Labels We Love – RCA

Elvis Presley / From Elvis in Memphis

More Elvis Presley

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Elvis Presley

Of the handful of Elvis albums to ever make it to the site this is clearly the critics’ favorite, and one listen will tell you why. This is the album that single-handedly revived Elvis’ fortunes, setting the stage for his record-breaking series of shows in Las Vegas doing pretty much the type of music he had recorded for it. The next year he would go on tour for the first time since 1957 (!).

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Herrmann – Citizen Kane (The Classic Film Scores of Bernard Herrmann)

More of the music of Bernard Herrman (1911–1975)

More Orchestral Spectaculars

  • This original RCA Red Seal pressing boast KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • Tons of energy, loads of detail and texture, superb transparency and excellent clarity – the very definition of DEMO DISC sound
  • 5 Stars: “… the best of the entire series by conductor Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic Orchestra… every track is worthwhile and memorably played.”
  • If you’re a Bernard Herrmann fan, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this title from 1974 is clearly one of his best
  • The complete list of titles from 1974 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

The Citizen Kane Suite on this album is to die for — BIG, BOLD, DYNAMIC sound like few records you own. It’s a real desert island disc for me. (The CD, by the way, is actually quite good. I have it in the car and play it often.)

The Concerto Macabre for Piano and Orchestra (from “Hangover Square”) is superbly well-recorded and a brilliant piece of music as well.

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John Denver – Poems, Prayers and Promises

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  • This early Orange Label RCA pressing earned Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • We guarantee that it’s fuller, bigger and clearer than any copy you have ever heard or your money back
  • Superb engineering by Ray Hall— the recording is from 1971 but in some ways it sounds as good as if it had been made in 1961 — high praise in these parts!
  • “… this was at the beginning of a golden period for Denver when his songs would dominate the easy listening airwaves, especially his big hit singles.” – All Music

NOTE: The record has a noticeable dishwarp which we had no trouble playing perfectly.  If your rig struggles with dishwarped records, best to pass on this one. (more…)

Harry Nilsson – Pussy Cats

More Harry Nilsson

More John Lennon

  • Pussy Cats returns to the site on this vintage RCA Victor pressing with seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Both of these sides are rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with lots of energy
  • Produced by John Lennon, Nilsson’s partner in crime, it’s a really fun album, with an appealingly ragged and spontaneous vibe
  • “It may not be as wild as the lost weekend itself, but it couldn’t have been recorded at any other time and remains a fascinating aural snapshot of the early days of 1974.”

The soundstage is huge and open, there’s some real richness and body to the vocals and, perhaps most importantly, you get all the energy and presence required to bring this wild album to life.

John Lennon and Harry Nilsson were notorious partiers during Lennon’s “lost weekend” away from Yoko, and the album basically plays like all that excess playing out in the studio. The vibe is loose and spontaneous, and Nilsson’s voice is at its most ragged. That looseness and raggedness results in some startlingly emotional peaks — “Many Rivers To Cross” and “Don’t Forget Me” are positively spine-tingling — and some good-natured romps through classic covers like “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Rock Around The Clock.” It’s a whole lot of fun — especially when you have a copy that sounds like this!

This album may not be a demo disc like A Little Touch of Schmilsson In The Night, but that’s really not the point here. This record is about the atmosphere, and this copy has the kind of big, open soundstage and smooth, musical tonality that really make the music work! It’s actually one of the best-sounding Nilsson albums, and the sound is perfectly matched to the material.

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David Bowie / Let’s Dance – Energy Is Key

More of the Music of David Bowie

More Records that Sound Their Best on Big Speakers at Loud Levels

With Let’s Dance the name of the game is ENERGY, and boy does this copy have it! Both sides have the deep, punchy bass and sweet, extended highs that Bowie’s music needs to come ALIVE. With that big bass and smooth top end, this is one record you can turn up GOOD and LOUD without fear of fatigue. On a big pair of dynamic speakers you will really get your money’s worth from the best Hot Stamper pressings. 

Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Let’s Dance.

Here are some albums on our site you can buy with similar Track by Track breakdowns.

Side One

Modern Love

This track has a tendency to be a bit brighter than those that follow. To find out if your Let’s Dance is killer, see how the title track sounds.

China Girl
Let’s Dance

The best sounding track on the album and one of the handful of best sounding Bowie tracks ever recorded. With a truly Hot Stamper copy, try as you might you will be very hard pressed to find better sound. Demo Disc Quality doesn’t begin to do it justice.

Without You

Side Two

Ricochet
Criminal World
Cat People (Putting Out Fire)

The best sound and music on side two. A top Bowie track.

