Labels We Love – Polydor

Cream / Heavy Cream – Not Recommended

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Sonic Grade: D

A Polydor Double LP mastered by Robert Ludwig.

The tonal balance is right on the money, but of course, because this is a compilation, it is made from copies of the master tapes, not real master tapes themselves, so it will always have that blurry, smeary, opaque, airless, sub-generation tape quality sound.

Hey, that’s what we hear on most of the Heavy Vinyl we audition. Imagine that.


Jimi Hendrix – Hendrix In The West

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  • Hendrix in the West finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This is a fun live album with stellar performances by Jimi – the best of his many posthumous releases
  • The awesome version of Little Wing is just killer on this copy – it’s Jimi’s best performance of the song
  • 4 stars: “. . . it’s a hodge-podge, made of live tracks largely from 1969 and 1970. But it’s a bunch of great live tracks, including some real rarities. . . In the West is a great sampling of Hendrix’s late-period live material (and his sense of humor) making its long awaited appearance.”

We’re still surprised at how well recorded the album is. It takes a pressing like this to really show you the live Jimi Hendrix magic Eddie Kramer got onto tape. Drop the needle on Little Wing and you are going to be FLOORED.

The size and space here are really something, miles beyond most. The resolution and clarity of the open live sound of this copy bring out all the instrumental textures and details of the recording like few we played. More importantly, the extended top keeps the highs from getting hard or harsh the way they do on so many pressings we’ve played.

As these performances are culled from different concerts the sound varies a bit from track to track, but every track on here sounds good and the best tracks sound amazing. (more…)

The Who – Who Are You

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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – you’ll have a hard time finding a copy that sounds remotely as good as this one does
  • This copy has the Glyn Johns BIG, BOLD sound we demand from this famous producer/engineer
  • The title song sounds great on this killer copy — the dynamic power of the recording comes through loud and clear

*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 8 light ticks near the end of Track 4, Sister Disco.

Big, tubey and rockin’, this copy has The Who sound we know from Who’s Next so well. Huge and pacious, with lovely three-dimensional depth, the sound has that patented Live in the Studio quality that Johns’ practically trademarked. Breathy vocals and great life and presence to every instrument, this is the way to hear it!

Forget the domestic pressings, forget the DD Labs half-speed, forget whatever lame reissues have come or will come down the pike — if you want to hear this album right, a Hot Stamper British pressing is the only way to go.

This copy has the Glyn Johns Who Sound we demand from one of the most famous producer/artist collaborations in the history of rock music. (Johns’ work with the Stones is even more legendary I would argue.)

This is certainly not the equal of the beyond brilliant Who’s Next — what is? It’s an undisputed Masterpiece — but the best songs here are certainly in that league. The title track is one I used to demo my system with twenty years ago and, with a copy like this, would be happy to again. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced

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  • This one will blow you away with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two — exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is dramatically bigger, cleaner, livelier and more present than you’ll hear on any other copy
  • Stunning sound for Purple Haze, Hey Joe, The Wind Cries Mary, Fire and Foxy Lady
  • No matter what version you’ve been playing, we guarantee you’ll be blown away by the energy and punch on this import
  • 5 stars: “One of the most stunning debuts in rock history, and one of the definitive albums of the psychedelic era.”

It is no easy task trying to find good copies of this album (or any Hendrix album, really). This one is absolutely killer. The bottom end is big and weighty, the top is open and transparent, and there’s plenty of rich, full tubey magic. Good luck finding this kind of sound for Are You Experienced on your own — it took us DECADES! (more…)

Blind Faith – Self-Titled

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Reviews and Commentaries for Blind Faith

  • It’s been years, but Blind Faith has finally returned with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this UK Polydor pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • From the moment we dropped the needle and heard all that fluffy, correct-sounding tape hiss, we knew we were in for a treat – the sound on both sides is punchy, open, spacious, big, bold, and ALIVE!
  • If you doubt this record can sound as good as you remember from back in the day, assuming you are an old goat like me, this pressing will be a revelation
  • 4 stars: “Blind Faith’s first and last album, more than 30 years old and counting [we are up to 52 now], remains one of the jewels of the Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Ginger Baker catalogs. . . it merges the soulful blues of the former with the heavy riffing and outsized song lengths of the latter for a very compelling sound unique to this band.”

Here is the Blind Faith you’ve been waiting for: Tubey Magical, Transparent, full of Life and Energy — dear friends, it’s all here. And the vinyl is some of the quietest we’ve ever heard for this album.

Sick of buying one harsh, thin, distorted, veiled, closed-in, smeary LP after another in a vain attempt to find a copy that reminds you of why you LOVED this record so much when it came out back in 1969?

(Assuming you’re as old as I am; we had the 8 track tape that could play in the car and the house — music was so convenient back then. Of course I had the domestic original vinyl – I was 15 years old, I had never seen an import record in my life.)

This is no audiophile made-from-the-master-tape snake oil. This is the real thing. This copy is guaranteed to blow the bad memories of all those other versions you’ve owned in the past right out of your memory banks. A short list: the MoFi LP and Gold CD, Simply Vinyl LP, the new Heavy Vinyl version if there is one, and anything else that comes out from here until the end of time.

