A List of Breakthrough Pressing Discoveries

Jackson Browne – The Pretender

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  • STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides, making this a Pretender that rocks like no other!
  • One of the all time great rock / pop Demo Discs — the best copies are so rich and full-bodied they make most rock records sound positively anemic
  • Five Stars in Rolling Stone, one of their Top 500 Albums, and a true classic from 1976
  • Without a doubt the best sounding record Jackson Browne ever made – this is the pressing that backs up everything we say and more

As I’m sure you know by now, especially if you own a copy or two, pressings of The Pretender don’t usually sound like Demo Discs. In fact, most copies of this record are mediocre at best — thin, grainy, and flat sounding.

This copy is none of those things. And it positively kills the famous MoFi pressing. (more…)

Roxy Music’s Debut Is a Masterpiece

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  • Andy Hendriksen’s engineering (over the course of a week!) is superb in all respects and practically faultless
  • A Top 100 album, the band’s Masterpiece, and truly a Must Own Desert Island Disc of Glamorous Arty Rock
  • “Falling halfway between musical primitivism and art rock ambition, Roxy Music’s eponymous debut remains a startling redefinition of rock’s boundaries. Simultaneously embracing kitschy glamour and avant-pop, Roxy Music shimmers with seductive style and pulsates with disturbing synthetic textures.”

Folks, this is a true Demo Disc in the world of Art Rock. It’s rare to find a recording of popular music with DYNAMICS like these. (more…)

Bee Gees – Main Course

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  • KILLER sound for this early RSO pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to them – this is the best sounding Main Course ever
  • I can’t recall how many times we’ve tried to get this shootout going and failed – this very pressing represents the breakthrough we were hoping for the last twenty or so years
  • 4 1/2 stars: “It may sound silly to call the 12th album by a group with an eight-year string of gold records behind them a “breakthrough,” but that’s what Main Course was… Years later, Main Course holds up as well as anything the group ever did, and with killer album cuts like “Wind of Change” (featuring a superb Joe Farrell tenor sax solo) and “Edge of the Universe” all over it, demands as much attention as any hits compilation by the group.”

The impossible has happened – we found a good sounding copy of Main Course. The right stampers eluded us for a very long time, but we finally lucked into a good sounding pressing, and that allowed us to put the wheels in motion for this shootout. Here are some other titles that represent the most dramatic Breakthroughs from the last ten years or so. (more…)

Lovin’ Spoonful – The Very Best of… – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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As Good As It Gets (AGAIG) White Hot Stamper sound for some of the biggest hits of The Lovin’ Spoonful, a band I wouldn’t expect to hear sound good on vinyl if I lived to be a hundred, and yet, here it is! This pressing changes EVERYTHING. 

This copy lets you hear versions of Younger Girl, Didn’t Want to Have to Do It, Daydream, You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice, Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?, and Do You Believe in Magic? with the kind of sonics never thought possible, not by us anyway. This copy is truly a revelation. And side two ain’t too shabby either.

Why does this stereo compilation sound so much better than others we’ve played in the past? Who the hell knows? We don’t pretend to have all the answers. What we have — that nobody else has, if that’s not too obvious — are the records that back up what we say about them. How they came to be is anyone’s guess. All we know for sure is that, judging by the best copies of this album somebody got hold of some awfully good tapes and somebody mastered them with uncanny skill to what sounds to these ears like near perfection.

That is, if you have this copy (which just happens to be on the original Pink Kama Sutra Label). This copy just could not be beat on side two. We tried, we had some very very good ones, but none that sounded like this.

Side Two

A+++, by far the best we played. So CLEAR and UNDISTORTED — Wow! There are always problem areas in ’60s pop recordings, but this side sounds so good you’re liable to forget there are any such things. This is a four track recording? Yes, in the way that Rubber Soul is a four track recording. It can be done.

This copy had the most extension high and low, the best clarity in the vocals and the most richness overall. I’m telling you, it is Hard To Fault! (more…)

John Coltrane – Lush Life – We Review the DCC, OJC, and Original Pressings

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Sonic Grade: B or so (DCC) 
Sonic Grade: C or so (OJC) 

The DCC heavy vinyl pressing is a nice record; I remember liking it back in the day. I’m guessing it’s a bit better than the ’80s OJC, which is, like most OJC pressings, typically thin and hard. Neither one of them can hold a candle to the pressings we offer on the site.

If for some reason we could not find copies of the album that substantially beat the sound of either of these two remastered LPs, we simply would not have anything to offer, since neither of these versions could be considered Hot Stampers. Nice records, sure, but Hot Stampers? Not a chance.

It was only a few months ago, early in 2016 in fact, that we chanced upon the right kind of pressing — the right era, the right label, the right stampers, the right sound. Not just the right sound though. Better sound than we ever thought this album could have.

Previously we had written:

“There are great sounding originals, but they are few and far between…”

We no longer believe that to be true. In fact we believe the opposite of that statement to be true. The original we had on hand — noisy but with reasonably good sound, or so we thought — was an absolute joke next to our best Hot Stamper pressings. Half the size, half the clarity and presence, half the life and energy, half the immediacy, half the studio space. It was simply not remotely competitive with the copies we now know (or at least believe, all knowledge being provisional) to have the best sound.

