Record Labels We Love

Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains The Same

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  • Superb sound for this soundtrack album with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all four sides
  • Clean, clear and open with a strong bass foundation and plenty of live rock and roll energy
  • An incredibly tough album to find with the right sound and surfaces
  • Packed with Zep classics, including The Song Remains The Same, Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, and more

*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 30 light to moderate intermittent pops during the first half of Track 4, Rain Song. On side four, a mark makes 6 light ticks, followed by 7 moderate pops near the middle of Track 2, Whole Lotta Love.

It’s rare that we come across a copy that sounds this good. Most of the copies we’ve played sound like bad, second-generation bootleg cassettes. We still pick them up every time we see them — hey, it’s Zep, man — but we weren’t sure we’d ever hear a decent copy. We dropped the needle on this one and were pretty darn impressed with how hard it rocked.

It’s got the big sound that you look for on a Zep LP — great bass, huge drums, and immediacy to the vocals. The sound is silky up top, punchy down low, and very transparent.

Turn this one way up and you might just find yourself right in the middle of a killer live Zep concert.

The only song here that didn’t totally blow our minds was the version of Dazed and Confused, which sounded a bit compressed during the big jam. Other than that, all the big hits (Rock And Roll, The Rain Song, No Quarter, Stairway, etc.) sound Right On The Money. (more…)

Frank Zappa – Waka/Jawaka – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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

What an incredible album. I know of no other music like it in the world. It’s not big band, it’s not rock, it’s not jazz, it’s a unique amalgamation of all three with an overlay of some of Zappa’s idiosyncratic compositional predilections (say that three times fast) thrown in for good measure.

In our opinion it’s nothing less than Zappa’s MASTERPIECE, the summation of his talents, and a record that belongs in every right-thinking audiophile’s collection. (We say that about a lot of records audiophiles don’t know well, but we’ve been doing it for most of our 27 years in this business and don’t see much reason to stop now.)

What an incredible album. I know of no other music like it in the world. It’s not big band, it’s not rock, it’s not jazz, it’s a unique amalgamation of all three with an overlay of some of Zappa’s idiosyncratic compositional predilections (say that three times fast) thrown in for good measure.

In our opinion it’s nothing less than Zappa’s MASTERPIECE, the summation of his talents, and a record that belongs in every right-thinking audiophile’s collection. (We say that about a lot of records audiophiles don’t know well, but we’ve been doing it for most of our 27 years in this business and don’t see much reason to stop now.) (more…)

Al Stewart – Orange

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  • Stewart’s fourth studio album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two, mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • At the right levels on the right system, this early import pressing will present you with a living, breathing Al Stewart standing right between your speakers
  • This is the more folky side of Al Stewart – it also features none other than a Mr. Rick Wakeman on piano and organ
  • 4 stars: “… the first signs of the mix of acoustic and electric guitar sounds that he would perfect on his next album, Past, Present and Future, two years later… gets something of the beat and the sound that Stewart would refine in achieving his subsequent success”

(more…)

Dave Grisman – Quintet ’80

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  • A stunning sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides with each playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “This set features Grisman’s string group (which also includes violinist Darol Anger, Mike Marshall on mandolin, guitar and violin, Mark O’Connor on violin and guitar, and bassist Rob Wasserman)… The music is excellent…” – All Music

(more…)

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

Dear Reader,

We have just recently moved our record business to our new Shopify store. None of the links to the old site will work anymore. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to be able to rectify the situation soon. For now please check out Better Records, Mach II, home of the ultimate vinyl pressing, the White Hot Stamper.

Tom Port – Better Records

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  • This 360 stereo pressing offers outstanding sound from first note to last, with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades – relatively quiet vinyl too
  • The keys to this stark recording – just Bob, his acoustic guitar, and harmonica – is correct tonality, as well as vocal presence with breathy intimacy, and here you get a good helping of all three
  • If you’ve played the MoFi or Sundazed LP, on the CD, the Tubey Magic here might just blow your mind
  • “These are beautifully crafted, tightly focused mini-masterpieces. And they have a radical edge, a political toughness, that one rarely finds in the folk music of the period. …the songs are uncompromising in their anger and unsparing in their analysis.”

Just about everything you could want in the sound is here: wonderful clarity, mindblowing transparency, clearly audible transients on the guitar, breathy texture to the vocals, full-bodied acoustic guitars, and more. If you’ve played other copies of the album — on MoFi, Sundazed or Columbia LP, on the CD, on whatever — the immediacy of the vocals and the Tubey Magic of the midrange are going to blow your mind. (more…)

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’ – A Sundazed Winner!

