Heavy Vinyl Winners

Chabrier / Espana – Argenta – A Speakers Corner Winner

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894) 

Espana – Argenta 

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Sonic Grade: B

This is a Speakers Corner Decca 180 gram LP reissue of the famous Argenta performance, a recording which can sound positively amazing on the right original London, but only about 2 out of 10 copies actually do. (And where in the world are you going to find 10 clean copies of a record that’s practically 50 years old?)

This pressing gets you most of the way there, on reasonably quiet vinyl, for a lot less money.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs.

A very good Decca and highly recommended. Performed by The London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Ataulfo Argenta. Also includes Rimsky-Korsakov’s ”Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34”, Granados’ ”Andaluza”, & Moszkowski’s ”Spanish Dances, Op. 12”.

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

The Doors – Strange Days – Rhino and DCC Reviewed

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More Strange Days

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Sonic Grade: DCC: B / Rhino: C

It’s not easy for us to find copies of Strange Days that outperform the DCC, but our best Hot Stampers beat it handily. We also put our original copies up against the 180g version from the Doors Box Set and it was an absolute bloodbath. We understand that a well-known reviewer likes the sound of those Doors pressings (along with just about every heavy vinyl reissue that hits his table) but we here at Better Records prefer to set higher standards. We think you deserve better, and at these prices the record better deliver a world of sound that the heavy vinyl pressing only hints at. And it does. (more…)

Mozart – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Munchinger – Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the ’90s)

More of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Munchinger

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

We were impressed with the Speakers Corner pressing of this album when it came out back in 1994. We wrote: “Probably the best sound and performance of the Eine Kleine available — highly recommended!  

We haven’t played a copy in years, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. (more…)

Stravinsky / The Firebird Suite / Ansermet – Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the ’90s)

More Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) 

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Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway. (more…)

Massenet – Le Cid Ballet & Meyerbeer – Les Patineurs – Speakers Corner Reviewed

More of the music of Jules Massenet (1842-1912) 

Le Cid Ballet & Meyerbeer 

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Sonic Grade: B

Finally a version of Le Cid that we can enjoy! Superb sound with a performance to match! No more suffering through the hi-fi-ish Doug Sax/ Acoustic Sounds rebutchering of the Fremaux on Klavier.  

Audiophiles in droves bought into that one, apparently not noticing the overblown bass and spark-spark-sparkling top end. Thankfully we now have this Decca from Speakers Corner to demonstrate proper orchestral balance. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac – A MoFi Winner

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More Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac

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Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed, and this one is actually pretty good

The Mobile Fidelity pressing of this album can actually sound quite good (if you get hold of a decent copy that is). Audio perfection it ain’t, but all in all it’s a very enjoyable record. Its strengths are many and its faults are few. Let’s give credit where credit is due; the MoFi is rich, transparent, sweet, and natural, and you won’t hear us saying that about very many MoFi pressings.

It belongs in their Top Ten, toward the bottom I would guess, due to its own sloppy bottom, but that’s half-speed mastering for you. Like most new audio technologies it was a giant step in the wrong direction: backwards. (more…)

Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges – Back to Back – A Classic Records Winner

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Back to Back

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

As I recall this was one of the better sounding Classic titles from their Verve series, and the music is excellent. Finding a clean original is no mean feat as I’m sure you can imagine.

Dvorak & Glazounov – Violin Concertos – Milstein – Cisco Reviewed

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak

Violin Concertos – Milstein

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Sonic Grade: B or so

Some of the sweetest violin tone on heavy vinyl you will ever hear. For Heavy Vinyl this one gets a very high recommendation. The domestic originals we’ve played have been uniformly awful so pick up this Cisco pressing wherever you can find it if the price is right, assuming you can stand the lack of ambience and resolution that Heavy Vinyl consistently suffers from. To be honest, we have not played this record in many years and would probably like it much less now than we did at the time of its release. (more…)

The Doors – The Doors – Rating the DCC LP

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The Doors – The Doors

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Sonic Grade: B

We used to like the Doors First album on DCC back when it came out in the late ’90s; it sure beat the MoFi and every other pressing I had around, including the original gold label Elektra pressings. But much water has gone under that bridge. There have been countless audio revolutions, as well as the improved record cleaning technologies we tout at every turn. Without them old records just sound like old records, and the DCC pressing will be better. 

But with them, and lots of other changes, the right original stomps all over the DCC.

Hey, We Was Wrong, and we’re not too proud to admit it. If you have the DCC and want to know what you’re missing, a Hot Stamper is the ticket.

It will cost you a fair bit more than the DCC, but the difference in sound should more than justify the difference in price if this is an album that is important to you.  (more…)

The Doors – L.A. Woman – Rhino Heavy Vinyl Reviewed

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More L.A. Woman

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Sonic Grade: B

The pressing we auditioned from the Doors Box Set was surprisingly good. It’s rich and smooth with an extended top end — tonally correct in other words — and there’s lots of bass. This is all to the good. For the thirty bucks you might pay for it you’re getting a very good record, assuming yours sounds like ours, something we should really not be assuming, but we do it anyway as there is no other way to write about records other than to describe the sound of the ones we actually have on hand to play.

What it clearly lacks compared to the best originals is, first and foremost, vocal immediacy. There’s a veil that Jim Morrison is singing through, an effect which has a tendency to become more bothersome with time, as these sorts of frustrating shortcomings have a habit of doing.

A bit blurry, a bit smeary, somewhat lacking in air and space, on the plus side it has good energy and better bass than most of the copies we played. All in all we would probably give it a “B.” You could do a helluva lot worse. All the ’70s and ’80s reissues of this album we’ve ever played were just awful, especially those with the date inscribed in the dead wax. (more…)