Labels We Love – Fantasy

Bola Sete – Tour De Force

More Bola Sete

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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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  • 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…)

Bola Sete – Autentico!

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  • Bola Sete’s wonderful 1966 release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • This LP was bigger, richer and clearer, with less smear and distortion, and more Tubey Magic, than 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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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound can be found 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 sound like this. The music is wonderful as well, and Evans is joined by an all-star lineup of Harold Land, Kenny Burrell, Ray 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 our best copies.

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…)

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…)

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…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Willy and the Poor Boys

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  • Both sides earned Triple Plus (A+++) grades, a huge step up over every other copy in our shootout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Whatever you do, don’t waste your money on the awful Heavy Vinyl remasters of CCR’s albums that Acoustic Sounds commissioned – they are so wrong it will make your head ache
  • Features Down On The Corner, Fortunate Son, Midnight Special and more
  • 5 stars: “[A] fun record, perhaps the breeziest album CCR ever made. Fogerty’s rage remains, blazing to the forefront on “Fortunate Son,” a working-class protest song that cuts harder than any of the explicit Vietnam protest songs of the era, one of the reasons that it hasn’t aged where its peers have. Also, there’s that unbridled vocal from Fogerty and the ferocious playing on CCR…”

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Cal Tjader – Mambo w/ Tjader – Blue Vinyl!

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This is an Original Fantasy LP pressed on EXCEPTIONALLY QUIET blue vinyl! Finding non-trashed copies of old Fantasy colored vinyl pressings is practically IMPOSSIBLE. And this is the STEREO LP, even more rare. It plays Mint Minus and maybe a tad worse, which, for Fantasy colored vinyl, is as good as it gets in our experience. The sound is good, not great. This is no demo disc by any means, but it is the real Tjader ’50s sound, and it works pretty well for this music.  (more…)