- Boasting two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, this vintage copy was giving us the sound we were looking for on Scaggs’s self-titled LP
- Clean and clear and open are nice qualities to have, but rich and full are harder to come by on this record – but here they are!
- ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest – you’ll never play a CD (or any other digitally sourced material) that sounds as good as this record as long as you live
- 4 1/2 stars: “…the record is pitch-perfect, from the Jimmie Rodgers cover ‘Waiting for a Train’ and the folky ‘Look What I Got!’ to the extended 12-minute blues workout ‘Loan Me a Dime,’ which functions as much as a showcase for a blazing Duane Allman as it does for Boz.”
- Boasting two solid Double Plus (A++) or BETTER sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard Some Girls sound this good
- It’s got weight, punch, energy and fullness – qualities key to the better sounding pressings
- A Top 100 title, with a surplus of great songs – “Miss You,” “Beast of Burden” and “Shattered,” all sounding shockingly good, thanks to the engineering skills of Chris Kimsey
- 5 stars: “Opening with the disco-blues thump of ‘Miss You,’ Some Girls is a tough, focused, and exciting record, full of more hooks and energy than any Stones record since Exile on Main St. Even Their rockers sound harder and nastier than they have in years.”
This is the Stones’ last truly great album. All Music Guide gives it the same 5 star rating that they awarded Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, and Sticky Fingers. With hits like “Miss You,” “Shattered,” and “Beast Of Burden,” it’s easy to see why.
Most copies are too thin and grainy for serious audiophile listening, but this one is a different story. It’s not easy to find great sound for The Stones, so take this one home for a spin if you want to hear this band bring these songs to life in your very own listening room.
Not many copies have this kind of clarity and transparency, or this kind of big, well-defined bottom end. The sound of the hi-hat is natural and clear on this pressing, as are the vocals, which means that the tonality in the midrange is correct, and what could be more important than a good midrange? It’s where the music is.
- An incredible copy of Zep II with killer sound from start to finish – this one is guaranteed to rock your world like no other!
- The surfaces are mostly audible between tracks and in the quietest sections, and no Inner Groove Damage (which is almost always present on “Thank You”)
- The sound is freakishly good – we created a Top Ten list just to put this album on it
- Years ago we gave up on everything but these killer RL (and SS) pressings, because nothing else can hold a candle to them
- With copies selling for $1000+ on ebay, sometimes $3000+, we’re forced to pay big bucks for Zep II these days, but if any album is worth it, it’s this one
- This is a Must Own Zep Classic from 1969 that belongs in every right-thinking audiophile’s collection
- It’s our pick for the band’s best sounding album. Roughly 100 other listings for the Best by an Artist or Group can be found here.
At least 80% of the copies we buy these days — for many, many hundreds of dollars each I might add, more than a grand on occasion — go right back to the seller. The biggest problem we run into besides obvious scratches that play and worn out grooves is easy to spot: just play the song “Thank You” at the end of side one. Most of the time there is inner groove damage so bad that the track becomes virtually unlistenable.
It’s become a common dealbreaker for the records we buy on the internet. We get them in, we play that track, we hear it distort and we pack the record up and send it back to the seller.
[This was true ten years ago, but we have since found better sources for our copies. The sellers we tend to buy from know not to send us groove-damaged, scratched copies. Something closer to 20% get returned now.]
But this copy plays clean all the way to the end on both sides — assuming you have a highly-tweaked, high-performance front end of course.
This review was written shortly after we discovered what an amazing recording Back in Black was after finally getting around to doing our first big shootout for the album, right around 2008 or thereabouts.
Robert Ludwig must have had a phenomenally good transistor cutting system in 1980, aided in no small part by superbly musical tube compressors, perhaps the same ones he used on Led Zeppelin II, and we’re very glad that he did.
All that massive tube compression on the low end is at least partly responsible for Back in Black being one of the Best Sounding Rock Records Ever Made, especially if you have the kind of Big Speaker system that plays at loud levels like we do.
