Labels We Love – Sire

Talking Heads – True Stories

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  • You’ll find Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this superb pressing
  • Here’s the midrange magic that’s surely missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the tapes (or, to be clear, a modern digital master copied from who-knows-what-tapes)
  • This is that rare copy with top quality sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl – it plays Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, as quiet as they ever do
  • “Despite its perfunctory nature, however, True Stories is not without its charms… ‘Dream Operator’ is one of the most affecting tunes Talking Heads ever recorded; the closing-credits theme ‘City of Dreams’ is similarly touching.”

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The Pretenders’ Debut Album

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Records We Only Sell on Import Vinyl

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  • Insanely good sound throughout — Triple Plus (A+++) on the second side, Double Plus (A++) on the first – we rarely have copies that rock the way this one does
  • This is one of engineer Bill Price’s better efforts behind the boards, and Chris Thomas’s production is State of the Art
  • Relatively quiet vinyl throughout this early UK pressing – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • Five Stars: “Few rock & roll records rock as hard or with as much originality as the Pretenders’ eponymous debut album. A sleek, stylish fusion of Stonesy rock & roll, new wave pop, and pure punk aggression, Pretenders is teeming with sharp hooks and a viciously cool attitude.”

What really separated this copy from the pack was the lack of edge on the vocals. It’s not duller — it’s bigger and clearer yet less distorted and cut cleaner than the other sides we played.

Add big bass and dynamics and you have yourself some truly Hot Stamper sound!

Forget the dubby domestic vinyl, these Brit pressings are the only way to go. (more…)

Talking Heads – Fear of Music

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  • This Talking Heads LP boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • I’d be hard-pressed to name another group from the era who put out more groundbreaking yet accessible records than the Talking Heads
  • Producer Brian Eno wasn’t shy about adding multiple layers of effects and processing; the texture of Eno’s synthesizers gives the music depth and character
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…the music is becoming denser and more driving… with lyrics that match the music’s power… its better songs are as good as any Talking Heads ever did”

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Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food

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  • This pressing boasts very good Hot Stamper sound from the first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • With Eno producing and Rhett Davies engineering, every track is (psycho) killer – truly this is a Must Own from 1978
  • 5 stars: “Brian Eno brought a musical unity that tied the album together, especially in terms of the rhythm section, the sequencing, the pacing, and the mixing.”

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Talking Heads – Little Creatures

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  • An outstanding pressing of Little Creatures with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – this one has the BIG BEAT sound we love
  • I ask you, what record from 1985 sounds better than Little Creatures?
  • These sides are rockin’ on tracks like Stay Up Late, Road To Nowhere, And She Was, Creatures of Love and more
  • Surprisingly big, punchy and open sound for this ’85 pop classic – a Top 100 album and longtime Better Records favorite
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Ear Candy …a pop album, and an accomplished one, by a band that knew what it was doing.”

We’re huge fans of Little Creatures, and when you hear a copy like this you’ll know exactly why. Not many records from this era sound as amazingly rich as this one, not in our experience anyway.

On the better copies, the sound is punchy, smooth & so ANALOG, with an especially beefy bottom end, the kind a good Big Beat Pop Album record needs. For a good reference think Get The Knack or Parallel Lines.

Tight, punchy, surprisingly deep note-like bass absolutely makes or breaks the sound on Little Creatures. Without the proper bass foundation this funky beat-crazy Talking Heads album can’t BEGIN to do what it’s trying to do: get your feet tappin’ and your body rockin’ to the music.

The better pressings are surprisingly dynamic, with a sweet, often silky top end. The drums are very well recorded throughout — you can really hear the room around that big kit. You will also find that the higher-rez pressings give David Byrne’s vocals the presence and breathy texture they need. The overall sound will be open, spacious, and sweet — even three-dimensional. (more…)

Talking Heads / More Songs About Buildings and Food – What to Listen For

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  Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

With Our Love turned out to be one of our favorite tests for side one. The picking of the rhythmic guitar in the intro told us just about everything we needed to know about smear, veiling and resolution. On most copies the instrument is simply blurry, the notes mashed together. When you’ve got a copy with its transients intact, resolving properly and clearly right there in front of you, you have the makings of a Hot Stamper side one.

