Genre – Rock – Punk Rock / New Wave

Talking Heads – Remain In Light – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

HOT STAMPERS DISCOVERED AT LAST! We’ve been trying to find a great sounding copy of this album forever, and this is the week we finally succeeded. It takes an exceptional pressing to get all the elements correct — the funky bottom end; the processed, multi-tracked vocals; the Brian Eno production weirdness and so on.

This is a brilliant album but a typically problematic record. Most copies get some things right but fail miserably in other areas. There are smeary copies that can’t deliver the punchy bottom you need, grainy copies that make the vocals painful to listen to, and plenty of copies that are just too dark or flat sounding for anyone to enjoy. Note that the first track on both sides will sound the worst. The sound gets better, though, as you get further into the album. (more…)

Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

White Hot Stampers discovered, hot enough to burn down the house! We just finished a HUGE shootout for the last great Talking Heads album and were as pleased as punch to finally hear a few copies of this album that deliver the same kind of magic that we’ve been getting on the better pressings of Little Creatures. Most copies of Speaking In Tongues are too flat, dry and veiled to get worked up about, but this one shows you that excellent sound for this album is indeed possible, albeit very difficult to find.

We’re serious Talking Heads fans here at Better Records, as you may have gathered by now. Not only is their music completely innovative and original, but their recordings are as well. That’s not to say that their records are Demo Discs along the lines of Tea For The Tillerman, Fragile or Abbey Road, but when you find a killer copy of any of their albums you can’t help but notice how much work they put into making them.

We played a ton of copies before we even heard a hint of the magic we were hoping for. Most of them sounded like CDs. When you turned up the volume, sure they got louder, but they didn’t really get any better. That’s a sure sign of a mediocre pressing, and it just kept happening over and over again in the shootout. Just as we were about to throw up our hands and give up, a copy hit the table with enough analog qualities to rope us back in. We added a little extra volume and started to hear the qualities that we needed from this music: rich, full mids; punchy bass; breathy vocals; and above all, ENERGY. On a Hot Stamper copy with the traits listed above, the music becomes involving and vital. If Burning Down The House doesn’t get you moving to the beat, what’s the point? (more…)

Devo – Duty Now For The Future

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  • Stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish, making this the best copy to hit the site in years!
  • The energy and presence here are off the charts, the bottom end is super solid and punchy, and there’s tons of space around all of the instruments
  • “Devo and their ilk were serious and heartfelt about their goofy sound. They were weird, but weird on their terms. Duty Now for the Future is the perfect example of that. It earns its strangeness with sharp, compelling, and infectiously energetic songs. It crafts a world to travel and never misses a step. And, perhaps most impressively, it sounds just as fresh over 30 [now 40!] years after its original release.” – Pop Matters

GET DEVOLVED! This copy gives you amazing sound for both sides of this fun — and very well-recorded — album. The average copy of this record barely hints at the sound that Ken Scott was clearly able to get on the tape. This one tells a different story, with serious weight down low, a ton of energy, loads of texture to the synths, and wonderful clarity. The lucky man (or woman) who takes this home is sure to get a thrill from it.

The soundfield on these killer sides has a three-dimensional quality that allows all the instruments to be identified and followed with ease. They just don’t get any punchier or livelier, and with music like this, all those elements combine to make this music a FUN listen. (more…)

Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

THE BEST SIDE ONE WE’VE EVER HEARD — BAR NONE! I will stop short of awarding it more than three pluses, because the recording certainly has its share of limitations, but never before have we heard these songs sound so BIG, BOLD and ALIVE! Side two is darn good as well, rating a very strong A++. If you thought you’d never hear a truly great pressing of this album, here’s the copy that will prove you wrong!

This side one does it all. We’re crazy about this album — we’ve done this shootout many times and found some really exceptional copies, but I don’t remember ever hearing a side one quite like this. The top end is extended and sweet, the bottom end is big and punchy, and the overall sound is as rich and full-bodied as you could expect from this zany art-rock. Side two misses just a bit of the energy of side one, but it’s still much better than the average copy.

The vocals have the kind of presence that put David Byrne right there in your living room, and not under a blanket or behind the speakers as on a majority of pressings we’ve played.

You’ve got to play a whole lot of copies to find one with this kind of energy, clarity, and high resolution. The kick drum is really punchy, the synths and organ sound incredible, and the vocals sound just right.

The bass on this copy is the best we’ve heard for More Songs — tight, punchy, and as deep as it’s ever gonna get. We sure wouldn’t mind if some of the tracks were mixed with a bit more punch to the bottom end, but far be it from us to tell Brian Eno and Rhett Davies how to do their jobs! At least on this copy, the bass has the kind of power that brings a song like Take Me To A River to heights you probably wouldn’t have imagined before. (more…)

Talking Heads – Remain In Light on Ridiculously Bad Rhino Vinyl

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Sonic Grade: F

The Rhino Heavy Vinyl reissue of this album was Dead On Arrival the minute it hit my turntable. No top, way too much bottom, dramatically less ambience than the average copy — this one is a disaster on every level.