Our review from 2008:
If you love HUGE drums, meaty guitars, and monster riffs as much as we do, you’re going to freak out over the MASTER TAPE SOUND ON BOTH SIDES. Moments after dropping the needle, we heard a prominent low octave to the intro bells that we hadn’t noticed on other copies. We kept our fingers crossed and waited for the band to kick in, hoping for some serious bottom end power. And man oh man, it was there all right! I am pleased to report that the Whomp Factor on this copy was nothing short of MASSIVE
(For whomp factor, the formula goes like this: deep bass + mid bass + speed + dynamics + energy = whomp.)
I ask you, what album from 1980 sounds better than Back in Black?
Hell’s Bells has HUGE sound and in-the-room presence. The transparency and clarity are shocking — we heard texture on the guitars and room around the drums that simply weren’t to be found elsewhere, plus tons of echo and ambience. The vocals simply could not be any better — they’re breathy and full-bodied with loads of texture. The bottom end is big, beefy, and rock-solid. You probably never thought you’d ever use an AC/DC LP as a Demo Disc, but this side one will have you reconsidering that notion — it’s ALIVE!
Imagine our delight when it turned out that side two was just as good! Everything you could ask for from this music is here, and it won’t take you very long to realize that for yourself when you play You Shook Me All Night Long. The energy, presence, immediacy and tonality are all SUPERB. I don’t think you could find a better sounding side two no matter what you did!
This link will take you to all the titles we have available as Hot Stampers in the None Rocks Harder series .
- Stunning sound for Foreigner’s debut LP, with both sides earning Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades – just shy of our Shootout Winner
- A truly superb recording with huge, powerful, dynamic sound – the Tubey Magical richness of these sides will have your jaw on the floor
- Includes two of the biggest FM hits from 1977 – “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold as Ice” – and we guarantee you’ve never heard them with as much rock and roll energy as they have on this copy
- 4 stars: “As pure rock craftsmanship goes, Foreigner was as good as it got in the late ’70s.”
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” meaning 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.
Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the 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
What’s key to the sound of Foreigner’s records?
Obviously, the big one would have to be ENERGY, a subject we discuss at length on our blog. Next would be punchy ROCK BASS, followed by clear, present vocals.
Those are the big ones, and we are happy to report that this copy had the best Foreigner sound in all three areas.
- In 2021 we came across a superb original domestic pressing of Zep’s debut with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl, especially considering that this is an early Atlantic pressing
- Note that from our perspective in 2023 we would be very unlikely to try another domestic original
- The story of how we came to possess this pressing is told below
- 5 stars: “Taking the heavy, distorted electric blues of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Cream to an extreme… But the key to the group’s attack was subtlety: it wasn’t just an onslaught of guitar noise, it was shaded and textured, filled with alternating dynamics and tempos.”
There’s an interesting story behind this copy.
I bought it from an erstwhile customer who also had one of our Hot Stamper imports from years back, and he swore up and down that this original domestic pressing was a step up in class, a true White Hot Stamper pressing.
Well, that turned out not to be the case, and it’s the main reason shootouts on highly tuned, properly calibrated, extremely resolving large audio systems are the only way to separate the winners from the also-rans.
This copy is excellent and is guaranteed to beat any copy you throw at it — unless it’s one of ours with higher grades.
For the real Led Zep magic, you just can’t do much better than their debut — and here’s a copy that really shows you why. From the opening chords of “Good Times Bad Times” to the wild ending of “How Many More Times” (“times” start the album and end it, too, it seems) this copy will have you rockin’ out!
Both sides have the BIG ZEP SOUND. Right from the start we noticed how clean the cymbals sounded and how well-defined the bass was, after hearing way too many copies with smeared cymbals and blubbery bass.
When you have a tight, punchy copy like this one, “Good Times Bad Times” does what it is supposed to do — it really rock! With this much life, it’s lightyears ahead of the typically dull, dead, boring copy. The drum sound is perfection.
Drop the needle on “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” to hear how amazing Robert Plant’s voice sounds. It’s breathy and full-bodied with in-the-room presence. The overall sound is warm, rich, sweet, and very analog, with tons of energy. “Dazed and Confused” sounds just right — you’re gonna flip out over all the ambience!
“Communication Breakdown” sounds superb — the sound of Jimmy Page’s guitar during the solo is shockingly good.
