Labels We Love – Reprise/Bizarre

Randy Newman – Good Old Boys

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More Singer Songwriter Albums

  • A superb original pressing of Good Old Boys, with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • 5 Stars: “Good Old Boys is one of Newman’s finest albums; it’s also one of his most provocative and infuriating, and that’s probably just the way he wanted it.”

With Lenny Waronker and Russ Titelman producing, and Lee Herschberg and Donn Landee engineering, this album has the exceptionally smooth, rich, analog sound you would expect to find on a production guided by these men. It also happens to be a sound we love here at Better Records.

It’s the sound of vintage Reprise from 1974. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Penguin

  • This early Reprise LP is a huge step up from most – this copy is full-bodied, smooth and musical – classic Fleetwood Mac sound
  • One of my favorite songs on the album is one of Christine McVie’s best from this period, Did You Ever Love Me – on this pressing it’s rich and sweet exactly the way it should be
  • “Fleetwood Mac’s first album made after the departure of Danny Kirwan features the additions of guitarist Bob Weston and singer Dave Walker… This album gave Fleetwood Mac its best U.S. chart showing yet…”

On the best pressings, the sound is positively JUMPING out of the speakers in a way that is completely unexpected. We often talk about the size of the soundfield on a particular pressing, side to side, bottom to top, and even more often about the energy found on one copy relative to another.

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Neil Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

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One of Our Favorite Titles from 1969


  • This outstanding copy of Neil’s second studio album boasts superb Double Plus (A++) sound from the first note to the last
  • 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 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…)

Frank Sinatra – September of My Years

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More Pop and Jazz Vocals

  • This superb pressing boasts Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl for a vintage Blue Green original Reprise stereo pressing from the ’60s – how this one survived for so many years in such lovely playing condition is something we will never know
  • An especially Tubey Magical Male Vocal recording, but that sound can only found on the best properly cleaned pressings, like this one
  • Exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied – Frank is right in the room with you on this one
  • 5 stars: (“One of Frank Sinatra’s triumphs of the ’60s”) and Grammy Album of the Year for 1966
  • If you’re a fan of the man, widely considered the greatest vocalist of the second half of the 20th century, this title from 1965 is clearly one of his best, and one of his best sounding
  • The complete list of titles from 1965 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
  • We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. This album is on that list.

This vintage Reprise pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Frank Sinatra singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

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Neil Young / Comes A Time – What to Listen For

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More Country and Country Rock

So many copies we played just sounded flat, with dull guitars and hard vocals. Some made Neil sound like he was singing from the back of the studio. Still others noticeably lacked leading edge transients of any kind, blunting the attack of the various stringed instruments.

Believe me, a Neil Young record with dull guitars is not worth playing, owning or writing about. You won’t find one on our site.

But there’s one very special quality that this recording has that few of his others do: lovely female vocal harmonies. Nicolette Larson is all over this record, adding an extra layer of mellow magic to the proceedings. Maybe it’s the woman’s touch that makes this album so relaxed and heartfelt. Neil is completely and utterly in the zone here, so whatever put him in that special state of mind is fine by me. (To quote Mr. Young himself, A Man Needs a Maid.)

As for the music, all of side one is wonderful from start to finish; I wouldn’t change a note. Side two is not as strong musically, but the sound can be every bit as good if you’ve got the right pressing.

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Neil Young – Freedom

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  • Freedom finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Balanced, musical, present and full-bodied throughout – this pressing was a big step up from every other copy we played
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Freedom, which was a major critical and commercial comeback after a decade that had confused reviewers and fans, seemed to be a selection of the best tracks from several different unissued Young projects. …[W]hat made it all work was that Young had once again written a great bunch of songs. The romantic numbers were carefully and sincerely written. The long imagistic songs were evocative without being obvious.”

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Jethro Tull – Aqualung

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Reviews and Commentaries for Aqualung

  • Jethro Tull’s fourth studio album finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or very close to it on both sides – reasonably quiet vinyl too, with no audible marks
  • The sound of this side two is excellent – big, punchy, present, tubey and bursting with Rock and Roll energy
  • Those of you looking for a better copy might want to hold off for now — we will be doing this shootout sometime this year, assuming we luck into some good copies, so let us know if you want a shootout winner or something closer to it
  • A Better Records Top 100 title that still floors us on the better copies, with sound that will jump right out of your speakers
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… one of the most astonishing progressions in rock history… the degree to which Tull upped the ante here is remarkable… Varied but cohesive, Aqualung is widely regarded as Tull’s finest hour.”

Folks, for hard-rockin’, Tubey Magical, ’70s Arty Proggy Rock in ANALOG, it just does not get much better than Aqualung. You need the right pressing to bring it to life though, and this one is certainly up to the task. (more…)

The Kinks – Kinks-Size

More of The Kinks

More Titles that Sound Best in Mono

  • Kinks-Size returns to the site with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two and excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on side one
  • This tri-color label MONO Reprise pressing is lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy does of the Tubey Magical Richness the Kinks’ recordings need in order to sound right
  • Surface issues are more often than not the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • “From the raw, slurred ‘Louie Louie’ to the pounding rave-up of ‘Come on Now,’ this record rocks, showing off the better sides of the group’s R&B output and early, formative, Beatles-influenced experiments as well.”

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Dream With Dean – Watch Out for Hard and Honky Vocals

More Dean Martin

More Pop and Jazz Vocals

Dream with Dean is great for finding any traces of “honk” in your midrange. Getting Deano’s baritone to sound tubey and rich, to get the sound that Bing Crosby could get just by opening his mouth, is not all that easy on some systems, mine included.

Correctly set VTA is critical in this regard, but pretty much everything must be working at its best for Dean to sound as intimate and natural as we know he can on the best pressings.

Balancing the lower mids with the upper mids is the goal, and it’s not as easy as it sounds. This album is great for testing, and guaranteed to bring practically any high-dollar system at a stereo showroom, a convention, or your very own home to its knees.

This is my favorite Dean Martin record of all time; just Dean and a jazz guitar quartet behind him (featuring Contemporary favorites Barney Kessel and Red Mitchell!) doing standards. On the best copies, the immediacy is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s a shame that there aren’t more Frank Sinatra records that sound like this.

How Do the Mono Pressings Sound?

Awful, just awful. No redeeming features whatsoever. Five times more common than the stereo pressings and five times worse.

On Dream With Dean we say Skip the Mono.

For records that we think sound best in mono, click here.

How Do the Reissue Pressings Sound?

Not very good. Passable at best. Don’t waste your money.


As of 2022, this record sounds best this way:

Mono or Stereo? Stereo! 

On the Right Domestic Pressing 

On the Right Early Pressing

If you are interested, click on the link below for:

More Moderately Helpful Title Specific Advice

Neil Young / After the Gold Rush

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More on After the Gold Rush

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  • This KILLER original Reprise pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish
  • 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.
  • The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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.

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