Labels We Love – RCA

David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust – Our Shootout Winning Copy from 2011

More David Bowie

More Ziggy Stardust

xxx

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

Is this one of the Greatest Rock Albums of All Time? Unquestionably. It’s the pinnacle of Glam Rock. Every track is superb; not a moment is less than stellar from beginning to end.

Is it Bowie’s Masterpiece? Absolutely. No other Bowie record ranks higher in my book. No other Bowie record would command a similar price, regardless of its sonic merits.

Is it amazingly well recorded? You better believe it. This is not just Bowie’s masterpiece; it’s Ken Scott’s as well. For BIG, BOLD, wall to wall, floor to ceiling sound, look no further.

Ken Scott engineered this record and he did his usual amazingly good job. The guitars may not sound “real”, they way they actually do in real life, but they sure sound GOOD! Lots of rich, sweet tubey magic, the sound we love here at Better Records.

(Mobile Fidelity did a decent job on this title but the colorations and the limitations of their cutting system make it painful for me to listen to, especially the sloppy bass. You can do worse but you sure can do a lot better.)

I’ve taken the liberty of paraphrasing the commentary for a White Hote Tea for the Tillerman below, since so much of what makes that album unique holds true for this one as well. Is Tea for the Tillerman a better album than Ziggy Stardust? I don’t think so. As good, yes, but not better. Ziggy is as good as it gets.

You may remember one of the comments we made about the Hot Stamper Bookends in which we said we felt as though we had threaded up the master tape and hit play — that’s how unbelievably correct and REAL the sound was. Well, we spoke too soon. THIS record is the record that sounds like you’ve threaded up the master tape. I’ve been playing this album for more than thirty years and I can tell you I have never heard ANYTHING like it.

Just drop the needle on any song. Guaranteed you will never hear that song sound better. The mastering is beyond perfection. There’s really no “mastering” to listen for — all you’re really aware of is the music flowing from the speakers, freed from all the limitations that you’ve learned to accept.

There’s no need to go track by track trying to explain why this copy is the Ultimate Ziggy. One drop of the needle will tell you everything you’ll ever need to know. All doubts will be erased within moments. We played this copy against our former top pressings and again and again, no matter what track we played, the sound here was clearly superior.

To say that this fairly quiet amazing sounding Ziggy is rare is an unbelievable understatement. I would say that it’s very unlikely that another copy this good will come my way in the next five years. I may NEVER hear one that sounds like this again. If this record is as meaningful for you as it is for me, I think you will quickly appreciate that it’s worth every penny of its price. All you have to do is drop the needle. All questions will be answered and all mysteries will be revealed.

Owning this White Hot Stamper is a PRIVILEGE that affords the listener insight into David Bowie that simply is not possible any other way. The emotional power of these songs is communicated so completely through this copy that the experience will be like hearing it for the first time.

This is, I hope it goes without saying, one of the greatest rock records of all time, music that belongs in any collection. I’ve been playing this album for 30 years and I can honestly say I’ve never once been tired of hearing it. I get tired of hearing bad copies.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Five Years
Soul Love Track Commentary

Just listen to those cymbal crashes! Never heard them sound like that.

Moonage Daydream
Starman
It Ain’t Easy

Side Two

Lady Stardust Track Commentary

The piano is recorded superbly; it’s the perfect balance of power and delicacy, not just on this track but throughout the album.

Star
Hang on to Yourself
Ziggy Stardust
Suffragette City
Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

Borrowing heavily from Marc Bolan’s glam rock and the future shock of A Clockwork Orange, David Bowie reached back to the heavy rock of The Man Who Sold the World for The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Constructed as a loose concept album about an androgynous alien rock star named Ziggy Stardust, the story falls apart quickly, yet Bowie’s fractured, paranoid lyrics are evocative of a decadent, decaying future, and the music echoes an apocalyptic, nuclear dread. Fleshing out the off-kilter metallic mix with fatter guitars, genuine pop songs, string sections, keyboards, and a cinematic flourish, Ziggy Stardust is a glitzy array of riffs, hooks, melodrama, and style and the logical culmination of glam. Mick Ronson plays with a maverick flair that invigorates rockers like “Suffragette City,” “Moonage Daydream,” and “Hang Onto Yourself,” while “Lady Stardust,” “Five Years,” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” have a grand sense of staged drama previously unheard of in rock & roll. And that self-conscious sense of theater is part of the reason why Ziggy Stardust sounds so foreign. Bowie succeeds not in spite of his pretensions but because of them, and Ziggy Stardust — familiar in structure, but alien in performance — is the first time his vision and execution met in such a grand, sweeping fashion.

David Bowie – Let’s Dance

More David Bowie

Let’s Dance

xxxxx

  • With STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides, this copy is one of the best we have ever heard
  • It’s all here: huge amounts of rock solid bass, clear guitar transients, breathy, natural vocals, and jump out of the speakers presence and energy
  • A real Demo Disc at high volumes on the right system – Modern Love, China Girl and the title track are knockouts when you play them good and loud
  • Top 100 of course – Let’s Dance is one of the best sounding Bowie albums ever recorded – this superb pressing is proof!

