Labels We Love – Warners

Van Morrison – Wavelength

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  • A superb copy of Wavelength with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Richer, warmer and bigger than practically all of the other copies we played, here is the kind of analog smoothness that’s essential to the sound of Morrison’s music
  • His biggest selling album to date? Seems hard to believe but that’s what is says on Wikipedia – it went gold in 3 months
  • Time magazine raved: “Morrison has made two, maybe three albums that rank high among the finest of all rock ‘n’ roll. Wavelength is good enough to stand close by Morrison’s best work, a record of sinuous, sensuous magic. The man just can’t be beat.”

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Van Morrison – His Band And Street Choir

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  • A stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) copy of this great sounding Van Morrison album, a favorite of ours here at Better Records
  • The sound is full-bodied, clear, and brimming with the soulful energy of this great artist
  • The best sounding Van Morrison album, a Top 100 title, with classic 1970 Analog sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • “As “Domino” opens the album with a show of strength. “Street Choir” closes it with a burst of both musical and poetic energy which is not only better than anything else on the album but may well be one of Van’s two or three finest songs.” Rolling Stone

This is the album that came out between Moondance (in the same year in fact, 1970) and Tupelo Honey, but for some reason, it don’t get no respect. We think that’s insane — the material on this album is stellar and the sound on the best pressings is out of this world!

Here’s a copy that really makes our case for us. Both sides of this original Warner Bros. pressing sound AMAZING! We went through a massive stack of copies and let me tell you — most of them sure don’t sound like this! Take this one home for some of the best Van Morrison sound you will ever hear.

For years I thought that Moondance was the best sounding album in the Van Morrison catalog. His Band And Street Choir is even better. One reason for that would have to be that Robert Ludwig mastered it, and he can usually be counted on to do an excellent job. (more…)

The Notting Hillbillies – Missing…

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  • A superb sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • These sides get the sound of the plucked instruments with all the speed. body and harmonic information they need to sound their best
  • 4 stars: “… a low-key, joyous run-through of mostly traditional, blues-based songs with a handful of originals… Despite the high-profile presence of Knopfler, the Notting Hillbillies succeed in sounding like a band with Knopfler often taking a backseat to his bandmates… a delightful record that doesn’t overstay its welcome.”

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ZZ Top – Deguello

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  • A STUNNING early pressing of Deguello with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear Cheap Sunglasses sounding big, bold and lively, this is the copy for you
  • A surprisingly good recording – here is exactly the kind of hard-rockin’ energy you want from these three guys
  • Excellent songs including Hi Fi Mama, Cheap Sunglasses (an all-time classic), She Loves My Automobile, and more
  • 4 1/2 stars: “ZZ Top returned after an extended layoff in late 1979 with Degüello, their best album since 1973’s Tres Hombres… The trio is in fine shape here, knocking out a great set of rockers and sounding stylish all the time.”

The sound is big and full-bodied with excellent separation and real punch down low. You get real clarity and impressive immediacy. Turn this one up and let ‘er loose!

It’s not easy to find great sounding pressings for this band, which is why so few have ever made it to the site with Hot Stamper sound.

It’s a great album for these three guys, with excellent songs including Hi Fi Mama, Cheap Sunglasses, She Loves My Automobile and more. We aren’t going to claim to be the world’s foremost ZZ Top experts, but we know a great sounding rock record when we hear one, and this one impressed the heck outta us. (more…)

Dave Grisman – Quintet ’80

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  • A stunning sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides with each playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “This set features Grisman’s string group (which also includes violinist Darol Anger, Mike Marshall on mandolin, guitar and violin, Mark O’Connor on violin and guitar, and bassist Rob Wasserman)… The music is excellent…” – All Music

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America – Homecoming – Their Second Best Album

Homecoming

  • An outstanding copy of America’s second album, boasting Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • This is a simply wonderful Green Label original pressing – big and rich with excellent transparency and breathy vocals
  • Some of the most tubey, warm acoustic guitar reproduction you could ever ask for – this is the sound of real analog!
  • Ventura Highway sounds amazing here, as does everything else; it’s a Demo Disc for acoustic guitars and vocals

The guitars on this record are a true test of stereo reproduction quality. Most of the pressings of this record do not get the guitars to sound right. And when the guitars are perfection, the voices and all the other instruments are right as well. Let’s face it: they just don’t know how to make acoustic guitars sound like this anymore. You have to go back to 40+ year old records like this one to find that sound.  

