Labels We Love – Capitol

Nat King Cole – Let’s Face The Music – Reviewed in 2013

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

Rich and tubey vocals on exceptionally quiet vinyl. Swingin’ Billy May Big Band arrangements. Nat plays the Hammond organ on no less than five tracks.

All the copies we played were stereo. We’ve had very poor luck with mono Nat King Cole records (for albums that were recorded in stereo) and tend to avoid them. (more…)

Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool

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Birth of the Cool

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  • An incredible pressing of this Groundbreaking Jazz Classic, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and Double Plus (A++) on the second
  • This vintage mono pressing will show you just how well-recorded these 1949-50 sessions were 
  • It’s the records they made from these tapes (more often from the dubs of them) that have given everybody the wrong idea about these wonderful sounding recordings
  • 5 stars: “So dubbed because these three sessions are where the sound known as cool jazz essentially formed, Birth of the Cool remains one of the defining, pivotal moments in jazz. This is where the elasticity of bop was married with skillful, big-band arrangements and a relaxed, subdued mood that made it all seem easy, even at its most intricate.”

NOTE: This is not the quietest copy we’ve ever heard, so we’re keeping the price down. If you want to hear how amazing the album can sound and can put up with less than-ideal surfaces, this is the copy to get.

If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


We’ve been trying to find copies of this classic music from 1949-1950 that really delivered the audiophile goods, but it took us years to track down the right pressings from the right era with the right stampers. We went through Monos, Stereos, Originals, Reissues of every kind… basically everything we could get our hands on.

It sure wasn’t easy and it sure wasn’t cheap, but after about ten years of digging we’re pretty sure we’ve got The Birth of the Cool’s number. This copy is proof positive. We guarantee you have never heard a version of this music that sounds remotely as good as this very record. (more…)

Peggy Lee – Pass Me By

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

If you’re a fan of vintage female vocals – the kind with no trace of digital reverb – you may get quite a kick out of this one. And unless I miss my guess you’ll be the first and only person on your block to own it! (That’s not a bad thing considering the average person’s taste in music and sound these days.)

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the big band arrangements by Shorty Rogers and Dave Grusin from becoming shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we heard them all. (more…)

Crowded House – Woodface

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Woodface

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  • This original import copy of Woodface boasts very good Hot Stamper sound from start to finish
  • A special pressing with hard-to-find exceptionally quiet vinyl – this copy plays Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, as quiet as they come
  • Thankfully the care and effort that went into every aspect of the production of Woodface more than justifies the effort we put into finding good copies
  • Some of the most original, melodic, hook-laden, sophisticated popular music recorded in the last twenty-seven years
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The songs are easily their finest to date, combining flawless melodies and the outstanding harmonies of the brothers’ perfectly matched voices.”

The best copies of Woodface fulfill the promise of this extraordinarily well-recorded album beyond all expectations. The effect so totally immerses you in the musical experience that you forget you’re listening to a record at all. In your mind, you have the sense that you’re hearing the music exactly the way the musicians, producers, and engineers intended it to sound. The sound is everything you want it to be as you experience every element of the music without limitation.

It only happens when the right record meets the right stereo, and that means rarely, but when it does the memory of the sound becomes fixed in the mind like no other, and it never leaves.  (more…)

June Christy – The Intimate Miss Christy

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

Both sides of this 1962 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.

We are HUGE fans of this album at Better Records, but it’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. We’re happy to say it worth all the trouble.

Get the volume just right and June will be standing between your speakers and putting on the performance of a lifetime. This is one of our favorite female vocal albums (along with Clap Hands, Julie Is her Name and a fair number of others) and this amazingly good copy will show you why – the sound and music are wonderful.

The Mono Is King

This early mono pressing is the only way to find the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from modern records. As good as the best of those pressings may be, this record is dramatically more REAL sounding. (more…)

Milstein / Master pieces / Susskind – Reviewed in 2013

More of the music of Nathan Milstein

Master pieces / Susskind

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

This is a RARE and WONDERFUL SOUNDING original Capitol pressing of Milstein playing pieces for violin and orchestra by Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Saint-Saens and others. The recording of the Mozart Rondo on side one boasts DEMO DISC quality sound. Side one is amazingly rich, sweet and tubey magical. The violin is tonally correct, with the kind of immediacy few violin records (in our experience) manage to capture as well, while still retaining the correct size of the instrument. (more…)

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

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

We’ve obviously been at this Hot Stamper business for a long, long time. Well folks, today is the day that an amazing A+++ copy of Pet Sounds finally makes it onto the site (we’ve found a few before, but they always sold before they got a chance to be listed!). I’m not sure if you want to hear the story of how we finally found these good pressings or just snap this one up before the next man does — I think we all know this record isn’t going to last long here!

