- Boasting two incredible Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this vintage import copy of the band’s Pop Masterpiece is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- We guarantee the sound is dramatically bigger, richer, fuller, and livelier than any pressing you have ever heard, and on this record that is saying a LOT
- A tough record to find in audiophile playing condition – copies with vinyl this quiet and with no audible marks were neither easy nor cheap to source from overseas
- The band’s Magnum Opus, a Colossal Production to rival the greatest Prog, Psych and Art Rock recordings of all time (Whew!)
- 4 stars: “Thanks to the duo’s uncompromising stubbornness, expansive creative vision, and Dave Bascombe’s final production, The Seeds of Love has dated better than either of its predecessors and is inarguably Tears for Fears’ masterpiece.”
- Bigger and bolder, with more bass, more energy, and more of that “you-are-there-immediacy” of ANALOG that set the best vintage pressings apart from reissues, CDs, and whatever else you care to name
- Those of you who are familiar with this record will not be surprised to learn that these shootouts are TOUGH – very few copies are any better than mediocre
- 4 stars: “John Fogerty spent time polishing the production, bringing in keyboards, horns, even a vocal choir. His songs became self-consciously serious and tighter, working with the aesthetic of the rock underground — Pendulum was constructed as a proper album, contrasting dramatically with CCR’s previous records, all throwbacks to joyous early rock records where covers sat nicely next to hits and overlooked gems tucked away at the end of the second side.”
This copy will surely beat any pressing you put it up against. This will be especially true if you put it up against the Analogue Productions Heavy Vinyl from years back, which will sound thick, opaque, airless and congested next to a properly mastered Fantasy pressing (deep groove or otherwise) such as this one. (more…)
- Insane Rock and Roll ENERGY like nothing you have ever heard – the sound is exceptionally full-bodied, smooth and solid, making it possible to get the volume up good and high where it belongs
- Here are the Rock and Roll Classics that reign supreme to this very day – Black Dog, Rock & Roll, Stairway to Heaven, When the Levee Breaks, every one sounding better than you’ve ever heard them or your money back
- 5 stars: “Encompassing heavy metal, folk, pure rock & roll, and blues, Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth album is a monolithic record, defining not only Led Zeppelin but the sound and style of ’70s hard rock.”
- If you’re a fan of the band, this title from 1971 is clearly one of their best, and one of their best sounding
- The complete list of titles from 1971 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
It is a positive THRILL to hear this record rock the way it was meant to. If you have big speakers and the power to drive them, your neighbors are going to be very upset with you when you play this copy at the listening levels it was meant to be heard at.
You’d better be ready to rock, because this copy has the ENERGY and WHOMP that will make you want to. Zep IV demands loud levels, but practically any copy will punish you mercilessly if you try to play it at anything even approaching live levels.
I never met John Bonham, and it’s probably too late now, but I imagine he would feel more than a little disrespected if he found out people were playing his music at the polite listening levels many audiophiles prefer. The term “hi-fidelity” loses its meaning if the instruments are playing at impossibly low levels. If the instruments could never be heard that way live, where exactly is the fidelity?
How on earth is a speaker system like this one going to reproduce the 22 inch (or more!) kick drum of John Bonham?
- Fragile is FINALLY back on the site after a two year hiatus, here with excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
- Both of these sides boast superb clarity and astonishing transparency thanks to the brilliant engineering of Eddie Offord
- Bigger and bolder, with more bass, more energy, and more of the “you-are-there-immediacy” of ANALOG that sets the better vintage pressings apart from reissues, CDs, and whatever else you care to name
- If all you know is the mediocre Heavy Vinyl pressing from years back, you are in for a real treat with this Hot Stamper
- AMG 5 stars, our Top 100, and the second of the band’s three Must Own Prog Rock Masterpieces (the other two, of course, being The Yes Album and Close to the Edge)
- “Fragile was Yes’ breakthrough album… it also marked the point where all of the elements of the music (and more) that would define their success for more than a decade fell into place fully formed.”
We doubt you’ve heard too many (if any) rock records that sound as amazing as this one. It’s dynamic, punchy and powerful, with the kind of super-low distortion sound that lets you really crank the levels, the louder the better. How many Yes records will let you do that? This one will. That’s what you get for your money — the kind of sound that can blow your mind over and over again for as long as you live, or at least as long as your hearing holds out.
Both sides are smooth and sweet with virtually no smearing up top or distortion on the piano. The overall sound is airy, open, spacious, and three-dimensional. The grit, grain and spit that characterize most copies are nowhere to be found here.