Bowie is without question one of the all-time great frontmen and producers. This is his last good album and a Must Own for audiophiles, especially if you have big dynamic speakers. Like we say, with this one you are in for a treat.

Hearing a top copy of Let’s Dance is truly a special experience; the damn thing is amazingly well recorded, especially considering it came along well after the Golden Age of Rock Recording (the ’60s and ’70s, don’t you know). The sound is analog at its best; rich, full and super-punchy. (more…)

Chopin – Scherzo #2 – Auer – Direct to Disc

More Chopin

More Scherzo #2 – Auer

xxxxx

xxxxx

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

This is an IMMACULATE RCA Direct-to-Disc LP with SUPERB SOUND! This recording is every bit as good as the famous RCA Beethoven Direct Disc and ten times as rare. You will have a very hard time finding a better sounding solo piano recording.  [Or so we thought in 2008.]

Sonny Rollins – The Bridge

More Sonny Rollins

The Bridge

xxxxx

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

We found STUNNING sound for Sonny Rollins’ classic LP The Bridge this week, and as you might have guessed from the image to the left, it wasn’t on an original pressing! It’s beyond tough to find copies of this album on any label these days, but we had a big stack of pressings from different eras and auditioned them in a big shootout. We’ve paired up our best side one with our best side two to create this killer White Hot Stamper 2-pack.  (more…)

Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow

More Jefferson Aircraft

More Surrealistic Pillow

xxxxx
xxxxx
xxxxx

  • This outstanding stereo copy of the band’s sophomore release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) from first note to last
  • It’s the rare copy of this ’60s Psych Classic that has this kind of freedom from distortion, as well as clarity, openness, and spaciousness
  • An incredibly difficult album to find with audiophile sound, but this copy has the goods and will beat whatever you throw at it
  • 5 stars: “Every song is a perfectly cut diamond … a groundbreaking piece of folk-rock-based psychedelia that hit — literally — like a shot heard round the world…”

Check out the breathy vocals on Today — now THAT is what we call the magic of vintage analog!

This vintage 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 the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust – Breaking the Price Barrier in 2007

More David Bowie

More Ziggy Stardust

xxx

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

The following is our 2007 commentary for the best Ziggy Stardust we had ever heard

This RCA Import has DRAMATICALLY better sound than any Ziggy LP we’ve ever played here at Better Records. Whatever you think you know about the sound of this record, THINK AGAIN. The sound of this copy is so far beyond any expectation I had that hearing it was nothing short of a REVELATION. It’s TWO FULL GRADES better than any copy we played in our shootout.

Ater hearing this copy we had to lower our grades for every other pressing we had played. This was a completely new standard. (more…)

David Bowie – Let’s Dance (2008)

More David Bowie

More Let’s Dance

xxxxx

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

This Let’s Dance may look like an ordinary record, but it sure doesn’t sound like one. The sound is OUT OF THIS WORLD! You’re looking at THE Big Beat Demo Disc of All Time. What the Hot Stamper copy of Back in Black was to Super-Fidelity HARD Rock, this White Hot Stamper of Let’s Dance is to Super-Fidelity FUNKY Rock. In other words, this is the FREAKISHLY HOT STAMPER copy that gives you As Good As It Gets, Demo Disc, Mind Altering Sound. (more…)

Sonny Rollins – The Bridge

More Sonny Rollins

The Bridge

xxxxx

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout
  • The 1962 sound is wonderfully Tubey Magical, full-bodied and solid, the bass note-like and clear
  • The brilliant Ray Hall was able to engineer this Demo Disc quality recording using nothing but tubes back in 1962, and it’s glorious to hear that sound in 2019 on modern hi-rez equipment
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The interplay between Rollins and Jim Hall [on guitar] is consistently impressive, making this a near-classic and a very successful comeback.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good an 1962 All Tube Analog recording can be, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

David Bowie – Lodger

More David Bowie

More Lodger

xxx

  • A KILLER copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • This copy was doing it all right — bigger, richer, more full-bodied, more present, better bass and the list goes on
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “Lodger is the most accessible of the three Berlin-era records David Bowie made with Brian Eno, simply because there are no instrumentals and there are a handful of concise pop songs. Nevertheless, Lodger is still gnarled and twisted avant pop… It might not stretch the boundaries of rock like Low and Heroes, but it arguably utilizes those ideas in a more effective fashion.” — All Music

White Hot Stampers for Lodger — this wasn’t easy, folks! We’ve been trying to find a great sounding copies of Lodger for years and this is only the second time we’ve ever managed to get a big shootout going, which should tell you just how tough it is to get a killer copy of this album. (more…)

David Bowie – Scary Monsters – Our Shootout Winner from 2018

More David Bowie

More Scary Monsters

xxx

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

This British pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot 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 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…)