TAS Super Disc List

Khachaturian – Spartacus & Gayneh

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This is a Near Mint Decca In The Box British Import LP featuring Spartacus on side one and Gayaneh on side two with the Vienna Phil.

Side Two is the BEST EVER! Just play the Sabre Dance! This famous TAS List LP has a very good side one as well, 90 to 95% the best. This is a record that deserves its Superdisc ranking. It IS a superdisc! 

Prokofiev / Concerto #2 / Leibowitz / PSO – A Top Performance

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Concerto #2 / Leibowitz / PSO

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This is a very nice looking RCA Living Stereo Shaded Dog LP. Some parts sound better than others but the real reason to buy this record is the performance. Frager is amazing here; he won awards for his performance of this piece in international competitions. The record also features Haydn – Sonata No. 35. The record is a member of HP’s TAS list.  

Falla / Nights In the Gardens of Spain/ Argenta – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

DEMO QUALITY SOUND from 1959 on this famous TAS List Super Disc recording. This copy of CS 6046 has an especially good Falla side, with Super Hot Stamper sound and fairly quiet vinyl. The Rodrigo side is no slouch either, earning a grade of A+, although it could certainly use more top end (which was the case last time we did a shootout with this title as I recall). 

The Falla side is amazingly natural sounding; the string tone is Right On The Money, something that cannot be said of most vintage Living Stereos and Mercury pressings.

The overall sound is rich, sweet and tubey magical. The hall is spacious, with superb depth, allowing your speakers to simply disappear and an orchestra to appear in their place.

A bit of tube smear can be heard on the strings, not the least bit unusual on a Golden Age recording such as this one. With a touch less smear this side one would have earned our highest grade. As it is you will have a very hard time finding a better copy.

Side two is lovely and natural as well but a bit dark and slightly veiled. A click or two of treble would work wonders.

The cover is excellent — still in the shrink!

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Rodrigo: Guitar Concerto

Side Two

Falla: Nights in the Gardens of Spain

Massenet / Le Cid / Fremaux / City of Birmingham Symphony

More of the music of Jules Massenet (1842-1912) 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This is a record that clearly belongs on a Super Disc list; if Harry hadn’t already put it there we certainly would have. (We would love to compile a Super Disc list of our own, but unless you have just the right copy of whatever title you find on the list, you may not have anything like Super Disc sound quality, so why a list at all? It creates more problems for audiophiles than it solves.)  (more…)

Chet Atkins – The Other Chet Atkins

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

It seems as though Bill Porter just doesn’t know how not to make an amazing sounding Living Stereo recording. Everything the guy touches is GOLD! Need a refresher course in tubey magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These records are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — it’s all here.

I suppose we owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Pearson for pointing out to us with his TAS List what a great record this is, although I’m pretty sure anybody playing this album would have no trouble telling after a minute or two that this recording is very special indeed. (more…)

Gaite Parisienne with Fiedler – More Smeary Dreck from Classic Records

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Sonic Grade: F

Another Classic Records LP found wanting. 

The last time I played the Classic I thought it was a smeary mess, as awful as their awful Scheherazade (both shamefully on the TAS List as I recall). If I were to play it today I’m guessing it would join the other Classic Records entries in our Hall of Shame. 

 I love Fiedler’s performance and the 1954 two track RCA Living Stereo sound but finding an original Shaded Dog pressing in clean condition under $500 with the right stampers (something above 10 as a rule) is all but impossible nowadays.

If you want to go that way more power to you. 

This 1954 2-track recording is RCA’s first stereo recording of the work. 1954. Can you believe it? Two mics and two channels and it blows away 99% of all the classical recordings ever done! Some old record collectors and tube lovers say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be. This record proves it.

Dire Straits – Love Over Gold

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  • A stunning UK import copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from beginning to end 
  • Incredibly big, punchy, dynamic, transparent and musical throughout – you won’t believe it
  • These top quality copies of Love Over Gold are far more natural than the any pressing you have ever heard
  • “Certainly a quantum leap from the organic R&B impressionism of the band’s early LPs and the gripping short stories of Making Movies, Love Over Gold is an ambitious, sometimes difficult record that is exhilarating in its successes and, at the very least, fascinating in its indulgences.” – Rolling Stone

We pick up every clean copy we see of this album, domestic or import, because we know from experience just how good the best pressings can sound. What do the best copies have? REAL dynamics for one. And with those dynamics you need rock solid bass. Otherwise the loud portions simply become irritating. A lack of grain is always nice — many of the pressings we played were gritty or grainy. Other copies that were quite good in most ways lacked immediacy and we took serious points off for that. (more…)

Cat Stevens – Mona Bone Jakon

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  • With Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second, this copy of Cat Stevens’ brilliant third album will be very hard to beat
  • So transparent, open, and spacious, nuances and subtleties that escaped you are now revealed as never before 
  • When you play I Wish I Wish and I Think I See The Light on this vintage pressing, we think you will agree with us that this is one of the greatest Folk Rock albums of them all
  • “A delight, and because it never achieved the Top 40 radio ubiquity of later albums, it sounds fresh and distinct.”

So many copies excel in some areas but fall flat in others. This one has it ALL going on — all the tubey magic, all the energy, all the presence and so on. The sound is high resolution yet so natural, free from the phony hi-fi-ish quality that you hear on many pressings. (more…)

Khachaturian / Masquerade Suite / Kondrashin (LSC 2398)

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A distinguished member of our Hall of Fame.

DEMO DISC SOUND for this TAS List Shaded Dog, with each side earning an A++ grade and playing relatively quietly! 

This is a BIG one folks, as most of you probably know already. It is not easy to find copies of this album with excellent sound and fairly quiet surfaces on both sides, and if you don’t believe me than I encourage you to try. The violin is so sweet and full of rosiny texture here. The whole string section is full of Living Stereo magic. The soundstage is wide and deep, the overall sound rich and warm. The midrange is nothing short of magical.

This is the kind of Golden Age recording that makes us audiophiles lose it. It’s one of the few legitimate reasons to take the TAS Super Disc List seriously in the first place. HP put records like this on the audiophile map and we owe him a debt of gratitude for having done so. Our musical lives are remarkably richer for it. (more…)

Burt Bacharach – Casino Royale

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  • A superb original stereo copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally QUIET vinyl for this album too
  • A record that has its share of problems, but if you’ve got the system for it (huge, heavily tweaked, fast, free from obvious colorations and capable of tremendous resolution), this copy is sure to impress  
  • A TAS List favorite that sounds amazing on a the right early pressing and dramatically better than any Heavy Vinyl reissue that’s we know of
  • “The more recognizable and certainly more straightforward side of Bacharach is here, too, on the Dusty Springfield smash ‘The Look of Love.’ This is one of Bacharach’s best soundtracks…”

The space is big and the sound relatively rich (although the sound does vary quite a bit from track to track). The vocals have notably less hardness than most and the orchestra is not as brash as it can be on so many of the copies we audition. Huge amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies, and critical to The Look of Love. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD. (more…)