- With seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish, this early pressing of Sit Down Young Stranger will be very hard to beat
- Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, intimacy, and freedom from audio coloration of this wonderful album from 1970, these early pressings are the only way to do it
- An outstanding recording – Lightfoot’s best in our experience – with “Me and Bobby McGee” sounding about as good as we have ever heard it on this superb pressing
- Originally released as Sit Down Young Stranger, it was reissued under its new title to capitalize on the success of the hit single “If You Could Read My Mind”
- 4 1/2 stars: “The entire album is rich in the simple beauty of its folky melodies and personal lyrics… the music here is timeless, still feeling and sounding great many years after its release.”
- This is an excellent title from 1970, which just happens to be a great year for Rock and Pop Music, maybe the greatest of them all
- This outstanding copy of Neil’s second studio album boasts superb sound
- The best tracks have that Live-in-the-Studio quality Neil is famous for (of which Zuma is the best example), with minimal processing and maximum ENERGY
- Includes some of Neil Young’s most beloved classics: “Cinnamon Girl,” “Cowgirl in the Sand,” and “Down by the River” just to name three
- 5 stars: “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere was breathtakingly different when it appeared in May 1969, both for Young and for rock in general, and it reversed his commercial fortunes….”
Although not quite in the league with the best of the best — the likes of Gold Rush, Harvest, or Zuma, all titles we have a devil of a time keeping in stock — the best sounding tracks here are a rough guide for to what was to come as Neil and his producer, David Briggs, got better and better until they were As Good As It Gets by the time they got around to After the Gold Rush in 1970 (for which they seem to get no credit, outside of Better Records’ raves for the album of course).
We absolutely love the Live-in-the-Studio quality that only the best pressings of this album can give, with minimal processing and maximum energy. Man, with a good copy played back on a big pair of speakers this album can ROCK like nobody’s business. Nine minutes of “Down by the River”? A ten minute long version of “Cowgirl in the Sand”? “Cinnamon Girl”? We are so there!
This kind of musical, natural sound is not easy to come by. If you own any copy of the album you know what we mean. (more…)
- These original Blue and Green Reprise Stereo pressings were doing practically everything right, with all FOUR sides earning incredible Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades – just shy of our Shootout Winner
- Truly one of the greatest live albums of all time, recorded late at night in the big room at the Sands Hotel in Vegas
- This is Basie and Sinatra in their natural habitat and in their prime, putting on the show of a lifetime
- On the right system, this is about as close as you get to hearing Sinatra singing live in your listening room, with the added realism of a live Vegas show
- 4 1/2 stars: “Basie and the orchestra are swinging and dynamic, inspiring a textured, dramatic, and thoroughly enjoyable performance from Sinatra … the definitive portrait of Frank Sinatra in the ’60s.”
These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top-quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” meaning relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.
Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
This double album presents Sinatra and Basie at the height of their powers, in a setting especially conducive to both men’s music, the big room at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. If you missed it — and I’m sure most all of us did — here’s your chance to go back in time and be seated with the beautiful people front row center. This two-disc all tube-mastered analog set is practically the only way you’ll ever be able to hear the greatest vocalist of his generation — in his prime, no less — fronting one of the swingingest big bands of the time.
The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Turn it up and Frank is right in front of you, putting on the performance of a lifetime.
The sound is big, open, rich, and full. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than most, by a long shot. Very few records out there offer the kind of realistic, lifelike sound you get from this pressing.
These vintage stereo LPs also have the Midrange Magic that’s missing from the later reissues. As good as some of them can be, this one is dramatically more real sounding. It gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in front of you.
He’s no longer a recording — he’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. His voice is so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music because there’s no “sound” to distract you.
- After the Gold Rush returns to the site after more than a one year hiatus, here with excellent Double Plus (A++) Tubey Magical sound or BETTER on both sides of this early Reprise pressing
- Exceptionally quiet vinyl too, at the high end of Mint Minus Minus, the kind of vinyl we rarely find on early pressings of this album (which are of course the only ones that do well in our shootouts)
- A very difficult record to find these days with the right stampers and audiophile playing surfaces
- This is the vinyl embodiment of the Classic Analog Rock sound we love – smooth, rich, full-bodied, warm, punchy, dynamic and clear
- 5 stars in Allmusic, Top 100, and a Demo Disc that is guaranteed to knock your socks off
- “It’s a magnificent, style-setting album which saw the Canadian’s elevation to rock hero. For those who like their emotion raw.”
- If you’re a Neil Young fan, and who isn’t?, this classic from 1970 belongs in your collection.
Folks, a Hot Stamper collection of the Greatest Rock Records of All Time would not be complete without a knockout copy this album. That’s why it’s been a Better Records All-Time Top 100 Title right from the start.
The growl of the cello on Rainy Night House can clearly be heard behind Joni, with the wood of the instrument sounding real and correct. The kind of You Are There immediacy and transparency of the best copies has to be heard to be believed.
Listen to the piano Joni plays throughout the album. This is not the thin and hard-sounding instrument that accompanies her on practically every LP you have ever had the misfortune to audition, hoping against hope that someday you would find that “elusive disc,” the one with sound worthy of such extraordinary music.
No, this piano has real weight; it has body; and it’s surrounded by real, three-dimensional studio space.
This side two is warm, rich, and sweet in a way that we’ve only heard on a handful of other copies in the past. Joni’s vocals just couldn’t sound any better; they’re full-bodied, breathy, textured, and shockingly present. This is the copy to play if you want Joni Mitchell singing to you right there in your listening room. What could be better than that?
With the transparency of the better copies comes the sound of Joni’s right foot on the pedal. It’s clearly audible through most of the takes, something the engineers no doubt never heard.
