Genre – Rock – American Blues Rock

The Allman Brothers – Idlewild South

xxxxx

  • A STUNNING ‘Triple Triple’ (A+++) copy with the kind of energy, body and punch this music needs
  • Easily the group’s best sounding studio recording and especially impressive on a copy like this
  • Cue up Midnight Rider or In Memory Of Elizabeth Read to hear the Allman Brothers magic in these grooves
  • 5 stars “The best studio album in the group’s history, electric blues with an acoustic texture, virtuoso lead, slide, and organ playing, and a killer selection of songs, including “Midnight Rider,” “Revival,” “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”…”

Drop the needle on Midnight Rider or In Memory Of Elizabeth Read to hear what this copy can do. You get lots of extension both up top and down low that make the overall sound far more engaging and musical than what you’d hear on most copies. (more…)

ZZ Top – Deguello

xxxxx

  • A STUNNING early pressing of Deguello with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear Cheap Sunglasses sounding big, bold and lively, this is the copy for you
  • A surprisingly good recording – here is exactly the kind of hard-rockin’ energy you want from these three guys
  • Excellent songs including Hi Fi Mama, Cheap Sunglasses (an all-time classic), She Loves My Automobile, and more
  • 4 1/2 stars: “ZZ Top returned after an extended layoff in late 1979 with Degüello, their best album since 1973’s Tres Hombres… The trio is in fine shape here, knocking out a great set of rockers and sounding stylish all the time.”

The sound is big and full-bodied with excellent separation and real punch down low. You get real clarity and impressive immediacy. Turn this one up and let ‘er loose!

It’s not easy to find great sounding pressings for this band, which is why so few have ever made it to the site with Hot Stamper sound.

It’s a great album for these three guys, with excellent songs including Hi Fi Mama, Cheap Sunglasses, She Loves My Automobile and more. We aren’t going to claim to be the world’s foremost ZZ Top experts, but we know a great sounding rock record when we hear one, and this one impressed the heck outta us. (more…)

Bonnie Raitt – Nick Of Time

xxx

xxx

  • An insanely good pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from the first note to the last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These sides are rich and full-bodied with a nice extended top end and tight, note-like bass – Have A Heart is a Demo Quality track
  • Some of the sweetest, richest, most ANALOG sound we’ve heard from any record Don Was produced
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Producer Don Was used Raitt’s classic early-’70s records as a blueprint, choosing to update the sound with a smooth, professional production and a batch of excellent contemporary songs. In this context, Raitt flourishes; she never rocks too hard, but there is grit to her singing and playing, even when the surfaces are clean and inviting. A great comeback album that made for a great story.”

(more…)

ZZ Top – Deguello – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

A killer Top Copy, Double Plus (A++) for the first side and Triple Plus (A+++) for the second. Up there with the very best ZZ Top sound we’ve ever heard or expect to hear. Most copies aren’t BIG, punchy, lively and present like this one is.

A truly excellent sounding record with the kind of rock energy and size you want from a ZZ Top record. It is not easy to find great pressings for this band, which is why we’ve only ever had a handful on the site. And this one is especially hard to beat, since this is an EXCELLENT recording brought to life with wonderful Robert Ludwig mastering.

It’s also a great album for these guys, with excellent songs including Hi Fi Mama, Cheap Sunglasses, She Loves My Automobile and more. We aren’t going to claim to be the world’s foremost ZZ Top experts, but we know a great sounding rock record when we hear one, and this one impressed the heck outta us.

Side one earned an A++ grade. The sound is big and full-bodied with excellent separation and real punch down low. Side two is even better, earning our top grade of A+++ with superb clarity and impressive immediacy. Turn this one up and let ‘er loose! (more…)

ZZ Top – Fandango – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. They are often recessed as well, lacking presence and immediacy.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience. (more…)

Bonnie Raitt – Nick Of Time – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2009

xxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Minty Capitol LP has an UNBELIEVABLE White Hot Stamper As Good As It Gets (AGAIG) Side Two backed by a Side One that was nearly its equal! The original grade for side one was in fact A+++, but after hearing a copy that was even better we had to lower the grade to A Double Plus. Hey, that’s how we roll here at Better Records. Side one will blow your mind, but if we hear something better, we lower the grade on the nearly White Hot copy, no matter how good it is. 

We expect that, as good as side one is, when you drop the needle on side two you will hear EVEN BETTER sound.

Prepare to have your mind blown, because this album sure sounds a whole lot better than I remember it. And that’s a good thing. I have a new respect for this album (along with Don Was’ somewhat heavy-handed production).

Both sides are POWERFULLY BIG AND BOLD, with meaty, deep bass (such a big part of the rockers here, Thing Called Love being a prime example) and the sweetest, richest, most ANALOG sound we’ve heard from any record Don Was has been involved with. When you hear it like this — something probably pretty close to what he heard during the control room playback for the final mix — it actually makes sense. It works. It’s not exactly “natural”, but natural is not what they were going for, now is it?

