Records We Don’t Like for Their Music

The Doobie Brothers – Stampede

More of The Doobie Brothers

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy has a lot going for it – exceptionally quiet vinyl for the most part too
  • These sides are rich and full, with punchy bass and plenty of rockin’-down-the-highway Doobies energy – thanks Donn Landee, you da man
  • Contains contributions from such guest musicians as Maria Muldaur, Ry Cooder, and Curtis Mayfield
  • Allmusic 4 1/2 stars: “The Doobie Brothers’ rootsiest album to date, Stampede was virtuoso soulful countrified rock of a gritty nature, crossing over into blues as well as reaching back to a raw, traditional rock & roll sound…”

The average copy of this album is compressed and congested, recessed and veiled, grainy and thin; in other words, it sounds like an old Doobie Brothers album. It takes a copy like this one to show you just how good the Master Tape must be.

And if we hadn’t had plenty of copies to play with, we would never have found this one. (more…)

Prince – Controversy

More Prince

More Soul, Blues, and Rhythm and Blues


  • This copy of Prince’s fourth studio album boasts outstanding Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides
  • Prince’s albums will never be demo discs, but the best pressings give you the sound that he was going for in the studio, and you can’t ask for more than that
  • These vintage Prince albums are getting hard to find nowadays – prices have doubled and tripled in the last year or two
  • “Controversy emerged in 1981 at a pivotal time not just for Prince, but for America. It’s often regarded as a bridge between Dirty Mind and 1999, but it’s fascinating record in its own right.” – Pitchfork (9.0)

The best copies sound pretty much the way the best copies of most Classic Rock records sound: tonally correct, rich, clear, sweet, smooth, open, present, lively, big, spacious, with breathy vocals and little spit, grit, grain or grunge. That’s the sound of analog, and the best copies of Controversy have that sound. (more…)

Toto – Self-Titled

More Toto

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Toto

xxxxx

  • This copy of Toto’s debut boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from the first note to the last
  • Toto’s albums have the kind of analog sound we love here at Better Records – they’re rich, huge and present, with tons of Tubey Magic and wall to wall spaciousness
  • Lukather’s overdriven guitar adds so much power to the music – the perfect combo of Grungy guitars and Rock Star vocals makes Hold the Line a staple of rock radio to this day
  • 4 stars: “Toto’s rock-studio chops allowed them to play any current pop style at the drop of a hi-hat: one minute prog rock, the next hard rock, the next funky R&B. Singles like “I’ll Supply the Love” made the charts, and “Hold the Line” hit the Top Ten.”

This is analog, make no mistake about it. Those smooth sweet vocals, open top and rich full bottom are a dead giveaway that you are playing a record and not a CD. (I understand the CD for this title is awful; bright, thin and downright painful. This is the problem with the CD: if they do a bad job making it, and you no longer own a turntable, what are your options? Squat, pretty much.)

Pop production techniques were very advanced by 1978, providing plenty of natural sounding roomy reverb around the vocals and guitars. Lukather’s overdriven, distorted guitar has near-perfect tonality; it adds so much power to the music.

Just like the Hot Stampers for Aqualung, when the guitar sounds this good, it really makes you sit up and take notice of the guy’s playing. When the sound works the music works, our definition of a Hot Stamper in seven words or less.

Turn up the volume? You better believe it!

(more…)

Ry Cooder / Jazz

More Ry Cooder

xxx

  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • These are the stampers that always win our shootouts, and when you hear them you will know why – the sound is big, rich and clear
  • “The complexity of the material on Jazz, as well as the arrangements by Joseph Byrd, dictate that this is Cooder’s most polished and orchestrated effort to date.” — Allmusic

We’re big fans of Ry Cooder here at Better Records, and it’s always fun to hear the eccentric instruments and arrangements he and his cohorts cook up. Of course, it’s even more fun when you have a great sounding pressing like this one that lets you hear what the musicians were up to. (more…)

Rickie Lee Jones – Pirates

More Rickie Lee Jones

xxxxx

  • STUNNING sound on both sides of this original Warner Bros. white label pressing of Jones’ sophomore release with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • 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 wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the only way to go
  • Lee Herschberg recorded Rickie’s debut as well as this follow-up, and both can sound shockingly good
  • 4 stars: “The musical and lyrical variety on the album is best represented in the album’s centerpiece, ‘Pirates (So Long Lonely Avenue),’ where she moves through mood and tempo changes with ease. Although the songs may not immediately grab the listener, the lyrical and musical complexities ultimately make this album more rewarding with every listen.”

