Labels We Love – Capitol

Linda Ronstadt / Heart Like A Wheel – An Album You Need to Hear

More of the Music of Linda Ronstadt

We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life.

The list is purposely wide-ranging. It includes some famous titles (Tumbleweed Connection, The Yes Album), but for the most part I have gone out of way to choose titles from talented artists that are less well known (Atlantic Crossing, Kiln House, Dad Loves His Work), which simply means that you won’t find Every Picture Tells a Story or Rumours or Sweet Baby James on this list because masterpieces of that caliber should already be in your collection and don’t need me to recommend them.

Which is not to say there aren’t some well known masterpieces on the list, because not every well known record is necessarily well known to audiophiles, and some records are just too good not to put on a list of records we think every audiophile ought to get to know better.

Out of the thousands of records we have auditioned and reviewed, there are a couple of hundred that have stood the test of time for us and we feel are deserving of a listen. Many of these will not be to your taste, but they were to mine.

Heart Like A Wheel

I’ve been playing HLAW since the year it came out, roughly 48 years by my calculation, and I can tell you it is no easy task to find this kind of smooth, sweet, analog sound on the album. Folks, we heard it for ourselves: the Heart Like A Wheel magic is here on practically every song.

A Must Own Pop Record

Linda’s Masterpiece, and a recording that should be part of any serious Popular Music Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.

Junior Mance – Get Ready, Set, Jump!!!

More Junior Mance

More Big Band Jazz

  • Wonderfully big, rich and LIVELY, with boatloads of Tubey Magic and three-dimensional space
  • This vintage stereo pressing boasts exceptionally natural piano sound and the live-in-the-studio energy of a swingin’ group of veteran horn players
  • 4 stars: “Mance is joined by some of the cream of the West Coast studio and jazz players for a session that features Mance doing his blues thing on piano while the band swings at various tempi… resembling somewhat the style of the Count Basie Orchestra.”
  • If you’re a fan of Big Band Jazz, this album from 1964 probably belongs in your collection.

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Rabin / The Magic Bow – Another TAS List Oversight?

Hot Stamper Pressings Featuring the Violin

Reviews and Commentaries for TAS Super Disc Recordings

This original Capitol record with Michael Rabin is ONE OF THE VERY BEST VIOLIN RECORDINGS we have ever played here at Better Records. The sound is OUT OF THIS WORLD! The immediacy of the violin tone is unbelievable — Rabin is in the room with you throughout the entirety of the record in a way that few recordings in our experience could hope to equal.

What more can we say, other than the music is every bit as good as the sound. If you love the Classical Romantic period, and who doesn’t?, these selections will have you in a world of sound and music rarely matched by anything but the best in live performance.

Another TAS List Oversight

This is another record that is not on the TAS List, but would certainly take top honors in a head to head shootout with any of the violin works to be found there.

TAS List Super Discs with Hot Stampers

Records that Do Not Belong on a Super Disc List

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The Steve Miller Band – Brave New World

More Steve Miller Band

More Psych Rock

  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from top to bottom – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We guarantee you have never heard Space Cowboy and Brave New World sound remotely as good as they do here
  • Engineered by the one and only Glyn Johns – until we heard this specific pressing we had no idea the album could sound as good as this one does
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Brave New World was more fully realized, and rocked harder, than the Steve Miller Band’s first two albums.”

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Bob Seger / Night Moves – His 1976 Masterpiece

More Bob Seger

Hot Stamper Rock Masterpieces Available Now

  • A KILLER vintage pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout for Bob Seger’s breakthrough album (the 8th time’s the charm)
  • A big step up over every other copy we heard – richer, fuller, more dynamic, more lively and just plain more fun
  • Knock the album if you like, but there’s no denying it’s one of Seger’s best and certainly a ’70s classic – every song’s a hit, and deservedly so
  • 5 stars: “One of the universally acknowledged high points of late-’70s rock & roll. And, because of his passion and craft, it remains a thoroughly terrific record years later.”
  • If you’re a Seger fan, or perhaps a fan of mid-’70s Classic Rock, this title from 1976 is surely a Must Own.
  • The complete list of titles from 1976 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

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.

It’s not easy to find killer pressings of this album — it took us plenty of fruitless shootouts before we figured anything out. Most copies out there are thin and dry, which is no way to hear these classic ’70s tracks. We brought in copy after copy that made us think, “I swear this sounds better on the radio!”

