Labels We Love – Verve

The Mothers – We’re Only In It For The Money

xxxxx

  • This stunning two-pack boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
  • The sound is huge and spacious with richness and Tubey Magic like nothing you’ve heard
  • Most copies we played were just too thin and crude-sounding to capture our attention — we played a good-sized stack of copies and these two were the ones that stood out and made the music work for us – and it will be quite a while before we are likely able to find any others
  • 5 stars: “… the music reveals itself as exceptionally strong, and Zappa’s politics and satirical instinct have rarely been so focused and relevant, making We’re Only in It for the Money quite probably his greatest achievement.”

Excellent sound for both sides of this wacky album! Any fan of the Mothers should know by now that this isn’t a very sonically impressive recording, but the sound on these Super Hot Stamper sides went far beyond what we heard elsewhere. It was a blast hearing what a serious pressing could do in relation to the mediocre copies I’ve played for so many years. And there are certainly some good sounding parts, but the presentation of the music is so wacky and lo-fi at times that I don’t want to raise expectations to an unreasonable level.

Don’t expect miracles here, nothing is going to turn this album into a stunning Demo Disc. However, those of you who love the music and want to hear what a serious pressing of this insane platter can do should get a kick out of this excellent sounding copy. I don’t think you can find better sound for this album no matter what you do. Your satisfaction is as always 100% guaranteed. (more…)

Billie Holiday – Stormy Blues

xxxxx

  • Outstanding throughout with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the other three sides
  • All four sides here have intimate, relaxed, breathy vocals – the only way to hear Lady Day in her prime sounding the way she should
  • This double LP set captures Billie from 1954-1955 and features Benny Carter, Jimmy Rowles, Tony Scott, Harry Edison, Chico Hamilton and other jazz greats
  • “The first popular jazz singer to move audiences with the intense, personal feeling of classic blues, Billie Holiday changed the art of American pop vocals forever.”

(more…)

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame from 1967.

What to listen for you ask? That’s an easy one. Just listen for the best sounding Mothers record ever made, because that’s what the best copies can (and should) sound like.

Absolutely Free is much bigger, smoother, richer, livelier and more free from harshness, dryness and distortion than any other album we’ve ever played from Zappa’s early period, pre-Waka Jawaka let’s say. The only other records I can think of that can sound remotely as good as Absolutely Free are Cruising with Ruben & the Jets (1968) and Hot Rats (1969), and even then I really don’t think they are quite in this league.

  • BY FAR the best copy to ever hit the site – White Hot on side one and Nearly White on side two
  • You will not believe how rich and Tubey Magical this copy is, and yet so CLEAR and undistorted
  • If you’ve suffered through reissues or the dreadful CD you are going to flip out over the sound of this copy
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “By turns hilarious, inscrutable, and virtuosically complex, Absolutely Free is… a fabulously inventive record…”

Credit the incredibly talented Val Valentin with engineering that to our ears gives every indication of being a clear step up over everything else Zappa released in the ’60s.

Our last shootout was in 2007 — yes, about nine years ago. We can’t even find one clean copy of this album a year (at prices we can afford to pay of course). To be honest, one copy in our shootout was exceptionally quiet but the sound is a big step down from this one. (more…)

Count Basie – April In Paris

xxxxx

  • April in Paris makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound fon this vintage mono pressing
  • This pressing showed us the sound we were looking for – big, bold, full-bodied mono, the kind they knew how to record in 1957
  • Here is the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s surely missing from whatever modern reissue has been made from the 60+ year old tapes (or, to be clear, a modern digital master copied from those tapes)
  • 5 stars: “April in Paris is one of those rare albums that makes its mark as an almost instant classic in the jazz pantheon… The title track has come to define elegance in orchestral jazz… Recorded in 1955 and 1956, April in Paris proved Count Basie’s ability to grow through modern jazz changes while keeping the traditional jazz orchestra vital and alive.”

