Labels We Love – EMI/Harvest

Paganini / Violin Concertos 1 & 2 / Menuhin – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

More of the music of Niccolò Paganini

Violin Concerto 1 & 2 / Menuhin

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

Another remarkable Demo Disc from the Golden Age of recording, in this case 1961, with the benefit of more modern mastering from the ’70s, a combination that works wonders on this title, as you will hear from both of these White Hot sides.

The sound is so transparent, undistorted, three-dimensional and REAL, without any sacrifice in solidity, richness or Tubey Magic, that we knew we had our shootout winner with this copy.

It simply could not be beat: no other copy excelled in so many areas of reproduction whilst striking the ideal balance between soloist and orchestra. (more…)

Crowded House – Temple of Low Men

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Temple of Low Men

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

This British import pressing came right out of my collection. I would love to be able to keep an album as good as this one in my collection, but when would I ever find time to play it? Those days are gone. We play records all day long, five days a week. Weekends we do other things now.

Both sides are smooth and very analog sounding, and both are quiet, The big sound of a Tchad Blake recording with a Bob Clearmountain mix.

Musically both sides have some of the band’s best material. A few of our favorite tracks would be: I Feel Possessed and Into Temptation on side one, Love This Life and Better Be Home Soon on side two.  (more…)

Saint-Saens – The Best Danse Macabre on Record

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

Danse Macabre / Ravel, Debussy, Chabrier

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

This White Hot EMI pressing has some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we’ve ever heard. Man, this copy sure has it going on: it’s super clean and clear, tonally correct from top to bottom, with all of the weight of the orchestra down low on both sides.

If you want a classical record to TEST your system, if you want a classical record to DEMO your system, you will have a hard time finding a better pressing than this very copy.

Debussy – Prelude A L’apres-midi D’un Faune is excellent here as well – it’s a piece we rarely have recordings of on the site. (more…)

Paul McCartney – Tug of War

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Tug of War

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  • You’ll find oustanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on this vintage UK pressing of McCartney’s Tug Of War – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Relatively rich and full-bodied, yet still clean, clear and spacious, with note-like bass and smoother vocals than most 
  • A copy with transparency and clarity like this lets you appreciate George Martin’s masterful production work
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… crowd-pleasing genre-hopping.. in general — it is, by design, a record that gives the people old Beatle Paul — but McCartney in general.”

Drop the needle on the opener Tug Of War and listen to how wide and deep the sound field is. Take It Away follows with a bit of an ’80s reggae feel, and on the better copies you get meaty, tight bass that sets the foundation for the fun to follow. (more…)

Paul McCartney and Wings – Ram

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Ram

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  • This vintage pressing of McCartney’s 1971 Classic boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides
  • A copy like this is a real audiophile treat – here is the rich, warm, clear, natural and lively sound you want for Ram   
  • Many of the man’s most memorable songs are here: Too Many People, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, Monkberry Moon Delight, Heart Of The Country and more
  • 5 stars: “These songs may not be self-styled major statements, but they are endearing and enduring, as is Ram itself, which seems like a more unique, exquisite pleasure with each passing year.”

I remember this album being dismissed as lightweight back in the day and I may have even felt the same to be honest. Heck, compared to Abbey Road and The White Album, the very same thing could be said about most of McCartney’s albums.

McCartney isn’t out to blow you away with high-production value rock here, apart from Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. He’s making some lovely pop music with his wife and sharing it with the world. And what’s so wrong with that? (more…)

Paul McCartney / Wings – London Town

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London Town

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  • This MPL import pressing has incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • Clean, clear, and dynamic with lots of Tubey Magic and a huge bottom end — this copy was doing it all right! 
  • “… it’s certainly stronger than Speed and, in its own way, as satisfying as Venus and Mars… It’s a laid-back, almost effortless collection of professional pop and, as such, it’s one of his strongest albums.” – All Music

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Paul McCartney and Wings – Red Rose Speedway

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Red Rose Speedway

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  • This early British EMI pressing has stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – respectable vinyl too
  • This copy has the sound we look for in a ’70’s McCartney record – the size, the weight, the energy, the vocal presence, they’re all here
  • “Red Rose Speedway winds up being a really strange record… [it’s] every bit as insular as the lo-fi records of the early ’90s, but considerably more artful, since it was, after all, designed by one of the great pop composers of the century. …McCartney’s little flourishes are intoxicating — not just the melodies, but the facile production and offhand invention.” 

We have not had particularly good luck with the domestic pressings we’ve tried. The Brits are the only ones that, to our ears, seem to be made from the real tape. (more…)

Paul McCartney – McCartney II

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McCartney II

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  • An outstanding UK pressing with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Forget the dubby domestic pressings – these UK imports are the only ones that can deliver the McCartney II Magic
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl for the most part – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus on both sides
  • “Entitled McCartney II because its one-man band approach mirrors that of his first solo album, Paul McCartney’s first record since the breakup of Wings was greeted upon its release as a return to form… McCartney II finds Paul in an adventurous state of mind, which is a relief after years of formulaic pop.”
  • This MPL import pressing has incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • Clean, clear, and dynamic with lots of Tubey Magic and a huge bottom end — this copy was doing it all right! 
  • “… it’s certainly stronger than Speed and, in its own way, as satisfying as Venus and Mars… It’s a laid-back, almost effortless collection of professional pop and, as such, it’s one of his strongest albums.” – All Music

*NOTE: There is a small mark near the start of track five that plays lightly eight times.

If you’ve heard the album, you know it’s not exactly a straight-ahead pop record. Paul is in his one-man-band mode here, just as he was for his brilliant solo debut, but this time around he relies more on synth-heavy arrangements and plenty of studio experimentation. Assuming you have the right pressing, UK only in our experience, it can be a very good sounding record. (more…)

Deep Purple – Who Do We Think We Are! – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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More Who Do We Think We Are!

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

This British Import Purple Records pressing has a GREAT side one, and AMAZING A+++ side two, and VERY QUIET VINYL throughout! I don’t think you could find a better sounding side two no matter what you did. The sound here is BIG, BOLD and LIVELY with real weight down low and excellent presence. It really JUMPS out of the speakers and fills up the room! Side one is very good as well, with all of the qualities described above. It doesn’t fully open up the way side two does, but it still slaughtered most of the copies we played it against.

The big hit song from this one was Woman From Tokyo and it sounds excellent on this copy — very natural with real texture to the guitars and lots of WHOMP down low. (more…)

Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run

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Band on the Run

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  • An outstanding British pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too (for this title anyway) 
  • Both sides of this early UK pressing sound right to us, and that makes it a very special copy indeed
  • The legendary Geoff Emerick engineered the album, a Top 100 title here at Better Records – it’s an impressive recording when it sounds as good as this copy does
  • The title track, Jet, Bluebird, Mrs. Vandebilt, Let Me Roll It, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five – so many great songs!
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…sophisticated, nuanced arrangements and irrepressibly catchy melodic hooks… McCartney’s infallible instinct for popcraft overflows on this excellent release.”

This is a TOUGH album to find with great sound and quiet vinyl, but when you a killer copy like this the record is a MONSTER. The track list includes some of the best McCartney songs of the seventies: the title song, Jet, Bluebird, Mrs. Vandebilt, Let Me Roll It, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five (my personal favorite on the album) — there’s really not a dog in the bunch. This is clearly the last consistently good studio album the man recorded. (more…)