Backless returns to the site with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them on both sides of this early British pressing
Rich, smooth, clear sound throughout – listen to the grungy guitars on “Walk Out In The Rain” – that’s the way they should sound all right
Clapton comes to life on the traditional blues “Early In The Morning” – it also has the best sound on the album
“Backless is a seductive record, if you’re attracted to the interplay of Clapton’s dolorous voice and Marcy Levy’s raspy backup vocals, George Terry’s slide guitar andGlyn Johns’ pristine production.” – Rolling Stone
The typical pressing of Backless, much like the typical pressing of Slowhand, is just too thick, dull, compressed and veiled to be much fun. You need to turn this album upgood and loudto get it to do anything.
The copies that are solid and weighty love getting loud; the copies that are thin and bright only get worse as the level goes up, a sign that they leave a lot to be desired. This is a rock album after all.
We had top quality copies on both domestic and British vinyl. Both were cut here in L.A. It makes sense that either can be good.
Slowhand is finally back on the site, here with superb Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides of this vintage RSO pressing
One of our favorite Clapton albums, but one that is notoriously difficult to find with top quality sound and audiophile quality playing surfaces
With Glyn Johns behind the board, you can be sure the sound will be exceptionally rich, smooth, sweet and above all ANALOG
4 1/2 stars: “This is laid-back virtuosity — although Clapton and his band are never flashy, their playing is masterful and assured. That assurance and the album’s eclectic material make Slowhand rank with 461 Ocean Boulevard as one of Eric Clapton’s best albums.”
This vintage UK pressing boasts incredible Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish, just shy of our Shootout Winner – fairly quiet vinyl too
Big and full-bodied with exceptionally breathy vocals, strong rhythmic energy and virtually none of the smear that plagues so many copies
As good as the best domestic pressings can be, these British LPs simply capture quite a bit more of the 461 Midrange Magic than they do
4 1/2 stars: “…the pop concessions on the album don’t detract from the rootsy origins of the material, whether it’s Johnny Otis’ ‘Willie and the Hand Jive,’ the traditional blues ‘Motherless Children,’ Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ or Clapton’s emotional original ‘Let It Grow.'”
If you’re a Clapton fan, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this return to form released in 1974 is clearly a Must Own, a title it shares with two of his other top albums: Unplugged and Just One Night.
Tom Dowd recorded this album at Criteria in Miami, where Layla was recorded. I’d say the sound here is substantially better than what you typically get on that album, keeping in mind the sonic variations from track to track on Layla, which can be fairly dramatic.
An OUTSTANDING copy of this ’70s classic with top quality sound on all FOUR sides
There’s real Bee Gees vocal magic here – “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” “More Than a Woman,” “Jive Talkin’,” and more!
One of the most underrated tracks that holds up surprisingly well after all these years is “A Fifth of Beethoven,” and it sounds great here
5 stars: “Saturday Night Fever is virtually indispensable as a Bee Gees album, not just for the presence of an array of songs that were hits in their own right but because it offered the Gibb brothers as composers as well as artists…”
If you’re a Bee Gees fan, this title from 1977 is surely a Must Own
The complete list of titles from 1977 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here
This copy of the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack has truly killer sound throughout, and that ain’t no jive talkin’! We collected a bunch of these and put them through the shootout process and were delighted to find out that some of the material on here can sound wonderful on the best pressings.
Like any compilation, some songs are going to sound better than others. The good news here is that most of the tracks you’d hope to be impressive actually are: “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love” and “Disco Inferno” are among the better-sounding songs here.
Find your favorite song on here, drop the needle, and see if the dramatically improved sound doesn’t bring back some special memories, and maybe even inspire you to bust a move!
An outstanding copy of Just One Night with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on all four sides
This one is bigger, bolder and richer, as well as more clean, clear and open than many other copies we played
Sure to be the best live Clapton sound you’ll hear on vinyl – and the music is wonderful as well
4 1/2 stars: “The most notable difference between Just One Night and Clapton’s other live albums is his backing band. Led by guitarist Albert Lee, the group is a collective of accomplished professionals who have managed to keep some grit in their playing. They help push Clapton along, forcing him to spit out crackling solos throughout the album.”
KILLER sound for this early RSO pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to them – this is the best sounding Main Course ever
I can’t recall how many times we’ve tried to get this shootout going and failed – this very pressing represents the breakthrough we were hoping for the last twenty or so years
4 1/2 stars: “It may sound silly to call the 12th album by a group with an eight-year string of gold records behind them a “breakthrough,” but that’s what Main Course was… Years later, Main Course holds up as well as anything the group ever did, and with killer album cuts like “Wind of Change” (featuring a superb Joe Farrell tenor sax solo) and “Edge of the Universe” all over it, demands as much attention as any hits compilation by the group.”
The impossible has happened – we found a good sounding copy of Main Course. The right stampers eluded us for a very long time, but we finally lucked into a good sounding pressing, and that allowed us to put the wheels in motion for this shootout.
Here are some other titles that represent the most dramaticBreakthroughsfrom the last ten years or so.(more…)
Clapton’s 1985 release returns to the site with Nearly Triple Plus (A+++) sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, 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
“The level of musicianship is impressive. Additional percussion by Phil Collins and Ray Cooper help to make this one of Clapton’s most rhythmically adventurous projects to date… I recommend it to both casual and serious fans. You cannot go wrong with an album featuring such strong tracks as “She’s Waiting, “See What Love Can Do”, “Same Old Blues”, “Forever Man”, and “Just Like A Prisoner”.”
We sat down with a big stack of pressings recently and only found a few that really had their mojo workin’. This copy was one of the best we heard, earning an A+++ grade on side one — where the best songs are found — and performing quite well on side two also (A+ to A++). The energy factor is off the charts on side one, and that’s exactly what this music needs to really come to life. You are going to be surprised how rich and full-bodied this album can sound when you have a great copy like this.
Variety is the spice of life, and since we can’t play Neil Young records every week we decided to take this disco classic for a spin. We were very impressed with the better pressings, but most copies we played bored us to tears. Most copies are just too thin and dry to take seriously, and even the richer and fuller ones usually lacked too much in the way of life or immediacy.(more…)
Superb sound for this UK import pressing with both sides earning Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades, which means that this LP had some of the best sound for the album we heard in our shootout all day
Forget the dubby domestic pressings – here is the energy, the dynamic power, the low end whomp, and the Clapton-live-in-your-listening-room presence you’ve never experienced on the album before, guaranteed
“E.C. Was Here makes it clear that Clapton was and always would be a blues man. The opening cut, “Have You Ever Loved a Woman,” clearly illustrates this, and underlines the fact that Clapton had a firm grasp on his blues guitar ability, with some sterling, emotionally charged and sustained lines and riffs… [the album] remains an excellent document of the period.”
TheseNearly 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” being 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.
Two Very Special Tracks
Check out Clapton’s superb arrangements and performances of two of the best songs from his short-lived Blind Faith period: Presence of the Lord and Can’t Find My Way Home. They’re two of the highpoints on an album filled with good material that does not seem to get the credit it is due. I bought this album when it came out in 1975 and never really got into it. Of course I had an inferior domestic pressing and a stereo that couldn’t have done the album justice anyway, but in my defense I would have to say that there really wasn’t any such stereo system on the face of the earth; we still had a long way to go.(more…)