Missing Too Much

The no-longer-surprising thing about these Hot Stamper pressings is how completely they MURDER the DCC LP. Folks, it’s really no contest. Yes, the DCC is tonally balanced and can sound very good, but it can’t compete with the best original pressings. It’s missing too much of the presence, intimacy, immediacy and transparency that we’ve discovered on these hot copies.

Like practically every Heavy Vinyl record pressed at RTI, there is a suffocating loss of ambience throughout, a kind of sterility to the sound. These remastered records just do not BREATHE like the real thing. Good EQ or Bad EQ, they all suffer to one degree or another from a kind of audio enervation. Where is the life of the music? You can turn up the volume on these remastered LPs all you want but they just never seem to want to come to life. We play albums like this VERY LOUD. I’ve seen Bonnie Raitt live a number of times and although I can’t begin to get her to play as loud in my livingroom as she did on stage, I can try. To do less is to do her a great disservice. (more…)

ZZ Top – Fandango – Another Warners Heavy Vinyl Mediocrity

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: C

Warner Brothers remastered Fandango in 2008, so we took some domestic pressings and put them up against their Heavy Vinyl LP. The results were mixed; most of our originals pressings were lackluster, many were noisy, and we just weren’t hearing anything with the sound we thought deserved to be called a Hot Stamper.

We shelved the project for another day. In the interim we kept buying domestic pressings — originals and reissues — in the hopes that something good would come our way.

Fast forward four years. It’s 2015. We drop the needle on a random pressing and finally — finally — hear a copy that rocks like we knew a ZZ Top album should. With that LP as a benchmark we got a shootout up and running and the result is the record you see here.

How did the WB remaster fare once we had some truly Hot Stamper pressings to play it against?

Not well. It’s tonally correct, with a real top and bottom, something that a substantial number of copies cannot claim to be.

But the sound is stuck behind the speakers, veiled, and sorely lacking in energy and excitement. The transparency is of course compromised on all these new reissues, and without transparency and resolution much of the audience participation on the first side is lost. I won’t say the new pressing is boring. Let’s just say it’s a lot more boring than it should be. (more…)

J.J. Cale – 5

xxxxx

  • Stunning sound from start to finish and the first copy to ever hit the site — Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout; exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The overall sound here is rich, full-bodied and musical with lots of Tubey Magic and a solid bottom end; the perfect sound for this laid-back blues-rock
  • “While Cale remains the ultimate laid-back Blues artist, he still manages to conjure up the spirit of Country, Soul and subdued Funk in each of the tracks on 5, making this album one of the best loved in his catalog.”

(more…)

The Allman Brothers – Eat a Peach

xxxxx

  • One of the best copies of Eat a Peach to ever hit the site – Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on ALL FOUR SIDES!
  • These superb sides have the immediacy that will put these wild and crazy southern rockers right in your living room
  • Includes phenomenal hits Melissa, One Way Out, Blue Sky, Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More and more
  • 5 stars: “The record showcases the Allmans at their peak .. proof of Duane Allman’s immense talents and contribution to the band.”

What do such high grades give you for this album? Unbelievably Tubey Magical guitars, huge whomp factor on the bottom end, incredible dynamics and life, shocking transparency and clarity, and the kind of immediacy that puts these crazy southern rockers right in your very own living room. The overall sound is impressively BIG, BOLD, and POWERFUL! (more…)

The Allman Brothers – Eat a Peach – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

THE ALLMAN’S MASTERPIECE CONQUERED AT LAST! I don’t think you could find a more tubey magical Southern Rock record than this! We just shot out a huge stack of these double LPs, no mean feat, and this Original Capricorn pressing manhandled the competition, rating A++ or better on ALL FOUR SIDES. Not only that, but the vinyl plays mostly Mint Minus throughout — exceptionally quiet for an old Allman Brothers record.

This and Live At Fillmore East are the two monumental albums these guys ever put out, and they have a lot in common. You know what you’re gonna get with the Allmans: dueling electric guitars, sweet acoustic guitars, energetic drumming, and full-bodied vocals throughout. There’s obviously a lot of exploration — two complete sides are dedicated to the song Mountain Jam — but the heartfelt radio-friendly songs such as Melissa and Little Martha keep up the energy and enjoyment factor.

The Three Keys: Transparency, Energy, and WHOMP

A super transparent, super lively copy like this one really lets everything that’s great about this music come through. You can easily pick out each of the musicians and follow their contributions over the course of the songs. The huge WHOMP factor throughout kicks up the excitement factor and sets the necessary foundation for the crazy guitar jams to sound correct. The top end has the kind of extension necessary to bring out all the ambience and spaciousness. (more…)