Mono or Stereo? Mono!

The Byrds Mr. Tambourine Man – What to Listen For

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

Want to hear what the best copies of Mr. Tambourine Man can do? Play Chimes of Freedom, one of the best sounding tracks on side two, if not THE best. Listen to how breathy Jim (later Roger) McGuinn’s vocals are. Byrds records almost never sound like that.

I Knew I’d Want You is another one that sounds amazingly Tubey Magical on the best pressings. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – A Swingin’ Affair!

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This is a very nice looking original Capitol Grey/Black Label LP. As for sonics, the record starts off a little problematically but things really start cookin’ by track two when the sound becomes sweet and warm. By the way, this Capitol Label was only used from 1956 until 1957. This record plays Mint Minus Minus about as quiet as any early Capitol pressing you’re likely to ever hear.

The record was number one in the UK for 7 straight weeks! (more…)

Jackie McLean Quintet/Bill Hardman – Jackie’s Pal

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  • A superb copy of Jackie’s Pal with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too, with a true Mint Minus side one
  • Dynamic, transparent, spacious and musical throughout – you won’t believe how good this Jazz Classic from 1956 sounds
  • Another top jazz recording from Rudy Van Gelder – big, bold and lively, just the right sound for this music
  • “… no one could execute complex melodic lines with the speed and precision of Bill. He was a human “bebop machine,” a player who could improvise for hours on a single chord and not run out of ideas…”

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Frank Sinatra – Close To You – Sounds Great in Mono

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

This nice looking Capitol Rainbow Label pressing has SUPERB SINATRA SOUND! His voice is PERFECTION. Rich, sweet, and completely free of phony EQ (Mobile Fidelity take note!), this record will put a living, breathing Sinatra between your speakers. Normally I’m not a big fan of these slower, ballady Sinatra records, but he’s so good here, it’s difficult to find fault with music and sound like this. (more…)

Smoky Babe – Hottest Brand Goin’

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  • Smoky Babe makes his Hot Stamper debut here on this superb pressing, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • The mono sound is gloriously ANALOG, so smooth and full-bodied – no other copy in our shootout had this kind of exceptionally realistically relaxed sound
  • 4 stars: “Smoky Babe, aka Robert Brown, laid down a good set of down-home country blues on this 1961 session, with occasional assistance from harmonica players Clyde Causey and Henry Thomas… it’s sung with conviction, and the guitar playing is emphatic and chunkily rhythmic.”

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The Zombies – The World of the Zombies

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

The World of the Zombies is for all intents and purposes a reissue of their 1965 debut album, Begin Here, with a few track changes, the most important of which is the addition of Tell Her No.

The drums here are clear and punchy and the bottom end is solid. The vocals do not get too bright as they have a tendency to do on some copies.

When you get a Tubey Magical copy like this, that Hammond B-3 sound is GLORIOUS. Smooth sweet vocals and dead on tonality complete the sonic picture here.

Just for fun sometime go to popsike.com and check out what the original first Zombies record on Decca sells for. Try $1500 and up! And people think our prices are high — we ain’t never charged that kind of bread. (more…)

Julie London – About The Blues

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Julie’s lilting vocals are clear, breathy, Tubey Magical, and sweet, like practically nothing you’ve ever heard. This copy is about as quiet as we can find these 1957 Turquoise original mono pressings, Mint Minus Minus* throughout. 

Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

Take it from a huge Julie London fan, you can’t go wrong here, not for sonics, for music, or for anything else, including playing surfaces. In our experience, this lovely vintage pressing is as quiet as can be found. About The Blues is five times more rare than Julie Is Her Name, which makes finding clean copies much harder than it should be.

The sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of a Classic Fifties Female Vocal album. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a record this good, but what you would really be demonstrating is music that the listener probably hasn’t heard, and that’s the best reason to demonstrate a stereo.

And you would surely be making someone a fan of Julie London’s early recordings. They are simply amazing on every level, or at least the best ones sure are. This title slotted in between 1956’s Calendar Girl (which is every bit as hard to find) and Make Love to Me, from later on in 1957. All three are wonderful.

Midrange Magic

Get the volume right and Julie will appear right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. This early pressing also has the midrange magic that’s no doubt missing from whatever 180g reissue might be available. This one is guaranteed to be dramatically more REAL sounding. It will give you the sense that Julie London is right in front of you. (more…)

The Tommy Flanagan Trio – On Moodsville

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  • The Tommy Flanagan Trio finally arrives on the site, boasting Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it
  • Rich, natural, transparent, spacious and musical throughout – you won’t believe how good this Mellow Jazz Classic from 1960 sounds
  • “Rudy van Gelder captured the exquisite sound in his usual manner by setting up a couple of high-fidelity microphones and letting the players and room speak for themselves. If I close my eyes, I’m in the Village Vanguard listening to him live.”
  • “With bassist Tommy Potter and drummer Roy Haynes giving the pianist fine support, the trio plays such songs as “You Go to My Head,” “Come Sunday” and “Born to Be Blue” quietly and with taste.”

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Red Garland Trio – Red Garland’s Piano

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  • Red Garland’s third studio album makes its Hot Stamper debut on this early mono pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • The sound is clear, spacious, relaxed, and full-bodied, with Tubey Magical richness and analog smoothness that on the best vintage pressings can offer
  • Another top jazz recording from Rudy Van Gelder – big, bold and lively, just the right sound for this music
  • 4 stars: “Red Garland’s third session as a leader finds the distinctive pianist investigating eight standards (including ‘Please Send Me Someone to Love,’ ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy,’ ‘If I Were a Bell,’ and ‘Almost Like Being in Love’) with his distinctive chord voicings, melodic but creative ideas, and solid sense of swing.”

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Mel Torme – Back in Town – Reviewed in 2011

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

This is a nice looking Verve LP with relatively quiet vinyl and surprisingly good sound. Natural, smooth and sweet, I doubt there are copies out there that sound much better. The music itself is great fun. Hearing Mel sing with the female vocalists is really a treat. (more…)