our Top 100 Rock and Pop List, but it sounds good for a record from this era. (more…)

Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

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More Folk Music

  • This vintage Columbia 360 2 Eye Stereo pressing has stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
  • Both of these sides are amazingly spacious, full-bodied, natural and clear with great presence
  • It’s clear these classic songs have stood the test of time: Blowin’ in the Wind; Girl from the North Country; Masters of War; A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall; Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right and many more
  • 5 stars: “This is rich, imaginative music, capturing the sound and spirit of America… Dylan, in many ways, recorded music that equaled this, but he never topped it.”

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan is clearly our favorite of the early Dylan albums for both music and sound. We’re picking up both mono and stereo copies when we see them clean (which is rare) and both the mono mix and the stereo mix can sound out of this world.

Hearing these great songs sound so intimate and lifelike on a top-quality pressing can be a sublime experience. We should know; we enjoyed the hell out of this very copy.

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 Bob Dylan singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

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Paul Simon – One-Trick Pony

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Singer Songwriter Albums

  • One-Trick Pony is back with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Notably richer and livelier than every other pressing we played, with plenty of Tubey Magic and good weight down low
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, presence and energy on this copy than anything else around, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an unsuspecting record buying public
  • “Tasty licks abound from the fretwork of Eric Gale, Hiram Bullock, and Hugh McCracken, and the rhythm section of Steve Gadd, Tony Levin, and Richard Tee is equally in the groove. This is the closest thing to a band album Simon ever made, and it contains some of his most rhythmic and energetic singing. . .”
  • If you’re a Paul Simon fan, a killer copy like this of his album from 1980 belongs in your collection

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Leon Russell – The Imports Are the Only Way to Go on Leon’s Debut

His first and best album, engineered by our man Glyn Johns, but it only sounds this brilliant on these UK original pressings – the domestic LPs are dead on arrival

Delta Lady, A Song for You and Roll Away the Stone are all here, which makes this a true Must Own for fans of the Classic Era.

The best copies of Russell’s debut album have excellent sound, as expected from a record engineered by Glyn Johns in 1970. Surprisingly, a number of copies suffered from somewhat dry sound, especially in the vocals. Our best copies are rich and Tubey Magical, which is the sound these songs need in order to sound their best.

Domestic Vs. Import

The domestic pressings of Leon Russell’s debut that we’d auditioned over the years always seemed flat, dry, and closed-in. We know that sound well; it’s the sound you hear on records that have been made from dubbed tapes (and it’s the hallmark of the modern Heavy Vinyl reissue, truth be told). That sound bores us to tears, and had us questioning what we could possibly have seen in the album in the first place. What happened to the glorious sound of early ’70s analog we were expecting to find?

It was only when we dropped the needle on a good British copy that the scales fell from our eyes. We found ourselves dumbfounded by the truly wonderful Tubey Magical richness, space and clarity of the real master tape. Finally, the key to the mystery had been found.

American artist, American pressing? A good rule of thumb but one that breaks down badly on this album, and for one obvious reason: the very British engineering of Glyn Johns.

Records We Only Sell on Import Vinyl

More Albums that Sound Their Best on Import Vinyl

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Judy Collins / Colors of the Day: The Best of Judy Collins

  • This superb compilation boast a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is especially rich, warm and natural, with exceptional immediacy to Judy’s vocals and Tubey Magic for days
  • Tons of breath of life, superb production and mastering, and some of the best sounding echo ever recorded
  • Note that Artisan cut this record a whole helluva lot better than DCC – the so-called audiophile label – ever did
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Lovingly programmed (it leads off with her excellent country-pop hit ‘Someday Soon,’ an Ian Tyson classic), this is Collins at her finest… This anthology brings the ‘best-of’ collection to a new art form.”
  • If you’re a Judy Collins fan, this is a Must Own Classic from 1972 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1972 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

I remember being a bit taken aback by how much better my original Artisan pressing sounded compared to the supposedly superior DCC, pressed at high quality Heavy Vinyl at RTI to the most exacting standards possible.

What finally turned me completely against DCC were the awful Paul Simon solo albums they remastered.  Two were released, two I had as unreleased test pressings, and all of them were barely second rate compared to a good original pressing.

So much for believing in DCC. Since that time we have learned that placing your faith in any record label or cutting operation is a mistake. You have to play the records to know how they sound. Nothing else works, and nothing else can work. (more…)

Roberta Flack – Killing Me Softly

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  • With two top sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard on Roberta’s brilliant Killing Me Softly
  • The superb clarity and transparency here is balanced with the kind of rich warmth that is the hallmark of vintage ANALOG from 1973
  • It’s increasingly hard to find good sound and reasonably quiet vinyl for this album – this is one of the few that made the cut in recent years
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The title track was another smash for Roberta Flack, and the album continued in the same tradition as Chapter Two and A Quiet Fire. She made simmering ballads, declarative message songs, and better-than-average up-tempo numbers, and at the time was among the top-selling female vocalists in any style.”
  • If you’re a fan of the lovely Miss Flack, this is a Top Title from 1973.
  • The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Rickie Lee Jones – Self-Titled

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Reviews and Commentaries for Rickie Lee Jones’ First Album

  • Exceptionally present, real and resolving, this pressing is guaranteed to murder any remastering undertaken by anyone, past, present and future
  • The superbly talented musicians and engineers deserve much of the credit for making this album a Grammy Winning Must Own Audiophile Favorite
  • 4 stars: “One of the most impressive debuts for a singer/songwriter ever, this infectious mixture of styles not only features a strong collection of original songs but also a singer with a savvy, distinctive voice that can be streetwise, childlike, and sophisticated, sometimes all in the same song.”
  • Another Must Own Title from 1979. Other recommended titles from 1979 can be found here.

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Rickie Lee Jones – Girl At Her Volcano

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More Singer Songwriter Albums

  • An outstanding copy of Rickie Lee’s EP, Girl At Her Volcano, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • A superb pressing – rich, warm and full-bodied with excellent presence and exceptionally dynamic vocals
  • The piano sounds tonally correct, with real weight to the keys
  • Under the Boardwalk is killer on this album, one of the best reasons to own it
  • “With such a quirky little voice, awesome dynamic shifts and the way she attacks the piano, moving between powerful and delicate, ranks this record as one of my standard demo recordings.”

We’re big fans of RLJ’s self-titled debut, a longtime member of our Top 100 list. I think this one is probably the next best thing she’s done. It may only be an EP but it’s a consistently good EP in which every track is good and some are amazing.

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Jim Croce – Life and Times

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  • This copy of Croce’s superb 4th studio album boasts superb sound from start to finish
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, and vocal presence on this copy than others you’ve heard
  • “Released at the height of the singer-songwriter era, Life And Times put Jim Croce up there with the best of them. Containing the upbeat top forty songs such as “One Less Set Of Footsteps” and “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” along with such ballads as “These Dreams,” and “Alabama Rain.” High rollicking fun for anyone who likes enjoyable music.”

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James Taylor / One Man Dog – Watch Out for Bass Blockage

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Reviews and Commentaries for One Man Dog

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Play Chili Dog here, one of our favorite tracks, and note not only the clarity and spaciousness, but the PUNCH and LIFE of the music. This song is supposed to be fun. The average somewhat compressed and dull copy only hints at that fact.

Then skip on down to the hit at the end of the side, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, another favorite track for testing.

There’s a lot of bass in the mix on this track, but the best copies keep it under control.

When it gets loose and starts blurring the midrange, the vocals and guitars seem “blocked.” The best copies let you hear all that meaty bass, as well as letting you hear into the midrange too. (more…)