Labels We Love – Mercury

Adam / Giselle / Fistoulari

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

Remastered by Philips from a Golden Age Classical Recording by Mercury, originally released in 1961.

This Mercury Golden Import 2 LP set has VERY GOOD sound. The average copy tends to be a bit dark and recessed, but this one is refreshingly free from those problems. It’s not quite up to Hot Stamper status, but it is a very enjoyable record!

Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells A Story – Test for Proper Tonal Balance

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

One note on how to tell if you have a tonally balanced copy, at least on side two. Maggie May has multi-overdubbed, close-miked mandolins that should have strong midrange presence and an especially extended, harmonically correct top end. As soon as that song ends, a very sweet, smooth guitar opens the next track, Mandolin Wind. The two songs lean towards opposite ends of the tonal balance spectrum, but on a good copy, both of them sound right. One’s a little darker, one’s a little brighter, but they should both be right if your system is tonally balanced.    (more…)

Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #3 / Janis / Dorati

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

This Super Hot Stamper (or better) original Colorback Mercury pressing is not only the BEST sounding copy we have ever heard, it also boasts the quietest side one we’ve experienced, playing mostly Mint Minus. For a fifty year old Mercury that is QUIET.

Not only is the sound amazing — yes, it’s on the TAS Super Disc list, and for good reason, a copy as good as this one really is a Super Disc — but this copy has another vitally important characteristic that most copies of the record do not: virtually no Inner Groove Distortion

We can’t begin to count the times we have had to return (or toss) a copy of this very record because the piano breakup for the last inch or two of the record was just unbearable. That’s a sound no serious listener could possibly tolerate, yet I would venture to guess that MOST Mercury Piano Concerto recordings suffer from this kind of groove damage. (more…)

Balalaika Favorites on Classic Records

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Sonic Grade: D

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

It’s been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as unpleasantly hard and sour.

10ccs’ Brilliant Second Album – Sheet Music

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  • This copy of Sheet Music boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and relatively quiet vinyl too
  • Rich, full and balanced with plenty of deep bass and Arty Rock energy, this is a Truly Amazing Demo Disc
  • Bassist Graham Gouldman calls it “the definitive 10cc album” and he’s probably right about that (although we love The Original Soundtrack that came out a year later)
  • “Three hit singles spun off the record, and most of the other tracks could have followed suit; it says much for Sheet Music’s staying power that, no matter how many times the album is reissued, it has never lost its power to delight, excite, and set alight a lousy day.”

Sheet Music is in our opinion the most consistently well written and produced 10cc album, with every track performed with heart and recorded with exquisite attention to detail. Each song flows into the next and there is simply not a dull moment to be found. Sheet Music is arguably the best record they ever made, although I’m such a fan, I think they’re all great. (The first five albums anyway.) (more…)

Sarah Vaughan – A Winner from Speakers Corner

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Sonic Grade: B

A TOP TITLE from Speakers Corner on 180 gram. This is an outstanding Sarah Vaughan album with very good sound and top players like Clifford Brown on trumpet, Paul Quinichette on tenor sax and Herbie Mann on flute. 

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

[We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds.]

“The Jazz World, instrumentally and vocally, may be said to be split into two camps. There are the followers and the followed; the imitators and the inimitable. True, there are many who have managed to graduate out of the first class into the second (didn’t Dizzy Gillespie once sound just like Roy Eldridge?), but in the case of Sarah Vaughan it can safely be assumed that this talent has been sui generis from the very beginning; that the Newark neighbors who heard her first infant cries in 1924 could tell immediately when it was Vaughan who was wailing.”

“It is doubtful whether anyone, including Sarah herself, is likely to be able to find any more completely satisfying representation of her work, or any more appropriate musical setting, than are offered in this LP. These sides are sure to rank among the foremost achievements of her decade as a recording artist.” – from the original liner notes

TRACK LISTING

Lullaby of Birdland
April in Paris
He’s My Guy
Jim
You’re Not The Kind
Embraceable You
I’m Glad There Is You
September Song
It’s Crazy
Lullaby Of Birdland

The Brahms Violin Concerto – Unplug or Suffer the Consequences!

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The massed strings here, such as those found at the opening, are close miked and immediate in the “Mercury recording style.” Your electricity better be good when you play this record, because it presents a test many of you will have trouble passing at even moderate levels. 

We’ve often encouraged our readers and customers to go about unplugging things in their homes in order to test the effect of clean electricity on their playback systems. The opening of this record is a perfect example of the kind of material with which everyone should be testing in order to hear these changes. I’d be very surprised if the strings on this record don’t sound noticeably better after you’ve unplugged a few things in your house, and the more the better. (more…)

Sowing The Seeds Of Love for Psych

The Seeds Of Love

 

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This Tears for Fears album is a real desert island disc for me. When you get a big, rich, smooth copy such as this one, the short list of problems with the recording don’t interfere with the music. Like good stereo equipment, a good record lets you forget all that audio stuff and just listen to the music as music.

The Seeds Of Love is the band’s masterpiece, and hearing it this way is nothing short of a THRILL.

The sound of most copies is aggressive, hard, harsh and thin. What do you expect? The album is recorded digitally and direct metal mastered at Masterdisk. Most of us analog types put up with the limitations of the sound because we love the music, some of the most powerfully moving, brilliantly written and orchestrated psychedelic pop of the last thirty years. Imagine if the Beatles in their Sgt. Pepper/ Magical Mystery Tour phase kept going in that direction. They very well might have ended up in the neighborhood of Sowing the Seeds of Love. (more…)

Rush – Signals


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

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  • Astonishing Triple Triple (A+++) sonic grades clearly make this one of the best copies to ever hit the site
  • Huge synths and prodigious bass have both of these sides rockin’ like you will not believe
  • Individual notes aren’t smeared, they have body and attack, and there’s no shortage of energy to the complex playing
  • 4 stars: “Rush didn’t forget how to rock out — “The Analog Kid” and “Digital Man” were some of their most up-tempo compositions in years.”

See all of our Rush albums in stock

If you’re a fan of the band, you know what these guys are about — big-time technical prowess, dizzying effects, powerful solos and so forth. Many copies we played didn’t let you hear just how hard these guys are shredding… and then what’s the point? If the musicianship gets lost in the mastering, why bother with this band at all? We were looking for copies that didn’t let us forget who we were listening to. (more…)

Big Drums in a Big Room – Every Picture Tells a Story

Every Picture Tells a Story

 

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What could be better?

If you’re a fan of BIG DRUMS in a BIG ROOM, with jump-out-of-the-speakers practically direct-to-disc sound quality, this is the album for you. The opening track on side one has drums that put to shame 99% of the rock drum kits ever recorded. The same is true of I Know I’m Losing You on side two. It just doesn’t get any better for rock drumming, musically or sonically. Micky Waller is brilliant throughout. Kenney Jones, who only plays on the showstopping “(I Know) I’m Losing You”, is clearly out of his mind).

Some of the best rock bass ever recorded can be found here too — punchy, note-like and solid as a rock. If you have the system for it you are going to have a great time playing this one for your friends, audiophiles and otherwise.

Nevermind

I Know I’m Losing You on this album rocks as hard as anything from the era. If you have BIG DYNAMIC SPEAKERS and the power to drive them to serious listening levels, you will be blown away by the power of this recording.

You know what this album is? It’s the Nirvana Nevermind of the early ’70s. It has that kind of power in the bass and drums.
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