Records that Sound Best on the Right Import Pressing

Sade – Promise

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  • Sade’s Best Album returns with stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides of this UK disc are guaranteed to be amazing sounding compared to whatever you’ve heard
  • There’s no denying the power of Sade’s sultry voice when you can actually hear it – she is on fire on this album
  • Her best song is on side one here – Is It a Crime – and the big band arrangement will surely send chills up and down your spine, especially with Triple Plus sound quality

Not many copies manage to have this kind of consistently sweet sound across both sides. Here are the kind of present, breathy vocals this music absolutely requires to work its magic.

If you know this album at all, you know that most pressings are just too damn dark sounding. Sade herself is typically recessed in the mix and veiled; it takes an exceptional copy such as this one to make her voice both present and breathy. (more…)

Sinead O’Connor – I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

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  • This early UK pressing is big and rich with superb clarity and three-dimensional space that most pressings barely hint at
  • You won’t believe how good Nothing Compares 2 U sounds here – it’s surely one of the best torch songs ever written, and her performance of it (as well as the arrangement) is perfection
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…the album plays like a tour de force in its demonstration of everything O’Connor can do… it’s evidence that, when on top of her game, O’Connor was a singular talent.”

NOTE: The first two tracks on side one are on the low side of the grade. This record is rarely quite and this copy is no exception to that rule.

I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, a brilliant and unique piece of work, is widely considered one of the best albums of the ’90s. I positively love the album. The emotion is every bit as naked and compelling as that found on Joni’s Blue, and I do not say that lightly. I know the power of Blue, and this album has that kind of power. This is some heavy heavy stuff. Hearing it sound right is a thrill you won’t soon forget. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Out of Our Heads

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  • This is one of the best copies to ever hit the site — as good as we’ve ever heard with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • These British sides impressed us with their Tubey Magical, fairly natural sound
  • With top engineers like Dave Hassinger and Glyn Johns one would hope for better sonics, but this is as good as it gets as far as we know
  • 4 1/2 stars: “In 1965, the Stones finally proved themselves capable of writing classic rock singles that mined their R&B/blues roots, but updated them into a more guitar-based, thoroughly contemporary context. The first enduring Jagger-Richards classics are here…”

Like the really good Decca version of Aftermath, this record has amazing transparency, rich bass and relatively little distortion compared to other versions we have played. Also, like Aftermath, some songs sound much better than others. That’s just the way old Stones record are. Part of this album was recorded in Hollywood and part of it was recorded in Chicago — that may explain some of the variation in the quality of the sound.

By the way, stick with true stereo on this album; the mono pressings — at least the ones we played — aren’t worth anybody’s time (scratch that: any audiophile’s time). (more…)

Fleetwood Mac / Bare Trees – Listening in Depth

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Reviews and Commentaries for Fleetwood Mac

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Bare Trees. Here are some albums currently on our site with similar Track by Track breakdowns.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Child of Mine

A real rocker from Danny Kirwan. If the electric piano is rich on your copy and you have some top end and space you are probably off to a very good start.

The Ghost
Homeward Bound
Sunny Side of Heaven

A wonderfully poignant, even melancholy instrumental track by Bob Welch. Not sure if that’s him on guitar but the playing is beautiful. The high point of side one.

Side Two

This is where most of the best music on Bare Trees can be found. We like every song on this side.

Bare Trees

If this song doesn’t get your blood pumping, you need to turn up the volume another click or two. There is tremendous energy and joy in this song, and it needs to be played loud to get those feelings across.

Sentimental Lady
Danny’s Chant
Spare Me a Little of Your Love

This is a tough track to get right. The Brit is smoother and sweeter, which works on this song. Bad copies can sound hard on Christine’s vocals as well as the chorus.

Dust

One of my all time favorite Fleetwood Mac songs. On a good copy this track sounds so sweet. The texture to the voices is right on the money — neither grainy nor dull.

Thoughts on a Grey Day (more…)

Annie Lennox – Diva

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  • This vintage import offers outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER for both sides of this Annie Lennox classic from 1992
  • Dramatically bigger, richer, smoother, more transparent and just more ANALOG sounding than any other copy you’ve heard, guaranteed or your money back
  • “State-of-the-art soul pop, Annie Lennox’s solo debut is sonically gorgeous…” – Rolling Stone
  • “Diva glides with a rich, feminine dignity that stands tall in pop history.” – Slant

By 1992 records like this were only released on import vinyl and typically went out of print soon after they started their descent down the pop charts. I used to sell them back in the day and supplies were extremely limited and unpredictable. And once they were gone they were virtually never reissued. All of those factors conspire to make the cost of acquiring the mintiest pressings from overseas fairly high, and of course the main reason you have never seen the album on our site before.

Be that as it may, we have this copy available and it is not only wonderful sounding but the music is every bit as good as I remember it. (more…)

Basia – Time and Tide

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  • This outstanding pressing of Time and Tide boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is rich and Tubey Magical, yet transparent and spacious in the way that only the best vintage pressings ever are
  • Allmusic: “This is sophisticated pop music that sounds ideal for playing in any number of upholstered locations — a black-tie cocktail party, a fashion-show runway, the back seat of a limousine. Basia’s lightly accented voice adds an exotic flavor to the Euro-disco style of the music.”

Man, here is the Audiophile Pop Sound we go absolutely CRAZY for here at Better Records. Toto Shmoto, THIS is Pure Pop for Audiophile Now People like nothing you have ever heard.

You will have a very hard time finding another modern recording (this one is from the ’80s so those of you who don’t like synths steer clear) with the kind of formidable MIDRANGE POWER heard here.

