Labels We Love – Elektra

Love – Da Capo – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

ONE OF THE BEST SIDE ONES WE’VE EVER HEARD on unusually quiet vinyl! Since side two is just one long track that we just can’t get too worked up about, this is EXACTLY the kind of copy we’d want to own. We had a chance to shootout a handful of copies recently and didn’t hear anything that could compete with side one of thie Elektra Gold Label Original Pressing. We are HUGE fans of Love and side one has three of our favorite songs by the band: Stephanie Knows Who, Orange Skies and Seven & Seven Is. Get ready to rock out with this one! (more…)

Judy Collins – Judy Collins #3

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  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two, this pressing will be very hard to beat – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too  
  • The “breath of life” is alive and well on these old LPs, the best reason for the truly serious audiophile to stay committed to analog
  • “Having established herself as one of the foremost interpreters of traditional material, Collins did the same for contemporary folk songwriters on this album, which mixed standards with pristine covers of compositions by Dylan, Pete Seeger and Shel Silverstein. With Jim (Roger) McGuinn arranging and playing second guitar and banjo, this album, which included a fine version of Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” had a clear (if overlooked) influence on the folk-rock he pioneered with the Byrds.”

We had a devil of a time finding clean, quiet, good sounding copies of this album. The mono pressings, which are far more common than the stereo pressings, didn’t sound right to us, and everything produced after the Big Red E label era is a joke, which leaves the Folksinger label pressings from 1963 and the Gold Label pressings from 1965. Both can be good. This LP was by far the quietest we played, which makes it very special indeed. (more…)

Carly Simon – Another Passenger – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

A TOP PRESSING of what we consider to be the best — and best-sounding — Carly Simon album! I’ve been telling people for years how amazing this album can sound, but we almost never hear it sound quite like this! Side one rates A++, side two rates A+++ and both sides play quietly. Most copies are gritty and edgy, but this one is smoother, sweeter and much more musical.  (more…)

Carly Simon – Boys In The Trees – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This White Hot Stamper side one backed with an almost-as-amazing side two has the sound we were looking for on BOTH sides of the album: rich and sweet, with the kind of TRANSPARENCY that lets you hear every breath Carly takes. This is not phony detail — her voice is natural and full-bodied, and the entire production is tonally correct from top to bottom. This pressing is just doing its job — showing you what’s really on the master tape — and not too many of the copies we played were able to do that.

Most of the copies we played were dull, smeary and opaque, like so many records from this era. Since a lot of the records we play for shootouts are from the ’70s, we’re pretty familiar with that sound by now. Simply put, we’re in the business of looking for the copy that doesn’t sound like that. We’re looking for the copy that manages to get all the information from the cutter head into the grooves and keep it there. We call such copies Hot Stampers, and when a random copy comes along that just happens to be amazingly good, as in this case, we call it a White Hot Stamper. (more…)

Carly Simon – Carly Simon

More Carly Simon

Carly Simon – Carly Simon

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  • Both sides of this original Elektra LP earned excellent Double Plus (A++) grades for their sound and play exceptionally quietly
  • Legendary producer and engineer Eddie Kramer lends his talent to this album and knows how to get the best sound
  • That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be is the killer track here and it sounds fantastic on this copy
  • Can you believe that the producer and engineer of Carly’s 1971 debut here is none other than Eddie Kramer!?  

It’s not an audiophile knockout like Dark Side of the Moon, nor is it trying to be. The richness and the sweetness of the midrange on the best copies are exactly what you’d be looking for on this heavily-produced pop album, and this copy gives you that sound like no other copy you’ve ever heard. (more…)

Bread – On The Waters – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

More Bread

More On The Waters

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

Hot Stampers have finally been discovered for the most consistent and BEST SOUNDING of the Bread albums (not counting the Best of Bread compilation, one of our long time favorites here at Better Records, but a compilation nevertheless). This is the record that put their heavily Beatles-inflected Pure Pop on the map, and at the top of the charts with their Number One hit single Make It With You.

We used to think that only the Best of Bread album could get that song to sound as luscious and Tubey Magical as it does when we hear it in our heads, but it seems we were wrong — it sounds positively amazing on the best copies of On The Waters. To hear the vocal harmonies that these guys produced is to be reminded of singers of the caliber of the Everly Brothers or The Beatles. (more…)

The Doors – The Soft Parade – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

More The Doors

More The Soft Parade

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

This incredibly rare, exceptionally quiet Elektra Gold Label LP sounds AMAZING, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG)! The sound is BIG, RICH, and FULL-BODIED, exactly the way it should be. As good as the Hot Stamper Big Red E Label copies can be, and that’s very good indeed, the right first pressing is still The King. It just can’t be beat. 

The difference might only be 5%, but on a big dynamic speaker playing at loud levels that 5% can really give the sound the boost it needs to go over the top into crazy Demo Disc Land. (more…)

Love – Love

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

A classic from 1966, a combination of proto-punk and psychedelia featuring My Little Red Book, Hey Joe and more. The first Love album is without a doubt the punchiest, liveliest, most POWERFUL recording in the Love catalog. Engineered by none other than Bruce Botnick, here is the kind of massive bottom end weight and energy that we like to call WHOMP.

Some of you may not know this music, but it’s a true Must Own Psychedelic Gem from the ’60s, a record no rock collection should be without, along with other groundbreaking albums from the ’60s such as Surrealistic Pillow, The Doors’ debut, the first Spirit album and too many others to list. (more…)

The Dillards – Wheatstraw Suite

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  • Stunning sound for this original Elektra Gold Label pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades and playing as quietly as these early pressings ever do
  • This is a SHOCKINGLY well recorded album, full of Tubey Magic and as relaxed, smooth and natural as any record from 1968 has a right to be
  • 4 1/2 stars: “It never got any better than this… 13 all-but-perfect tracks… this is a finer rural/rock fusion album than Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the first Flying Burrito Brothers album, or the Beau Brummels’ efforts during this same period, and an indispensable part of any collection of ’60s music.”

This vintage Elektra Gold Label pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds. (more…)

Bill Evans – The Paris Concert: Edition One

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  • An outstanding copy of this live album, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – reasonably quiet vinyl for this kind of quiet piano music
  • These sides are doing pretty much everything right – as befits a live concert, there’s an overall unprocessed quality to the sound and good space around all three players
  • 4 1/2 stars: “With bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe La Barbera, Evans had one of the strongest trios of his career… The close communication between the players is reminiscent of Evans’ 1961 unit with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian.”

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