Labels We Love – Reprise

Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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Thick As A Brick

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

This A++++ Beyond White Hot Stamper copy of Thick As A Brick has the best side one we have ever heard! This copy is operating at A WHOLE NOTHER LEVEL.

Side one has HUGE, room-filling, hi-definition sound, with levels of Tubey Magic one would simply never expect to hear coming from a run-of-the-mill domestic Reprise pressing such as this. But here they are; there’s no denying the transparency, size and rock and roll energy of this mind-boggling side one. It’s truly a Demo Disc of the highest order.

We cannot avoid awarding freakishly good sound such as this our rule-breaking Four Plus grade, limited to those rarefied pressings that take the sound of familiar records beyond what we’ve heard before. (more…)

The Kinks – The Kink Kontroversy

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The Kink Kontroversy

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  • Here’s a rare one — a wonderful copy of an early Kinks album, in mono no less, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Both sides here are clean, clear, full-bodied and dynamic with excellent bass and tons of energy 
  • Till the End of the Day was the big hit, and Where Have All the Good Times Gone is also a classic 
  • Allmusic raves, “The Kinks came into their own as album artists — and Ray Davies fully matured as a songwriter — with The Kink Kontroversy…

We discovered the hard way that mono is the only way to go for The Kinks’ third album. The stereo version may in fact be the worst sounding stereo record compared to the mono that we have ever played. (more…)

Gram Parsons – Grievous Angel


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • A KILLER copy of this country rock classic and the first to hit the site in over a year
  • Amazing Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two backed with an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one
  • The sound here is incredibly rich, full and tubey magical with plenty of presence and none of the harshness that plagues most copies
  • “… one would be hard pressed to name an artist who made an album this strong only a few weeks before their death — or at any time of their life, for that matter.” – All Music

It’s tough to find clean early pressings of this album, let alone copies that have excellent sound and quiet surfaces on both sides. We just had our second big shootout for this album and found a lot to like about this pressing. The sound here is big, rich and open with excellent clarity and transparency. Gram’s voice sounds just right here, as does Emmylou Harris’s. Most copies have some grit and edge that really hurts the uptempo numbers, but this copy remains smooth and sweet enough to work throughout. (more…)

Sinatra At The Sands on Dahlquist DQ-10s – My Neophyte Audiophile Mind Is Blown

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The story of our latest shootout is what real Progress in Audio is all about.

Back in the early ’70s this was actually the album that first introduced me to honest-to-goodness “audiophile” sound.  

I was at my local stereo store listening to speakers one day, and the salesman made a comment that the speakers we were listening to (the old Infinity Monitors with the Walsh tweeter) sounded “boxy”. I confessed to him that I didn’t actually know what that meant or what it would sound like if it weren’t boxy. 

So he hooked up a pair of Dahlquist DQ-10s and put Sinatra at the Sands on. I was amazed at how the sound just floated in the room, free from the speakers, presenting an image that was as wide and deep as the showroom we were in. That speaker may have many flaws, but boxiness is definitely not one of them.

This description is pretty close to what I thought I heard all those years ago

The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Turn it up and Frank is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. Very few records out there offer the kind of realistic, lifelike sound you get from this pressing.

This vintage stereo LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues. As good as some of them can be, this one is dramatically more real sounding. It gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in front of you.

He’s no longer a recording — he’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. His voice is so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

Or so I thought at the time. (more…)

The Kinks – Kinks Kinkdom

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Kinks Kinkdom

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  • This outstanding pressing of The Kinks excellent third album boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout 
  • This Reprise Pink and Green original mono pressing is lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Richness these tracks need in order to sound their best
  • Fairly quiet vinyl for a vintage Kinks record – they don’t come much quieter or sound much better than this one
  • “There are some terrific numbers here — not just ‘A Well Respected Man’ and ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion,’ but the exuberant ‘Who’ll Be the Next in Line’ and ‘I Need You,’ the menacing ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else,’ and the haunting ‘See My Friends.'”

This original mono pressing has the kind of Midrange Magic that modern records cannot begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it ain’t 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 Tube Analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

The Kinks – Kinda Kinks

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Kinda Kinks

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  • This outstanding copy of The Kinks’ sophomore release has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
  • This Pink and Green Reprise original MONO pressing is lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Richness the Kinks’ recordings need in order to sound the way they should
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…this album showcased a much more sophisticated sound… it also put them right in the front of the British Invasion pack for seriousness and complexity, out in front of where the Beatles or almost any of the competition were in early 1965…”

(more…)

Jethro Tull – Aqualung – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2013

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This Original Reprise Aqualung has a STUNNING Beyond WHITE HOT side two that just may have the best sound we’ve ever heard for the album. It will absolutely MURDER the British Originals and make mincemeat out of any reissue! Folks, for hard rockin’, Tubey Magical, psychedelic early ’70s analog, it just does not get any better. Here’s a knockout copy that will bring the power of Aqualung to life right in your very own listening room.

Keep in mind that most copies of Aqualung do almost nothing right. In fact, in one of our recent shootouts we didn’t find a single copy worthy of a three-plus grade. This one was so impressive, we felt that A+++ was not enough. No, Three Pluses won’t do for an Aqualung that sounds this good.

We’re calling it A++++. It’s some of the best Jethro Tull sound to grace our listening room in a very, very long time. We’ve missed our old friend and we’re glad to see he’s back and better than ever. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Heroes Are Hard To Find

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  • A STUNNING copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first 
  • Both sides here are super clean, clear and open, providing lots of space for the musicians to occupy. It’s not midrangy, but instead, rich and full, with sweet, silky vocals. This is the sound you want on Heroes Are Hard to Find
  • “… the album is one of their most cohesive yet diverse… Heroes is a minor gem that retains its effortless pop charms and contains some buried jewels in the extensive Fleetwood Mac catalog.” – All Music 

Biggest Problems

Hard, midrangy vocals are far and away the biggest problem we ran into on copy after copy. The other problems we encountered are the ones common to all records: smear, lack of top or bottom end, opacity, etc. (more…)

The Beach Boys – Surf’s Up

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this original Reprise pressing 
  • They revolutionized the popular music of their day with their genius for harmony, and this copy gets their voices right
  • Includes classics Don’t Go Near the Water, Long Promised Road, Till I Die, and of course the title smash hit, Surf’s up
  • 4 stars: “A masterpiece [which] defined the Beach Boys’ tumultuous career better than any other album … The album closer, ‘Surf’s Up,’ is a masterpiece of baroque psychedelia, probably the most compelling track from the Smile period.”

When it works, boy can this album sound AMAZING. Full of tubey magic, not to mention analog warmth and sweetness, this is clearly one of the band’s best albums of the 70s. (more…)

Jethro Tull – Aqualung

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  • This wonderful copy of Jethro Tull’s fourth studio album earned oustanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides 
  • The sound is excellent from start to finish – big, punchy, present, tubey and bursting with Rock and Roll energy
  • A Better Records Top 100 title that still floors us on the better copies, with sound that will jump right out of your speakers
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… one of the most astonishing progressions in rock history… the degree to which Tull upped the ante here is remarkable… Varied but cohesive, Aqualung is widely regarded as Tull’s finest hour.”

Folks, for hard-rockin’, Tubey Magical, ’70s Arty Proggy Rock in ANALOG, it just does not get much better than Aqualung. You need the right pressing to bring it to life though, and this one is certainly up to the task. (more…)