Records We Don’t Like for Their Music

The Rolling Stones – No. 2

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

The best word I could use to sum up both the sound and the music on this record is HONEST. If you want to hear how early Rolling Stones records sound when they sound right, this is the ticket. This is the real sound of the early, early Stones.

Probably what any modern engineer would want to do to the album would only end up making it worse. It is what it is and that’s good enough for us.

Some tracks do sound quite a bit better than others, recorded as they were in three different locations (including Chess studios) by two different engineers (Ron Malo and Dave Hassinger). (more…)

Chicago – Chicago VIII

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) Shootout Winning side two and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side one, this copy had some of the best sound we have ever heard for Chicago’s 8th album
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • Not a favorite with the critics, but that did not keep the fans from buying plenty of copies, sending the album straight to Number One
  • Harry Truman was the first hit single, followed by Old Days (which went all the way to #5)

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Elton John’s Caribou Is Usually Noisy and Sounds Bad – Why Is That?

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There’s a good reason you’ve practically never seen this album for sale on our site. In fact there are quite a number of good reasons.

The first one is bad vinyl — most DJM pressings of Caribou are just too noisy to sell. They can look perfectly mint and play noisy as hell; it’s not abuse, it’s bad vinyl. (Empty Sky is the same way; out and out bad vinyl, full of noise, grit and grain.)

The second problem is bad sound. Whether it’s bad mastering or bad vinyl incapable of holding onto good mastering, no one can say. Since so many copies were pressed of this monster Number One album (topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic), perhaps they pressed a few too many after the stampers were worn out.

Or pulled too many stampers off the mother.

Or made too many stampers from the father.

Or used crap vinyl right from the start.

Of course there’s not an iota of evidence to back up any of these assertions, but I just thought I would throw it out there as a topic for speculation. (Have you noticed how much audiophiles and audiophile reviewers love to talk about things that they have no empirical evidence for one way or the other? Very little of that sort of thing can be found on our site. We like to stick to the sound of the records we’ve played and leave most of the “reasoning” about the sound to others.)

George Harrison – Somewhere in England

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  • KILLER sound for this Dark Horse pressing from 1981 with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • “Harrison’s first album since 1979 is one of his finest, featuring his moving tribute to Lennon, All Those Years Ago. Harrison’s signatures – crystal-clear production, buoyant backup and chimelike guitar runs are all here. This record is both entertainment and a musical giant’s defiant tribute to the value of life.”

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Jefferson Airplane – After Bathing At Baxter’s – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This RCA pressing was a BIG step up from most copies we played. Most copies we’ve played are too lean down low, which takes a lot of the power out of this crazy psychedelic music. This one gives you more weight down low and good energy, which helps these songs sound the way The Airplane must have intended.

I’m not familiar with the Sundazed pressing, but I would be shocked if it was even in the ballpark with a Super Hot Stamper copy like this one. Is anyone seriously buying their records for sound quality these days? (more…)

John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band

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  • Incredible sound for this early UK pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades, an excellent way to hear these amazing songs
  • Working Man’s Hero, Love, Mother — these are immortal Lennon tracks, all with stunning sound on these White Hot sides
  • 5 stars: “It’s an unflinching document of bare-bones despair and pain, but for all its nihilism, it is ultimately life-affirming; it is unique not only in Lennon’s catalog, but in all of popular music. Few albums are ever as harrowing, difficult, and rewarding as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.”

Incredible sound for this John Lennon classic! I would be hard pressed to tell you whether this or Imagine is his best sounding recording, because on the very best copies they can both be killer. Our first White Hot copy only made it to the site in 2016 — it took us a long time to find the right pressings of this album, and then years more to get enough in stock to do a major shootout. As you can imagine, clean early UK pressings of Lennon’s albums are hard to come by and pricey when you find them. (more…)

The Alan Parsons Project – Eye In The Sky – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

TWO TOP-NOTCH A+++ SIDES and QUIET VINYL on this Arista two-pack pressing, the first Alan Parsons Project White Hot Stamper to hit the site! Alan Parsons is the engineering guru behind Dark Side Of The Moon, Year Of The Cat and Ambrosia’s debut, among many others, so suffice it to say the man knows a thing or two about audiophile-quality recording techniques. That talent is on full display here, with two sides that give you the kind of sound you want for this music — big and lively with excellent presence and real weight to the bottom.   (more…)

Starship – Knee Deep in the Hoopla

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  • The debut for the band Starship finally arrives on the site with two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides and quiet vinyl 
  • We guarantee you’ve never heard this Top Ten hit album from 1985 sound remotely as good as it does here
  • If you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of the album, a vintage pressing like this one is the only way to do it in our experience
  • Not a hit with the critics, but it does contain two of this band’s biggest singles, both of which rocketed all the way to Number One: “We Built This City” and “Sara”

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Neil Young – Hawks and Doves

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  • An exceptional pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and a solid Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The trick on this album is to find rich, smooth, edge-free sound, and this copy delivers those qualities like nothing else we played all day
  • “Hawks and Doves has a homey feel. “Little Wing,” bare and haltingly lyrical with its miked harp and unaccompanied acoustic, is simpler than anything on the folky Comes a Time, and the rest of the music is defined by Ben Keith’s laconic dobro and steel and Rufus Thobodeaux’s sawing fiddle.” Robert Christgau (A-)

On side one the second track has an especially intimate vocal, worth checking out. Flip the record over and listen to how full-bodied the piano is on the first track on side two. This is the sound of ANALOG. So many copies are dry and edgy, as is the CD I would guess, but here the sound is smooth, natural and enjoyable. (more…)

Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship – Blows Against The…

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  • Paul Kantner’s debut solo album finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this album from 1970, this is the way to go
  • “…the first use of the ‘Starship’ billing, predating the formation of the group with that name by four years.”
  • 4 stars: “Kantner employed often dense instrumentation and complex arrangements, but there were enough hooks and harmonies to keep things interesting. Blows eventually went gold, and it was even nominated for a science fiction award usually reserved for novels.”

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