Are there better originals than the ones we’ve played? No doubt. If you want to spend your day searching for them, more power to you. And if you do find one that impresses you, we are happy to send you one of our Hot Copies to play against it. We are confident that the outcome would be clearly favorable to our pressing. Ten seconds of side one should be enough to convince you that our record is in an entirely different league, a league we had no idea even existed until just this year.

By the way, the mono original we played was by far the worst sound I have ever heard for the album. By far. (more…)

Little Feat – Hoy-Hoy Promo Sampler – “The sound quality can be shockingly better than the original Hoy Hoy album.”

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  • An amazing Triple Plus side two and a Double Plus side one
  • This is the Big Rock Sound we love, huge and punchy with tons of space and a big bottom end
  • Knockout Demo Disc Rock and Roll sound and then some

It may contain only a handful of tracks from the album, but folks, STUNNING SOUND doesn’t BEGIN to do justice to this EP. I would state categorically that there is not a single rock record on the TAS List that can hold a candle to it in terms of live-rock-in-your-living room blasting power. This is one of the most AMAZING DEMO DISCS of All Time. If it were an album I would put it on a Top Ten Best Sounding Rock and Pop List (if we had such a thing).

It’s really not fair to judge the Harry’s List by records like this, which have never been the man’s forte. We, on the other hand, know these kinds of records about as well as anyone, and to prove it we would love to send you this copy.

And do you know how we discovered it? We had a couple of these promos lying around, and after shooting out the Hot Stamper Hoy-Hoys, we figured what the hell, throw one of them on just for fun. To our shock and dismay, it blew the doors off our BEST Hot Stamper pressings song for song. As good as those album sides sound, the EP took the same material to an ENTIRELY NEW LEVEL of sonic splendor.

This EP may only hold four songs, but each is a Demo Disc Track of the highest order: Gringo (edited version) and Over The Edge for side one; Teenage Nervous Breakdown and Rock and Roll Doctor for side two. (more…)

The Pretenders – Learning To Crawl – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

This copy has real rock and roll energy in its grooves, a quality which earned it serious points here at Better Records. With Robbie McIntosh having joined the band, this is first and foremost a ROCK GUITAR record; his jangly, grungy riffs drive every song.

Think of Middle of the Road — everything that’s good about this band on this album is there in the song: it’s uptempo, with a driving beat and guitars well up in the mix. Only the best pressings convey the energy and enthusiasm of the band while avoiding the grunge, flatness and hardness that make the typical pressing all but unlistenable at loud volumes.

This is where Chrissie Hynde matured into a top class songwriter; every track is good and many are brilliant. We’ve been through a lot of pressings of this album over the years: Japanese, British, domestic; you name it, we’ve played it, and nothing could beat our good domestic pressings. (more…)

Roxy Music – Roxy Music – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

The legendary first Roxy Music album returns to the site in tip top White Hot Stamper form, boasting no less than an incredible A+++ White Hot Side Two coupled with a superb A++ Super Hot Side One! Folks, it doesn’t get much better than this!

In considering both music and sound, this is arguably the best record the band ever made. Siren, Avalon and Country Life are all musically sublime, but the first album has the kind of dynamic, energetic, POWERFUL sound that their other records simply never show us. And we’ve played them by the dozens, so there’s a pretty good chance we will never find copies with the abundant richness and power we found here. (more…)

Pink Floyd – Meddle – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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Side two is where the 20+ minute prog epic Echoes is found, and the sound of it on this copy is MINDBLOWINGLY GOOD. If you’re the kind of guy who will get a thrill from hearing Pink Floyd bangin’ out one of their heaviest psych jams with top quality sonics, this copy will completely knock you out. And side one is no slouch either — it sounds amazing as well! Drop the needle on ’One of These Days’ and listen to how HUGE the soundfield is, it’s big, wide and deep so you can really hear into the music.

Side two has all of the magic that’s lacking from the typical copy. It’s open and spacious with lots of ambience, breathy vocals and silky smooth cymbals. The bottom end is MASSIVE on this one with much less bloat than you get on most copies. The presence and energy are off the charts! The sound on this A+++ side one has the kind of impact and power that let you really FEEL the music. Guaranteed to blow your mind? You better believe it!

Side one is nearly as good. It’s full-bodied with lots of energy and impressive dynamics. The soundfield is open and transparent with good size and real depth. We rate this side A++, far better than most copies out there.

The Brits Are King And Nothing Else Comes Close

We’ve been buying up every clean Import copy we can find, but most copies just don’t have the kind of magic that we know is on the tape. Beyond that, many of them are too noisy to sell — even the minty looking ones. (more…)

Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn

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

Rich, Tubey Magical and full-bodied with a big, solid bottom. The energy is phenomenal, with tremendous separation between the instruments and real depth to the soundfield. This is the sound of the Master Tape, make no mistake about it. 

Side two is nearly as amazing, earning a Super Hot grade for so many of the sonic qualities we enjoyed on the first side. It’s smooth in a good way, allowing you to really crank the levels and trip out with the crazy psych-rock these guys were making back then.

Astronomy Domine and Interstellar Overdrive are especially impressive.

Without a doubt this is by far the best sounding early Floyd record we’ve ever played. You have to wait for 1971’s Meddle before you find sound this good again for Pink Floyd. Once the ’70s arrive the band went on to release four of the best sounding albums of the decade: Meddle, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. All four are in our Top 100. Dark Side I would put in any Top Ten worthy of the name.

The Beatles may have owned the ’60s but the ’70s clearly belong to Floyd. (more…)