My other test track for side one was Warning Signs. This is a great track for evaluating transparency and bass. On the average copy you’d never know how much ambience exists around the drums. Hint: it’s a lot.

Our favorite copies have a fair amount of WHOMP down low, giving the bass guitar that rich, beefy sound that we’re simply crazy for here at Better Records. Once you’ve heard a copy with well-defined, note-like bass, nothing less will do.

Artists Only

A great test track for side two is Artists Only. The guitars in the intro section are almost unbearable to listen to on most copies. I recognize that I am somewhat sensitive to harsh high frequencies, but I’m literally in pain when I listen to an overly compressed, overly midrangy copy. There’s got to be a better way! (more…)

Ramones – Road to Ruin

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  • Road to Ruin makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This superb recording is huge and lively with startling dynamics and in-the-room-presence like nothing you’ve heard
  • 4 1/2 stars: “It’s clear throughout that Tommy and Stasium definitely had the best interests of the band in mind as they aimed the sound a little closer to the mainstream, and the changes they made served to open it up in interesting ways.”

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Talking Heads – Remain In Light – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

HOT STAMPERS DISCOVERED AT LAST! We’ve been trying to find a great sounding copy of this album forever, and this is the week we finally succeeded. It takes an exceptional pressing to get all the elements correct — the funky bottom end; the processed, multi-tracked vocals; the Brian Eno production weirdness and so on.

This is a brilliant album but a typically problematic record. Most copies get some things right but fail miserably in other areas. There are smeary copies that can’t deliver the punchy bottom you need, grainy copies that make the vocals painful to listen to, and plenty of copies that are just too dark or flat sounding for anyone to enjoy. Note that the first track on both sides will sound the worst. The sound gets better, though, as you get further into the album. (more…)

Talking Heads – Talking Heads: 77 – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

AMAZING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES of this White Hot Stamper LP. Side two rates A+++ and side one is not far behind at A++ – A+++. This copy murdered the typical pressings in an incredibly enjoyable shootout.We couldn’t believe how amazing this album can sound on a top copy. I’d even say that it’s a sonic step up from More Songs About Buildings and Food, Fear Of Music and Remain In Light, probably tying with Little Creatures for top Talking Heads honors.

We’re huge Talking Heads fans at Better Records, but we’ve never tried to shoot out this album before this year because the copies we had played to this point were no great shakes. Regular copies of this album are now getting priced up to $17.99 at our local stores, so we just hadn’t bothered to pick up too many until we heard a surprisingly good copy earlier this year. We started stocking up on them and we ended needing a big stack, because only a few of them were able to show us what this album can really do. (more…)

Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

White Hot Stampers discovered, hot enough to burn down the house! We just finished a HUGE shootout for the last great Talking Heads album and were as pleased as punch to finally hear a few copies of this album that deliver the same kind of magic that we’ve been getting on the better pressings of Little Creatures. Most copies of Speaking In Tongues are too flat, dry and veiled to get worked up about, but this one shows you that excellent sound for this album is indeed possible, albeit very difficult to find.

We’re serious Talking Heads fans here at Better Records, as you may have gathered by now. Not only is their music completely innovative and original, but their recordings are as well. That’s not to say that their records are Demo Discs along the lines of Tea For The Tillerman, Fragile or Abbey Road, but when you find a killer copy of any of their albums you can’t help but notice how much work they put into making them.

We played a ton of copies before we even heard a hint of the magic we were hoping for. Most of them sounded like CDs. When you turned up the volume, sure they got louder, but they didn’t really get any better. That’s a sure sign of a mediocre pressing, and it just kept happening over and over again in the shootout. Just as we were about to throw up our hands and give up, a copy hit the table with enough analog qualities to rope us back in. We added a little extra volume and started to hear the qualities that we needed from this music: rich, full mids; punchy bass; breathy vocals; and above all, ENERGY. On a Hot Stamper copy with the traits listed above, the music becomes involving and vital. If Burning Down The House doesn’t get you moving to the beat, what’s the point? (more…)