- An excellent A&M pressing of this incredibly well-recorded and criminally-overlooked LP with Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them throughout
- Both sides of this copy are in correct polarity, so no need to worry about switching the polarity, as we must do with many of the copies – just drop the needle and enjoy!
- The soundfield has a three-dimensional quality that will absolutely blow you away (assuming you have big speakers and like to turn them up good and loud)
- Wonderfully present and breathy vocals from the lovely ladies in Sergio’s band – they provide most of the audiophile appeal (and all of the sex appeal), and we know of nothing else like them on record
- A permanent member of our Top 100 and Demo Disc par excellence
- 4 stars: “Stillness is a concept album — the title tune opens and closes it in moody stillness — and a transition piece all at once…. Overlooked in its day, Stillness is the great sleeper album of Sergio Mendes’ first A&M period.”
- This is a Must Own album from 1970, which just happens to be a great year for Rock and Pop Music, maybe the greatest of them all
We figure we’re about due for a thank you note from Mr. Mendes, because we’ve turned a huge number of audiophiles into die-hard fans of this album. It’s easy to see why when you play a copy that sounds like this. All of the qualities we look for on this album are right here.
If you are looking for DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND with music every bit as wonderful, look no further — this is the record for you.
If I had one song to play to show what my stereo can really do, “For What It’s Worth” on a Hot Stamper copy would probably be my choice. I can’t think of any material that sounds better. It’s amazingly spacious and open, yet punchy and full bodied the way only vintage analog recordings ever are. This one being from 1970 fits the bill nicely.
Side two of this album can be one of THE MOST MAGICAL sides of ANY record — when you’ve got a killer copy. I don’t know of any other record like it. It seems to be in a class of its own. It’s an excellent test disc as well. All tweaks and equipment changes and room treatments must pass the Stillness test.
To fail to make this record sound better is to fail completely. The production is so dense, and so difficult to reproduce properly, that only recently have I begun to hear just how good this record can sound. There is still plenty to discover locked in these grooves, and all of us here at Better Records enthusiastically accept the challenge to find all the sounds that Sergio created in the studio, locked away in the 50+ year old vinyl.
- Our hottest copies have lovely midrange magic on the guitars and voices as well as plenty of studio ambience on most tracks, especially the simpler, more folky ones
- An album that has become much tougher to come by, especially copies that play as well as this one does
- Top 100, 5 stars – side two alone has four all time classics: Fakin’ It, Mrs. Robinson, A Hazy Shade of Winter and At the Zoo
- If you’re a fan of this phenomenal folk duo, this early domestic pressing of their 1968 classic belongs in your collection.
- The complete list of titles from 1968 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
The best copies of Bookends and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme are a sonic step up in class from anything else these two guys ever released. If you’re looking for the Ultimate Audiophile Simon & Garfunkel record, you just can’t do better than a killer Hot Stamper pressing of either title.
This album has exceptional bass as well as lovely midrange magic on the guitars and voices. There’s plenty of studio ambience on most tracks, especially the simpler, more folky ones.
Do you know how hard it is to find a clean copy of this record? I’ll bet we look at 50 every year and probably buy no more than a few, which, after cleaning and going into a shootout may or may not sound good or have audiophile quality surfaces. (more…)
- An outstanding Shaded Dog pressing with superb sound from start to finish
- Perhaps the greatest performance ever, certainly our favorite for performance and sound – this is not an easy piece of music to record judging by how many awful sounding versions exist — we should know, we played them
- Monteux knows the work as well as anyone — he himself conducted the premier in 1913!
- Mind boggling in its power to move the listener – a classic Decca Tree recording from 1956 by the master, Mr. Kenneth Wilkinson
- There are about 150 orchestral recordings we’ve awarded the honor of having the Best Performances with Top Quality Sound, and this recording certainly deserve a place on that list, close to the top I would think
It takes us three years — and a lot of hard work and a fair amount of luck — to get a shootout like this going.
The tympani and bass drum on this recording have few equals in our experience. This is the way HUGE and POWERFUL drums sound in concert. Those of you who go to classical concerts regularly will recognize that sound immediately. You probably also know that finding Golden Age recordings with this kind of deep bass is unusual to say the least.
The space and dynamic power of these sides are really something to hear on this groundbreaking work. Lush when quiet, clear and undistorted when loud, not many copies of Rite of Spring can do what these two sides can.