Warner Brothers Green Labels

Green label Warner Brothers originals are sonically all over the map. The biggest problem these pressings suffer from is a lack of extreme top end to provide harmonics for the guitars. The guitars on this copy sound just right, really sweet and open. On the average copy, they sound veiled and dull. (more…)

David Lee Roth – Eat ‘Em and Smile

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  • David Lee Roth’s solo debut finally arrives on the site with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The overall sound here is incredibly full-bodied, musical, clear and spacious with tons of energy and a solid bottom end
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Few would argue that David Lee Roth’s first solo EP was a complete comedy send-up, albeit a very successful one that gained him enough favor with the MTV peanut gallery to solidify his potential as a solo artist… arguably Roth’s most legitimate piece of art ever.”

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James Taylor / In The Pocket – A Personal Favorite

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

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.

Side Two

The best we heard and SUPERB in all respects. It’s got Tubey Magic, and that’s one quality that’s hard to come by on this album. It’s fairly 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. White Hot all the way.

Side One

Big and clear with lots of studio space and reverb. A bit shifted up tonally but very good this way.

We’re No Snobs

The critics have never had much love for In The Pocket, but I’ve always felt just the opposite — it’s one of my favorites of the JT canon, an absolute joy from first track to last. As a James Taylor fan I bought a copy as soon as it came out and proceeded to play it practically to death. At the time Rolling Stone magazine gave it a scathingly negative review, accusing Taylor of selling out for making a carefully-produced, sophisticated Soulful Pop Album. Plenty have derisively labeled it “slick”, but to my ear the material is very strong, with all the heart of his earlier albums. Glossy production values and a cast of the L.A. assembled multitudes is hardly cause to dismiss the emotional power of these songs. (more…)

Peter, Paul & Mary – See What Tomorrow Brings

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Peter, Paul and Mary in 1965

What the best sides of this classic Folk Album have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl domestic pressings like this one offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1965
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with the vocals, acoustic guitars and bass having the correct sound for this kind of recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Peter, Paul & Mary records live and die by the quality of their midrange reproduction. These are not big-budget, high-concept multi-track recordings. They’re simple, innocent folk songs featuring exquisite vocal harmonies, backed by straightforward guitar accompaniment. If the voices aren’t silky sweet and delicate, while at the same time full-bodied and present, let’s face it — you might as well be listening to something else. (As we say below, the average copy will have you looking for another record to put on.) 

The Breath Of Life

Steve Hoffman’s famous phrase is key here: we want to hear The Breath Of Life. If P, P & M don’t sound like living breathing human beings standing right between your speakers, toss yours and buy this copy, because that’s exactly what they sound like here. The TUBEY MAGIC of the MIDRANGE is practically off the scale. Until you hear it like this you almost can’t really even imagine it. It’s a bit disconcerting to hear each and every nuance of their singing reproduced so faithfully.

This is high-rez ’60s style; not phony and forced like so much of what passes for audiophile sound these days, but relaxed and real, as if the recording were doing its best to get out of the way of the music, not call attention to itself. This, to us, is the goal, the prize we must constantly strive to keep our eyes on. Find the music, leave the rest.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

If I Were Free 
Betty & Dupree 
The Rising Of The Moon 
Early Mornin’ Rain 
Jane, Jane 
Because All Men Are Brothers

Side Two

Hangman 
Brother, (Buddy) Can You Spare A Dime? 
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face 
Tryin’ To Win 
On A Desert Island (With You In My Dreams) 
The Last Thing On My Mind

AMG Review

See What Tomorrow Brings is a strong album that plays to the strengths of Peter, Paul, & Mary. There is a good variety of material within their folk format, and a nice esprit de corps that pervades the recording. All members sing lead, which brings a good balance to the proceedings. Worth noting are two early versions of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain” and Ewan MacColl’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” … a very good album that has variety, strong material, tasteful production, and a fine spirit that gives it a winning edge.

Van Morrison – Tupelo Honey – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

YIKES! It’s the new ALL-TIME CHAMPION for Tupelo Honey, with MASTER TAPE SOUND and pretty darn quiet vinyl on BOTH SIDES! I’ll bet just about anything that you’ve never heard Van Morrison sound as good as he does here in your entire life. We played a massive stack of copies this week and felt incredibly lucky to find one that sounded like this. I just don’t think you could make this music sound any better no matter what you did.  

We play dozens of copies of this great album every few months, but I don’t recall ever hearing another one that sounded this good on both sides. Everything you’d want from this music is here on this copy in correct proportion. The top end is airy, open and silky, while down low, there’s lots of punch and energy. The midrange is full of that old analog magic, and the vocals are Right On The Money. There’s real dynamics on this copy, which really helps kick up the life force of the music. Just listen to the energy build up during Wild Night — that’s how it would happen in a live setting, and that’s the way we want to hear it at home as well. There’s TONS of tubey magic throughout, and the vocals are PERFECTION. (more…)