Mono or Stereo? Mono!

Julie London / Calendar Girl in Glorious 1956 Mono

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This Julie London 1956 Classic makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too. Both of these mono sides have plenty of Tubey Magic – they’re fuller, more musical and more natural than most any other copy we played. Julie’s voice sounds particularly nice on this copy – intimate, rich and warm, just as the way we like her to sound.

This is a wonderful sounding record, and almost impossible to find with surfaces this quiet.

However, the original label pressing from 1956 does have better sound, at least it does on the noisy reference copy we used in our shootout. It’s the only early pressing I have ever seen in playable condition, and it’s far too noisy to be enjoyed with audiophile equipment. Julie Is Her Name survived the bad turntables and their owners from the era because they made so many of them. This album did not sell in those kinds of numbers, and the result is that the early pressings are rare and virtually impossible to find in audiophile playing condition. (more…)

The Beach Boys – Surfin’ Safari

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  • The band’s debut album finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • A copy like this is a rare audiophile treat – here are The Beach Boys’ marvelous harmonies from 1962, sounding as rich, warm, clear, natural and lively as you could ever hope to hear them 
  • We have to admit we were wrong about the early Beach Boys pressings sounding like the bad Capitol Beatles LPs we know all too well – some of them can sound great, and this mono early pressing is proof!
  • “… afford[s] a glimpse of the group as they sounded when they were a true band in the studio, before most of their parts were played by session musicians.”

We have to admit we were wrong about the early Beach Boys pressings sounding like the bad Capitol Beatles LPs we know all too well. As we discovered in our recent shootout, some of them can sound great. There are also amazing sounding reissues, and this is one of those.

The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the band front and center. (It’s a mono pressing of a mono recording so the band had better be in the center or something is definitely amiss.) The highs are extended and sweet. The bass is tight and full-bodied. Very few early Beach Boys records offer the kind of sound you will hear on this pressing, and on both sides no less. (more…)

Cannonball Adderley / In the Land of Hi-Fi – A Shockingly Good Reissue from Trip Records

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  • Adderley’s fourth studio album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one mated to an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, presence and performance energy on this Hot Stamper pressing than on anything you’ve ever heard
  • Big Group energy and enthusiasm is key to the better pressings like this one – here you will find the most natural sounding ambience of any of the copies in our shootout
  • This one has most everything going for it, with bass, dynamics, clarity, top end extension and more – it’s a real Demo Disc, make no mistake about it

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Miles Davis – Green Haze (‘The Musings of Miles’ and ‘Miles’)

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  • An outstanding pressing with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all FOUR sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience – talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny
  • This Prestige Two-Fer simply combines two complete Miles Davis titles recorded by Rudy Van Gelder in 1955 – ‘The Musings of Miles’ and ‘Miles’
  • 4 stars: “… it is for the excellent rhythm sections and the playing of Miles Davis that this two-fer is highly recommended.”

This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it. (more…)

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

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Hot Stamper Pressings that Sound Their Best on the Right Reissue

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  • This insanely good pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to them on both sides
  • 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 way to go
  • The Beach Boys revolutionized the popular music of the day with their genius for harmony, and a killer copy like this has their voices sounding the way they should
  • 5 stars: “The group here reached a whole new level in terms of both composition and production, layering tracks upon tracks of vocals and instruments to create a richly symphonic sound.”

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Red Garland Trio – Groovy

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What makes this vintage piano trio album in mono so special? Allow me to quote a review from a few years back for a pair of recordings that Red Garland made with Miles Davis back in the mid-’50s: Workin’ And Steamin’.

To the Jazz Fans of the World, we here present one of the BEST sounding jazz recordings we have ever had the PRIVILEGE to place on a turntable. I cannot ever recall hearing a better sounding Rudy Van Gelder recording, and I have a theory as to why this tape is as good as it is: it’s MONO. It also sounds like it’s recorded completely LIVE in the studio, direct to one track you might say. As good a recording as Kind of Blue is, I think the best parts of this album are more immediate and more real than anything on KOB.

The size, the weight, the solidity, the clarity, the energy, the rhythmic drive – it’s all here and more. We’ve never heard the record sound better, and that’s coming from someone who’s been playing the album since the ’80s.

These guys are playing live in the studio and you can really feel their presence on every track — assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one.

Based on what I’m hearing my feeling is that most of the natural, full-bodied, smooth, sweet sound of the album is on the master tape, and that all that was needed to transfer that vintage sound correctly onto vinyl disc was simply to thread up the tape on a high quality machine and hit play.

The fact that nobody seems to be able to make an especially good sounding record these days — certainly not as good sounding as this one — tells me that in fact I’m wrong to think that such an approach would work. Somebody should have been able to figure out how to do it by now. In our experience that is simply not the case today, and has not been for many years, if not decades. (more…)

Thelonious Monk – The Riverside Trios

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  • This Milestone 2 LP set has outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all four sides
  • We know of no better way to hear these legendary mono recordings – these are by far the best sounding pressings of both these albums we’ve yet to play
  • 4 1/2 stars: “When Thelonious Monk first signed with Riverside Records in 1955, producer Orrin Keepnews thought that it would be a good idea for the unrecognized giant to record an album of Duke Ellington compositions and follow it up with a set of standards so as to discount his eccentric and forbidding image. The results were quite satisfying, trio performances that made Monk’s playing seem more accessible to the regular jazz audience without watering down his style.”

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Julie London in 1960 – Make Love To Me

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  • One of the best copies from our most recent shootout with a Triple Plus (A+++) side one and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Julie is in the room with you – her voice is intimate, breathy and Tubey Magical like practically nothing you’ve ever heard 
  • Unusually clean surfaces, playing Mint Minus Minus (w/ caveats, see below), a step up from most of the copies we’ve been running into lately
  • “Her subtle sensuality and lightly swinging style made for a potent combination.” – All Music

Thanks to superb engineering and vintage All Tube mastering, this 1957 LP is wonderfully rich and sweet, with a breathy, intimate Julie London performing live in your listening room.

This original Liberty Turquoise Mono pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Hello Love

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  • Ella’s 1959 release finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Mono sound from first note to last
  • The sound is relaxed, full-bodied and lively, with Tubey Magical richness befitting the 1957 and 1959 recording dates of these sessions
  • Skip the stereo pressing on this title – none of the copies we played could hold a candle to this killer mono LP
  • “The album focuses on well-known songs not included in Fitzgerald’s epic Songbooks project, and several of the songs are tunes that she had recently recorded in duet with Louis Armstrong.”
  • 4 stars: “A fine gem among the diamonds of Ella Fitzgerald’s late-’50s period with Verve… Wrapped in the strings of Frank DeVol’s orchestra, Fitzgerald is a bewitching presence singing these dreamy standards…”

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The Kinks / Kinda Kinks – Stick with the Mono Tri-Color Pressings

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  • This outstanding copy of The Kinks’ sophomore release has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
  • This Pink and Green Reprise original MONO pressing is lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Richness the Kinks’ recordings need in order to sound the way they should
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…this album showcased a much more sophisticated sound… it also put them right in the front of the British Invasion pack for seriousness and complexity, out in front of where the Beatles or almost any of the competition were in early 1965…”

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