Labels We Love – Fantasy

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Self-Titled

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  • Wow – Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish for the band’s debut and vinyl that is about as quiet as we can find
  • These sides are exceptionally low-distortion, solid, dynamic, with the neutral tonality completely missing from the current spate of reissues
  • Featuring classics such as I Put a Spell on You, the extended-length jam Susie Q (8:37, perfect for Underground Radio), The Working Man, Porterville and more
  • 4 stars: “CCR’s self-titled debut album was gloriously out-of-step with the times, teeming with John Fogerty’s Americana fascinations. … the band’s sound is vibrant, with gutsy arrangements that borrow equally from Sun, Stax, and the swamp.”

It’s unlikely you will be demonstrating your system with this record, but you may find yourself enjoying the hell out of it for what it is — an early example of Roots Rock that still holds up today.

This is an album that’s nearly impossible to find with excellent sound and clean surfaces. This is one of the best copies we’ve managed to come across. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Pendulum

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More Roots Rock LPs

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  • This Fantasy stereo pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Bigger and bolder, with more bass, more energy, and more of that “you-are-there-immediacy” of ANALOG that set the best vintage pressings apart from reissues, CDs, and whatever else you care to name
  • 4 stars: “John Fogerty spent time polishing the production, bringing in keyboards, horns, even a vocal choir. His songs became self-consciously serious and tighter, working with the aesthetic of the rock underground — Pendulum was constructed as a proper album, contrasting dramatically with CCR’s previous records, all throwbacks to joyous early rock records where covers sat nicely next to hits and overlooked gems tucked away at the end of the second side.”

This copy will surely beat any pressing you put it up against. This will be especially true if you put it up against the Analogue Productions Heavy Vinyl from years back, which will sound thick, opaque, airless and congested next to a properly mastered Fantasy pressing (deep groove or otherwise) such as this one. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – “I’ve listened to it numerous times and it just does not have that sound stage I was expecting.”

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A customer recently contacted us after making his first purchase and being disappointed with the White Hot Stamper pressing we had sent him.

Hi,

Wondered who I can talk to about this record that I purchased. I’ve listened to it numerous times and it just does not have that sound stage I was expecting.

I am not looking for a refund. In fact, I refuse a refund. However, I would appreciate the opportunity to speak to someone about the factors that make this a “White Hot Pressing.”

I’m sure you need to understand what amplifier, speakers, setting, etc. I am using. Without Going into the details, I have a McIntosh amplifier and Focal 936 speakers. I know how much of a difference equipment makes in the sound of a record.

I love to hear amazing records, some of which I have in original pressings I purchased when they were released and can truly feel it when there is something special about the record. This one does not seem to have it to me, but I am interested in finding and purchasing one from you that gives that amazing feeling.

Please let me know if there is someone I can speak to about finding that record.

Thank you,
Sanjay

I replied with an overwhelming amount of information (and opinions!) designed to help Sanjay understand more about records, as follows:

Sanjay,

Tom here. Let me see if I can help.

The first thing I would need to know is what version of the album do you have that you think sounds better, or, if not better, comparable?

[He had no other pressing, not surprising as our White Hot copies are almost impossible to beat.]

Assuming you don’t have a better copy — we would be very surprised if you did — we would say that it’s likely there are two factors at play:

White Hot does not mean amazing Demo Disc sound. It means the best sound we can find for this recording, relative to the others we play. In other words, the best there is within the limitations of the recording.

We can’t fix the recording, we can only find you the best available pressing. If you were expecting more, something along the lines of Dark Side of the Moon, then I understand your disappointment. (more…)

Bola Sete – Autentico!

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More Bossa Nova

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Guitar

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  • Bola Sete’s wonderful 1966 release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with excellent STEREO sound from first note to last
  • This LP was bigger, richer and clearer, with less smear and distortion, and more Tubey Magic, than most every other pressing we played
  • We have a devil of a time finding early pressings of this album in audiophile playing condition – the music is so good, but the surfaces of his records almost always have some issues…
  • 4 stars: “With the solid classical technique of Sete leading the way, this is a gently swinging set of mostly low-key Brazilian jazz (with a few livelier exceptions), as played by Sete’s New Brazilian Trio.”

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Bill Evans – Quintessence

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  • An original Fantasy pressing with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this wonderful Bill Evans album, a Better Records favorite since we first heard it some years ago
  • Evans is joined by an all-star lineup of Harold Land, Kenny Burrell, Ray Brown and the great Philly Joe Jones
  • Sonic highlights include a breathy, full sax; a big, solid piano; well-defined acoustic bass; and guitar tone that’s tubey and warm
  • “Most of pianist Bill Evans’ recordings were in a trio format, making this quintet date a nice change of pace… the results are quite tasteful and explorative in a subtle way.”

