Labels We Love – EMI/Harvest

Pink Floyd – Obscured By Clouds – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

EXCELLENT SOUND and some seriously strange music! This obviously isn’t Floyd’s greatest album, but we still found a lot to like about this record and specifically this copy. It’s a British Import Harvest Green Label pressing that rates close to A+ on both sides — slightly better on side one, not quite there on side two. Those of you who enjoy Meddle will certainly get a lot out of this one.

We rated side one between A+ and A++. The second and the fifth tracks were our favorites on this side, while the fourth track honestly left us a bit cold. We played other copies that couldn’t come near this side in terms of clarity, transparency or bass definition.

Side two has a bit of a thick, Moody Blues-esque sound. It’s tonally correct from top to bottom with good energy. The lead guitar sounds particularly good, as does the organ.

Don’t expect a fully realized album a la Dark Side, because this ain’t that. It’s a nice collection of songs and instrumentals that should provide a nice thrill to Floyd fans who really dig the prog-psych aspect of the band. (more…)

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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This is an album that almost never sounds good. We’ve spent a ton of money over the years chasing British originals and various other pressings looking for that Pink Floyd magic, but most copies were terribly disappointing sonically. This was the best copy we’ve heard in many years — richer, bigger sounding and more solid than everything else we were able to put against it. It’s far from a Demo Disc but if you like this music I don’t think you can find better sound for it. 

Atom Heart Mother is from Pink Floyd’s early psych years, and it’s not a pop album by any means. In truth it’s fairly bizarre, kicking off with a side long orchestral piece before settling into songs on the second side. There’s a lot to enjoy here, but if you aren’t familiar with the album you may want to check it out on youtube before laying out the big bucks we charge for a copy that sounds as good as this one does. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Capriccio Italien – Boult – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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ASD 3093. EMI Postage Stamp Label LP with DEMO QUALITY SOUND and a performance to match! I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed these pieces more.

[This was written long ago, and in the meantime we have heard many amazing recordings of excellent performances of these works. Please visit the site to see them.]

The energy of the playing complements the dynamic, powerful and rich sound. A great EMI.

Recorded by the Two Christophers, this record features selections from Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. 

Sullivan-Mackerras / Pineapple Poll Ballet / Mackerras

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  • This wonderful recording of Pineapple Poll makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from top to bottom – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • In the best tradition of vintage All Tube analog from 1962, these sides are both rich and clear, with rhythmic drive and energy that keeps the festivities briskly humming along, just as they would in one of the composer’s famous operettas
  • Remarkably colorful orchestration – the brilliant music of Sir Arthur Sullivan shines on this famous TAS List Super Disc
  • “As a score, [Pineapple Poll] quite simply sparkles like freshly popped champagne. … In fact, this is a comic masterpiece. Any viewer will be impressed with the vivacious dancing and the ‘built in’ humour which pervades the work…”

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Bizet-Shchedrin / Carmen Ballet Suite / Rozhdestvensky – Our 4+ Shootout Winner from 2019

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

Unbelievable Shootout Winning Demo Disc quality sound throughout — QUADRUPLE PLUS (A++++) on the first side and Triple Plus (A+++) on the second. Side one has by far the better music – it’s where the most exciting, most percussive movements can be found – and this pressing, with Beyond White Hot sound for that side, is guaranteed to be bigger and more lively than you ever imagined (because that’s how we felt about it, hence the fourth plus).

Please note: we award the Four Plus (A++++) grade so rarely that we don’t have a graphic for it in our system to use in the grading scale shown above. We rarely find records with this kind of sound, just a few times a year at most — this is the only one on the site at this time.

Both sides show up on the chart as A+++, but when you hear this copy you will know why we gave side one that fourth plus!

This Angle Melodiya pressing of Bizet’s Carmen, rearranged by Soviet composer Rodion Shchedrin for strings and 47 percussion instruments, has two incredible sides. Demo Quality Sound barely begins to do it justice. If you have the system to play it, this copy is a KNOCKOUT.

But boy is it a difficult record to reproduce. You better have everything working right when you play this one — it’s guaranteed to bring practically any audiophile system to its knees. Speed, resolving power and freedom from distortion are what this record needs to sound its best. Is your system up to it? There’s only one way to find out.

And if you have any peaky audiophile wire or equipment in your system, the kind that is full of detail but calls attention to itself, you are in big trouble with a record like this. More than anything this is a record that rewards your system’s neutrality. (more…)

Sibelius/ The Popular Sibelius – Berglund – Reviewed in 2005

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This Minty looking EMI Promenade Series LP is a real SLEEPER!

BIG, EXCITING SOUND! With a spirited performance to match from Berglund, a man well known for his Sibelius work. This is not one of those vague, washed out EMIs

This record is ALIVE. Recorded by Stuart Eltham in 1972, you will be hard pressed to find more immediacy in an EMI. The sound may even be a bit over the top on some selections — whether it is or not will probably depend on your tastes and playback system. But one listen to the third track on side one should convince you that you’re in the presence of a superb recording.

This record includes Finlandia, Valse Triste, Karelia – Intermezzo, The Swan Of Tuonela, Lemminkaines’s Return, King Christian II – Elegy, Musette & Nocturne.

Shostakovich – Symphonies No. 6 & 11 – Berglund

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SLS 5177 EMI Large Dog Label LP with powerful bass — a very dynamic copy! TAS List of course. The strings are immediate, perhaps a little hot, but that’s Shostakovich for you. It’s probably in the scoring.

AC/DC – High Voltage

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  • A KILLER sounding import copy of AC/DC’s original Australian debut album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • These sides are doing just about everything right — big, full-bodied, lively and dynamic with tight punchy bass and wonderfully rich and present vocals
  • “As debut album titles go, AC/DC’s High Voltage supplied a perfect encapsulation of the band’s electrifying brand of rock & roll. So perfect, in fact, they actually used it twice: for their first album proper, the Australian-only version of High Voltage, released in February 1975; and for the better-known international debut from mid-1976, which was essentially a collection of highlights from the former and its late-1975 successor, TNT.”

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Set-up Discs, Part Two – Dialing in the Anti-Skate

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

I once adjusted my anti-skate while playing this very album, at the time dialing it in to a “T”. Over the years I’ve found that the best test for fine anti-skate adjustment is massed strings, and not just at the end of a side but right at the beginning too.

When you have all the rosiny texture, the high-end harmonic extension, the least shrillness and the widest and deepest staging, you are there, assuming that tracking weight, azimuth and VTA are correct as well.

Four variables to mess with is admittedly a bitch, but having the right record to test with is absolutely critical as well. Maybe we should call it five variables.

And if I only had one record to bring to someone’s house in order to evaluate their equipment, this would certainly be a top choice. If you can make this record sound the way it should, your stereo is cookin’. If you are having problems, this record will show them to you in short order. (more…)