- An excellent copy of this 2 LP set with roughly Double Plus (A++) sound on all FOUR sides
- Sides two, three, and four are clean, clear, lively and present with tons of space around all of the players, and side one is not far behind in all those areas
- You can hear right into the soundfield, and you can be sure that there’s a whole lot more going on in there than you can bring out, but that’s what makes audio fun
- Improving your playback can reveal more and more of what’s always been in the grooves of your records
- This is not an easy album to find in clean condition, let alone a copy that sounds like this and plays reasonably well throughout
- If jazz-fusion is your bag, the Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side three of this copy will take you on a trip like few other records could
- 5 stars: “Thought by many to be the most revolutionary album in jazz history, having virtually created the genre known as jazz-rock fusion (for better or worse) and being the jazz album to most influence rock and funk musicians, Bitches Brew is, by its very nature, mercurial.”
The incredible musicianship and Teo Macero’s innovative production each help take these jazz-fusion soundscapes to places most folks had never imagined before. And a copy like this one takes the entire production to a whole new level. I can’t begin to tell you how many crappy copies have hit our table over the years, but after finding this one I’m really glad we never gave up on this album.
I remember buying this record when I was in college and I had a hell of a time trying to make any sense of it. I also bought the first two Weather Report albums and had a hell of a time with those. But then when Sweetnighter came out, which was angular but still accessible, this kind of music started to make sense to me. This is music for those who want to be challenged. It’s as true today as it was 53 years ago when this record came out.
Our favorite track on this album, “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down,” is found on the Double Plus (A++) side four, which means the sound for it is OUTSTANDING.
- With KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout, this vintage pressing could not be beat – fairly quiet vinyl too
- Both of these sides are punchy, big and clear, with plenty of hard rockin’ energy – exactly what you would expect from the team of Shelly Yakus and Jimmy Iovine
- Two of her biggest hits are here (and they still hold up): “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and “Leather and Lace”
- 4 1/2 stars: “Equally engaging are less exposed tracks like the haunting “After the Glitter Fades.” Hit producer Jimmy Iovine wisely avoids over-producing, and keeps things sounding organic on this striking debut.”
- If you’re a Stevie Nicks or post-1974 Fleetwood Mac fan, this title from 1981 is surely a Must Own
- We think this is the Stevie’s best sounding album. Roughly 150 other listings for the Best Sounding Album by an Artist or Group can be found here.
It’s easy to hear what the good pressings are doing. They’re big and rich, never thin nor harsh. They open up on the top end and go down deeper on the bottom. They’re smooth and full-bodied in the midrange. Stevie’s vocals are breathy and present. The energy of her performance drives the music the way you want it to.
In short, the better copies demonstrate the sound one could expect on a good Tom Petty album. Nothing surprising there; this album, like Petty’s, was produced and engineered by the same team, Jimmy Iovine and Shelly Yakus. They’ve made some great records together, Damn the Torpedoes being the best of the bunch for sonics.
Bella Donna may not reach those exalted heights, but it’s still quite good, especially for 1981. As the decade wore on things went south very quickly, sonically and musically, so we must be thankful that this record came out early in the decade and not much later.
- For the first time this year, we here present a killer copy of Blue, with superb sound and reasonably quiet vinyl
- With two Double Plus (A++) or BETTER sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard Joni’s 1971 masterpiece sound this good
- Full-bodied and balanced with the kind of smooth musicality that’s not always easy to find for Blue
- A Better Records Top 100 title that belongs in any audiophile music collection worthy of the name
- 5 stars: “Sad, spare, and beautiful, Blue is the quintessential confessional singer/songwriter album. Forthright and poetic, Joni Mitchell’s songs are raw nerves, tales of love and loss (two words with relative meaning here) etched with stunning complexity…”
- Everything changed for us in 2007 with the release of the Hoffman/Gray-mastered Rhino pressing of Blue, a record that made us ask ourselves, “Why are we selling records that we would not want to own or listen to ourselves?”
- It was truly a kicked-in-the-head-by-a-mule moment for all of us here at Better Records, and I am glad to say one kick was all it took to get the rocks out of my head
The best copies bring out the breathy quality to Joni’s voice, and she never sounds strained. They are sweet and open, with good bass foundation and transparency throughout the frequency range.
The best pressings (and our better playback equipment) have revealed nuances to this recording — and of course the performances of all the players along with it — that made us fall in love with the music all over again. Of all the tough nuts to crack, this was the toughest, yet somehow copies emerged from our shootouts that made it easy to appreciate the sonic merits of Blue and ignore its shortcomings.
Hot Stampers have a way of doing that. You forget it’s a record; it’s now just Music. The right record and the right playback will bring this music to life in a way that you cannot imagine until you hear it. That is our guarantee on Blue — better than you ever thought possible or your money back.