Labels We Love – Warners

James Taylor – In The Pocket

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  • Stunning sound throughout with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it
  • Both of these sides are SUPERB in all respects; there’s plenty of Tubey Magic, and that’s one quality that’s hard to come by on this album
  • Rich, sweet, and lively — Woman’s Gotta Have It sounds fantastic here
  • An underappreciated album that we’re big fans of here at Better Records!

The quality of the songwriting is what makes this album such a moving listening experience. These songs are superb, individually and collectively, and can hold their own up against those found on Gorilla, an album with which In the Pocket has much in common.

Just as they did on Gorilla, Taylor and his multi-talented, multi-tracking production team polish these songs into three and four minute gems of popcraft, and they do so without ever compromising the emotional heart of the material. I’ve searched and I honestly cannot find a bad song on the album. Better than that, not even a weak one.

Both of these sides are SUPERB in all respects. There’s plenty of Tubey Magic, and that’s one quality that’s hard to come by on this album. They’re super rich, smooth, yet transparent and high-rez. The vocals are breathy, and again, that is not something we heard nearly enough of in our shootout.

And no hardness. This is key. And the best tonal balance, which is also key. (more…)

Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo

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  • Devo’s superb debut finally returns to the site after more than a year, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • This pressing is head and shoulders above the pack, with the kind of big, punchy, full-bodied sound this music absolutely demands
  • Tons of great songs on here, including Uncontrollable Urge, Jocko Homo, Too Much Paranoias, and their killer cover of The Stones’ Satisfaction
  • 4 1/2 stars: “A seminal touchstone in the development of American new wave… had a conceptual unity that bolstered the consistent songwriting, making it an essential document of one of new wave’s most influential bands.”

Let the Devolution begin! 

While Devo’s music may never sound as rich, warm, and tubey as the typical classic rock album, that certainly doesn’t mean we need to accept completely anemic, sterile sound for this album. It took a big stack of copies, but here’s one that made us sit up straight, pay attention and enjoy!

Tons of great songs here, including Uncontrollable Urge, Jocko Homo, Too Much Paranoias, and their killer cover of The Stones’ Satisfaction. (more…)

Seals & Crofts – Summer Breeze

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  • This superb pressing of Summer Breeze (the first to hit the site in years!) boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout, and vinyl that plays as quiet as we can find it
  • With tons of Tubey Magical richness in the midrange – the kind that was still abundant on analog tape in 1972 – this is a wonderful sounding album of folk pop
  • It has taken us years to find the right stampers for this album, and now here they are on the Green Label original in all their glory
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Summer Breeze offered an unusually ambitious array of music within a soft rock context — most artists tried to avoid weighty subjects in such surroundings… the most highly regarded of all of Seals & Crofts’ albums.” (more…)

Devo – Duty Now For The Future

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  • Stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish, making this the best copy to hit the site in years!
  • The energy and presence here are off the charts, the bottom end is super solid and punchy, and there’s tons of space around all of the instruments
  • “Devo and their ilk were serious and heartfelt about their goofy sound. They were weird, but weird on their terms. Duty Now for the Future is the perfect example of that. It earns its strangeness with sharp, compelling, and infectiously energetic songs. It crafts a world to travel and never misses a step. And, perhaps most impressively, it sounds just as fresh over 30 [now 40!] years after its original release.” – Pop Matters

GET DEVOLVED! This copy gives you amazing sound for both sides of this fun — and very well-recorded — album. The average copy of this record barely hints at the sound that Ken Scott was clearly able to get on the tape. This one tells a different story, with serious weight down low, a ton of energy, loads of texture to the synths, and wonderful clarity. The lucky man (or woman) who takes this home is sure to get a thrill from it.

The soundfield on these killer sides has a three-dimensional quality that allows all the instruments to be identified and followed with ease. They just don’t get any punchier or livelier, and with music like this, all those elements combine to make this music a FUN listen. (more…)

Peter, Paul & Mary – Album

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  • The first copy of this classic from 1966 to hit the site in many years – arguably a better album than Album 1700!
  • Both sides of this original Warner Brothers Gold Label pressing earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • These sides are full of ’60s analog Tubey Magic – rich and warm with real immediacy and transparency
  • Features top musicians and PPM versions of folk classics like And When I Die and Kisses Sweeter Than Wine 

Finding great copies of this album is no easy task. Many of the copies we played were just too noisy, and most of the quiet ones just did not impress us sonically. After listening to so much mediocrity we were shocked and gratified that this very copy managed to show us a world of sound we did not expect to hear. (more…)

