Labels We Love – Capitol

Frank Sinatra – No One Cares

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  • With nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish, this vintage stereo pressing sounds just right
  • This orchestrated album of ballads boasts superb 1959 Sinatra All Tube Analog sound
  • This early pressing has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues we’ve played – it gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in the room with you
  • These two exceptionally good sounding sides have two very important qualities – both the breath, and the front and center immediacy, of Sinatra’s vocals, with Jenkins’ tubey rich orchestral arrangements in support
  • “Jenkins gives the songs a subtly tragic treatment, and Sinatra responds with a wrenching performance.”

He’s no longer a recording — he’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. His voice is rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality. You immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

This copy was simply fuller, richer, clearer, more tonally correct, more transparent, bigger, livelier and more involving than practically any other we played (hence the high grades). It’s the very definition of a Hot Stamper. (more…)

Linda Ronstadt – The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt

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

White Hot on side one, and by far the best sound we heard in our shootout for these 1975 pressings. The originals from 1967 have never impressed us. Much more folk than pop, for the most part the sound here is tubey, rich and sweet. Re-released when HLAW hit big, this album features three great Linda solos.

This copy was clearly the best we played all day, but the sound certainly varies a fair amount from track to track. The best tracks are rich, tubey and clear; the worst thin, bright and hard.

The first track on side one rarely stayed clean when loud, but here it does. It’s a good test for whether or not you have a copy with low distortion mastering. Listen for the least amount of smear and congestion and the most resolution.

The second track is richer and tubier and is the proof that side one is mastered correctly.

On side two the first track is rough, the second track better, the third richer, sweeter and smoother still. (more…)

Linda Ronstadt – Heart Like A Wheel – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This original Capitol Orange Label LP has TWO SUPERB sides, with side two earning our top grade of A+++ for its White Hot sound! And side one was nearly as good at A++ to A+++. These are the highest grades we are awarding to any copy on the site, folks. It doesn’t get any better. The sound is uncharacteristically smooth, sweet, clear and Tubey Magical, light years from the grungy grit and grain that plagues most copies of Heart Like a Wheel.

Things are different since our last big shootout back in 2009. We learned a lot about the record and have added plenty of new commentary to back it up. If you’re a fan check it out.

Let’s be honest: the average copy of this album is an audio disaster. Those of you who love this album as much as we do are going to be shocked when you hear how wonderful it can sound. We bet you never imagined it could be this good, and we happily back up that bet with a full money back guarantee!

This shootout was no small project — we dropped the needle on more than a DOZEN copies.This is the only one to earn better than a Super Hot Stamper grade (A++) on both sides. I’ve been playing this album for years, and I can tell you it is no easy task to find this kind of smooth, sweet, analog sound on HLAW. On top of that it’s also full-bodied, lively, and super-transparent. The vocals are breathy and full with incredible immediacy. Folks, the Heart Like A Wheel magic is here. (more…)

Lou Rawls – Live!

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

This is one of the best live vocal recordings we know of, but only a great copy like this will bring that sound to your stereo. Lou is live, singing his heart out in a small club that exists between, behind and maybe even around your speakers. If you can reproduce the three-dimensional space of this club well you are in for a real treat.

The songs are great, the musicians are brilliant, the sound is amazing — what else could you ask for?

This album was a late addition to our 2014 update of our Rock and Pop Top 100 list. or live soul-infused vocals we know of none better. (more…)

Linda Ronstadt – Silk Purse – Reviewed in 2010

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

We played several copies of this album, and while it’s no demo disc by any means, this copy was far and away the best sounding of the group. We can’t quite bring ourselves to call it a Hot Stamper. Technically of course it is — it’s a pressing that’s superior to all the others we’ve played — but as the recording itself has some serious shortcomings we’ll just call it a Pretty Good Stamper. (more…)

The Knack – Get The Knack – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

This Monster Power Pop Debut by the Knack is an AMAZINGLY well-recorded album, with the kind of Wall to Wall Big Beat Live Rock Sound that rivals Back in Black and Nevermind — if you’re lucky enough to have a copy that sounds like this one! (If you’re not then it doesn’t.)

Side two here has White Hot Stamper sound, and let me be clear: this is a Rock Demo Disc that is very likely to lay waste to whatever rock demo disc you currently treasure. My Sharona is simply OUT OF THIS WORLD here. You just can’t record drums and bass any better!

And let’s not forget the song Lucinda on this side. It’s got exactly the same incredibly meaty, grungy, ballsy sound that Back in Black does, but it managed to do it in 1979, a year earlier!

Mike Chapman produced this album and he is a recording GENIUS. How much better could it get you ask? The answer is: None more better. (more…)

Richard Thompson – Action Packed: The Best of the Capitol Years – Reviewed in 2001

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

Another top outing on TWO clear vinyl LP’s from the master of modern electric folk music. It doesn’t get any better than this.

The sound is excellent and the music is some of the best Richard Thompson has ever made. If I had to choose one later Richard Thompson album, this would probably be it.

Almost every one of these is very slightly dished, but this should not have any effect on the sound, which is excellent. Thompson’s lovely duet with his son on Persuasion is worth the price of the album.

The Beach Boys – In Concert

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In Concert

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  • Wonderful Double Plus (A++) sound on all four sides – this is only the second copy to ever hit the site, and it’s a good one!
  • Fairly quiet on the fourth side – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus – the other three sides plays Mint Minus Minus
  • “Beach Boys in Concert was the final live album to be issued — excluding archival vault releases — capturing the seminal American combo as a viable, hard-working rock & roll band with timeless material instead of the parody that Mike Love so perfectly embodied during their final years. This is the way the Beach Boys deserve to be remembered.” – 4 Stars

We’ve raved about a number of live albums over the years. Some of the better sounding ones that come readily to mind (in alphabetical order) are Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, David Live, Johnny Cash At San Quentin, Donny Hathaway Live, The Jimi Hendrix Concerts, Performance – Rockin The Fillmore, Live Wire – Blues Power, Waiting For Columbus, Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out and Live at Leeds. I would be proud to have any of them in my collection.

The Beach Boys In Concert is unlikely to join that rarefied list, but the better copies are clearly giving us a picture of the band pleasing their fans in the early ’70s, right here in the good old U.S. of A. (more…)

June Christy – This Is June Christy

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This wonderful recording from 1958 is a distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

It’s very rare that a Shootout Winning copy of a June Christy album from the late ’50s would have vinyl this quiet. Can’t recall the last time that happened, or if it ever has.

Both sides of this ’50s All Tube Recorded and Mastered record are just as rich and relaxed as you would expect. The balance is correct, which means the top is there as well as the bottom, with good vocal presence throughout. (more…)

Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool

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

Birth Of The Cool in White Hot Stamper form! We’ve been trying to find copies of this classic music from 1949-1950 that really delivered in an audiophile sense, but as you might imagine it was one tough task. We checked out Mono and Stereo copies, Originals and Reissues… basically anything we could get our hands on. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t cheap, but we managed to find a pressing here that delivers excellent sound throughout. (more…)