There aren’t too many ’70s jazz records that are as well recorded as this one is.

The music is wonderful as well, and Evans is joined by an all-star lineup of Harold Land, Kenny BurrellRay Brown and the great Philly Joe Jones.

We were shocked to hear how good this album can sound on the right pressing. It has that natural, realistic feel that you get on the best Contemporary recordings. We don’t know what more you could do to make this music sound any better than it does on this original Fantasy pressing.

The sax is breathy and full, the piano is big and solid, the acoustic bass is well-defined with real weight and the guitar tone is tubey and warm. Hard to imagine that there are too many audiophiles with a substantial number of jazz records in their collection that sound as good as this (our own Hot Stampers excluded of course)! (more…)

Bola Sete – Tour De Force

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  • Bola Sete’s superb 1963 release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • Exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied sound that blew away every other copy we played
  • A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame and my favorite Latin jazz guitar record of all time
  • 4 1/2 stars: “[Tour de Force] tilts a little to the mellower, more sentimental side than more driving sessions such as the one he did the previous year for Bossa Nova. It’s still quality by-the-fire jazz bossa nova music, Sete’s playing a lesson in both skill and discreet economy.”

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River

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More Roots Rock LPs

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  • Insanely good CCR sound, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • An essential, Must Own for every Classic Rock collection, this LP includes some of the band’s biggest hits: Green River and Bad Moon Rising, Lodi, Wrote a Song for Everyone and plenty more
  • 5 stars “If anything, CCR’s third album Green River represents the full flower of their classic sound initially essayed on its predecessor, Bayou Country. One of the differences between the two albums is that Green River is tighter, with none of the five-minute-plus jams that filled out both their debut and Bayou Country, but the true key to its success is a peak in John Fogerty’s creativity.”

This copy is bigger, livelier, richer, more spacious, more relaxed and just plain more musically involving than every other pressing we played in our recent shootout. (more…)

Bennett and Evans – The Tony Bennett / Bill Evans Album

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  • A wonderful early pressing of this classic collaboration, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to here finish and vinyl that is hard to find any quieter
  • When heard on our best Hot Stamper pressings, the album clearly belongs near the top of the All Time Great Male Vocal Records
  • Waltz for Debby is the best thing here. You want to hear the Bennett-Evans Magic? Go right to that track
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… one of the best albums of either’s career… an excellent jazz-pop hybrid in which both musicians were shown off to advantage.”

If you like sophisticated vocal jazz I don’t think you can do much better than this record, especially when it sounds like this. Tony Bennett’s voice sounds wonderfully rich, BREATHY, and above all REAL.

The soundstage is open and spacious, the piano full-bodied and clear, and the vocals have the clarity and fullness missing from most pressings. It’s incredible to hear these two top-notch musicians interacting and responding to each other in this kind of huge, open and natural space. (more…)

Vince Guaraldi – Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus

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  • An outstanding copy of this classic audiophile favorite, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs
  • Sublime, practically magical jazz trio sound (and music!) that belongs in every audiophile’s collection – on vintage vinyl that’s as quiet as we can find
  • 5 stars: “Here is Vince Guaraldi’s breakthrough album — musically, commercially, in every which way… The whole album evokes the ambience of San Francisco’s jazz life in the 1960s as few others do.”

Great energy for this jazz classic. This quality cannot be emphasized enough, it’s critically important to the music.

The best copies really get the bottom right. They bring out the contribution of the bass player better, the bass being essential to the rhythm of the music. On these pressings, the bass is so tight and note-like, you can see right into the soundstage and practically watch Monte Budwig play.

This is precisely where the 45 RPM pressing goes off the rails. The bloated, much-too-heavy and poorly-defined bass of the Heavy Vinyl remaster makes a mess of the Brazilian and African rhythms inherent in the music. If you own that $50 waste of money, believe me, you will not be tapping your foot to Cast Your Fate to the Wind or Manha de Carnival. (more…)

Cal Tjader – Cal Tjader Goes Latin

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This is the cleanest, quietest original colored vinyl Fantasy pressing I have ever played in my life. To say these are normally beat to death is the understatement of the year.

Even more surprising is the superb saxophone playing of Jose Silva, a tenor man with whom I was not familiar. I thought he was Ben Webster or maybe Coleman Hawkins his tone is so rich and sweet. The tracks that he’s on sound amazing — very full bodied and not a trace of hi-fi-ishness. Overall the sound is a bit muted; a little treble boost would do wonders.

“… the highlights of the album are the four ballads that showcase Guaraldi’s distinctive piano style and the light tone of tenor saxophonist Jose Silva: Howard Arlen’s “Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe,” “Out of Nowhere,” “Close Your Eyes,” and the bolero-like “Contigo.” – AMG (more…)