Labels We Love – A&M

Burt Bacharach – Reach Out

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) Shootout Winning side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy had some of the best sound we have ever heard on Reach Out
  • This copy was super full-bodied and dynamic with real weight down low, nice bite to the brass, tons of energy and a lot of Tubey Magic. 
  • Tons of hits – The Look Of Love, Message To Michael, Alfie, What The World Needs Now, I Say A Little Prayer and more
  • Engineering by Phil Ramone (Casino Royale) and Henry Lewy (Sergio Mendes, Joni Mitchell) each doing their own tracks – compare and contrast for yourself
  • “[Reach Out] present[s] Bacharach’s vision of his work at its most straightforward, and it is enjoyable on its own terms, as a snapshot of his own sensibilities at that time.”

We were surprised at how lively and dynamic the best pressings of Reach Out can be. (more…)

George Benson – Other Side of Abbey Road

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

An A++ side one backed with an A+++ side two! We just shot out a bunch of these and this copy finished way ahead of the pack. George Benson and a top-notch backing crew (Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Ray Baretto, Freddie Hubbard and many more) knock these jazzy Abbey Road covers out of the park, and Rudy Van Gelder did a great job putting it to tape. Of course not every pressing sounds good, but the best copies like this one are killer!  (more…)

Chuck Mangione – Feels So Good – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This better than Super Hot stamper side one of arguably Chuck Mangione’s best album gets what is inarguably his most famous song to come alive in a way that practically no other copies in our shootout were able to. It’s shocking just how lifeless and pointless Feels So Good can sound on some copies; after only a few minutes the band seems to be having a hard time staying awake. But the same performance is captured on every pressing, so how can the band sound so inspired here and so uninspired elsewhere? It’s one of the mysteries of recorded media, one which still takes us by surprise on a regular basis, every week in fact.

This idea that most pressings do a poor job of communicating the music still has not seeped into the consciousness of the audiophile public but we’re diligently working to change that, one Hot Stamper at a time.

The copies that are present, clear, open, transparent and energetic, with a solid rhythmic line driving the music, are a hundred times more enjoyable than the typical pressing that can be found practically unplayed (gee, I wonder why?) sitting in most record collections.

By the way, if you know Feels So Good only through the radio, you may be surprised to find that it’s close to ten minutes long, not the three minutes you’re familiar with. The band stretches out quite a bit and the solos are fairly inventive, as AMG noted.

This very side two has that problem to a fair degree; it’s a bit too murky and veiled to be as much fun as side one. But so few copies were any good at all that it still earned an A+ grade. If you turn it up it helps it quite a bit. Still, it lack extension high and low compared to this side one. (more…)

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Fool on the Hill – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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

EXCELLENT SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It’s rich, full-bodied, and sweet, with super-low distortion and breathtaking transparency. Side Two rates A+++, As Good As It Gets! The vocals on this copy were as sweet as we have ever heard for this record.

The average copy of this record is thin, aggressive and irritating. What separates the best copies like this one from the typical bad sounding copies is more extension on the top end to balance out the upper midrange and lower highs, as well as more weight on the bottom end, to anchor and balance out the sound. (more…)

Supertramp – Crime of the Century – Loud Levels and Big Woofers

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Yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

The bass on the best copies is AWESOME. Playing a Hot Stamper copy at loud levels with big woofers will have your house quaking. Add to that the kind of ENERGY that the better pressings have in their grooves and the result is an album guaranteed to bring most audiophile systems to their knees, begging for mercy. 

This is The Audio Challenge that awaits you. If you don’t have a system designed to play records with this kind of SONIC POWER, don’t expect to hear Crime of the Century the way Ken and the boys wanted you to. The album wants to rock your world, and that’s exactly what our Hot Stamper pressings are capable of doing.

The typical Brit copy is dull, and that quality just takes all the magic out of the recording. The three dimensional space and clarity of the recording rely heavily on the quality of the top end. The MoFi, on the best copies, shows you what is missing from the typical Brit, domestic or other import LP. This is what impressed me back in the ’70s when I bought my MoFi. It was only years later that I realized what was missing and what was wrong. (more…)

Sting – The Dream Of The Blue Turtles

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The Dream Of The Blue Turtles

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

This album has long been a favorite among audiophiles and it’s pretty easy to see why. What Sting does here with jazz music is very similar to what Paul Simon later did with African music on Graceland. Sting surrounded himself with legitimate jazz musicians and together they’ve created an album that gives you the loose, relaxed feel of jazz mixed with Sting’s distinct pop sensibility. There are elements of worldbeat, reggae and soul here as well, but the album never feels disjointed; Sting managed to pull it all together to create a sound that is somehow unique and familiar at the same time. 

