Records that Sound Best on the Right Import Pressing

The Rolling Stones / Out of Our Heads – Mono or Reprocessed Stereo?

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On this London LP, even though it says the record is electronically re-processed into stereo, the songs we heard on side one were dead mono.

So much for believing what you read on album covers. (more…)

Sade – Diamond Life

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  • Triple Triple” for this British import pressing of Sade’s debut — both sides earned our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++)
  • The right UK pressings are dramatically better than the domestic and Dutch pressings we played
  • The key to the best copies is Tubey Magical richness and sweetness, and this vintage analog copy has plenty of both
  • 4 1/2 stars: “[Sade] projects a wised-up sensuality, and the record neither creaks with the revivalism of Harry Connick nor the sterility of Simply Red, to name but two of Sade’s neo-cocktail rivals.”

This copy gives you the kind of present, breathy vocals absolutely critical to this music. There’s no denying the power of Sade’s sultry voice when you can actually hear it. All it takes is a top copy such as this to make her talents — and those of her bandmates — abundantly clear. (more…)

Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard – Stick with the UK Pressings

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  • One of the best copies to eve hit the site with an amazing Triple Plus (A+++) side one and and excellent Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Big and full-bodied with wonderfully breathy vocals, tons of energy and none of the smear that plagues so many copies
  • As good as the best domestic pressings can be, these early British LPs seem to capture more of the 461 magic
  • “…the pop concessions on the album don’t detract from the rootsy origins of the material, whether it’s Johnny Otis’ “Willie and the Hand Jive,” the traditional blues “Motherless Children,” Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff,” or Clapton’s emotional original “Let It Grow.” ” – All Music

It is insanely tough to find copies 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 pressing should be just the ticket.

This album has some of Clapton’s best material, including Motherless Children and the famous cover of Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff.

Tom Dowd recorded this album at Criteria in Miami, which is where Layla was recorded. I’d say the sound here is substantially better than what you get on that album, for the most part. Even when you find a great pressing of Layla, it’s still pretty much a diamond in the rough, but the sound on this album is consistently good — smooth, rich and natural. (more…)

John McLaughlin / Extrapolation – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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INCREDIBLY POWERFUL AND DYNAMIC DEMO QUALITY SOUND THROUGHOUT! If you’re looking for a jazz-fusion guitar album that will wake your system up (and show off its best qualities to boot), this is the hot ticket right here. We had been slowly compiling various pressings for a big shootout for ages, and we finally let it rip recently. This was one of the most impressive pressings, earning an A++ on side one and an A+++ on side two. If you’re a fan of ’70s Miles Davis or the Birds Of Fire album, you probably already know that you need this in your collection!  (more…)

George Michael – Faith

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  • Outstanding sound for this George Michael classic – both sides earned Double Plus (A++) sonic grades
  • The domestic pressings are a dubby joke next to these British originals – finally, here is the size, clarity and Tubey Magic you’ve always wanted this music to have
  • With six (6!) Top Ten hits, this album is chock full of brilliantly produced and passionately performed material
  • 5 stars: “A superbly crafted mainstream pop/rock masterpiece, Faith made George Michael an international solo star… All of it adds up to one of the finest pop albums of the ’80s, setting a high-water mark that Michael was only able to reach in isolated moments afterward.”

*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 10 light ticks during the intro to Track 1, Hard Day.

This vintage import Epic pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Supertramp – Supertramp

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  • Supertramp’s self-titled debut finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • It’s even more Tubey Magical than an album like ’Crime Of The Century,’ which is more about slam and presence than a record like this, which has amazingly sweet, natural sounding acoustic guitars
  • Condition was the problem with these original British pressings – none of the best sounding copies did not have issues, hence the exceptionally low price for our Shootout Winner here
  • “Harmonious in themes but varied in tones, alternating short and lengthy pieces with a sophisticated sound and classy arrangement, it features all the distinctive elements of prog rock. And as with any prog album, it only makes full sense when listened to in its entirety.”

(more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland

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  • An outstanding copy of Electric Ladyland with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all FOUR sides
  • Big, clear, tubey, sweet ANALOG sound – we played it good and loud and it was ROCKIN’!
  • Probably the best-recorded of Hendrix’s studio albums – huge studio space and Tubey Magical richness are key to the best sound
  • 5 stars: “…not only one of the best rock albums of the era, but also Hendrix’s original musical vision at its absolute apex.”

