Labels We Love – Vanguard

Odetta – At Town Hall in Mono

xxxxx

  • Stunning sound throughout for this mono original pressing of At Town Hall, boasting Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Captured live in New York City in 1963, this superb pressing will transport a living, breathing Odetta right into your listening room
  • Forget whatever dead-on-arrival Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magical, you-are-there immediacy of this Odetta concert, this is the only way to go
  • The album features a wonderful mix of folk and blues, including “Let Me Ride,” “Hound Dog,” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”

(more…)

Odetta – At Town Hall in Stereo

xxxxx

  • Here is an outstanding early stereo pressing of Odetta performing live – it boasts superb Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout and plays as quietly as these Vanguard LPs ever do
  • Captured live in New York City in 1963, this superb pressing will transport a living, breathing Odetta right into your listening room
  • Forget whatever dead-on-arrival Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magical, you-are-there immediacy of this Odetta concert, this is the only way to go
  • The album features a wonderful mix of folk and blues, including “Let Me Ride,” “Hound Dog,” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”

This vintage Vanguard pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.).

Hot Stamper sound is rarely about the details of a given recording. In the case of this album, more than anything else a Hot Stamper must succeed at recreating a solid, palpable, real Odetta singing live in your listening room. The better copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

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 less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played over the years can serve as a guide. (more…)

Prokofiev / Peter & The Wolf / Rossi

xxxxx

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

This performance of Peter and the Wolf from 1957 is our single favorite recording of the work. This copy is a DEMO DISC of the highest order, suitable for permanently destroying the rationale for every audiophile record ever made, simply on the grounds that none of them sound remotely as good as this one does.  

The immediacy and unerringly realistic presentation of the solo instruments — bassoon, oboe, flute, etc. (each of which serves to represent a character in the story) — are so lifelike that I defy anyone to name a recording to challenge our assertion that this is positively As Good As It Gets.

  • Our favorite performance, with wonderful narration by no less than film legend Boris Karloff
  • With WHITE HOT Stamper sound, this copy is a DEMO DISC of the highest order
  • Tubey Magically rich, yet realistic, which is of course an impossibility
  • And it plays Mint Minus – an exceptionally quiet Vanguard pressing

And did I mention that it was made in 1957? You couldn’t even buy it on stereo disc back then! (more…)

Joan Baez – Joan Baez

More Joan Baez

More Joan Baez – Joan Baez

xxxxx

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

This former member of the TAS list is the kind of recording that has everything going for it: Golden Age equipment in a live acoustic with a simple arrangement for voice and guitar (or two).

The purity and complete freedom from distortion allow the listener to imagine himself, to borrow a phrase, in the Living Presence of the performer. With a record this good it takes no effort whatsoever to suspend disbelief and imagine Joan and her guitar directly in front of you, a command performance if you will. (more…)

Joan Baez – Joan

More Joan Baez

More Joan

xxxxx

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

In 1967 Vanguard still knew how to record pure, rich, sweet, Tubey Magical analog. Some of these tracks are amazing sounding. Once a year we run across a clean stereo copy of this album. (With such complex arrangements we don’t feel the mono could do the album justice. You may feel otherwise.)

This pressing appears to be the original stereo label, although with so many Vanguard labels — dozens by my count — this could easily be an early reissue. The paste-on rough cardboard back is a good sign of its age.

Side One

Double Plus, with the remarkably innovative reworking of Eleanor Rigby.

Side Two

White Hot, shootout winning and just plain Hard To Fault (HTF). The second track, a traditional folk song, has Demo Disc quality sound. If you are in the market for a natural sounding female vocal you will have a hard time finding a better one. (more…)

Joan Baez – 5

More Joan Baez

More 5

xxxxx

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

Natural, unprocessed, clear, breathy vocal reproduction is the key to any Joan Baez album, and this side two will clearly demonstrate just how well-recorded Joan’s voice (and guitar) were by the Vanguard engineering team. We heard immediately that this side one was excellent. We had no idea the sound could get as good as it is on side two. It takes the sound and music to an entirely new level.

With just guitar, vocal and occasional cello, the “truth” of recording quality is hard to fault. After only a few moments there’s really no sound, only music. (more…)

Haydn / Symphonies 100 & 101 – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

More Symphonies 100 & 101

xxxxx

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

The New York Times review for these performances called them “matchless” and we see no reason to disagree! With Super Hot Stamper sound for No. 100, “Military”, we’re confident you will have a very hard time finding better sound and music from Haydn than is found on this original Black Label Vanguard Stereophonic Demonstration Disc.

Side one, containing Symphony No. 100, “Military”, is smooth and rich and full of tubey magic, the kind of analog sound that has not been recorded for more than thirty years. Because the top end is not boosted and phony like most audiophile pressings, you can play a record like this at much more realistic levels without fatigue or harshness. Try that with the average Reference or Telarc. (more…)

Doc Watson – Southbound

More Doc Watson

Southbound

xxxxx

  • Doc Watson’s superb sophomore release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut, boasting Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • We were specifically listening for richness, sweetness, warmth and intimacy on Doc’s vocals, and this pressing gave us all those qualities in abundance
  • If you own the veiled, opaque, recessed, ambience-challenged Cisco remaster, you are in for a treat – our Hot Stamper is none of those things!
  • 5 stars: “Southbound was a pivotal record for Doc Watson… it demonstrated that Watson was capable of more than just dazzling interpretations of folk songs, but that he could also write excellent original material and rework new country songs in a fascinating manner.”

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

Folks, if you made the mistake of buying the Cisco Heavy Vinyl reissue of this album that came out in the early 2000s, you are in for treat. Instead of Doc and his band mates playing from behind a thick curtain at the back of your sound room, they can now be heard where they should have been all along: front and center between your speakers!

The difference between a truly outstanding vintage pressing and a modern mockery of analog could not be more striking. We never got around to putting the Cisco pressing in our Hall of Shame (300+ strong!). There are just not enough hours in the day… (more…)

Joan Baez – Farewell, Angelina – Our Hot Copy from 2005

More Joan Baez

Farewell, Angelina

xxxxx

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

Very nice fairly original Vanguard LP with EXCELLENT SOUND.

These early Black Label Vanguard pressings are actually better in some ways than the 180 gram reissue, as good as that one is. Of course, they all vary in their sound. But listen especially to tracks two and six on the first side to hear a more natural sounding Joan. (more…)

Country Joe & The Fish – Electric Music For The Mind…

 

More Country Joe & The Fish

More Electric Music For The Mind…

xxxxx

  • This outstanding Vanguard LP earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • The sound on this superb pressing is full-bodied and lively, with solid and present vocals, as well as excellent clarity all around 
  • A very difficult record to find with good sound and clean surfaces, which is why we rarely have them on the site
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Their full-length debut is their most joyous and cohesive statement and one of the most important and enduring documents of the psychedelic era …”

First, a little background on the general sound of Electric Music For The Mind and Body, the band’s debut and an album that is widely considered a true psych masterpiece. Most copies of the album have an unfortunate tendency to be boosted in the midrange, and on top of that they are often veiled and lack space. (more…)