- Fragile is FINALLY back on the site after a two year hiatus, here with excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
- Both of these sides boast superb clarity and astonishing transparency thanks to the brilliant engineering of Eddie Offord
- Bigger and bolder, with more bass, more energy, and more of the “you-are-there-immediacy” of ANALOG that sets the better vintage pressings apart from reissues, CDs, and whatever else you care to name
- If all you know is the mediocre Heavy Vinyl pressing from years back, you are in for a real treat with this Hot Stamper
- AMG 5 stars, our Top 100, and the second of the band’s three Must Own Prog Rock Masterpieces (the other two, of course, being The Yes Album and Close to the Edge)
- “Fragile was Yes’ breakthrough album… it also marked the point where all of the elements of the music (and more) that would define their success for more than a decade fell into place fully formed.”
We doubt you’ve heard too many (if any) rock records that sound as amazing as this one. It’s dynamic, punchy and powerful, with the kind of super-low distortion sound that lets you really crank the levels, the louder the better. How many Yes records will let you do that? This one will. That’s what you get for your money — the kind of sound that can blow your mind over and over again for as long as you live, or at least as long as your hearing holds out.
Both sides are smooth and sweet with virtually no smearing up top or distortion on the piano. The overall sound is airy, open, spacious, and three-dimensional. The grit, grain and spit that characterize most copies are nowhere to be found here.
- With KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them throughout, this copy of CS&N’s “comeback” album is doing practically everything right
- The sound is big and relatively rich, the vocals breathy and immediate, and you will not believe all the space and ambience – which of course are all qualities that Heavy Vinyl records have far too little of, and the main reason we have lost all respect for the bulk of them
- Includes CS&N classics “Dark Star,” “Just A Song Before I Go,” and “Fair Game”
- 4 stars: “It has held up remarkably well, both as a memento of its time, and as a thoroughly enjoyable musical work.”
- With KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout, this vintage pressing could not be beat – fairly quiet vinyl too
- Both of these sides are punchy, big and clear, with plenty of hard rockin’ energy – exactly what you would expect from the team of Shelly Yakus and Jimmy Iovine
- Two of her biggest hits are here (and they still hold up): “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and “Leather and Lace”
- 4 1/2 stars: “Equally engaging are less exposed tracks like the haunting “After the Glitter Fades.” Hit producer Jimmy Iovine wisely avoids over-producing, and keeps things sounding organic on this striking debut.”
- If you’re a Stevie Nicks or post-1974 Fleetwood Mac fan, this title from 1981 is surely a Must Own
- We think this is the Stevie’s best sounding album. Roughly 150 other listings for the Best Sounding Album by an Artist or Group can be found here.
It’s easy to hear what the good pressings are doing. They’re big and rich, never thin nor harsh. They open up on the top end and go down deeper on the bottom. They’re smooth and full-bodied in the midrange. Stevie’s vocals are breathy and present. The energy of her performance drives the music the way you want it to.
In short, the better copies demonstrate the sound one could expect on a good Tom Petty album. Nothing surprising there; this album, like Petty’s, was produced and engineered by the same team, Jimmy Iovine and Shelly Yakus. They’ve made some great records together, Damn the Torpedoes being the best of the bunch for sonics.
Bella Donna may not reach those exalted heights, but it’s still quite good, especially for 1981. As the decade wore on things went south very quickly, sonically and musically, so we must be thankful that this record came out early in the decade and not much later.
- This early Atco pressing has the energy, body and punch this music needs, with both sides earning INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them
- Easily the group’s best sounding studio recording and especially impressive on a copy like this
- Cue up “Midnight Rider” or “In Memory of Elizabeth Read” to hear the Allman Brothers magic in these grooves
- 5 stars: “The best studio album in the group’s history, electric blues with an acoustic texture, virtuoso lead, slide, and organ playing, and a killer selection of songs, including ‘Midnight Rider,’ ‘Revival,’ ‘Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,’ and ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed’…”
Drop the needle on Midnight Rider or In Memory Of Elizabeth Read to hear what this copy can do. You get lots of extension both up top and down low that make the overall sound far more engaging and musical than what you’d hear on most copies.
The copies with fuller, smoother, more natural vocals — and lively guitars — tended to do very well in our shootout.