Labels We Love – Elektra

Bread – On The Waters – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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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

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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.”

(more…)

Bread – Manna – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

Presented for your listening pleasure, an original pressing of Manna, Bread’s third album, with Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides. Side one rocks with the best of them — yes, Bread can rock; just play Let Your Love Go to see what I mean.

Side two boasts sweet and rich 1971 ANALOG sound, a credit to engineer ARMIN STEINER (who was also one of the engineers on Spirit’s first album, assisted on Ram and has more than a hundred other engineering credits).

That big rich bottom end and the volume of space that surrounds all the instruments and singers are the purest and most delightful form of Audiophile Candy of which we know.

The acoustic guitars? To die for. Talk about Tubey Magical Analog, this copy will show you just what’s missing from modern remastered records (and modern music generally). Whatever became of that sound?

This record put Bread’s heavily Beatles-inflected Pure Pop back on the charts after their the single from their previous album, On The Waters, made it to Number One, that song of course being Make It With You. “If”, the big hit off this album, went to number five, but we like it every bit as much as that earlier chart topper. Both represent the perfect melding of consummate songcraft and pure emotion.

We used to think that only the Best of Bread album could get those two songs to sound as luscious and Tubey Magical as they do when they’re playing in our heads, but it seems we were wrong — the latter sounds positively amazing on the best copies of Manna, and this is a VERY good copy indeed: A++ on both sides. (more…)

The Doors – Waiting For The Sun – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

It’s been over a year, but Waiting For The Sun Hot Stampers are BACK! It’s exceedingly difficult to find a good sounding, reasonably quiet Gold Label copy of this album, let alone enough copies to put together a proper shootout. It wasn’t easy, but a copy like this makes all the trouble worthwhile. Side one is a tubey magical A++, and side two is As Good As It Gets (AGAIG) at A+++.

Side one is WONDERFUL — tubey magical with tons of energy and real weight to the bottom end. The highs are silky sweet, the mids are warm and rich, and the bass is tight and punchy. This is THE BIG SOUND that we look for on Doors records. Morrison’s vocals sound JUST RIGHT here — full-bodied and breathy with incredible immediacy. The transparency is astonishing — you can easily pick out and follow Morrison’s double tracked vocals. (more…)

Bread – Bread – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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More Bread – Bread

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

Side two of Bread’s debut here — the one that shows the heaviest influence of The Beatles, this being 1969 — is smoother, silkier, and sweeter than any copy we’ve EVER played. There’s TONS of life and energy and the clarity and resolution are nothing short of superb. The sound is clean and clear without losing any of the Tubey Magical Warmth we prize so highly here at Better Records. The bottom end here is deep and punchy with stellar definition. Side two rates an A++ to A+++, the best we’ve heard. (It may not get any better.) Bruce Botnick only recorded one album with Bread but it’s clearly one of the best sounding in their catalog, no surprise there. (more…)

The Dillards – Copperfields – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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The Dillards

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

For the first time on the site, Hot Stamper sound for The Dillards! Those of you who enjoy the country-fried style of the Flying Burrito Bros., Gram Parsons or The Byrds will probably get a lot out of this one. We paired up our best sounding side one with our most impressive side two to create this QUIET A+++ / A++ 2-pack. Great sounding pressings for this band are tough to come by, so don’t let this one slip past you if you’re a fan!

We’ve been trying to find great sound for this band for years, but it is one tough task. For one thing, it’s difficult to find clean copies out in the bins and even when we do most of them don’t sound that hot. It took years worth of purchases to get enough of these together for a shootout, and even then very few of them delivered. We couldn’t even come up with a copy with two great sides, so we paired up the two pressings that had the best sound for either side.

The side one here is killer earning our top grade of A+++. The sound is super open and transparent with a very wide soundfield, giving lots of room to each of the musicians. This side one had the best bottom end we heard anywhere. It also had excellent presence, lots of energy and natural texture all around. It couldn’t be beat and I’d be very surprised if you could find a better one.

The side two of this set is nearly as good, smooth and sweet with lots of extension in the extremes. Many copies suffered from a veiled midrange that robbed the instruments of texture, but this one was cleaner, clearer and more transparent. We gave it an A++.

Flip either of the rated sides over to hear what separates a Hot Stamper pressing from the rest! (more…)

The Doors – The Doors – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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More The Doors – The Doors

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

THE BEST SOUNDING COPY OF THIS ALBUM WE’VE EVER HEARD! This Elektra Gold Label SLAUGHTERED the DCC, MURDERED the MoFi, and DECIMATED every last pressing we played it against! You aren’t going to believe all the TUBEY MAGIC on this copy!

Both sides are chock full of wonderfully grungy guitars, BIG beefy bass, and amazingly full-bodied vocals. The overall sound is open and spacious with lots of room around the instruments. This copy has the kind of presence and energy that will have you really rockin’ out! Side one rates an A+++ and side two is right behind, rating A++ – A+++. We’ve never heard a better copy and we expect that you haven’t either — it’s OUT OF THIS WORLD!   (more…)