Records We Don’t Like for Their Music

George Harrison – Somewhere in England

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  • KILLER sound for this Dark Horse pressing from 1981 with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • “Harrison’s first album since 1979 is one of his finest, featuring his moving tribute to Lennon, All Those Years Ago. Harrison’s signatures – crystal-clear production, buoyant backup and chimelike guitar runs are all here. This record is both entertainment and a musical giant’s defiant tribute to the value of life.”

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Jefferson Airplane – After Bathing At Baxter’s – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This RCA pressing was a BIG step up from most copies we played. Most copies we’ve played are too lean down low, which takes a lot of the power out of this crazy psychedelic music. This one gives you more weight down low and good energy, which helps these songs sound the way The Airplane must have intended.

I’m not familiar with the Sundazed pressing, but I would be shocked if it was even in the ballpark with a Super Hot Stamper copy like this one. Is anyone seriously buying their records for sound quality these days? (more…)

John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band

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  • Incredible sound for this early UK pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades, an excellent way to hear these amazing songs
  • Working Man’s Hero, Love, Mother — these are immortal Lennon tracks, all with stunning sound on these White Hot sides
  • 5 stars: “It’s an unflinching document of bare-bones despair and pain, but for all its nihilism, it is ultimately life-affirming; it is unique not only in Lennon’s catalog, but in all of popular music. Few albums are ever as harrowing, difficult, and rewarding as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.”

Incredible sound for this John Lennon classic! I would be hard pressed to tell you whether this or Imagine is his best sounding recording, because on the very best copies they can both be killer. Our first White Hot copy only made it to the site in 2016 — it took us a long time to find the right pressings of this album, and then years more to get enough in stock to do a major shootout. As you can imagine, clean early UK pressings of Lennon’s albums are hard to come by and pricey when you find them. (more…)

The Alan Parsons Project – Eye In The Sky – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

TWO TOP-NOTCH A+++ SIDES and QUIET VINYL on this Arista two-pack pressing, the first Alan Parsons Project White Hot Stamper to hit the site! Alan Parsons is the engineering guru behind Dark Side Of The Moon, Year Of The Cat and Ambrosia’s debut, among many others, so suffice it to say the man knows a thing or two about audiophile-quality recording techniques. That talent is on full display here, with two sides that give you the kind of sound you want for this music — big and lively with excellent presence and real weight to the bottom.   (more…)

Starship – Knee Deep in the Hoopla

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  • The debut for the band Starship finally arrives on the site with two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides and quiet vinyl 
  • We guarantee you’ve never heard this Top Ten hit album from 1985 sound remotely as good as it does here
  • If you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of the album, a vintage pressing like this one is the only way to do it in our experience
  • Not a hit with the critics, but it does contain two of this band’s biggest singles, both of which rocketed all the way to Number One: “We Built This City” and “Sara”

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Neil Young – Hawks and Doves

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  • An exceptional pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and a solid Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The trick on this album is to find rich, smooth, edge-free sound, and this copy delivers those qualities like nothing else we played all day
  • “Hawks and Doves has a homey feel. “Little Wing,” bare and haltingly lyrical with its miked harp and unaccompanied acoustic, is simpler than anything on the folky Comes a Time, and the rest of the music is defined by Ben Keith’s laconic dobro and steel and Rufus Thobodeaux’s sawing fiddle.” Robert Christgau (A-)

On side one the second track has an especially intimate vocal, worth checking out. Flip the record over and listen to how full-bodied the piano is on the first track on side two. This is the sound of ANALOG. So many copies are dry and edgy, as is the CD I would guess, but here the sound is smooth, natural and enjoyable. (more…)

Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship – Blows Against The…

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  • Paul Kantner’s debut solo album finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this album from 1970, this is the way to go
  • “…the first use of the ‘Starship’ billing, predating the formation of the group with that name by four years.”
  • 4 stars: “Kantner employed often dense instrumentation and complex arrangements, but there were enough hooks and harmonies to keep things interesting. Blows eventually went gold, and it was even nominated for a science fiction award usually reserved for novels.”

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Jefferson Starship – Red Octopus

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  • A superb sounding copy with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them
  • Big and full-bodied with wonderfully breathy vocals, tons of energy and virtually none of the smear that plagues so many copies
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… there can be little doubt that it was Balin’s irresistible ballad “Miracles,” the biggest hit single in the Jefferson Whatever catalog, that propelled Red Octopus to the top of the charts, the only Jefferson album to chart that high and the best-selling album in their collective lives.”

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Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers

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This original RCA Orange Label pressing boasts dramatically better sound than most pressings – this is a very good way to hear this notoriously problematical album. Featuring a host of stellar guest musicians, including Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills.

This will never be an audiophile Demo Disc, but the good copies sound much more “right” than most, and that is about the best one can hope for with Volunteers. We rarely do shootouts for the album because finding good sound and quiet surfaces is just too hard these days, what with every vintage pressing now being suddenly collectible according to every record store owner in Los Angeles. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle

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  • An incredible sounding copy and the best to hit the site in many years — Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • These sides are As Good As It Gets — clean, clear and full-bodied with lots of energy and lovely breathy vocals 
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl – Mint Minus to Minus Minus Minus – they don’t come quieter in our experience
  • 5 Stars: “He would later make different albums, but he never made a better one. The truth is, The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle is one of the greatest albums in the history of rock & roll.”

It’s not easy to find good sound on this record — or any Springsteen album, for that matter — but the better copies prove that this is a perfectly fine recording for what it is. Full and solid, the best pressings have the kind of energy and power to really communicate the passion and excitement of the music. (more…)