Labels We Love – Fantasy

Bill Evans – I Will Say Goodbye

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  • Bill Evans’ 1980 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Rich, smooth, sweet, and wonderfully natural, this is the sound we love here at Better Records
  • 4 stars: ” For his final Fantasy album, Evans, bassist Eddie Gómez, and drummer Eliot Zigmund perform memorable renditions of such songs as Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance”… Fine post-bop music from an influential piano giant.

This vintage Fantasy pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 this trio, 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.

What the best sides of I Will Say Goodbye have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1980
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on I Will Say Goodbye

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

Bill Evans – piano
Eddie Gómez – bass
Eliot Zigmund – drums

TRACK LISTING

Side One

 Will Say Goodbye
Dolphin Dance
Seascape
Peau Douce

Side Two

I Will Say Goodbye (Take 2)
The Opener
Quiet Light
A House Is Not A Home

AMG 4 Star Review

The title refers to the Michel Legrand piece performed twice on the date, and to the fact that pianist Bill Evans was on the verge of switching labels from Fantasy to Warner Bros. For his final Fantasy album, Evans, bassist Eddie Gómez, and drummer Eliot Zigmund perform memorable renditions of such songs as Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance,” Johnny Mandel’s “Seascape,” and Burt Bacharach’s underrated “A House Is Not a Home.” Fine post-bop music from an influential piano giant.

Duke Ellington – Yale Concert

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More Yale Concert

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

There is some interesting mic placement going on with this recording. Some of the instruments seem to be off-mic, creating an unusual effect that has its charms.

Only one song was actually recorded live, Boola Boola. The rest of the material was taped in the studio and an audience dubbed in. (more…)

The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Near Myth – Reviewed in 2011

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More Near Myth

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

This original STEREO BLUE VINYL Fantasy pressing has Hot Stamper sound on both sides, with rich and musical Tubey Magical qualities appropriate to this early ’60s West Coast jazz. We’ve known about this album for close to twenty years, having played the surprisingly good sounding OJC pressing and recommended it back in the days when those kinds of records were still in print.  (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Creedence Clearwater…

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Creedence Clearwater…

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  • An insanely good copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish  
  • These sides are exceptionally low-distortion, lively, solid and dynamic – just what this music needs
  • Probably the most difficult CCR studio album to find with great sound – and here it is!
  • 4 stars: “… the band’s sound is vibrant, with gutsy arrangements that borrow equally from Sun, Stax, and the swamp.”
  • Featuring classics such as I Put a Spell on You, the extended-length jam Susie Q (8:37, perfect for Underground Radio), The Working Man, Porterville and more

It’s unlikely you will be demonstrating your system with this record, but you may find yourself enjoying the hell out of it for what it is — an early example of Roots Rock that still holds up today.

This is an album that’s nearly impossible to find with excellent sound and clean surfaces. This is one of the best copies we’ve managed to get on the site in the last year by a HUGE margin. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country

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Bayou Country

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  • A KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) copy – you won’t find better sound for this band on vinyl 
  • Proud Mary and Good Golly Miss Molly are absolute MONSTERS on this early pressing – you will be floored
  • Our pick for the best sounding CCR recording – when you have a copy that sounds like this one, and, trust me, a copy as good sounding as this one is tough to find
  • 4 1/2 stars: “All the songs add up to a superb statement of purpose, a record that captures Creedence Clearwater Revival’s muscular, spare, deceptively simple sound as an evocative portrait of America.”

It’s beyond tough to find copies that aren’t bright, gritty, grainy or edgy — that’s how most Creedence records sound I’m afraid — but here’s a Bayou Country that’s fairly smooth, exceptionally lively, mostly transparent and just plain rockin’ enough to make your day. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory

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Cosmo’s Factory

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  • KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last – it doesn’t get any better than this folks! 
  • The sound is incredibly present and punchy with great clarity, excellent bass, freedom from grain and real swamp rockin’ energy
  • So many great songs: Run Through the Jungle, Lookin’ Out My Back Door, Who’ll Stop the Rain, etc.
  • A 5 star album and arguably the best record the band ever made: “…an album made during stress and chaos, filled with raging rockers, covers, and intense jams…”

We’ve made some strides of late (in 2015 as a matter of fact) finding the “right’ pressings for this band on some of their albums, especially this one, and with improved cleaning technologies we’re finding that the better copies such as this one are sounding the way we want our Creedence records to sound.  

Note that the Hoffman reissues and the MoFi pressing sound nothing like the Creedence records we all grew up with, and records that sound that small, lifeless, boring or wrong just can’t be what audiophiles want, can they? (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Creedence Clearwater…

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More Creedence Clearwater…

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

It’s unlikely you will be demonstrating your system with this record, but you may find yourself enjoying the hell out of it for what it is — an early example of Roots Rock that still holds up today. (more…)

Wes Montgomery – Boss Guitar

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More Boss Guitar

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

This is one of Wes Montgomery’s best albums from his prime ’60s period, if not THE best. Rich and full-bodied but clear and spacious, the 1963 All Tube Analog sound is perfect for Wes’s organ trio format.  (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River (from Way Back)

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More Green River

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

The first White Hot copy of Green River to ever hit the site! We’ve been trying this one for years but it’s insanely tough to find copies that really deliver. Creedence recordings tend to be somewhat rough and raw and this one is no exception, but this copy brought the music to life in a way that very few before it ever have on our system.

Green River isn’t ever going to be a knockout demo disc, but a copy like this allows you to enjoy the music as it was recorded. Most copies are so dull, grainy and lifeless that someone would have to wake you at the end of a side! (more…)

The Mastersounds – Swinging With The Mastersounds

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More Swinging With The Mastersounds

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  • The Mastersounds’ 1960 release finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one – exceptionally quiet Red Vinyl too   
  • These sides are doing everything right — full, clear, and solid, with the Tubey Magical Midrange that can only be found on recordings from this era
  • If you’re a fan of the Modern Jazz Quartet, you may feel as I do that the Mastersounds’ Montgomery brothers on vibes and bass play this kind of smooth jazz much better than the often-sleepy MJQ
  • “Swinging With the Mastersounds is accurately titled; its six tracks are all standards, and all are taken at a gentle, loping tempo and spin out sweetly…”

This reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the ’70s and ’80s. We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 35+ years ago, not the generally opaque, veiled and lifeless mastering so common today. (more…)