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Sonic Grade: B

Sundazed finally gets one REALLY right! The mono version here MOIDERS the competition. (It’s a mono recording with stereo echo added — how tough can it be?) Considering Sundazed’s dismal track record, I wouldn’t have thought they could do anything right.

Bob Seger – Stranger In Town

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  • An outstanding copy of Seger’s 1978 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • One of the few Bob Seger recordings capable of audiophile quality sound – this pressing is big, full and Tubey Magical (for 1978) with plenty of rock and roll energy
  • If you own a radio you know Stranger In Town – more than half of it still gets played on the radio to this day
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…it’s as lively as Night Moves, rocking even harder in some places and being equally as introspective in the acoustic numbers. If it doesn’t feel as revelatory as that record, in many ways it does feel like a stronger set of songs.”

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.


Stranger In Town and Night Moves are clearly the two Must Own albums for Bob Seger fans, and with sound this good we would count ourselves among those who find his music interesting and compelling. (“Main Street” on Night Moves is one of the best radio-friendly pop songs ever recorded.)

Both these sides had the energy and rock solid weight we were looking for on this Classic Rock Album from 1978. If you own a radio you know Stranger In Town, because more than half the tracks got plenty of airplay, including:

Hollywood Nights
Still The Same
Old Time Rock & Roll
Feel Like A Number

and that monster power ballad, complete with strings (!):

We’ve Got Tonight

All sounding pretty darn good! (more…)

The Beach Boys – Sunflower

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  • A Top Copy: Triple Plus (A+++) on the second side, Double Plus (A++) on the first
  • This pressing is surprisingly rich and smooth, with excellent bass and nice immediacy to the vocals
  • One of the better sounding Beach Boys recordings that really comes to life on the best copies
  • A 4 1/2 star album in the All Music Guide: “Brian Wilson once again back near the top of his game.”

This album — like Surf’s Up, which was released just after it — can really sound wonderful on a good pressing. If you love Pet Sounds, you’ll find plenty of the Beach Boys’ signature harmonies here, all recorded with real richness and warmth. (more…)

Rimsky-Korsakov / Capriccio Espagnol & Enesco / Smetana et al.

A SUPERB White Hot side one coupled with a better than Super Hot (A++ to A+++) side two, back to back on one disc, is a surprise indeed.This is only the second time a disc from a Reader’s Digest box set has made it to the site, and we’re continuing with more exciting orchestral music — Capriccio Espagnol (side two) and the Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 (side one) are the two longest pieces on record 8 of the set, and both of them are knockouts on this pressing.

This is truly DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Records do not get much more spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. Kenneth Wilkinson was the man behind the board for many of these RDG recordings, this very one in fact, and as you will hear, he was pretty much in a league of his own as a recording engineer in the early days of stereo. This record should provide you with all the proof you need.

Play it up against the best of the RCAs, Londons and Mercs from the period and you will see what I mean. And of course it will completely DESTROY any pressing you may have on Heavy Vinyl, from any label, at any playback speed, of any music.

Living Stereo Sound

You may remember that recordings from these sets were reissued by Chesky back in the ’90s, with mediocre sound of course, as all their reissues are at best mediocre. We never carried any of them even when we were carrying audiophile reissues.

I remember the first time I heard some of the records from this Scheherazade set and was knocked out — here was Tubey Magical RCA Living Stereo sound at a fraction of the price the real RCAs were commanding (a price I confess I could not begin to afford).

The problem — and it’s still a problem, though not much of one if you have a high quality, properly set up front end — is the vinyl. These sets were produced cheaply in order to be priced affordably (under $20 for 10 LPs in a box!), and that means the best vinyl was simply not part of the budget. To find pressings that play even Mint Minus Minus is not easy, even today. Back then, before the advent of modern enzyme-based cleaning fluids and expensive record cleaning vacuum machinery, there was no way to get the vinyl to play even that well.

This copy plays a bit quieter than most at Mint Minus Minus to Mint Minus, about as quiet as a well cared for vintage Shaded Dog or Merc.

As you can imagine we did not have dozens of these sets with which to do our shootout. We had three, and this copy is clearly the overall winner of the group by a substantial margin. (more…)

Al Di Meola – Casino

Dear Reader,

We have just recently moved our record business to our new Shopify store. None of the links to the old site will work anymore. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to be able to rectify the situation soon. For now please check out Better Records, Mach II, home of the ultimate vinyl pressing, the White Hot Stamper.

Tom Port – Better Records

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Di Meola’s 1978 release finally makes it to the site, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too. A fusion classic featuring the stunning technique and superb improvisations that keep us on the hunt for great Di Meola pressings like this one.   (more…)