Labels We Love – Capitol

Lou Rawls – Live!

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Well Recorded Albums that Should Be More Popular with Audiophiles

Well Recorded Soul. RnB, Blues, Etc. Albums – The Core Collection

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  • Lou Rawls Live! is an amazing recording that really comes to life on the best Hot Stamper pressings
  • The songs are fantastic, the musicians are brilliant, the sound is superb – Stormy Monday & Tobacco Road are highlights, but really, there’s not a bad track here
  • If you could only have one Lou Rawls album, no question it would have to be this one – everything that’s good about the man’s music is fully on display
  • 4 stars: “Lou Rawls gives a riveting performance on Live!, covering standards from Basie/Rushing’s tambourine-jumpin’ ‘Goin’ to Chicago’ to T-Bone Walker’s foot-stompin’ ‘Stormy Monday,’ and whole lot in between.”

What an album! For live soul-infused vocals, we know of none better. (more…)

If You Like Power Pop, Check Out the Big Beat of The Knack’s Drummer, Bruce Gary

We rarely have Get The Knack in stock, but we do have

Other Debut Albums of Interest

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This Monster Power Pop Debut by the Knack is an AMAZINGLY well-recorded album, with the kind of Wall to Wall Big Beat Live Rock Sound that rivals Back in Black and Nevermind — if you’re lucky enough to have a copy that sounds like this! (If you’re not then it doesn’t.)

This is a Rock Demo Disc that is very likely to lay waste to whatever rock demo disc you currently treasure. My Sharona is simply STUNNING here. You just can’t record drums and bass any better! 

And let’s not forget the song Lucinda. It’s got exactly the same incredibly meaty, grungy, ballsy sound that Back in Black does, but it managed to do it in 1979, a year earlier!

Mike Chapman produced this album and clearly he is an audiophile production genius. With a pair of Number One charting, amazing sounding Pop albums back to back — Blondie’s Parallel Lines in 1978 and this album early the next year — how much better could he get? The answer is: None more better. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – No One Cares

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  • Sinatra’s 1959 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish on this original Capitol LP
  • On a copy this good, Frank will appear as living, breathing (albeit disembodied) person right in your very own listening room – we call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Jenkins gives the songs a subtly tragic treatment, and Sinatra responds with a wrenching performance.”

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Paul McCartney & Wings – Venus and Mars

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More of The Beatles

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  • Venus and Mars finally returns to the site with a STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus side two, mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • This copy has real depth to the soundfield, full-bodied, present vocals, plenty of bottom end weight, and lovely analog warmth
  • “Venus and Mars is an interesting mix of musical styles, punctuated by Paul McCartney’s unerring sense of melody and hooky songs.” – Oldies.com

This original UK Capitol pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of 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 analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Linda Ronstadt / Heart Like A Wheel – Does Bernie Ever Get Bored?

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Recordings of Linda Ronstadt

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Years ago we wrote:

One thing we noted with interest while doing this shootout was how compressed the first track is. When the chorus comes in, and Linda seems to be singing louder — should be singing louder, with a substantial coterie of vocalists backing her up — the volume is actually lower. In the verse immediately following you can hear that not only is she singing louder, but the amount of dynamic contrast in her voice is greater. Go figure.

The compression also means that that song will never sound the way we would wish it to. But that doesn’t mean it won’t sound good. It means it will sound good in more of a radio-friendly way. On a good copy, one with relatively little grain and plenty of bass, the music can still be very enjoyable, and that includes a Number One Pop Hit like “You’re No Good.”

Do we still see things this way? Well, yes and no. It’s not exactly that we were wrong, but that better cleaning and better playback (all that revolutions in audio stuff) have now allowed us to hear that some copies are actually much more dynamic on this track than others. Quite dynamic in fact.

Think about it. Bernie Grundman is going to cut this record many, many times, maybe more times than he wants to. Is he always going to apply exactly the same amount of compression to each cutting, or is he going to experiment a bit and see what works better over time? Or maybe he just learned a thing or two as he went along.

Which is pretty much what we do when playing copy after copy. The best pressings show us precisely what it is they are doing when they actually work. We can’t know that in advance; we’re learning on the job so to speak. (more…)

The Band Rock Of Ages – Turn Up Your Volume, Now It Rocks!

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More Roots Rock LPs

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Yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Most copies of this album do not have a boosted bottom or top, which means that at normal listening levels — depending on how you define that term — they can sound pretty flat. This is one album that needs to be turned up, obviously not to the levels of a live rock concert, but up about as loud as you can until you can get the bass and the highs to come out. We found ourselves adding more and more level in order to get the sound to come to life, and it was playing pretty loud before the sound was right.  

