Labels We Love – Charisma

Genesis – Foxtrot – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

After struggling with this album for YEARS, Foxtrot Hot Stamper are back! It is INSANELY difficult to find good sound for this album. We’ve laid out hundreds of bucks on clear Brit originals over the years hoping to find that magical pressing, but could not manage to get the kind of sound we were hoping for. We the started bringing in every variety of pressing we could find and finally found a few copies that actually delivered. Here’s the best of them all — a White Hot Stamper with an A+++ side one, and A++ to A+++ side two and quiet vinyl. Genesis fans, the long wait is over — it’s time to hear this album sound right.  

This pressing has the best sound we’ve heard for this album, bar none. Having said that, this is probably not going to be the first record you reach for when friends ask you to put something on so they can hear how good your system is sounding. This recording is all over the place — parts of it sound amazing but other parts are always a bit murky. In that respect it has much in common with all the Genesis recordings from the era. Finding one with presence and clarity in the midrange is no mean feat. Here’s one that we think fans of the band should have no trouble recognizing as superior to whatever they may have heard. Demo disc sound? Not exactly. Better than other pressings? Without a doubt. (more…)

Genesis – Nursery Cryme – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This QUIET Super Hot Stamper is actually on the Charisma Blue label, not the original, but it gave our best Pink label copies a run for their money, with superb bass, real rock energy and lovely midrange transparency. For fans of the Classic Lineup involving Phil Collins and Steve Hackett — this being the first album with them on board — side one of this copy will show you a Nursery Cryme the likes of which you have never heard. (If you own the Classic Heavy Vinyl pressing you are really in for a shock. That pressing is a smeary lifeless mess next to this LP.)  (more…)

Genesis – Seconds Out – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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

STUNNING SOUND FOR ALL FOUR SIDES! This live album from 1977 has some of the best Genesis sound we’ve heard. Their studio recordings are often a bit flat and dull, so it’s really a treat to hear those songs with this kind of big, open, dynamic sound! Phil Collins handles the lead vocals here, but he does a great job even on the Peter Gabriel material.  (more…)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This Charisma double LP was the uncontested winner of our shootout, earning a whopping 12 PLUSES across all four sides! In fact, this is BY FAR the best we’ve ever heard this album sound. After our last shootout — in which no side earned a top grade — we had almost given up hope of finding a true White Hot Stamper copy. Well, folks, our perseverance has finally paid off and this copy is the proof! When you find a killer pressing this complex, theatrical music really WORKS. 

No other copy in our shootout came close to this one. The bass, which can lack weight on the typical copies, is big and solid throughout, and the vocals are present and rich with great ambience. Bigger and more present, richer and fuller, with more space and transparency, this copy is absolutely As Good As It Gets (AGAIG) for this album!

This recording is always going to have a few issues. Certain tracks — particular the more rocking, guitar-heavy material — are ALWAYS going to get a little hard in the midrange, but on a good copy the issue is much less apparent and doesn’t get in the way of the music. And the more open, spacious keyboard and acoustic -driven songs which comprise the bulk of the album can sound really wonderful! (more…)

Peter Gabriel – So – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

TWO A+++ SIDES give you AMAZINGLY ANALOG SOUND for this digital recording! I don’t think you could find another copy of this album that sounds this good no matter what you do! We recently finished another big shootout for So, and we can tell you that the majority of copies — even the ones with the right stamper numbers — tend to be fairly harsh, edgy, and altogether unpleasant. When you find a copy like this, though, it’s worth all the trouble.    

With grades of A Triple Plus for both sides, this copy is SUPERB — punchy down low, sweet up top, full-bodied, lively, and above all, not too bright, spitty, or grainy. The vocals are present and clear and the bottom end is less opaque, blurry and bloated than on any copy you are ever likely to play. (more…)

Genesis – Wind and Wuthering

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning side two and a superb Double Plus (A++) side one, this copy will be very hard to beat 
  • These two outstanding UK-pressed sides are dramatically more present, dynamic and detailed than you’ve heard elsewhere, guaranteed
  • Their Masterpiece is still A Trick of the Tail, the album before this one, but Wind and Wuthering certainly has much to offer as well
  • “Wind & Wuthering followed quickly on the heels of A Trick of the Tail and they’re very much cut from the same cloth, working the same English eccentric ground that was the group’s stock in trade since Trespass.”

We have struggled like crazy to find copies of the album that are able to present the music as well as this one does. Most of the pressings we’ve gotten our hands on were a disaster, and that includes everything that does not say Made in England on the label. (more…)

Genesis – Selling England By The Pound – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES on this Charisma Import pressing! This is only the second Hot Stamper copy of Selling England By The Pound to EVER hit our site, and with both sides rating at least A++, it’s a monster! It’s beyond difficult to find good sounding copies of the early Genesis albums, but we managed to pull together enough clean copies to get this shootout going and eventually found a few copies that got the job done. The overall sound is big, open, transparent and tubey.   

Anyone who has tried to find good sounding copies of this album knows what a tough task it is. We’ve tried to do this shootout numerous times in the past five years and until this week had only come up with one great copy to show for it. Most of them that we’ve played are just too thin and/or lifeless to let this big production prog work its magic. The domestic copies we’ve heard have been uniformly hopeless, but most Import copies we’ve played haven’t been worth getting excited about either. (more…)

The Kinks – Sleepwalker

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Sleepwalker

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  • A superb copy of the Kinks triumphant return to the charts, with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side two and a solid Double Plus (A++) side one
  • It’s the first copy to hit the site in a year, and it plays on relatively quiet vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout 
  • The sound is full-bodied, lively and smooth – RL’s mastering contributes the big bottom end you want for this music
  • Juke Box Music represents Ray Davies’ fun and engaging pop sensibilities at their best
  • Rolling Stone raved that “The Kinks’ playing on Sleepwalker is easily their most powerful since ‘Lola.'”

We really enjoy the music of The Kinks here at Better Records, but most of the time the sound of their records is too mediocre (or worse) for serious audiophile listening. I love You Really Got Me as much as the next guy, but it’s insanely tough to find killer copies of old records like that. (Every now and then we manage, but regular visitors to the site know how infrequent that is.) (more…)

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel

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

Unlike any that follow, the sound varies greatly from track to track on the first PG album, as does the music. You know you have a good copy when the best sounding tracks sound their best. That may seem like a tautology but is in fact the only way to judge a side when the songs sound this different from one another.  

On side one the fourth track, Excuse Me, with its barbershop quartet harmonies, has potentially Demo Disc Quality Sound.

On side two of the best copies Waiting for the Big One will indeed be big, as well as powerful and above all dynamic.

Tubey Magical Richness and breathy vocals are the hallmarks of a good British PG 1. (more…)

Genesis – Trespass

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  • Only the second Shootout Winning copy to ever hit the site and boy is it KILLER! Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides 
  • About as quiet as these British copies come – Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • “… “tasteful, subtle and refined” – Melody Maker

This original pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)