Of course, they didn’t have the kind of high-res equipment we take for granted today. 6 thousand dollar phono stages have a way of bringing out these things.
Or they heard it and ignored it knowing that the Old School stereos of the day could never reproduce it.
Lately we have been writing quite a bit about how pianos are good for testing your system, room, tweaks, electricity and all the rest, not to mention turntable setup and adjustment.
- We like our pianos to sound natural (however one chooses to define the term).
- We like them to be solidly weighted.
- We like them to be free of smear, a quality that is rarely mentioned in the audiophile record reviews we read.
Sonic Grade: D
Here you will find the same problems as the MoFi Meddle, released the previous year, 1984. Here is what we had to say about it back in the day when we were selling this kind of crap.
The MoFi is TRANSPARENT and OPEN, and the top end will be lush and extended. If you prize clarity, this is the one.
But if you prize clarity at the expense of everything else, you are seriously missing the boat on Meddle (and of course Thick As A Brick too).
The MoFi is all mids and highs with almost nothing going on below.
This is a rock record, but without bass and dynamics the MoFi pressing doesn’t rock, so why would anyone want to own it or play it?
The one thing these pressings have going for them is that they tend to be transparent in the midrange.
It sounds like someone messed with the sound, and of course someone did. That’s how they get those audiophile records to sound the way they do.
The Whomp Factor on this pressing is Zero. Since whomp is critical to the sound of this album, it’s Game Over for us.
That is not our sound here at Better Records. We don’t offer records with shortcomings like these and we don’t think audiophiles should have to put up with records that sound the way this one does.
- This early Reprise pressing is close to the BEST we have ever heard, with killer Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) Front Row Center sound throughout – just shy of our Shootout Winner
- A huge step up from practically every other copy we played in our most recent shootout – full-bodied, smooth and musical, the classic sound of Neil Young at his performing peak
- 4 stars: “…sounds very much of a piece with Tonight’s the Night and On the Beach, albums that explored the troubled zeitgeist of America in the mid-’70s in a way few rockers had the courage to face. If the performances are often loose and ragged, they’re also brimming with emotional force… Time Fades Away ranks with the bravest and most painfully honest albums of his career… it isn’t for everyone, but you may be surprised by its powerful effects.”
Unlike most “live” albums this one was made direct to tape, with no fixes or overdubs, and on the best pressings that warts-and-all approach really pays off. There’s good weight, real openness, and the tonality on these better copies is both rich and sweet. This kind of sound can put you right in the front row.
Finding a copy like this is no walk in the park. The stamper numbers are all over the map, providing little if any guidance. Also, since the album didn’t sell all that well and was never released on CD, there just aren’t that many clean copies floating around. Complicating matters even further, the eight songs here were recorded at seven different shows, so the sound, of course, varies a bit from track to track. It took a long time and a lot of work to make sense of it all, but you Neil Young fanatics are going to get a thrill out of the sound on a Hot Stamper copy — guaranteed. (more…)
- An excellent pressing of Sinatra’s Reprise swan song with Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
- It’s richer, warmer and more natural than most of the other copies we played, with wonderful transparency and plenty of studio ambience, especially considering this is a recording from 1981, not 1961
- “A thought-provoking set of torch songs with soaring strings, lyrics fraught with loss and regret, and heart-rending, world-weary vocals”
- “She Shot Me Down is Frank Sinatra’s last great album, a dark, brooding record of saloon songs delivered with an understated authority… It’s a dense, moody record that works spectacularly — Sinatra’s vocals are more alive and rich in detail than on Trilogy, and the concept is more concise and well-executed.”
- The trick on this album is to find rich, smooth, edge-free sound, and this copy delivers those qualities like few that we played all day
- “Hawks and Doves has a homey feel. “Little Wing,” bare and haltingly lyrical with its miked harp and unaccompanied acoustic, is simpler than anything on the folky Comes a Time, and the rest of the music is defined by Ben Keith’s laconic dobro and steel and Rufus Thobodeaux’s sawing fiddle.” Robert Christgau (A-)
- If you’re a serious Neil Young fan, this title from 1980 is surely worth hearing on a top quality pressing like this one
On side one, the second track, The Old Homestead, has an especially intimate vocal worth checking out.
Flip the record over and listen to how full-bodied the piano is on the first track on side two, Stayin’ Power.
This is the sound of ANALOG. So many copies are dry and edgy, as is the CD, I would guess, but here the sound is smooth, natural and enjoyable.
- This original copy boasts INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them on both sides
- Fairly quiet for this pressing – noisy vinyl is the rule, not the exception
- The sound is big, lively, open and clear with Tubey Magical richness that only these good vintage pressings can show you
- Most pressings of this album are just awful, if you can even find one that’s clean enough to bother playing
- If you’re a fan of The Firesign Theater, Zappa, improv comedy and such like, you will love this album
We’re big fans of this album, and Zappa in general, but it’s incredibly difficult to find copies that do justice to the music. The vinyl is typically thrashed, and even the copies in relatively clean condition usually don’t sound good. This one has about the quietest vinyl you could hope for, playing Mint Minus on both sides, and the sound is just about as good as it gets!
So many pressings don’t let you hear INTO the music. This is a live recording with musicians sprinkled all over the stage — three-dimensional transparency is absolutely key to the better pressings, the ones that let you immerse yourself in the spectacle, never losing sight of the individual performances of Zappa and his merry band of obscene nut jobs. This band works blue. It will have you in hysterics if you get into the down and dirty spirit of the show. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, steer clear of this one. It’s raunchy as hell, and the raunchiest bits are the most hilarious.