(more…)

Jackson Browne / Late for the Sky – Lovin’ That Rich, Smooth Asylum Sound

More Jackson Browne

More 5 Star Albums

xxxxx

  • This outstanding pressing of Browne’s third album boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This one was bigger and bolder, with more Tubey Magical richness on Jackson’s voice, than most of what we played
  • We love the rich, smooth, natural sound that Asylum was known for, and this copy has a healthy dose of each of those qualities
  • It’s getting harder and harder to find these in good condition these days – the man has a lot of fans, and they prefer to hear him on vinyl
  • 5 stars from AMG and Rolling Stone calls it the “quintessential Browne album,” saying the “… open-ended poetry achieves power from the nearly religious intensity that accumulates around the central motifs; its fervor is underscored by the sparest and hardest production to be found on any Browne album yet… as well as by his impassioned, oracular singing style.”

(more…)

Genesis – Wind and Wuthering

xxxxx

  • Wind and Wuthering finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy has real depth to the soundfield, full-bodied, present vocals, and lovely analog warmth
  • Their Masterpiece is still A Trick of the Tail, the album that came out before this one, but Wind and Wuthering certainly has much to offer in the same vein
  • 4 stars: “Wind & Wuthering followed quickly on the heels of A Trick of the Tail and they’re very much cut from the same cloth, working the same English eccentric ground that was the group’s stock in trade since Trespass.”

We have struggled like crazy to find copies of the album that are able to present the music as well as this one does. Most of the pressings we’ve gotten our hands on were a disaster, and that includes everything that does not say Made in England on the label.

These UK sides are livelier, more dynamic, more transparent and more present than practically any other copy we played. (more…)

Eric Clapton – There’s One In Every Crowd

More Eric Clapton

xxxxx

  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Balanced, musical and full throughout – this pressing is a big step up from many of the other copies we played
  • 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
  • The sound and music here are very similar to 461 Ocean Boulevard, so if you’re a fan of that title, you’ll find much to like here

It is tough to find copies of There’s One In Every Crowd that aren’t murky, overly smooth and/or lifeless. If you’re a fan of this music and want to hear it come to life, this copy can do it! (more…)

Cheap Trick – Dream Police

More Cheap Trick

xxxxx

  • KILLER sound throughout with both sides earning shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Both sides here are clean, clear, full-bodied and spacious with a huge bottom end and lots of big rock energy
  • “Underneath the gloss, there are a number of songs that rank among Cheap Trick’s finest, particularly the paranoid title track… … it would later feel like one of the group’s last high-water marks.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

(more…)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

  • This KILLER pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on ALL FOUR SIDES
  • An album that’s nearly impossible to find with good sound – this UK copy is guaranteed to kill any pressing you’ve ever heard or ever will hear
  • Considered by many the high point of Peter Gabriel’s tenure with the band
  • 5 stars: “In every way, it’s a considerable, lasting achievement and it’s little wonder that Peter Gabriel had to leave the band after this record: they had gone as far as they could go together, and could never top this extraordinary album.”

Stunning sound on all four sides! This album — and Genesis in general — can be difficult to find good sound for. Most copies struggle — or make you struggle — to get the sense of the material and what the band is trying to accomplish, but when you find a killer pressing such as this one, the complexity and theatricality of the music really WORKS.

Bigger and more present, richer and fuller, with more space and transparency, this copy is doing everything we want the album to do.

Certain tracks — particular the more rocking, guitar-heavy material — are often going to get a little hard in the midrange, but on a good copy the issue is much less apparent and doesn’t get in the way of the music. And the more open, spacious keyboard-based and acoustically driven songs which comprise the bulk of the album can sound really wonderful.

Latest Finding

We came across an original British pressing, Porky/Pecko and everything, that was a major letdown sonically. Yes, folks, some pressing that are supposed to be good just aren’t. You got to play them to which is which, and that’s where we come in.

We never assume anything about a record. We play it and find out for a fact how good it sounds. Any other approach will be too error prone to be of any real use, assuming you set high standards for the sound of your records. (more…)