Masterpieces of Folk and Folk Rock

Seals & Crofts – Year of Sunday – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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

The best album by this duo – their strongest songwriting and arrangements. Nearly White Hot on side one, with vocals that are full-bodied, rich and solid.

A forgotten Classic from 1971, the album holds up very well forty plus years on.

Their commercial breakthrough would come with their next album, Year of Sunday, helped out by scores of session cats, but I much prefer the less commercial — although it’s far from uncommercial — sound of Year of Sunday. I am apparently not alone in my love for this album. Of the thirteen reviews on Amazon, every one gives it Five Stars(!).

The consistency of the songwriting is very strong here as well, with surprisingly powerful emotional currents. There’s not a dog in the bunch, and many of the better tracks are gems of popcraft. Some of the my favorites are When I Meet Them, Cause You Love, and Antoinette on side one, and Paper Airplanes, Irish Linen and Springfield Mill on side two.

Side One

Smooth and very rich, with big bass, this is without a doubt precisely the right sound for the album. Very few copies managed to pull off the rich tonal balance that this side has going for it.

Side Two

It’s big and clear, a bit thinner but still very good. (more…)

Gerry Rafferty – City To City – Our First White Hot Stamper

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

The BEST SOUNDING City to City to EVER hit our site — White Hot on side one backed with a nearly White Hot side two, which means that the chances of finding an overall better sounding copy than this are vanishingly small, even for us.

In addition, we are especially delighted to report that not only is the sound better than ever, the music is too. The album as a whole, unlike so much of what came out in 1978 (Do Ya Think I’m Sexy asks Rod Stewart, followed by stony silence) does not seem to have dated in the least, with the possible exception of the big hit Baker Street, which is arguably somewhat over the top but still works for what it is — a radio-friendly folk pop song with a compelling narrative. Both sides come with the kind of rich, sweet, classically British Tubey Magical sound that we love here at Better Records.

In case you have never had the misfortune to play one, the original domestic pressings, mastered at the usually reliable-for-sonics Artisan, are an absolute disaster. From an audiophile point of view they are all but unlistenable. (more…)

Gordon Lightfoot – If You Could Read My Mind

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•SUPERB sound throughout for this original Reprise pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
•Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, intimacy, and freedom from audio coloration of this wonderful album from 1970, these early pressings are the only way to do it
•An outstanding recording – Lightfoot’s best in our experience – on this killer side one ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ sounds as good as we have ever heard it
•4 1/2 stars: “The entire album is rich in the simple beauty of its folky melodies and personal lyrics… the music here is timeless, still feeling and sounding great many years after its release.” (more…)

Cat Stevens – Tea For The Tillerman – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2019

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

We award this pressing our very special Four Plus (A++++) grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take the recording to a level never experienced by us before, a level we usually had no idea even existed.

It sold for $1200 and was, to our way of thinking, surely worth every penny. One out of ten thousand audiophiles has ever heard Tea for the Tillerman sound this good, maybe fewer. Maybe none.

We estimate that about one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. You can’t get much more rare than that.

This is one of the few White Hot copies to have been put up on the site over the years. It takes many, many — way too many — copies to find one that sounds like this. When it does, you know it. It ain’t rocket science. This copy is ALIVE with musical energy. (more…)