Labels We Love – RSO

Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard – Stick with the UK Pressings

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  • One of the best copies to eve hit the site with an amazing Triple Plus (A+++) side one and and excellent Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Big and full-bodied with wonderfully breathy vocals, tons of energy and none of the smear that plagues so many copies
  • As good as the best domestic pressings can be, these early British LPs seem to capture more of the 461 magic
  • “…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.” ” – All Music

It is insanely tough to find copies that aren’t murky, overly smooth and/or lifeless. If you’re a fan of this music and want to hear it come to life, this pressing should be just the ticket.

This album has some of Clapton’s best material, including Motherless Children and the famous cover of Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff.

Tom Dowd recorded this album at Criteria in Miami, which is where Layla was recorded. I’d say the sound here is substantially better than what you get on that album, for the most part. Even when you find a great pressing of Layla, it’s still pretty much a diamond in the rough, but the sound on this album is consistently good — smooth, rich and natural. (more…)

Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard

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  • An outstanding UK pressing with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Big and full-bodied with wonderfully 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 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.'”

This album has some of Clapton’s best material, including Motherless Children and the famous cover of Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff.

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. (more…)

Eric Clapton – Slowhand

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  • This KILLER of Clapton’s 1977 release boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • One of our favorite Clapton albums – this one is notoriously difficult to find good sound quality and reasonably quiet surfaces
  • With Glyn Johns behind the board, rest assured the sound will be suitably 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.”

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Eric Clapton – There’s One In Every Crowd

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Balanced, musical and full throughout – this pressing is a big step up from many of the other copies we played
  • Bigger and bolder, with more bass, more energy, and more of that “you-are-there-immediacy” of ANALOG that set the best vintage pressings apart from reissues, CDs, and whatever else you care to name
  • The sound and music here are very similar to 461 Ocean Boulevard, so if you’re a fan of that title, you’ll find much to like here

It is tough to find copies of There’s One In Every Crowd that aren’t murky, overly smooth and/or lifeless. If you’re a fan of this music and want to hear it come to life, this copy can do it! (more…)

Bee Gees – Main Course

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  • 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 dramatic Breakthroughs from the last ten years or so. (more…)

Eric Clapton – Behind The Sun

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  • 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”.”

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Eric Clapton – Money and Cigarettes – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Minty looking Warner Brothers Duck Promo LP fetures Ry Cooder, Donald Duck Dunn and Albert Lee.

This album has that Master Tape sound. You feel as though you are hearing what the engineer intended. The one real flaw in the recording is the amount of compression the engineer used — it’s a bit heavy handed. This is after all a radio friendly pop album, so no surprise there. I doubt if there are many better sounding copies around than this one. (more…)

Eric Clapton – Slowhand – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Great sound for one of our favorite Clapton albums! There are some excellent songs here, including Cocaine, Wonderful Tonight, and Lay Down Sally. As you may know, it is notoriously difficult to find good sound quality for this album. The typical pressing is just too dull and veiled to enjoy. (more…)

Bee Gees et al. – Saturday Night Fever

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

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.

Compared to every other copy we played — on all four sides mind you — these sides are richer, fuller and livelier. They’re also more open and transparent, with notably improved clarity, less smear, and better bass.

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! (more…)

Eric Clapton – Just One Night

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

With so many bad sounding Clapton albums from the mid- to late ’70s out there in the bins, it’s refreshing to hear this material sounding lively and clear for a change. The performances seem to hold up as well. If you like the “Tulsa Time” era, this record is going to be hard to beat.

Many of his best songs are here, including Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, After Midnight, Blues Power, Cocaine, Further on Up the Road and plenty more. (more…)