But it’s SO GOOD when it’s loud. Why the hell would you not want to crank it up and ROCK OUT? (more…)

Nat King Cole – Nat King Cole Sings / George Shearing Plays

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More Pop and Jazz Vocals

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  • This wonderful collaboration finally returns with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • Two masters come together here to create a compilation of timeless arrangements still appreciated by both music lovers and audiophiles to this day
  • It’s tough to find top quality pressings of Nat King Cole’s recordings in audiophile playing condition – this All Tube Recording from the early ’60s is your chance to hear just how rich and real he could sound in his prime
  • 4 stars: “Cole is in prime form on such songs as ‘September Song,’ ‘Pick Yourself Up,’ and ‘Serenata.’ Shearing’s accompaniment is tasteful and lightly swinging, and the string arrangements help to accentuate the romantic moods.”

The better pressings of this unique collaboration between Nat King Cole and George Shearing put Cole’s voice right up front with lovely breath and natural texture. On the better copies such as this one, the Nat’s vocals are full-bodied, the piano has real weight, and the soundfield is open and transparent. If you want a great-sounding male vocal LP in your collection, this one will do the trick nicely.

The reissue pressings rarely sounded right to us. In addition, the mono copies were uniformly awful — small, congested and gritty. Our Hot Stamper pressings — even the lowest-graded copies we offer –are sure to give you fuller vocals, more transparency, more weight to the piano and, of course, the tubey warmth of vintage analog. (more…)

Steve Miller Band – Book of Dreams

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  • With two Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Present and lively with full-bodied tonality and plenty of three-dimensional studio space, only the best originals have the potential to give you this kind of sound
  • Jet Airliner, Swingtown, Jungle Love and Sacrifice all sound the way they should – BIG and ROCKIN’
  • 4 stars: “It is here, on this 1977 blockbuster, that Steve Miller shored up his “Space Cowboy” moniker and cosmic person …a highlight of the ’70s classic rock era and one of Miller’s finest releases.”

The sound here is fuller and livelier, with more punch and weight down low. When you hear a copy that sounds like this, you don’t need a pair of golden ears to know it’s right. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Come Dance With Me!

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  • Come Dance With Me! finally returns to the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish on this early Capitol stereo LP
  • This pressing did it all — and on both sides — with incredible energy and the kind of immediacy that puts Frank Sinatra front and center right in your very own listening room
  • This is one of the more fun Sinatra albums we’ve had the pleasure of playing recently, and this is a copy that delivers BIG TIME
  • 5 stars: “Working with Billy May again, Frank Sinatra recorded his hardest swing album ever with Come Dance with Me! . . . an intoxicating rush of invigorating dance songs.”

Get ready to swing with the Chairman of the Board on this superb pressing of his classic album from 1959! Billy May and his orchestra back Frank with wonderful arrangements here, and a copy like this lets you appreciate everyone’s hard work. The brass blasts on side two are to die for!

It’s tough to find good-sounding copies of almost any Sinatra album, finding amazing copies of his most classic albums like this one with reasonably quiet surfaces is a ridiculously tough task. Even for us, the guys who do nothing but search for and audition records all day every day! So we were thrilled to play a copy like this one that did just what we wanted from music like this.

On the best pressings, the brass blasts are OUT OF THIS WORLD. If you never thought you’d hear a Sinatra record sound as powerful as the man himself came across — this is the pressing that you’ve been looking for. Most copies were either smeary or edgy, but this one was wonderfully smooth with impressive clarity.

Sinatra fans, don’t miss out — we don’t find records like this too often. (more…)

Nancy Wilson – Nancy Wilson / Cannonball Adderley

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More Pop and Jazz Vocal Albums

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  • This dynamic collaboration finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Here is the sound we love at Better Records – both sides are full-bodied and Tubey Magical, with Wilson’s vocals unusually smooth and present
  • An inspired collection that showcases the versatility of both Wilson and Adderley (who plays five instrumentals)
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Given the play list and the outstanding artists performing it, why any serious jazz collection would be without this classic album is difficult to comprehend.” [Hear hear!]

Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound…

and One We Will Probably Never Shootout Again

Some records never justified the time and money required to find Hot Stamper pressings of them in order to make it worth our while to do them again. This is one such album, and the link above will take you to many more.

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