Rhino Records has really made a mockery of the analog medium. Rhino touts their releases as being pressed on “180 gram High Performance Vinyl.” However, if they are using performance to refer to sound quality, we have found the performance of their vinyl to be quite low, lower than the average copy one might stumble upon in the used record bins. 

The Pretenders – Get Close – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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

Get Close has long been a personal favorite of mine. Side one starts off with a bang with My Baby, one of the best tracks this band ever recorded. Of course at this point it’s hard to call The Pretenders a band as it is pretty much Chrissie Hynde’s show. She continues to mature as a songwriter, and the arrangements and production value are excellent as well, with heavy hitters such as Steve Lillywhite, Bob Clearmountain and Jimmy Iovine involved. 

We have a link to the left entitled Women Who Rock. It would look better with Chrissie Hynde’s picture instead of some Lillith Fair type in a granny dress, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact is that no other woman on earth can rock the way Chrissie Hynde can, and this album, along with Learning to Crawl, is all the proof anyone would ever need. (more…)

The Clash – Combat Rock – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

White Hot Stampers on side two with a side one that’s right up there with it, this Glyn Johns-mixed rocker is really ROCKIN’! The big hits — Rock The Casbah and Should I Stay or Should I Go? — sound SUPERB on this copy. Last time around we played nearly a dozen pressings including imports and reissues, but this time we stuck with the copies we knew to have real Hot Stamper potential, and that meant original pressings made right here in the good old U. S. of A. (Look for Masterdisk in the dead wax, the mark of quality.)

Side two is the real killer here. It’s very lively with great bass and lots of WHOMP. Most of the other copies we played failed in one of two ways: either they were too bright, a sound we didn’t care for much; or they were smeary, veiled and pretty much dead as a doornail. But this copy knocked them all out with correct tonal balance and tons of energy.

Side One

Side one earned a sonic grade of A++ to A+++, a close second to the best we heard. It’s full-bodied and smooth, but still clear and open. Up against one other copy it was just a tad lacking in energy, so we dropped the grade half a plus. Side two has the full energy of the best copies, so when you flip this one over listen for that quality, it should be subtle but still quite noticeable. (If you have big speakers and don’t hear it, try turning up the volume. Rock records like being played loud and this is no exception.) (more…)

Blondie – Parallel Lines – MoFi Debunked

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Audiophile Versions of This Album Suck (The Life Right Out of the Music)  

As previously noted, the MoFi, one of those Jack Hunt turgid muckfests (check out City to City #058 for the ulitimate in murky MOFI sound), is incapable of conveying anything resembling the kind of clear, radio-friendly pop rock sound that Chris Thomas and the band were aiming for. The recording has copious amounts of Analog Richness and Fullness to start with. Adding more is not an improvement; in fact it’s positively ruinous. (more…)

The Clash – London Calling – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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

Absolutely stunning sound for all four sides, Triple Plus on one and two, very close on three and four. Huge and open, full and rich, present and energetic — absolutely as good as it gets. An album that almost never makes it on to the site with grades like this.

AUDIOPHILE SOUND FOR THIS PUNK ROCK CLASSIC?! You better believe it, baby! The sound here is absolutely superb for all four sides, earning at or near our top grade.

Dub Style!

What really sets this album apart sonically is The Clash’s use of reggae and dub influences. You can really hear it when you tune in to the bottom end; your average late ’70s punk record isn’t gonna have such rich and meaty bass, that’s for sure. Drop the needle on The Guns Of Brixton (last track on side two) to hear exactly what I’m talking about. On a Hot Stamper copy played at the correct levels (read: quite loud!) the effect is positively HYPNOTIC. (more…)

Talking Heads – Little Creatures – I Ask You: What Album from 1985 Has Better Sound?

More Talking Heads

More Little Creatures

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We’re huge fans of Little Creatures here at Better Records and we think when you hear one of our Hot Stamper copies you’ll know exactly what we love about it. Not many records from this era sound as amazingly rich as this one, not in our experience anyway. (As I write this there are four Hot Stamper pressings from 1985 on the site, and one of them is Brothers in Arms, hardly anyone’s idea of audiophile quality sound I venture to say.)

The recording is simply outstanding — punchy, smooth & so ANALOG, with an especially beefy bottom end, the kind a good Big Beat Pop Album record needs. (For a mental reference think Get The Knack or Parallel Lines.)

The best copies boast the kind of tight, punchy, surprisingly deep note-like bass that absolutely makes or breaks the sound on Little Creatures. Without the proper bass foundation this funky beat-crazy Talking Heads album can’t BEGIN to do what it’s trying to do: get your feet tappin’ and your body rockin’ to the music. (more…)