There have been a ton of Pet Sounds vinyl releases over the years and most of them are awful. I’m not going to give away what pressing this is, it took us a lot of work to figure out what the best ones are. So do not buy this with any assumption of what you might be getting, except for a great sounding Pet Sounds!

Perhaps one day we’ll do a long commentary about what the various pressings get right and wrong, which ones are worth a shot and which ones to avoid. Unfortunately, there’s no money in that for us and we are first and foremost a business here. Investing a couple of hours into telling the world what Pet Sounds versions to buy really doesn’t do us a lot of good. So for now, let’s just describe this one.

Pet Sounds in not a perfect recording and you can not expect “perfect” sound. But go ahead and play this copy against every other Pet Sounds in your collection — I think you’ll be more than impressed. Your satisfaction is of course guaranteed.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Wouldn’t It Be Nice 
You Still Believe in Me 
That’s Not Me 
Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder) 
I’m Waiting for the Day 
Let’s Go Away for Awhile 
Sloop John B.

Side Two

God Only Knows 
I Know There’s an Answer 
Here Today 
I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times 
Pet Sounds 
Caroline, No

AMG Review

The best Beach Boys album, and one of the best of the 1960s. The group here reached a whole new level in terms of both composition and production, layering tracks upon tracks of vocals and instruments to create a richly symphonic sound. Conventional keyboards and guitars were combined with exotic touches of orchestrated strings, bicycle bells, buzzing organs, harpsichords, flutes, Theremin, Hawaiian-sounding string instruments, Coca-Cola cans, barking dogs, and more. It wouldn’t have been a classic without great songs, and this has some of the group’s most stunning melodies, as well as lyrical themes which evoke both the intensity of newly born love affairs and the disappointment of failed romance (add in some general statements about loss of innocence and modern-day confusion as well)… Massively influential upon its release (although it was a relatively low seller compared to their previous LPs), it immediately vaulted the band into the top level of rock innovators among the intelligentsia, especially in Britain, where it was a much bigger hit.

Rachmaninoff & Liszt / Favorite Classics for Piano / Pennario – Reviewed in 2014

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Favorite Classics for Piano / Pennario

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fam.

White Hot Stamper sound on side two of this solo piano recording. It’s big, rich and above all REAL sounding, with natural studio space. The legendary soloist Leonard Pennario is presented here at the height of his powers. Superb choice of material, from Clair De Lune to Liebestraum to the Hungarian Rhapsody No . 2.

On the rare Stereo pressing of course — we want to hear all that studio space reproduced, just as your two ears would have heard it (more or less). (more…)

June Christy – Fair And Warmer!

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Fair And Warmer!y

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  • An incredible sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • If you want to hear just how good an All Tube Capitol recording, in mono, from 1957 can sound, this record is guaranteed to do the trick
  • All the top West Coast Cool School jazz vets are here: Shelly Manne, Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, and the arrangements are by the wonderfully talented Pete Rugolo
  • “… the cool-toned singer is the main star. Highlights include a definitive “I Want to Be Happy,” “Imagination,” “When Sunny Gets Blue,” and “It’s Always You.” All of June Christy’s Capitol dates are well worth picking up.” 

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Crowded House – Crowded House

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More Crowded House – Crowded House

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

This original domestic pressing offers killer Hot Stamper sound for both sides of Crowded House’s wonderful debut. 

Musically side one is absolutely brilliant from first note to last. Crowded House may have wanted to be the New Beatles, but those are some pretty big shoes to fill. They fell a bit short — who can compete with The Beatles? — but in their heyday, 1985-1993, they were better at making intelligent, original, melody-driven pop than practically any other group I was listening to. If you like the Art Rock of the ’70s, this album shows that smart, adult rock music could still be made a decade or more later. (more…)