The stamper numbers for this one are all over the map, so it’s ridiculously tough to find The Real Sound for this album. We went through a huge stack of copies and finally managed to find a few winners that broke through the digital grain and hash that we heard on most pressings. (more…)

Chuck Mangione – Children of Sanchez

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

What’s unusual about this album — shocking really — is how MEATY the bottom end is. I don’t know of a pop jazz recording with beefier, more articulate or weightier bass. The only record I can think of in this genre of jazz with comparable bass is Grover Washington’s Winelight. We played some copies of that album recently and were just knocked out with how well recorded the bass is, just the way we were knocked out with Children of Sanchez from a month or two back. Both of them really set the standard for recording this kind of music. Needless to say we loved the sound. 

Recorded at Kendun and mastered by Robert Ludwig, the audiophile sound should be no surprise.

All four sides are quite good; see if you don’t agree with us that the two Super Hot sides are slightly better than the ones with a half plus lower grade.

The horn sound is also key, not only for the flugelhorn that Chuck plays but for the trombones and French horns that fill out the arrangements. When the various horns are solid and smooth (what’s smoother than a French horn?) yet even the more subtle harmonic signatures of each instrument are clear, you have yourself a Hot Stamper.

The copies that are present, clear, open, transparent and energetic, with a solid rhythmic line driving the music, are a hundred times more enjoyable than the anemic pressings that can be found sitting in most collections practically unplayed (gee, I wonder why?).

This idea that most pressings do a poor job of communicating the music still has not seeped into the consciousness of most audiophiles, but we’re working on changing that, one Hot Stamper at a time. (more…)

The Carpenters – Carpenters

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  • Insanely good sound throughout for this early A&M pressing with each side earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • These sides are doing everything right — big, full-bodied, spacious and present with a solid bottom end 
  • “The Carpenters’ radio-friendly soft rock virtually defined the genre in the early 1970s, and this album — their third full-length — was the group’s ace card… Carpenters is a classic of early-’70s pop.” – All Music

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Rimsky-Korsakov / Capriccio Espagnol / Black / London Fest. – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

AN AMAZING A++++ SIDE TWO, presenting the complete work by Rimsky-Korsakov. The Capriccio Espagnol here is one of THE BEST on record. Not only does it have incredibly powerful DEMO DISC sound, but the performance is superb on every level as well. The energy and excitement of the piece are brought to life by Stanley Black and the London Festival Orchestra like no other you have ever heard. 

This beyond White Hot Stamper may make you reevaluate virtually every classical recording in your collection. The energy, size, scope and immediacy found on this Four Plus copy is easily superior to that of any other recording of the work we have ever heard!

What this album has going for it over the London/Decca with Argenta is an even more exciting Capriccio Espagnol, with orchestral power and vibrant color that rival the composer’s Scheherazade and arguably exceed it, compressing as it does its bright orchestration into fewer than 15 minutes of unalloyed brilliance. I would argue that the sound here easily beats nine out of ten copies of LSC 2446, quite a feat when you consider what that record is selling for these days.

Who can resist these sublime orchestral works? To quote an infamous label, they are an audiophile’s dream come true. Scroll down to read more about them.

Capriccio Espagnol

The Most Exciting, Colorful Performance of all time — Black gets everything out of this famous work on this London recording.

Huge Wall to Wall Demo Disc sound, with the kind of IMMEDIACY that would make the folks at Mercury jealous. We grade this side A++++. You will find very few Living Stereos and Mercuries with this kind of sound, that I can assure you. (more…)

Peter Frampton – I’m In You

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This is the album that almost single handedly destroyed Peter Frampton’s career. To capitalize on the success of his amazing live album, this one was rushed into production with a lot of weak material. But there is a good reason to buy it. The song I’m In You has one of those perfect Frampton guitar breaks which is almost worth the price of the album. About half of this record is actually pretty good. This one won’t make you a fan, but if you are a fan you need this title in your collection, and this is about as nice a copy as can be found. 

Two Frampton albums are absolute Must Owns. Wind Of Change is a masterpiece — the greatest rock guitar album in the history of the world. And Where I Should Be is the last record Frampton made that was any good. I’ve listened to it countless times and never tire of it.