Labels We Love – Prestige

Gene Ammons – Angel Eyes

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  • This original Prestige stereo LP has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from beginning to end – fairly quiet vinyl for an original pressing
  • Both sides here are doing justice to Rudy Van Gelder’s live-in-the-studio sound – they were bigger, richer, more Tubey Magical, with more space, more energy, more everything that makes a vintage analog pressing the thrill we know it can be
  • For half the album “Ammons is heard in 1962 with pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Wendell Marshall, and drummer Ed Thigpen playing with great warmth on the ballads “You Go to My Head” and “It’s the Talk of the Town.” The latter set was one of Ammons’ final ones before serving a long prison sentence (drug-related), yet his interpretations are full of optimism. Recommended.”

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Standard Coltrane – If You’re Looking for the Best Sound…

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As you may have guessed by now, remastered is a bit of a dirty word around these parts. Most remastered records we play, from The Beatles to John Coltrane to ZZ Top, sound to us like pale imitations of the real thing, whether the real thing is an original or a reissue from back in the day.

But only a fool could fail to appreciate how correct and lively the best copies of this remastered record sound, and we’re no fools here at Better Records. We judge records by one and only one criterion: how they sound. We pay no mind to labels, record thicknesses, playback speeds, mastering speeds or anything else you can read about on audiophile websites.

We’re looking for the best sound. We don’t care where it comes from. (more…)

Gene Ammons – Blue Gene – Soulful Jazz at Its Best

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  • This wonderful Prestige jazz classic boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • One of the best sounding Ammons records we know of – it’s huge, rich and Tubey Magical, with a solid bottom end and energy to beat them all
  • Clean and clear and open are nice qualities to have, but rich and full are harder to come by on this record – this pressing has it all
  • “Some ballad performances in his oeuvre are a testament to an exceptional sense of intonation and melodic symmetry, powerful lyrical expressiveness, and mastery both of the blues and the bebop vernacular that can now be described as, in its own way, ‘classical.'”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good a 1958 All Tube Analog Prestige recording by Rudy Van Gelder can sound, this killer copy will do the trick.

This pressing is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it. (more…)

Big Joe Williams – Blues For 9 Strings

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  • Blues for 9 Strings, featuring the great Willie Dixon on bass, makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • Tubier, more present, more alive, with more of that “jumpin’ out of the speakers” quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has
  • Big Joe Williams was an incredible blues musician: a gifted songwriter, a powerhouse vocalist, and an exceptionally idiosyncratic guitarist… When appearing at The Fickle Pickle, Williams played an electric nine-string guitar through a small ramshackle amp with a pie plate nailed to it and a beer can dangling against that. The total effect of this incredible apparatus produced the most buzzing, sizzling, African-sounding music one would likely ever hear.”

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Richard “Groove” Holmes – Spicy

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  • An incredible sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • “The intensity which launched Groove’s cover of “Misty” into such a huge hit is thoroughly in evidence throughout this smoking set and Holmes is firmly in his element during this poppy, but cooking session. A welcome addition to a great organist’s too-thin catalog.” – All About Jazz

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Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis & Johnny Griffin – Live At Mintons

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  • The First Set makes it to the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Three-dimensional space and ambience, with Tubey Magic by the boatload – this is guaranteed to be one of the better sounding live jazz records you’ve heard
  • Rudy Van Gelder was masterful at this is the kind of spacious, low-distortion, dynamic, energetic sound
  • “Griffin and Davis, competitive tenors with different sounds, battle each other… Exciting music that deserves to be made more widely available.” [And here is a wonderful copy ripe for the taking.]

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Jimmy Witherspoon – Blues For Easy Livers – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

Stunningly natural sound on this great Jazz / Blues / Male Vocal album! We’ve been picking these up when we find ’em clean — no mean feat, I assure you — and this copy did just what we were hoping for! This is one of the better sounding Male Vocal LPs to hit our turntable in recent months and I bet the same will hold true for you if you take this copy home. Side one rated A++, side two was even better at A+++ and both sides were even relatively quiet for an old Prestige LP. 

Side one is BIG and spacious with wonderful presence. The vocals sound just right, the sax sounds wonderful and the transparency is superb. The bass is a bit over the top, but we’ll take a copy with slightly bloated bass over one that is lean and thin (as many are) anyday. We gave side one an A++.

Side two is even better, giving you everything that was great about the first side but tightening up the bass a bit. We rated it A+++ and I just don’t think you could find one that sounded any better. (more…)

Eric Dolphy – Caribé

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  • KILLER sound on both sides of this later Prestige pressing with each earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Not knowing much about the album, we were shocked at how well recorded Caribé is – RVG in 1960 is hard to beat for ENERGY and the sense of immediacy you get from being right in the room with these exciting musicians
  • “This record is the equivalent of throwing a stick of dynamite into a sedate, well-ordered dinner party, having the dynamite go off with a bang, and somehow leaving everything in its place. Such is the volatile Eric Dolphy, a serious wailer on the alto sax and even more idiosyncratic and radical on the bass clarinet, who barges into the lair of Juan Amalbert’s Latin Jazz Quintet and doesn’t perturb them in the least… fascinating without a doubt.”

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Bob Brookmeyer – The Dual Role of Bob Brookmeyer

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  • This superb 1956 mono album makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • We have never seen the original, but our retitled pressing here from 1964 will show you just how big, solid and musical this session by Rudy Van Gelder can sound
  • If you can tolerate the somewhat noisier surfaces on side two you are in for some amazing Bob Brookmeyer music with top quality sound
  • “Bob Brookmeyer plays valve trombone and piano on two songs apiece with his 1955 quartet, a group also including guitarist Jimmy Raney, bassist Teddy Kotick and drummer Mel Lewis… the music is pleasing and reasonably creative.”

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Miles Davis – Steamin’ – A Thousand Bucks and Worth Every Penny (When It Sounds Like This and Plays This Quietly)

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  • Insanely good sound throughout for this extremely rare original Prestige Yellow and Black label pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This early Mono pressing takes the sound of the recording to a place we never thought it could go – never have we heard an album from these famous sessions sound as good as this very LP
  • An original in pristine condition, with this kind of sound, is a record that is very unlikely to pass our way again
  • 5 stars: “The end results are consistently astonishing. At the center of Steamin’, as with most outings by this band, are the group improvisations which consist of solo upon solo of arguably the sweetest and otherwise most swinging interactions known to have existed between musicians.”

WOW — this Prestige Yellow Label Mono pressing has some of the most realistic, natural Miles Davis sound we’ve ever heard! Both sides earned A+++ grades and play Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, truly exceptional for a vintage pressing such as this one. You will have an incredibly difficult time finding a copy that can hold its own with this one. (more…)