*NOTE: On side four, a mark makes 10 moderate to loud pops at the beginning of Track 1, Still Raining, Still Dreaming.

Some of Jimi’s best songs can be found here, including Crosstown Traffic, Voodoo Child (Slight Return) and his incendiary cover of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower. All four sides have truly killer sound, big and full-bodied with a MUCH better low end than you’ll find on most. You get enough energy and weight to make the rock songs really ROCK, and enough clarity and transparency to bring out the more spacey, psychedelic elements that Jimi and Eddie Kramer worked so hard on.

Ready to go on a trip? You’ve come to the right place. While the sound is not Demo Quality on every track, the acid-drenched soundscapes created by Jimi and producer Eddie Kramer are certainly going to be exciting to the kind of audiophile who still digs Classic Rock. Unfortunately, most copies are missing a lot of the magic — the space, the tubes, the ambience, the size, the weight. (more…)

King Crimson – Larks’ Tongues In Aspic

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  • The band’s superb 1973 release makes its modern Hot Stamper debut here with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Bass and body are key to the best pressings, along with Prog Rock energy, and here you will find plenty of all three
  • A powerful, dynamic recording, yet the Island Tubey Magical Richness and Smoothness are always there to keep the proceedings from getting out of hand.
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… this lineup quickly established itself as a powerful performing unit, working in a more purely experimental, less jazz-oriented vein than its immediate predecessor.”

NOTE: This copy has a label misprint – Side 1 has a Roxy Music Avalon label even though it’s a King Crimson Record, while Side 2 has the correct label.

*CONDITION NOTES:

  • On side one, the first half-inch of Track 1, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part One, is moderately ticky.

Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl. The best sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl notwithstanding. If you can tolerate the problems on this pressing you are in for some amazing King Crimson music and sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


Like any KC record, this album alternates its soft parts and its heavy parts. The soft parts sound oh so sweet and delicate, each intricacy revealed to perfection by the out-of-this-world recording quality, while the heavy parts sound big and bold, augmented by Fripp’s meaty, fuzzed-out guitar and Bill Bruford’s savage percussion.

What’s uncanny about this pressing is how the softness and heaviness play off each other, transitioning into one another, WITHOUT LOSING A THING. With most prog rock records, once the bombast starts kicking in, all the intricacies of the midrange and top end get washed out. But when this pressing’s rockin’, the subtle contribution of the mellotron in the background can still clearly be recognized, floating above the clouds, tying everything together, with all of Bill Bruford’s intricate percussion effects along for the ride. (more…)

Robin Trower / Bridge of Sighs

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  • An outstanding copy of Trower’s amazingly well recorded Psych masterpiece with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • This early UK pressing is huge, rich and punchy, with guitar solos that soar like few others you’ve heard
  • Brilliant engineering by Geoff Emerick at George Martin’s AIR studios – maybe the best sounding album Emerick ever made
  • Top 100 and 4 1/2 stars on AMG: “…his most stunning, representative, and consistent collection of tunes. Bridge of Sighs holds up to repeated listenings as a timeless work, as well as the crown jewel in Trower’s extensive catalog.”

We’d been wandering around in the dark for more than a decade with Bridge of Sighs — that is, until about 2015 when we finally stumbled upon a certain UK Chrysalis pressing in audiophile playing condition.

Now we know just how good this album can sound. How good? Astonishingly good. The three-dimensional space is positively breathtaking on the best UK copies.

There is a substantial amount of Tubey Magic and liquidity on the tape, recalling the kind of hi-rez vintage analog sound that makes the luminous A Space in Time (1971) such a mind-expanding experience. Both albums have the kind of High Production Value sound that we go crazy for here at Better Records. You can find many of our favorites in our Rock and Pop Top 100, and if we can find more of this title, it will surely be on the list as well. (more…)

Supertramp – Paris

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  • A Killer Copy: Triple Plus (A+++) on side two, nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) on side one, and Double Plus (A++) on the rest
  • This British original pressing may have been mastered in America but it sure sounded better than most of the domestic vinyl we played
  • Key elements in the sound of the best pressings were size, richness, Tubey Magic and energy, and these sides have a sizable helping of all four
  • Amazon reviewers love the album – 86% of them as of this writing have given it Five Stars

Listen to side two of this copy to hear exactly what the best sounding copies can do! (more…)