*Our Record Overview – The Good

McCoy Tyner – Extensions

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Extensions

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  • With nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side one this copy has the real Blue Note magic 
  • The sound on side one was bigger, clearer, less boxy and simply more relaxed and musical than almost any other side we heard
  • The really good RVG pressings like this one sound shockingly close to live music
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “The all-star sextet stretches out on lengthy renditions of four of Tyner’s modal originals, and there is strong solo space for the leader and the two saxophonists. Wayne Shorter in particular is often quite intense. Stimulating music.”

With Alice Coltrane on harp, this is one trippy album! For those with adventurous tastes you are sure to have an interesting musical experience with this one.

We enjoy the sound of a great many Blue Note pressings from the ’70s, although to be fair there are plenty of dogs out there too. The reason this LP and others from the era have such transparency and such an extended top end compared with some of RVG’s older recordings is due, at least to some degree, to the better cutting equipment he had available to him in the ’70s. (more…)

Ry Cooder – Boomer’s Story – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This is a QUIET Reprise Tan Label LP with a good side one and a GREAT side two. It’s not the best copy we’ve ever heard but it’s a step up from most of what’s out there. Side two is very natural and incredibly clean. The presence is wonderful, the top end is sweet, and the transparency is top-notch. Side one is similar but a bit smooth for our tastes.

We’re big Ry Cooder fans here at Better Records, and this is one of our favorites. Make sure to check out the lovely reading of Dark End Of The Street that opens side two. (more…)

Queen – Hot Space


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

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  • Triple Plus (A+++) on side one, Double Plus (A++) on side two, this copy took top honors in our recent shootout
  • The best copies – like this one – have plenty of bass and are smoother and fuller than the others
  • Disco, funk, rhythm and blues, dance and pop music all found their way onto this 1982 release
  • The monster hit Under Pressure with none other than Mr David Bowie closes out side two

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Sly and The Family Stone – Fresh

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Fresh

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

Both sides here had exceptionally good bass, and that earned it a lot of points in our shootout. The sound is punchy and full-bodied with excellent clarity. It’s also smooth, in the best tradition of analog from the early ’70s. This is the right sound for the music, no question about it.   (more…)

Chabrier / Espana – Argenta – A Speakers Corner Winner

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894) 

Espana – Argenta 

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Sonic Grade: B

This is a Speakers Corner Decca 180 gram LP reissue of the famous Argenta performance, a recording which can sound positively amazing on the right original London, but only about 2 out of 10 copies actually do. (And where in the world are you going to find 10 clean copies of a record that’s practically 50 years old?)

This pressing gets you most of the way there, on reasonably quiet vinyl, for a lot less money. (more…)

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Soul To Soul

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Soul To Soul

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  • STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout for this Classic of Electric Blues Guitar – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This is one of the better copies to hit the site in years – good SRV albums are getting tough to find nowadays 
  • A copy like this one soars above the pack with its hard-rockin’ energy, rich, solid bass, open top end, and freedom from congestion
  • “[SRV] wanted to add soul and R&B inflections to his basic blues sound, and Soul to Soul does exactly that.” 

Vaughn’s guitar playing is as fiery as ever, and the addition of keyboards and saxophone here gives the music broader scope and range than was possible on his previous albums. (more…)

Mark Levinson – Acoustic Recording Series, Volume 2 – Reviewed in 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

The sound on the record is excellent. It was engineered by Mark Levinson, on special equipment designed to create virtually noiseless ultra-low-distortion master tapes, without noise-reduction systems. It’s mastered by Robert Ludwig. 

The first side contains Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales played on the piano by Lois Shapiro. Side two contains her performance of Haydn’s Sonata No. 49.

Tony Bennett – For Once In My Life

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For Once In My Life

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  • This vintage pressing gives Tony the sound he deserves, with excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on both of these early stereo sides
  • Amazing vocal reproduction courtesy of the brilliant engineering of Frank Laico at his favorite studio (and ours), Columbia 30th Street studios
  • We are not big soundstage guys here at Better Records, but we can’t deny the appeal of the space to be found on a record as good as this

Everything that’s good about Vocal Recordings from the ’50s and ’60s is precisely what’s good about the sound of this record.

The huge studio the music was recorded in is captured faithfully here. The height, width and depth of the staging here are extraordinary. We are not big soundstage guys here at Better Records, but we can’t deny the appeal of the space to be found on a record as good as this.

Transparency and Tubey Magic are key to the sound of the orchestra and you will find both in abundance on these two sides.

Albums such as this live and die by the quality of their vocal reproduction. On this record Mr. Tony Bennett himself will appear to be standing right in your listening room! The space of your stereo room will seem to expand in all directions in order to accommodate them, an illusion of course, but nevertheless a remarkably convincing one. (more…)

Freddie Hubbard – Polar AC (2013)

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

We’re big fans of Hubbard’s CTI material around here and this album has a lot of the qualities we love about this stuff. All the usual faces are here — Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, George Benson, Airto — and Rudy Van Gelder does a great job capturing their performances. (We used to criticize RVG pretty harshly, but in recent years we’ve found more and more pressings of his stuff that really work.)  (more…)

Brewer & Shipley – Weeds – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2017

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

It took two copies on two different labels to give you BETTER than Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the two sides of this 2-pack. These sides were beyond anything we had ever heard, with weight and Tubey Magic to put other records to shame. On the best copies the midrange is amazingly relaxed and natural, yet completely clear and present. This Bay Area Hippie Folk Rock has much in common with classic albums like Workingman’s Dead and CSN’s first. (more…)