The B-52’s / Self-Titled First Album – A Proud Member of Our Top 100

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides, this vintage pressing is overflowing with analog magic in its grooves – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Talk about sound that is positively jumpin’ out of the speakers – every instrument here is clear and present, laid out from wall to wall right in your listening room
  • Tubey Magic in 1979? Somehow they managed to pull it off. So dynamic too. What a recording!
  • A New Wave Classic, 5 stars in the All Music Guide: “These songs illustrated that the B-52’s’ adoration of camp culture… was a world view capable of turning out brilliant pop singles and, in turn, influencing mainstream pop culture… a hell of a good time.”

We think you will be surprised at just how good the sound can be. And you may or may not be surprised at just how FUN the music is.

Listen to the huge, spacious soundstage and amazingly rich, full-bodied and uncolored tonality that earned this recording a place in our Top 100.

Who knew that good sounding records were still being recorded in 1979? Candy-O comes to mind, but the B-52s’ first album has virtually none of the grit and Roy Thomas Baker heavy-processing of that one, and a lot more Tubey Magic to boot — when you get a pressing like this of course. (more…)

ZZ Top – El Loco

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  • El Loco makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • 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
  • “El Loco follows through on the streamlined, jet-engine boogie rock of Degüello, but kicking all the ingredients up a notch.”

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Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview

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  • With Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it, this original Green Label pressing is one of the BEST we have ever heard
  • It’s unusual (to say the least) to find copies of Moondance or Astral Weeks that sound anything like the better copies of Saint Dominic’s Preview (or His Band and Street Choir, an equally good recording)
  • One of the better sounding Van Morrison albums, thanks to the superb engineering skills of Donn Landee at Wally Heider’s and elsewhere
  • 5 Stars in Rolling Stone: “The coexistence of two styles on the same record turns out to be very refreshing; they complement each other by underscoring the remarkable versatility of Van’s musical imagination… the best-produced, most ambitious Van Morrison record yet released.”

We’ve been huge fans of this album for ages and don’t understand why it doesn’t get more respect. This is the album that comes right after Tupelo Honey and His Band And The Street Choir, so that should tell you something.

The piano has real weight, the bottom end is solid, and the brass sounds lively and rich, never squawky. (more…)

Emmylou Harris – Roses In The Snow

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  • Roses in the Snow finally returns to the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The immediacy of the vocals is startling — Emmylou is IN THE ROOM with you, belting out these heartfelt, emotional songs. If that doesn’t give you chills, I don’t know what will!
  • We’ve done several shootouts for this album now, and we’ve completely fallen in love with both the music and the sound – when you hear a copy like this, it’s easy to see why
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Combining acoustic bluegrass with traditional Appalachian melodies (and tossing one contemporary tune, Paul Simon’s “The Boxer,” into the mix), Roses in the Snow ranks among Emmylou Harris’ riskiest — and most satisfying — gambits.”

Both sides have wonderful clarity and transparency. Emmylou’s vocals are breathy with lots of texture, the stringed instruments have the proper amount of pluck and twang, and the bass is Right On The Money. Yee-haw! (more…)

Tower of Power – Back To Oakland

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout, this copy was one of the best we played in our recent shootout
  • Our Hot Stamper pressings are rich, warm and dynamic, with plenty of Analog Tubey Magic
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, presence and energy on this copy than anything else around, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an unsuspecting record buying public
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Back to Oakland had tougher, funkier and better-produced cuts, stronger vocals from Lenny Williams, and included an excellent ballad in “Time Will Tell,” and a rousing tempo in “Don’t Change Horses (In the Middle of a Stream).”

*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes a sandpapery noise during the first ten seconds of Track One, Oakland Stroke.

We love this funky music and have long been delighted with how wonderful the best pressings can sound. This may be Tower of Power’s best; certainly it’s one of their most consistent and well-recorded.

When you hear it on a Hot Stamper like this, there is little in the recording to criticize. The brass is textured with just the right amount of bite (but not to the point of sounding gritty). In addition, the soundstage is wide and three-dimensional, with the kind of transparency that allows you to hear into the music all the way to the back wall of the studio (assuming your system resolves that kind of information).

The most obvious effect is that all the horns are separated out from one another, not all smeared together, with plenty of space around the drums, guitars and vocals as well. The sound is freely flowing from the speakers, not stuck inside them. (more…)