Records We Don’t Like for Their Music

Chuck Mangione – Feels So Good – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This better than Super Hot stamper side one of arguably Chuck Mangione’s best album gets what is inarguably his most famous song to come alive in a way that practically no other copies in our shootout were able to. It’s shocking just how lifeless and pointless Feels So Good can sound on some copies; after only a few minutes the band seems to be having a hard time staying awake. But the same performance is captured on every pressing, so how can the band sound so inspired here and so uninspired elsewhere? It’s one of the mysteries of recorded media, one which still takes us by surprise on a regular basis, every week in fact.

This idea that most pressings do a poor job of communicating the music still has not seeped into the consciousness of the audiophile public but we’re diligently working to change that, one Hot Stamper at a time.

The copies that are present, clear, open, transparent and energetic, with a solid rhythmic line driving the music, are a hundred times more enjoyable than the typical pressing that can be found practically unplayed (gee, I wonder why?) sitting in most record collections.

By the way, if you know Feels So Good only through the radio, you may be surprised to find that it’s close to ten minutes long, not the three minutes you’re familiar with. The band stretches out quite a bit and the solos are fairly inventive, as AMG noted.

This very side two has that problem to a fair degree; it’s a bit too murky and veiled to be as much fun as side one. But so few copies were any good at all that it still earned an A+ grade. If you turn it up it helps it quite a bit. Still, it lack extension high and low compared to this side one.

Side One

A++ to A+++, lively, rich, sweet and clear, with tons of space, this one very nearly won our shootout. You can follow the bass clearly, and unlike most copies you can really “see” the drummer. The effect is more energy, more spirited music, and a more rewarding listening experience.

Side Two

A+ as noted above.

Condition Alert

Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet a copy as we can find, and side two, with so many quiet passages, was usually noisier than that. Please click on the Sonic Grade tab above to read more about this copy’s surfaces. 

Overall Sonic Grade:

Side One – A++ to A+++ 
Side Two – A+

Vinyl Grade:

1) Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus. The intro to track one is a bit noisier. 
2) Mint Minus Minus to Mint Minus with a noisy edge.

Cover Grade: 9 out of 10, in shrink

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Feels So Good 
Maui-Waui 
Theme from “Side Street”

Side Two

Hide & Seek (Ready or Not Here I Come) 
Last Dance 
The XIth Commandment

AMG Review

Due to the title cut, this was a huge seller when it originally came out… this set from flügelhornist Chuck Mangione (which helped give guitarist Grant Geissman some fame) is actually stronger from the jazz standpoint than Mangione’s subsequent dates. The leader has some good solos, as does Geissman and saxophonist Chris Vadala, and the quintet’s ensembles are generally both sparse and attractive. Pity that in ways this was Chuck Mangione’s last worthwhile release to date; success did stunt his artistic growth.

Eric Clapton – Money and Cigarettes – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This Minty looking Warner Brothers Duck Promo LP fetures Ry Cooder, Donald Duck Dunn and Albert Lee.

This album has that Master Tape sound. You feel as though you are hearing what the engineer intended. The one real flaw in the recording is the amount of compression the engineer used — it’s a bit heavy handed. This is after all a radio friendly pop album, so no surprise there. I doubt if there are many better sounding copies around than this one. (more…)

Genesis – Live – Reviewed in 2010

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Superb sounding but somewhat noisy British Original (or what appears to be) pressing on the Charisma label. This album sounds RIGHT ON THE MONEY. I don’t think you can find a better sounding version than this one.

“A well-recorded showcase of the early group’s concert sound, much of what is here actually works better than the studio versions of the same songs…” AMG 

Genesis – Seconds Out – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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

STUNNING SOUND FOR ALL FOUR SIDES! This live album from 1977 has some of the best Genesis sound we’ve heard. Their studio recordings are often a bit flat and dull, so it’s really a treat to hear those songs with this kind of big, open, dynamic sound! Phil Collins handles the lead vocals here, but he does a great job even on the Peter Gabriel material.  (more…)

Genesis – Abacab

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

Another top recording from Hugh Padgham, the man who engineered The Police’s best sounding album, Synchronicity, as well as Phil Collins’ first album. He gets the Big, Rich, Smooth Rock Sound during the ’80s like few others we know of. Tons of bass too. We also quite like the big drums and meaty guitars he was able to bring to XTC’s English Settlement (a record we just never see anymore; wonder where they all went?).

Our Genesis offerings unfortunately tend to be few and far between; this is in fact the first time we’ve done Abacab, mostly because the bulk of the copies we’d played over the years left much to be desired sonically. We’re happy to report that the best pressings of Abacab can really rock, with rich, full-bodied, smooth sound that begs to be turned up good and loud. Not many records from the ’80s have that sound.  (more…)

Bob Dylan – Planet Waves – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

This White Hot Stamper copy of Planet Waves boasts not only great Bob Dylan sound, but some of the best sound for The Band that you’ll ever hear! That’s right, Dylan is backed by Messrs. Robertson, Danko, Helm, Manuel and Hudson on this album, and I don’t know when we’ve ever heard such audiophile quality sound from that crew. It’s a real treat to hear their signature styles without the cardboard-y, compressed quality we usually find on their albums.

Lots of great material on this album, not sure why it doesn’t get more respect. On A Night Like This, Going Going Gone, Forever Young, You Angel You… these are wonderful, well-recorded songs. (more…)

Van Halen – Diver Down

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this copy of Van Halen’s fifth studio album 
  • Surprisingly big, lively, open, rich and present with real extension both up top and down low – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This album put the band’s hard-rocking spin on a number of covers, including “(Oh) Pretty Woman,” “Dancing in the Street,” and Where Have All The Good Times Gone!”
  • “…this is undoubtedly the work of a finely honed band who has only grown tighter and heavier since their debut… it’s one of Van Halen’s best records, one that’s just pure joy to hear. Like the debut, it’s a great showcase for all the group’s strengths…”

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Miles Davis – A Tribute To Jack Johnson

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Two White Hot Stamper sides on quiet vinyl for this 5-Star Jazz/Rock Fusion classic! If you love the crazy music that Miles was making with John McLaughlin in the early ’70s, I’m sure you’re already a fan of this album, but I bet you’ve never heard it sound like this.

Check out the especially insightful Five Star All Music Guide Review linked above to get a better feel of what this album is all about. We’ve been trying to track down a good copy for ages, so it was a treat to hear this crazy, progressive jazz finally sound right. (more…)

Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan – Our Shootout Winner from 2013 in Mono

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

TWO AMAZING SIDES RATING AT OR NEAR A+++ for this the MONO pressing! It’s beyond difficult to find copies of this album with good sound, but we managed to get a hold of a hot one here. This is a true solo album — guitar, vocals and harmonica — and it’s a lot of fun to hear a young (20!) Dylan playing the way he might have played in the coffee shops and folk clubs of Greenwich Village. 

The sound is richer and fuller than the average pressing; it’s also unusually lively and present. Above all the sound is natural and musical, the qualities that matter the most on a record like this.

And that’s not all! It’s also dynamic, lively, and tonally correct from top to bottom. The clarity is superb and even the harmonica sounds good. There’s tons of ambience — you can really hear the sound of the room around Dylan’s vocals. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Undercover

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

Engineered by Chris Kimsey, if you know his work from Some Girls, Tattoo You, Frampton Comes Alive and the like, then you should have a good idea of what this album sounds like on the better copies such as this one.   (more…)