Older Reviews – Rock and Pop

James Taylor – JT – Our Shootout Winner from Way Back in 2007

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

SUPERB SOUND FROM START TO FINISH! Both sides have MASTER TAPE SOUND. With six plusses between the two sides it sure doesn’t get much better than this copy!

And don’t think we’re kidding about turning up your volume and rockin’ out to songs like Honey Don’t Leave L.A. and I Was Only Telling a Lie. Those are real rock songs and they show that old JT can rock with the best of them when he wants to. (more…)

James Taylor – Dad Loves His Work – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This Hot Stamper original Columbia is THE KING, the Best Sounding Copy we have ever played — the sound was OUT OF THIS WORLD! In fact, side two went so far beyond what we’ve come to expect from this album that we had to award it the rare Four Plus (A++++) grade.

The soundstage and depth on our Hot Stamper copies is HUGE — this is without a doubt the most spacious recording by James Taylor we’ve ever heard. If you want your speakers to disappear, replaced by a huge studio full of musicians playing their hearts out, this is the album that can do it. (more…)

Eno – Here Come The Warm Jets

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  • KILLER sound from start to finish for this Island import pressing with both sides finishing top of the class — Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • The sound here is clean, clear, present and dynamic yet still super rich and musical with lots of Tubey Magic
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus on both sides
  • 5 stars on Allmusic: “Eno’s solo debut, Here Come the Warm Jets, is a spirited, experimental collection of unabashed pop songs… Avant-garde yet very accessible, Here Come the Warm Jets still sounds exciting, forward-looking, and densely detailed, revealing more intricacies with every play.”

A great pressing of one of our favorite albums! These are not easy to come by, so we don’t get to shoot these out as often as we’d like. This is not your typical audiophile-friendly rock album, to be sure. There are lots of weird sounds, out-of-tune instruments and other Eno craziness. We’re big Eno fans here — Taking Tiger Mountain and Before And After Science are other big favorites here. If you’ve got a taste for avant-garde art rock, this album should be right up your alley. (more…)

Traffic – Mr. Fantasy – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

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

This British Sunray Label pressing has THE BEST SOUND I’VE EVER HEARD FOR THIS ALBUM! None of the Pink Label originals that we played had the deep, powerful, punchy bass that this pressing has, coupled with an extended, sweet top end.

This is one of the best sounding Traffic records ever made. Musically it’s hit or miss, but so is every other Traffic record, including my favorite, John Barleycorn. The best songs here are Heaven Is In Your Mind, Dear Mr. Fantasy, and Coloured Rain.

The first of these is worth the price of the album alone, in my opinion. It’s a wonderful example of late ’60s British psychedelic rock.  (more…)

10cc – Deceptive Bends – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and another in our series of Demo Discs for Bass.

The remarkable level of transparency found on this copy allows you to pick out each background vocal and follow it throughout the choruses. The bass here is PERFECTION: it’s deep, punchy and POWERFUL. When you get the right pressing of this album, the bass is so good it will make every other rock record you own sound positively anemic.

This is the kind of recording that will have you asking yourself “Why don’t my other rock records sound like this?” (more…)

James Taylor – Mud Slide Slim – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

Side two here has STUNNING MASTER TAPE SOUND, and side one is not far behind. Side two is open and transparent with shocking clarity. All of the little details that are missing from the average copy really come through here — the sound of the room around the guitars, the transients of the hand percussion, and the weight of the piano, to name a few. The acoustic guitar sound is Right On The Money and the vocals sound amazing. The bottom end on this copy just can’t be beat — we’ve never heard another copy of Mud Slide Slim with such deep, note-like bass. The highs are silky sweet and there’s real three-dimensionality to the soundfield.

I don’t think you could find a better sounding side two no matter how hard you tried. We had dozens of Green Label originals and WE couldn’t! (We don’t bother with the Palm Tree label anymore, although they can be very good on the best copies.)

We give it A+++; it deserves every one of those pluses and then some. Without a doubt this is the best sound we have EVER heard for Mud Slide.

But what REALLY sets this one apart is how much IT ROCKS. The energy on this pressing has to be heard to be believed. Forget all that detail and soundstaging stuff and just focus on how this band is playing the HELL out of that first track, which arguably is the best song on the album. When you hear it sound like this there is no argument. (more…)

James Taylor – Sweet Baby James – Our Shootout Winner for 2008

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

It took three days, sixty seven copies, and multiple rounds, but SWEET BABY JAMES HOT STAMPERS ARE BACK! Both sides of this bad boy are DEMO QUALITY and ABSOLUTELY STUNNING. Add in the fact that the vinyl is unusually quiet, and you’ve got one heck of a copy here!

It ain’t easy to find copies of this album with great sound on both sides and reasonably quiet surfaces — that’s why you haven’t seen more than one Hot copy hit the site since February ’08. Even though neither side of this copy received the A+++ grade, this has to be considered a White Hot Stamper because of the combination of two stunning sides and quiet vinyl.

This was one of the most massive shootouts in Better Records history. We started out with SIXTY SEVEN copies. After weeding out the copies with obvious condition problems and known second-rate stampers, we were left with three dozen copies to audition. We battled through condition problems, bad stereo days, and listener fatigue to end up with a select number of exceptional copies. It’s a extremely taxing project, and that’s why these are just the second round of SBJ Hot Stampers to EVER hit our site. (more…)

Love – Revisited

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

Two incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sides! We had a chance to shootout a handful of copies recently and didn’t hear any other copies that could compete with this Elektra Original Pressing. We are HUGE fans of Love and this copy will show you why. Both sides are lively and full-bodied and the bottom end is KILLER throughout. In short, it’s EXACTLY the sound you want for this music. Give it a chance and you’ll hear for yourself!

Compared to some other copies, this one had more impact, more power and more energy. The vocals are full-bodied and rich with excellent presence. Most copies we heard were pretty blurry down low, but you can actually make sense of the bass on this one. (more…)

Love – Love – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

You’d never know it from those dull Sundazed reissues, but the right pressings of Love’s albums are full of Tubey Magic! With Bruce Botnick at the controls you can expect a meaty bottom end and BIG rock sound, and this recording really delivers on both counts, and this copy captures all of the magic. Big speaker guys (like yours truly) are going to get a LOT out of this copy.

he sound is excellent throughout — surprisingly transparent, with lots of texture to the voices and guitars. The clarity is nothing less than STUNNING. Overall, the sound is warm, sweet, rich, and full-bodied with super low distortion. The bottom end is about As Good As It Gets for hard rock –if your front end is up to the task this record is going to give you WHOMP like you wouldn’t believe!

My Little Red Book sounds PHENOMENAL here — you just can’t rock much harder than that! My notes say “PERFECTION” and that pretty much sums it up! The power of rock n’ roll is alive and well on this copy. It’s doing EVERYTHING right.

Both sides play between Mint Minus and Mint Minus Minus overall, which still makes this a relatively quiet original pressing. This is raw ’60s hard rock, not polite classical music, and a few ticks and pops shouldn’t scare you away.

The Moody Blues – Seventh Sojourn – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This Super Hot Stamper side two was among THE BEST sounding side twos we’ve played. We did not find any copy with better sound on side two, and because no side of any copy really blew our minds, we did not award our Triple Plus grade to either side of any of them.

We had a bunch of British and Dutch imports to play, and we did hear some good sound, just not the kind of good sound we’ve heard on earlier albums. If you like this album we’re pretty sure you will have a hard time finding a copy that sounds even remotely this good. Most of them are much much worse. Dreadful in fact. (more…)