Shake It (more…)

David Bowie – Diamond Dogs

More David Bowie

  • This UK pressing will show you a Diamond Dogs you had no idea existed, yet here it is – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We shot out a number of other imports and the presence, bass, and dynamics on this incredible copy placed it head and shoulders above the competition
  • It’s ridiculously tough to find even passable sound for this album – we guarantee you have never heard better than these two killer sides
  • Great songs including the title track, “Rebel Rebel,” “1984,” “Sweet Thing,” “Big Brother,” “Rock & Roll With Me” and more

The sound on this UK pressing is Tubey Magical yet still clean, clear and spacious — you’ll need a lot of luck and a good-sized pile of records to find a copy that sounds like this one.

“1984” (a favorite of ours on David Live) sounds great here. In addition to singing, the man handles sax, Mellotron, and Moog duties on the album, and, most surprisingly, plays practically all of the electric guitar parts.

Bowie was one of the handful of artists to produce an immensely enjoyable and meaningful body of work throughout the ’70s and into the ’80s, music that holds up to this day. The music on his albums, often groundbreaking and always multi-layered, will surely reward the listener who takes the time to dive deep into the complex sounds he recorded.

Repeated plays are the order of the day. The more critically you listen, the more you will discover within the exceedingly dense mixes favored by the man, his producers (Tony Visconti among them) and engineers (our favorite being Ken Scott). And the better your stereo gets the more you can appreciate the care and effort that went into the production of his recordings.

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Waylon Jennings – Ol’ Waylon

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More Country and Country Rock

  • This vintage RCA pressing boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from the first note to the last
  • These sides have the vocal presence and performance energy that modern records struggle (and more often not fail utterly) to reproduce
  • Waylon Jennings’ albums were not made for audiophiles, and most of them in our experience don’t sound very good, so it was a welcome surprise that this recording had the big, rich, solid, thoroughly analog sound we were looking for after so many years of searching
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… there are some great moments on Ol’ Waylon, particularly on the lead single ‘Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love),’ a wonderful reminiscence of times back…”

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Beethoven / ‘Appassionata’ / Kamiya – Reviewed in 2010

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

More Direct-to-Disc Recordings

Reviews and Commentaries for Direct to Disc Recordings

A famous resident of the TAS list, this album offers excellent music, performed with feeling, and recorded properly, the best of all possible worlds for us audiophiles.

A friend of mine tells me that Kamiya plays this piece exactly the way Horowitz did, and that’s probably a good thing. Good luck finding a Horowitz recording that sounds like this. Or plays this quietly.

You will have a hard time finding a better recording of the piano than this. It’s one of the all time great Direct-to-Discs.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

More Classical and Orchestral Commentaries and Reviews

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – 45 RPM Pressings

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Japanese Pressings

An RCA Direct Disc with Bad Music & Bad Sound, Like Most Audiophile Albums from the ’70s

Hot Stamper Classical and Orchestral Pressings Available Now

More of the Music of Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

Hey, the records being marketed to audiophiles these days may have second- and third-rate sound, but at least now they have good music

That’s progress, right?

This is just an awful Direct to Disc recording with bad sound and pointless music.

The Beatles Medley is particularly misguided. These guys have no idea what to do with The Beatles

This is the kind of crap we newbie audiophiles used to have to put up with back in the ’70s before we had anything resembling a clue.

It clearly belongs in only one place on our site: the Hall of Shame,

Actually, it also belongs on our complete list of Bad Sounding Audiophile Records

What Kind of Audio Fool Was I? The kind that would buy a record like this and expect it to have good music or good sound. Of course it had neither. Practically none of these kinds of records ever did. As clueless as I was, even back in the day I could tell that much.

But over the course of the last forty years I have been wrong about a great deal when it comes to records and audio.

You can read more about many of the things we got wrong under the heading: Live and Learn.

Because Audio Progress is real and anyone can achieve it.


FURTHER READING

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – 45 RPM Pressings

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Waylon Jennings – I’ve Always Been Crazy

More Waylon Jennings

More Country and Country Rock

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  • An original RCA Victor pressing with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • You won’t believe how natural, rich, tonally correct and Tubey Magical this copy is – until you play it, of course
  • Waylon Jennings’ albums were not made for audiophiles, and many of them in our experience don’t sound very good, so it came as a welcome surprise that this recording from 1978 had just the kind of vintage analog sound we look for
  • 4 stars: “… a solid recording, still possessing the piss and vinegar of Jennings’ best work… necessary for any fan of outlaw country in general and Jennings in particular.”

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