Labels We Love – RCA Living Stereo

Harry Belafonte – Jump Up Calypso

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  • Stunning sound for this Living Stereo pressing of upbeat calypso tunes; Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • This is a difficult album to find with good sound – for all practical purposes, this is As Good As It Gets, and worlds better than most pressings
  • You have to love the sound of those steel drums recoded through an All Tube Chain with mastering to match
  • Worlds better than the DCC and surely anything else on Heavy Vinyl
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Belafonte was an established all-around entertainer and actor by the time of this album, so it could be seen in a sense as a return to “roots” styles. In any case, it’s all-out calypso, with backing by the Trinidad Steel Band, and qualifies as one of his most energetic albums, even getting rambunctious at times.”

KILLER sound for this Living Stereo pressing that is guaranteed to trounce your DCC, assuming you have one. We played a big stack of these recently and are happy to report that the best copies are full of old-school RCA Tubey Magic, magic that DCC struggled and more often than not failed to achieve with their mostly awful remasters. Tubes are essential to bringing out the natural, relaxed FUN in Belafonte’s music, and DCC had no tubes in their cutting chain.

Unfortunately, the big hit “Jump In The Line” is not one of the better sounding tracks on this album. It has a bit of radio EQ, meaning it’s a little brighter and leaner in a way that’s designed to jump out of your AM radio, but not the best effect on a high resolution audiophile system. Still, on a copy like this it’s still musical and enjoyable; on many copies we played it was absolutely painful. (more…)

Liszt / The Virtuoso Liszt / Graffman

More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1880)


M- – overall; some passages noisier, some quieter. 3s/ 1s. While solo piano and RCA vinyl are not a match made in heaven, this LP nevertheless has many fine qualities and is worth owning.

Extremely rare and enjoyable. Not the best Living Stereo sound, probably would earn a grade of B or so.

Joe Williams – The Exciting Joe Williams

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  • The Exciting Joe Williams returns with outstanding Double Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last and reasonably quiet vinyl for RCA Black Label original
  • Clean, clear and dynamic, this copy has plenty of Living Stereo Tubey Magic and lovely space around all the musicians
  • We have a devil of a time finding good sounding Joe Williams records – discovering that this title was so well recorded was a very pleasant surprise, and this copy takes the record close to as far as we think it can go
  • “Joe Williams was the last great big-band singer, a smooth baritone who graced the rejuvenated Count Basie Orchestra during the 1950s and captivated audiences well into the ’90s.” – All Music


Harry Belafonte – The Many Moods of Belafonte

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Living Stereo full-bodied sound these recordings need to work their magic – qualities which are rarely evident on the modern reissues made from whatever tapes they are using
  • Several crowd-pleasers were introduced on this album for the first time: the calypso “Zombie Jamboree,” which soon replaced “Matilda” as Belafonte’s epic audience participation song; and the showtune “Try to Remember,” from the off-Broadway show The Fantasticks.


Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

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This remastered Victrola version of the original Living Stereo pressing (LSC 1901) is guaranteed to KILL any and all originals — Shaded Dogs, White Dogs, Red Seals — you name it, this pressing will beat the pants off of it, guaranteed. I’ve played many copies of the earlier RCAs and I have surely never heard one sound like this, with so much LIFE and CLARITY. Where is all the old cutter head distortion, congestion and frequency limiting? It’s sure not here!

Side one is Super Hot (A++) and side two is EVEN BETTER, earning our coveted Top Grade of A Triple Plus! You may have noticed that not many vintage RCA recordings make it to the site with stellar grades such as these, so that makes this a very special pressing indeed. (more…)

Strauss / Death and Transfiguration and Till Eulenspiegel / Reiner


This Plum Label Victrola has SUPERB better than Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, the side with Death and Transfiguration. It’s Tubey Magical, rich and sweet in the best Living Stereo tradition of recordings made during the Golden Age, in this case 1958. We had a Shaded Dog pressing of the recording in hand, LSC 2077, and it was better on side one but this Victrola was clearly better on side two.

And Reiner’s performance with the Vienna Phil is outstanding in every way. I have never heard the work performed better or sound better than it does on this very copy.

Side Two

A++ to A+++, nearly White Hot, and with a little more bottom end it would have been.

Clear, transparent, rich, big, spacious, tonally correct, with Tubey Magical textured strings, this record is doing practically everything we want it to.

Side One

A+ to A++, very much like side two but even more bass shy, which may become wearisome over the course of the whole side, depending on how loud you play the record and how full-bodied your system is.

A superb performance of the famous piece, played with verve. (more…)

Duane Eddy / Twangin’ The Golden Hits

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  • Duane Eddy’s 1965 release makes its Hot Stamper debut here with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
  • We guarantee the sound is dramatically bigger, richer, fuller, and livelier than any Duane Eddy you have ever heard
  • Not many of the man’s records survived in audiophile playing condition, but this one did
  • A superb pressing with energy and presence that positively JUMPS out of the speakers, two of the qualities that we prize most highly in our Hot Stampers, and two of things among many that Heavy Vinyl does so poorly
  • “Every song is enjoyable. Most of the album is fun and peppy, with a few slower tunes thrown in, like ‘Last Date’ and ‘Theme from a Summer Place.'”


Ravel / Concerto in G – Munch/ Boston Symphony

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)



Boy does this record ever sound good! It’s alive. Dynamic and immediate, like a good Mercury but with plenty of ambience and sweet strings — the best of both worlds.

This is one of the great RCAs. Classic Records did a passable job with this title, which is about the best they ever do. It’s a far cry from the sound heard here but for those of you who do not want to spend the money, or insist on quiet surfaces, check that one out.

The performance is excellent as well, and of course the Ravel Concerto is a piece of music that belongs in any serious collection. (more…)

Strauss / Waltzes / Reiner


Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Disc LPs, but it’s the rare copy that deserves such an exclusive ranking. This copy delivers the sonic goods on side one with Super Hot Stamper sound.

Side two is not quite up to the standards set by side one. It’s darker, not as open and lacks some of the richness of the first side. That said, it’s still better than the average copy we’ve played and worlds better than any reissue.

Both sides have some deep powerful bass and are fairly dynamic.


Festival of Russian Music / Reiner – Reviewed in 2008

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Excellent sound, more mid-hall than some other RCAs. This is the Victrola version of the Shaded Dog of Festival. Some of these pieces are amazing in Reiner’s hands, Marche Slave, for example. Russlan and Ludmilla is also superb here. The sound is quite dynamic and powerful with very little distortion or noticeable compression. Reiner is excellent on music like this.

It should go without saying that this pressing kills the awful Classic Records pressing.