Face it: It’s all JUNK compared to a record like this.

Why mince words? We’ve played all those records (except for the bad ones that have yet to be pressed of course). (more…)

Brian Eno / Before And After Science – A Must Own Eno Record (His Last, Sad to Say) from 1977

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  • A stunning sounding copy of Eno’s brilliant 1977 release, earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to it on both sides
  • Here you will find that rare combination of silky highs and deep low end, with huge amounts of space in the middle, three qualities among many that make this album an especially magical listening experience
  • I know whereof I speak- I must have played this album at least two hundred times in the 43 years that have passed since I first bought a copy
  • If you’re a fan of Art Rock or Prog Rock or just like something a little different, this is an album that belongs in your collection
  • 5 stars: “Despite the album’s pop format, the sound is unique and strays far from the mainstream. The music on Before and After Science at times resembles Another Green World (“No One Receiving”) and Here Come the Warm Jets (“King’s Lead Hat”) and ranks alongside both as the most essential Eno material.”

Side one, the rock side, strongly relies on its deep punchy bass to make its material come to life and rock (or should we say art rock?). Eno’s vocals are clear and present with virtually no strain. Phil Collins’ drumming is energetic and transparent and perfectly complemented by Percy Jones’ simultaneously acrobatic and hard-driving bass work. (more…)

The Hollies – Live Hits

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This is a Minty and wonderful British import Red Label Polydor LP from 1976. The sound is quite good — a bit of hardness creeps in to the loud sections from time to time, but the music is so enjoyable it’s easy to look past that. The Hollies wrote and performed so many great songs in the sixties that I grew up with, playing this record was a real joy. Allan Clarke has such an incredible pop voice, and his bandmates harmonize with him beautifully, it reminds me of how good the radio used to be when I was growing up. They sure don’t sing ’em like this anymore!

Graham Nash is missing, and his high harmony vocal would be a nice addition, but you can’t have everything. What you can have is a  beautifully sung pop album full of great songs.

John McLaughlin / Extrapolation – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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INCREDIBLY POWERFUL AND DYNAMIC DEMO QUALITY SOUND THROUGHOUT! If you’re looking for a jazz-fusion guitar album that will wake your system up (and show off its best qualities to boot), this is the hot ticket right here. We had been slowly compiling various pressings for a big shootout for ages, and we finally let it rip recently. This was one of the most impressive pressings, earning an A++ on side one and an A+++ on side two. If you’re a fan of ’70s Miles Davis or the Birds Of Fire album, you probably already know that you need this in your collection!  (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland

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  • An outstanding copy of Electric Ladyland with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all FOUR sides
  • Big, clear, tubey, sweet ANALOG sound – we played it good and loud and it was ROCKIN’!
  • Probably the best-recorded of Hendrix’s studio albums – huge studio space and Tubey Magical richness are key to the best sound
  • 5 stars: “…not only one of the best rock albums of the era, but also Hendrix’s original musical vision at its absolute apex.”

*NOTE: On side four, a mark makes 10 moderate to loud pops at the beginning of Track 1, Still Raining, Still Dreaming.

Some of Jimi’s best songs can be found here, including Crosstown Traffic, Voodoo Child (Slight Return) and his incendiary cover of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower. All four sides have truly killer sound, big and full-bodied with a MUCH better low end than you’ll find on most. You get enough energy and weight to make the rock songs really ROCK, and enough clarity and transparency to bring out the more spacey, psychedelic elements that Jimi and Eddie Kramer worked so hard on.

Ready to go on a trip? You’ve come to the right place. While the sound is not Demo Quality on every track, the acid-drenched soundscapes created by Jimi and producer Eddie Kramer are certainly going to be exciting to the kind of audiophile who still digs Classic Rock. Unfortunately, most copies are missing a lot of the magic — the space, the tubes, the ambience, the size, the weight. (more…)

Cream – Live Cream

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  • An outstanding copy of Live Cream, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Super lively and clear with the kind of bass that most pressings simply don’t have in our experience
  • 4 stars: “Foreground and background seem to dissolve as all three musicians take charge, using the full range of their instruments. And where Bruce goes with his bass, especially on ‘Sweet Wine,’ is every bit as rewarding as the places that Clapton’s guitar takes us; and Ginger Baker’s playing is a trip all its own. Performances like this single-handedly raised the stakes of musicianship in rock.”

Cream were certainly no slouches in the musicianship department, and this live performance captures them at the peak of their powers!

When you get a good copy of this album you’re sure to hear what we heard — that this is truly one of the great live rock albums (with a bit of studio material on side two as well). This has the Big Rock Sound that we go crazy for at Better Records. The best pressings, the ones that are full-bodied and smooth, let you crank the levels and reproduce the album good and loud the way it was meant to be heard.

When it’s all working, you’re front and center for a fiery Cream concert with these guys delivering one heckuva performance. And where else are you gonna get that these days?

Over the last twelve years that we’ve been doing our Hot Stamper thing we’ve heard scores of Cream albums; we know their music well, and they are hard to beat when playing live.live (more…)