Labels We Love – Columbia/Epic

Bob Dylan & The Band – Before The Flood – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

One of the great Live Classic Rock albums of all time, now available in White Hot Stamper form! We recently undertook a massive shootout for this spirited double LP and three of the better sides from the whole shebang are on this here pressing. Sides one and two each earned our top grade of A+++, while side four clocked in at A++. Side three, as is often the case, was not quite up to the same standards. 

We feel that the best material is contained on the other three sides, so we doubt this will be a dealbreaker for many of you. (more…)

Gershwin / An American In Paris & Rhapsody In Blue

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

I’ve always loved these performances, but the shrill Columbia sound has been hard to get past. So many copies suffer from upper-midrangy, glary, hard sound and blary brass. I’ve come to accept that this is nothing more nor less than the “Columbia Sound,” and as a consequence I rarely put much effort into surveying their prodigious catalog these days. (more…)

Dave Brubeck – Tonight Only!

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Tonight Only!

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  • This superb Brubeck recording, with Carmen McRae on vocals, finally returns to the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • This Six-Eye Stereo pressing was richer and tubier and just plain more musical than every other copy we played (which is exactly why it won the shootout)
  • The first of three collaborations between Brubeck and McRae in the early ’60s
  • Billboard notes that “Brubeck teams up with canary Carmen McRae on this package and the results are eminently tasteful and listenable”.
  • Every reviewer on Amazon for this album (on CD of course) gave it Five Stars – how often does that happen? 

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Earth, Wind & Fire – Gratitude

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

OFF THE CHARTS SOUND on three out of four sides! Make no mistake: This is BY FAR the best copy of Gratitude we have ever played. No other copy in our shootout was the equal of this bad boy. This copy showed us a Gratitude we had no idea existed. Every once in a while you run across a record that has both sides mastered as good as they can be mastered, and this is very nearly one of those times — for this double album only one side fell short out of four, and that side still rated a very respectable A+ to A++. That’s ten and a half pluses all told. Nice job, Mastering Lab. You did Earth Wind and Fire proud. (more…)

Gerry Mulligan – Jeru

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

This Black Print 360 original stereo pressing from 1962 put every other copy we played to shame – it’s White Hot on both sides. Tubier, more transparent, more dynamic, with that “jumpin’ out of the speakers’ quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has. Hard to imagine any reissue, vintage or otherwise, can beat the sound of this amazing LP – we sure couldn’t find one.  (more…)

Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters

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  • An outstanding copy of Hancock’s 1973 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • If you’ve been disappointed by the sound of the album in the past, here’s a copy that can show you a whole new Head Hunters
  • Described as “a key release in Hancock’s career and a defining moment in the genre of jazz” and a member of Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time
  • 5 stars: “It had all of the sensibilities of jazz, particularly in the way it wound off into long improvisations, but its rhythms were firmly planted in funk, soul, and R&B, giving it a mass appeal that made it the biggest-selling jazz album of all time (a record which was later broken).”

Jazz-fusion fans are going to have themselves a funky good time with this Hot Stamper copy of Head Hunters! Let me tell you, it is no mean feat to find a copy of this album with this kind of sound. This copy is dynamic and lively with the kind of extension up top that brings this music to life. The bottom end has the kind of weight that these funky tunes demand, and the percussion sounds right on the money. (more…)

Earth Wind & Fire – The Best Of EWF, Vol. 1 – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This original Columbia LP has AMAZING SOUND on BOTH sides. Side one was right up there with the best we have ever heard. Without ten side ones to play there is very little chance you will be able to beat it. Hell, you might need twenty to find a better side one, but since the first track on the album is Got To Get You Into My Life, you might just have a ball doing it. 

What a song. And it’s not on any other EWF album. Three points to make here: 1) It’s from the real master tape; 2) It happens to have DEMO DISC quality sound, which means: 3) You need this record in your collection. (more…)

Duke Ellington – Ellington Indigos

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

This 6-Eye Stereo pressing blew us away with its superbly well recorded romantic big band jazz, of which Ellington was a master. Both sides of this pressing are huge, rich, tubey and clear. This is absolutely the right sound for this music. A near-perfect demonstration of just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be – no modern record can hold a candle to a pressing as good as this one. If you like your jazz ballads performed with deep feeling, by a road-tested group of virtuoso players, this record is for you.

If you like the sound of relaxed, tube-mastered jazz, you can’t do much better than Ellington Indigos. Many of the other Six Eye copies we played suffered from blubbery bass and transient smearing, but the clarity and bass definition here are surprisingly good. The warmth and immediacy of the sound here may just blow your mind. (more…)

Ten Years After – A Space In Time – A Thrill on Big Speakers at Loud Levels

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A Space In Time

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A Space in Time is just one of the recordings that made me pursue Big Stereo Systems driving Big Speakers, right from my earliest days in audio. You need large dynamic drivers with plenty of piston area – the kind that can move a lot of air – in order to bring the power of the music to life.  

If you have big speakers and a penchant for giving the old volume knob an extra click or two, it just doesn’t get any better than A Space in Time. (more…)

Billy Joel – 52nd Street

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52nd Street

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

Both of these copies have one killer A+++ side and one that just didn’t impress us, so we’ve paired them up to give you the best sound we possibly can for the entire album! This is in our opinion the Best Sounding Billy Joel Album, and when you hear this pressing you’ll understand exactly why. Super open and transparent with real detail and texture, they just don’t get any better than this. (more…)