(more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Rhythm Is My Business

xxxxx

  • This outstanding copy of Ella’s superb follow-up to Clap Hands boasts insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • What took us by surprise was the richness and sweetness of this early Stereo Verve – so many of Ella’s early albums don’t have the smooth, natural vocals heard on this pressing
  • We absolutely love the swinging R&B organ Bill Doggett brought to these big band sessions, all backing an exceptionally well recorded First Lady of Song
  • “Ella Fitzgerald is in the spotlight throughout, mostly singing swing-era songs along with a couple of newer pieces… [her] voice was in its prime, and the charts are excellent.”

This copy is about as quiet as any domestic original Verve stereo pressing can be found. The monos of this title — which naturally are five times more common — have that hard, honky sound that so many mono cuttings made from Ella’s stereo recordings are cursed with.

Clap Hands is a notable exception to that rule, and of course any of her albums recorded in mono sound best in mono, when cut right and pressed right.

1962 was a great year for Ella. She released this album early in the year and followed it up with the Grammy winning Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson. Later in the same year Verve released Ella Swings Gently with Nelson, and it’s interesting to note that all three of these classic albums were recorded late in 1961. The woman could do no wrong! We would have to wait for her first release of 1963, Ella Sings Broadway, before she put out a clunker. But who’s fault is that? The music is fine, it’s the recording that’s bad (as far as we can tell; we have yet to hear one sound good). (more…)

Duke Ellington/Johnny Hodges – Blues Summit – Better Sound than the Originals?

xxxxx
xxxxx
xxxxx

  • This superb jazz double album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • What surprised during our shootout was that this later pressing from 1976 actually sounded quite a bit better than virtually all the early pressings we put it up against
  • The Classic Records pressings from 1995 aren’t bad, but they head to head they can’t begin to compete with a pressing as good as this one
  • Superb engineering from the man behind so many great sounding Verve records, Val Valentin
  • 4 stars: “… this very enjoyable double LP includes two related sessions… Highly recommended in one form or another.”

(more…)

Ben Webster – Soulville

xxxxx

  • Outstanding sound throughout for this Verve Two-Fer set with Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all four sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Unlike the Speakers Corner version from a few years back, this is the real thing, mastered by real pros, not audiophiles
  • This reissue combines the albums Soulville and Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson
  • With rave reviews for both albums, AMG lauds Soulville is, “one of the highlights of that golden ’50s run,” and notes the collaboration as “one of the jazz legend’s all-time great records.”

(more…)

Gene Ammons / Sonny Stitt – Prime Cuts

xxxxx

  • This copy of Ammons and Stitt’s 1972 soulful mainstream bop collaboration boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all four sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Remarkable Tubey Magical richness, as well as the kind of immediacy and transparency that most copies failed to match
  • We’ve known this was a great sounding record for a very long time, and now we have the copy to prove it
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt always made for a perfect team… The two tenors (with Stitt doubling on alto) are heard at their most combative during these consistently exciting performances”

(more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Get Happy!

xxxxx

  • Ella’s 1959 release for Verve (in stereo!) makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • The sound is big, rich, lively and dynamic, with Ella’s astounding vocal range rendered as only an All Tube Analog chain can
  • These sides reproduce both the breath, as well as the front and center immediacy, of The First Lady of Song’s vocals, with tubey rich orchestral arrangements in support
  • “As usual, Ella uplifts all of the material and her best moments come on ‘Somebody Loves Me,’ a heartfelt ‘Moonlight Becomes You,’ a scat-filled ‘Blue Skies’ and (somewhat surprisingly) ‘St. Louis Blues.’… the formerly obscure ‘Get Happy’ finds Ella Fitzgerald at the peak of her powers.”

*NOTE: On side two, a small mark makes 1 loud then 1 moderate pop in the middle of track 2, Blue Skies.

The space here is HUGE and the sound so rich. Prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD. (more…)