Mono or Stereo? Mono!

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

More of The Kinks

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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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Sonny Rollins – The Sound of Sonny – Reviewed in 2007

Riverside White and Blue original 2 Mic Label Mono LP. Side one sounds like a typical old Riverside jazz record, but side two sounds EXCELLENT! I don’t know when I’ve heard an early Sonny Rollins record sound better. His horn is really full-bodied and dynamic and has amazing IMMEDIACY on some tracks. It makes side one sound sick in comparison.

The surfaces for old jazz records are always the problem. This one plays M– to EX++ and has some groove damage in the inner grooves — nothing too serious, but it’s definitely there. We played all the marks and only a few of them repeat, and not for long. I’ve never seen a clean quiet copy of a record like this in my life. I’m sure they exist, but I don’t come across them, at any price.  (more…)

Elvis Presley – Self-Titled

More Elvis Presley

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This RARE RCA Victor Black Label Mono LP has a GREAT SIDE TWO. Side one sounds like a typical old Elvis record.

Side two actually sounds quite good, it’s got more bass, more top end and it’s full of Tubey Magic.

It’s practically impossible to find this record in anything but trashed condition so don’t expect to see another copy coming to the site any time soon.


AMG 5 Star Rave Review

This was as startling a debut record as any ever made, representing every side of Elvis’ musical influences except gospel — rockabilly, blues, R&B, country, and pop were all here in an explosive and seductive combination. Elvis Presley became the first rock & roll album to reach the number one spot on the national charts, and RCA’s first million dollar-earning pop album.

Sarah Vaughan – In a Romantic Mood

More Sarah Vaughan

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  • Sarah Vaughan’s superb In a Romantic Mood album from 1957 finally debuts on the site, and what a copy it is, taking top honors for side two and earning our coveted Triple Plus (A+++) grade
  • No other copy could touch this original Black Label Mono Mercury pressing for warmth, richness, and, most especially, vocal intimacy and in-the-room presence
  • If all you know are the Classic Records and Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl reissues, our Shootout Winner here should be a sonic treat you have simply never experiences before
  • An original Mercury pressing that has no audible marks and plays as quietly as this one does is a rare find indeed – it seems to be the quietest copy from our shootout, and even better, no other copy earned higher grades

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Julie London – Julie Is Her Name

More Julie London

More Pop and Jazz Vocal Albums

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  • Julie’s debut finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • The vocal naturalness and immediacy of this early Liberty pressing will put Julie in the room with you – more than anything else, it lets her performance come to life
  • The naturalness of the presentation puts this album right at the top of best-sounding female vocal albums of all time
  • 4 stars: “Her debut is her best, a set of fairly basic interpretations of standards in which she is accompanied tastefully by guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Ray Leatherwood.”

Listen to how rich the bottom end is on Barney Kessel’s guitar. The Tubey Magic here is off the charts. Some copies can be dry, but that is clearly not a problem on this one.

To take nothing away from her performance, which got better with every copy we played. Julie’s rendition of Cry Me a River may be definitive.

If only Ella Fitzgerald on Clap Hands got this kind of sound! As good as the best copies of that album are, this record takes the concept of intimate female vocals to an entirely new level. (more…)

Milstein Miniatures – Milstein / Pommers

More Violin Recordings

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy is guaranteed to sound better than any vintage pressing of violin pieces you’ve heard, and it plays as quietly as any copy ever will (and far better than most)
  • We are big fans of Nathan Milstein here at Better Records and it’s records like this that justify our enthusiasm
  • Works for violin and piano by Chopin, Vivaldi, Smetana, Brahms, Stravinsky and others – and each is played with the feeling and skill as would be expected from one of the greatest performers of his generation
  • The appeal for the casual listener may not warrant the expense, but those who seek out these kinds of vintage ’50s pressings should find much to like here

A wonderful batch of short violin pieces with piano accompaniment: Previously we had written: (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Love Is A Kick

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More Vintage Columbia Pressings

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  • Sinatra’s swingin’ 1958 release finally arrives on the site with KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound of both sides of this 6 Eye mono pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl for a vintage pressing too
  • If you’re trying recreate a solid, living, breathing Frank Sinatra singing right there in your listening room, these Hot Stamper sides will let you do that in a way that nothing else can
  • 4 stars: “All of the cuts are archetypal Sinatra, parading his perfect pitch, phrasing, and timing, and is further evidence of his ability to make virtually anything he sang sound extraordinary, as if any additional evidence were needed.”

This vintage Columbia Six-Eye Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)

Donald Byrd – House of Byrd

More Donald Byrd

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  • Two rare Donald Byrd albums in one, both with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The Tubey Magic is fully intact, making these two albums sound just the way 1956 RVG jazz should
  • Composed of two superb LPs, 2 Trumpets and The Young Bloods, these wonderful pressings capture some of Byrd’s best sound
  • “Art and Donald are in fine form, and if there is any competition it serves only to increase the musical yield.”
  • “… These blowing sessions (typical of Prestige’s albums of the 1950s) have their enjoyable moments with Farmer and Woods taking overall solo honors.

This reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the ’70s in this case. We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 40+ years ago, not the generally opaque, veiled and lifeless mastering so common today. (more…)

Elvis Presley – Elvis

More Elvis Presley

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  • Presley’s sophomore release makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish and exceptionally quiet vinyl for an Elvis album from 1956 (!)
  • This is by far the cleanest copy of an early Elvis record we have ever come across, and it sounded pretty darn right to us, although we can’t say we’ve played all that many copies – where on earth would you find them?
  • Features loads of quintessential Elvis hits, including Love Me, Old Shep, When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again, and many more
  • 5 stars: “… a more confident and bolder work than his debut, and in any other artist’s output it would have been considered a crowning achievement.”

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