Labels We Love – RCA

Stockhausen / Noda – Zyklus & Eclogue on Direct to Disc (Reviewed in 2011)

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

This RCA 45 RPM Direct-to-Disc fulfills the promise of both the direct to disc recording medium AND the 45 RPM cutting speed so much in vogue these days. As with the Virtuoso Guitar record we listed today, the sound is simply SUPERB — open, dynamic and distortion free. This is a real DEMO DISC, no doubt about it.

I’ve known this record had top quality sound for decades; we started way back in 1987 selling these kinds of audiophile pressings and this one was clearly a Top Title even back then. I’m happy to say that, unlike most of the audiophile pressings we used to sell, this title has actually gotten BETTER with time. 

Side One

A++ or Better — it’s so good who can say for sure what the grade is? We get one of these in about every six to twelve months, and in that time many changes to the stereo and room have been made, so comparisons with previous pressings get tricky.

Here’s what we can say: this record is DYNAMIC, with huge amounts of space and real TRANSIENTS. It’s about as much like Live Music as any record you are likely to own. Play this one for your CD loving friends and watch their jaws drop.

Side Two

A++ or better again. We’re not that crazy about the flute on this side but the percussion is SUPERB.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Zyklus

Side Two

Eclogue

Beethoven / ‘Appassionata’ / Kamiya – Reviewed in 2010

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A distinguished member of our Better Records Hall of Fame.

A famous resident of the TAS list, this album mixes beautiful music with lovely, solid piano tone, the best of both worlds for audiophiles. A friend of mine tells me that Kamiya plays this piece exactly the way Horowitz did, and that’s probably a good thing. Good luck finding a Horowitz recording that sounds like this.

You will have a hard time finding a better recording of solo piano than this. It’s one of the all time great Direct-to-Disc recordings.

Lou Reed – Transformer

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  • Excellent sound for Lou Reed’s Glam Rock Classic, Transformer — Double Plus (A++) or BETTER on both sides
  • Here is an import pressing with the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce
  • Transformer is an absolute tour de force of ’70s Glam Rock / Classic Rock / Alternative Rock
  • “… Bowie and Ronson gave their hero a new lease on life — and a solid album in the bargain.” – All Music

Transformer is an absolute tour de force of ’70s Glam Rock / Classic Rock / Alternative Rock. You’ve got Lou Reed teamed up with David Bowie (in the producer’s chair!), Mick Ronson, Herbie Flowers and Klaus Voorman, and on top of that the album was recorded at Trident and mixed by the great Ken Scott. (more…)

David Bowie – Station To Station

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  • This Bowie Art Rock Classic from 1976 boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound and reasonably quiet vinyl on both sides
  • This is a dense, difficult recording to get to sound right, which means you really need Hot Stampers on Station to Station to enjoy it
  • Superb presence and energy – the title cut and Golden Years sound wonderful here, as does the classic, radio-friendly TVC 15
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… its epic structure and clinical sound were an impressive, individualistic achievement, as well as a style that would prove enormously influential on post-punk.”

Full, punchy and present with a wide open soundstage and powerful dynamics, this is the right sound for this album, and the kind of sound that is not easy to find. (more…)

Forget Stage, This Is Bowie’s Greatest Live Album

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  • You’ll find solid Double Plus (A++) grades on all four sides of this Bowie classic
  • One of our favorite live recordings – a great overview of Bowie’s career through 1974
  • 1984, Rebel Rebel, Sweet Thing and Rock & Roll With Me come alive in performance
  • A-List players of the day deliver sonic treats, including multiple horn players, multiple percussionists, all-male chorus background vocals, the searing fuzzed-out guitar leads of Earl Slick, piano and Mellotron by Mike Garson, and the amazing Herbie Flowers on bass

When you listen to an incredible of this Bowie classic, you will have no trouble picturing yourself front row center. And the great thing about a record like this is that you can be in the front row of this very concert whenever you want!