Finally, after pulling together a ton of copies from different eras, we started to realize that there were indeed vinyl pressings of Night Moves that sounded right… but they are few and far between, the exception and not the rule so to speak. This copy is one of the better ones we played in our most recent shootout, no question about it.

Knock this album if you like, but there’s no denying it’s one of Seger’s best and certainly a ’70s classic. It may not have the audiophile appeal of Tea For The Tillerman, but it’s a blast when it sounds this good.

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The Beach Boys – Spirit of America

More of The Beach Boys

  • The Beach Boys compilation follow-up to Endless Summer finally arrives on the site with two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides mated with two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy get the midrange right, and since that is where The Beach Boys’ voices are, that puts it well ahead of the other pressings we played n the first two sides
  • “Spirit of America was downright refreshing in its succinct, bracing brevity, singles and album tracks alike.”
  • If you’re a fan of the Beach Boys, this 1975 release surely belongs in your collection

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Every Label Made Bad Sounding Records – Capitol Made This One in 1958

Hot Stamper Pressings with Billy May’s Arrangements

Drowning in reverb and squawky as hell, a major misfire from Billy and the brass (ahem) at Capitol.

For 33 years we’ve been helping music loving audiophiles the world over avoid bad sounding records.

To see the records with bad sound or bad music we’ve reviewed, click here.

It’s yet another public service from Better Records, the home of the best sounding records ever pressed. Our records sound better than any others you’ve ever heard or you get your money back.

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Nat King Cole / Love Is the Thing – on DCC

More Nat “King” Cole

More Pop and Jazz Vocal Albums

With a Sound I’ve Grown to Detest

I really liked the Nat King Cole albums on DCC when they came out back in the ’90s. Thought they were a revelation as a matter of fact.

Now I find them insufferable. Here are some of my reasons for not liking Hoffman’s remix.

Nat’s voice is much too forward and loud in the mix; consequently the orchestra is too soft. The balance is off. At least on my stereo, at the levels I play the record at, the balance seems off. You surely have a different system, in a different room, and may not feel the way I do.

But without a top pressing to compare, how do you know the mix is right or wrong? Like everything in audio, it’s relative.

The balance problem is bad enough, but what really sets my teeth on edge is the fact that the Nat King Cole record on DCC doesn’t sound remotely like any Nat King Cole record I have ever heard, outside of the ones Hoffman worked on of course.

Where is all the Capitol reverb? Nat’s records all have it, and although the reverb may be a bit excessive or unnatural in some ways, at least to some people, when you take it away you end up with a sound that never existed before, and, to my ears, it’s a sound that’s just wrong for the music.

The more I listened to the DCC the less I liked it.

The first full-length commentary I ever wrote in my record catalog in 1994 took Analogue Productions to task for remastering Way Out West and giving it a “new sound,” a sound I had never heard coming from any Contemporary pressing, from any era.

I didn’t like what Doug Sax did with Way Out West, Jazz Giant, Waltz for Debby and many, many others, and I don’t like what Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray did to Love Is the Thing, The Very Thought of You and Just One Of Those Things.

I have tried to listen to the Gold CD in my car, but even in the car I found the sound boring and insufferable.

Is this the kind of sound you hear on your DCC Nat King Cole records? If it is, we recommend you try a Hot Stamper. If it doesn’t kill your DCC you get your money back.

At the very least it will show you some of the things your DCC is doing differently, and, we think, wrong.

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Bob Seger – Against The Wind

More Bob Seger

  • Both of these sides were out of this world — clean, clear, open and spacious yet still pretty rich and Tubey Magical with a solid bottom end
  • A very famous mastering engineer cut this record right, and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it
  • “Against the Wind finds Bob Seger turning toward craft. Perhaps he had to, since Against the Wind arrived after three blockbuster albums and never-ending tours… compared with its peers, it’s a strong, varied heartland rock album that finds Seger at a near peak.” – All Music, 4 Stars
  • If you’re a Bob Seger fan, this title from 1980 is surely a Must Own

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Peggy Lee – Pass Me By

More of the Music of Miss Peggy Lee

If you’re a fan of vintage female vocals – the kind with no trace of digital reverb – you may get quite a kick out of this one. And unless I miss my guess you’ll be the first and only person on your block to own it! (That’s not a bad thing considering the average person’s taste in music and sound these days.)

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the big band arrangements by Shorty Rogers and Dave Grusin from becoming shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we heard them all. (more…)