It must be on the tape, right? Who knew?! Somehow it managed to make it to the record.

Demo disc qualities? Too many to list! Spacious, rich, present, punchy bass, yada yada yada, you know all our favorites by now I’m sure. They’re all here and more.

YOU Pronounce It

Basia (nee Barbara Trzetrzelewska) exploded on the scene with this outstanding debut. Songs like New Day For You and Promises were all over AOR radio, which made me immediately dismiss her as a TOP 40 One-or-Two-Hit-Wonder, but I was wrong. This whole album is overflowing with cleverly arranged, beautifully sung, well-written popular songs about the stuff pop songs are mostly written about: love.

Time and Tide

Her one Killer Pop Song for the Ages is here: Time and Tide. If you aren’t impressed by the complexity and sheer length of the melody line, then you are one hard-to-please pop person. That song ranks up with the greatest Three Minute Wonders ever produced.

A Final Note

The CBS Gold CD of the album is far better than the stock copy I own, and actually quite good. But it sure won’t sound like this.

(more…)

Cream – Goodbye

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  • A stunning British pressing with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two (where you can find the amazingly good sounding song “Badge”) mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • The low end speed and energy on this copy are crazy good – it’s like a Cream concert in your listening room
  • The best pressings, the ones that are full-bodied and smooth, let you crank the levels and reproduce the album good and loud the way it was meant to be heard
  • 4 stars: “The live music on the whole is better than that on Wheels of Fire, capturing the trio at an empathetic peak as a band.”

When you get a good copy of this album you’re sure to hear what we heard — that this is truly one of the great live rock albums (with a bit of studio material on side two as well). This copy has the Big Rock Sound that we go crazy for at Better Records. The best pressings, the ones that are full-bodied and smooth, let you crank the levels and reproduce the album good and loud the way it was meant to be heard.

When it’s all working, you’re front and center for a fiery Cream concert with these guys delivering one heckuva performance. And where else are you gonna get that these days? (more…)

Bob Marley – Live!

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Records We Only Sell on Import Vinyl

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  • This Killer Island British import copy of Live! boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • As you can imagine, any Reggae Island UK import is very hard to come by – not to mention expensive – with audiophile playing surfaces, but here’s one
  • You won’t believe how big and rich this music can sound (especially if all you know is domestic or modern pressings)
  • Recorded in 1975 and released between Natty Dread (1974) and Rastaman Vibration (1976), Marley was at the peak of his powers at the time
  • A real contender to make the next update of our Top 100 list – it’s that impressive
  • 4 1/2 stars: “One of the most memorable concert recordings of the pop music era.”

This copy gives you EXCELLENT LIVE SOUND, not to mention KILLER PERFORMANCES of many of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ reggae classics. We were absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the sound of the better copies. The Hot Stamper pressings we found were so darn good that this title almost made our Rock and Pop Top 100 list.

Audiophiles don’t seem to be much into reggae, but we had a blast doing shootouts for some of the classic Marley albums. The music is wonderful (check out the All Music Guide review, where they call this “one of the most memorable concert recordings of the pop music era”) and the sound on the best pressings can be truly spectacular.

None of us here had any idea what an amazing live recording this album was until we threw a copy on the table just for kicks and heard an extremely well-recorded live reggae concert jumping out of the speakers.

The domestic pressings are not bad, but they are clearly made from copy tapes and can’t hold a candle to the better imports from across the pond. (more…)

The Beatles – Where Can I Find Your Hot Stamper Mono Pressings?

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Reviews and Commentaries for Rubber Soul

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One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

I notice you don’t mention whether the Beatles recordings are stereo or mono. The rubber soul that just arrived is stereo. I’m guessing that the one I reordered is also stereo. Do you guys stock the mono versions? Do you say on the site when something is mono. Let me know, as I like mono versions too. I was close with Geoff Emerick and he always stressed to me that they spent tons of time on the mono mixes and not much on the stereos (up through Revolver). So let me know if/when you have mono for Rubber Soul and Revolver and perhaps I can snatch them up.

Brian

Brian,

All our records are stereo unless we specifically mention otherwise.

We sell no Beatles records in mono, ever. Here is something I wrote about it:

Revolver in Disgraceful Mono

They spent time on the mono mixes because getting the levels right for all the elements in a recording is ten times harder than deciding whether an instrument or voice should be placed in the left, middle or right of the soundstage.

And they didn’t even do the stereo mixes right some of the time, IMHO.

But wall to wall beats all stacked up in the middle any day of the week in my book.

If you like mono Beatles records you will have to do your own shootouts, sorry!

Best, TP

  Hey Tom, 

Very interesting info on the Mono Beatles. I’ve never had the opportunity to play any early stereo pressings against the monos. Thanks for the opinion. I looked over the versions of the Beatles albums I bought that you are replacing for me and I noticed that they are 4th or 5th pressings. Do you find that era better than first or second pressings (in general) or is it just a price and condition thing. Just curious. I’m new to higher end collecting and looking for an expert opinion (which clearly you are!). I’m excited to hear the better versions you’re sending me.

Brian

Brian,

Some of the best pressings, but not all the best pressings, were cut by Harry Moss in the ’70s, on much better transistor mastering equipment than they had in the ’60s, and that is part of the reason why some of them sound so much better than most of the earlier pressings. (The same thing happened at Columbia for Kind of Blue and lots of other albums.)

But plenty of what Moss cut does not sound good, so searching out his versions may be helpful but not as helpful as most people think. It’s what scientists and historians refer to as “the illusion of knowledge.” It prevents you from understanding what is really going on with records. (more…)

Genesis – Wind and Wuthering

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  • 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…)