The other top live album is, of course, Waiting For Columbus, and the two have much in common. Most importantly, the songs played live on both albums are consistently better than their studio versions. (This is especially true on the Little Feat album. Little Feat was not a studio band and their live arrangements — with the Tower of Power horns — just murder the studio ones.) (more…)

David Bowie – Young Americans – Listening in Depth

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

This is one of my favorite Bowie albums. Nobody seems to care about it anymore. They dismiss it as disco junk, but it actually has some of his best music on it. I especially like the song Win. David Sanborn’s saxophone sounds like it’s coming from 60 feet behind Bowie, a nice effect.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Young Americans  
Win

My favorite track on the album, an undiscovered gem in the Bowie catalog. (more…)

Another Harry Nilsson Must Own Album (Which Makes Four for Those of You Keeping Score at Home)

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  • Amazing Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) As Good As It Gets sound on both sides – maybe the best copy to ever hit the site
  • You can thank Ken Scott for his Tubey Magical engineering and Richard Perry for his Big As Life production approach – this is our kind of sound!
  • It’s one of Harry Nilsson’s four Must Own albums – for both sonics and music this copy is going to be very hard to beat
  • “… a fantastic set of songs that illustrate what a skilled, versatile songsmith Nilsson was… if you appreciate Nilsson’s musicality and weirdo humor, he never got any better.” – All Music

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David Bowie – Heroes – Skip the Brit Originals

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  • The first copy to ever hit the site and boy is it KILLER — Triple Plus (A+++) on both sides 
  • “Repeating the formula of Low’s half-vocal/half-instrumental structure, Heroes develops and strengthens the sonic innovations David Bowie and Brian Eno explored on their first collaboration. The vocal songs are fuller, boasting harder rhythms and deeper layers of sound.” – All Music

It has taken us years to get this shootout going. The reason for the long delay is simple. The domestic pressings we had on hand to play were not exactly thrilling us and even the best of them are no better than acceptable, and not likely to win a shootout.

Even worse, our intuition that the British originals would sound the best also turned out to be incorrect. (In the audiophile record collecting world intuitions have a bad track record, but more than a few audiophiles — many of whom seem to be addicted to sharing their “record knowledge” on audiophile forums — seem to be unaware of this unassailably true fact.) The original UK Orange Label pressings did not sound especially good to us, so we kept looking. (more…)

David Bowie – Hunky Dory – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • An outstanding copy with a Triple Plus (A+++) side two and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one
  • The best sounding tracks are Demo Quality — Oh You Pretty Things is a KNOCKOUT here
  • Relatively quiet vinyl (M- to M–), most copies we find don’t play nearly this well
  • “A touchstone for reinterpreting pop’s traditions into fresh, postmodern pop music.” 5 stars

See all of our David Bowie albums in stock

The sound is rich, spacious and sweet with a HUGE soundstage. Drop the needle on Changes and check out how dynamic it is. Side one is where the most popular material for this album is found (Changes, Life On Mars, Oh! You Pretty Things) so this copy definitely a great way to go on Hunky Dory.

What to Listen For (WTLF) (more…)

Pin-Ups – Bowie’s Classic Album of Covers


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  • For the first time ever on our site, here’s a Triple Triple (A+++) pressing of this Classic Bowie album from 1973
  • Both Triple Plus sides are huge, clear and rich with phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic, thanks to Ken Scott
  • A really fun listen, with Bowie running through covers of his favorite 60s hits in true Demo Disc sound
  • Turns out he’s a great interpreter, turning in passionate versions of songs by The Who, Pink Floyd, The Yardbirds and more
  • He brings a fresh perspective to this material, just as Bryan Ferry did so brilliantly on his first two solo albums

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The music on this album is wonderful. Bowie puts a unique spin on tracks originally played by The Who, The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd and other British rockers. It’s a fun, intriguing album that stands up well to repeated plays. Bryan Ferry did the same thing in 1973 with some of his favorite pop songs. Oddly enough both albums entered the charts on the very same day in November of that year.

The sound is lively and full-bodied with nice transparency throughout. Bowie’s voice sounds correct and the bottom end is huge, as would be expected from anything Ken Scott recorded, and if you don’t believe me check out Baby You’re a Rich Man off MMT. (more…)