Top Artists – Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte – Jump Up Calypso – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES on this Living Stereo pressing that should easily beat your DCC version — or your money back! We played a big stack of these recently and are happy to report that the best copies deliver that old-school RCA tubey magic that brings out the best in Belafonte’s music. The sound here is big, lively, rich and full. Only the better copies like this one really brought out the FUN in the music, an essential quality for this material.

Unfortunately, the big hit “Jump In The Line” is not one of the better sounding tracks on this album. It has a bit of radio EQ, meaning it’s a little brighter and leaner in a way that’s designed to jump out of your AM radio, but not the best effect on a high resolution audiophile system. Still, on a copy like this it’s still musical and enjoyable; on many copies we played it was absolutely painful.

Side one, at A++, has big time presence and tons of energy! Silky, smooth and sweet, this side really blows away the typical pressing.

At A+ to A++, side two is nearly as good! Much easier on the ears than the typical bright, edgy copy, if this side had just a bit more weight down low it would be right there with side one.

Play it against your DCC version and you’ll see what we’re talking about, or just drop the needle on it and enjoy very good sound for what the All Music Guide calls “one of his most energetic albums”. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Belafonte at Carnegie Hall and Stardust

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

Hey Tom, 

My July 4 weekend was great. I had lots of company this weekend for three days straight. I slayed a bunch of them with my new collection of Hot Stamper LPs from Better Records. Honestly, these LPs make my system sound like I just dropped another $100,000 into it suddenly. I played Harry Belafonte (Carnegie Hall Live Concert) and Willie Nelson (Stardust) for some guests that grew up in another part of the world who had never ever even heard of these people. They had no clue about what they were going to hear. I watched them and they were mesmerized – leaning forward in their seats practically holding their breath – holding themselves still like a deer caught in the headlights. Not a sound spoken – even the females! The sense of being live was so palpable that most were simply speechless. Confusion was rampant since all that sound was coming from OLD BLACK VINYL.

My smile was a mile wide. Thanks for that satisfying experience.

John R. (more…)

Harry Belafonte – Sings The Blues – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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

If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you.

Naturally the vocals have to be the main focus on a Harry Belafonte record. He should sound rich and tubey, yet clear, breathy and transparent. To qualify as a Hot Stamper the pressings we offer must be highly resolving, not crude and ambience-challenged the way so many modern LPs seem to be. You should be able to hear every element of the recording, with the voice and instruments surrounded by the natural space of the studios in which the recording was made.

This Copy

This copy is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.

The Analog sound of this pressing makes a mockery of even the most advanced digital playback systems, including the ones that haven’t been invented yet. I’d love to play this for Neil Young so he can see what he’s up against. Good Luck, Neil, you’re going to need it.

THIS is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There actually IS a CD of this album, and youtube videos of it too, but those of us in possession of a working turntable could care less.

Truly a Spectacular Demo Disc in its own right.

Mono

Small, recessed and crude, the one mono pressing we played was enough to make us never want to buy another.

Remastered

There are at least two Heavy Vinyl remasterings of this album still floating around the world of audio: Classic Records’ from the late ’90s, which as I recall was nothing special, and Cisco’s current 2 LP 45 RPM version, which I have never played. Neither will be competitive in the least with the Hot Stamper pressing we are offering here. (more…)

Lena Horne & Harry Belafonte – Porgy and Bess

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  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound for both sides of this wonderful Living Stereo album – as you would expect, the Tubey Magic is off the charts
  • Both sides are big, lively and present with lovely breathy vocals from the two principals (who sing solo on all but two of the tracks)
  • A brilliant Living Stereo recording from 1959, which plays as quietly as we can find them – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “The first of Belafonte’s duet albums with female performers, this one paired two attractive black American singers at the peak of their respective talents.”

A Living Stereo knockout! We often forget to spend time with records like this when there are Zeppelin and Floyd records to play. We’ve always enjoyed Belafonte At Carnegie Hall, but when we’ve dug further into his catalog we’ve been left cold more often than not. However, when we finally got around to dropping the needle on a few of these we were very impressed by the music and BLOWN AWAY by the sound on the better pressings.

It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology. If you’re a Harry Belafonte fan, a Lena Horne fan, a Gershwin fan, or just somebody who enjoys classic material performed with gusto and soul, this is a record that belongs in your collection.

1959 Tubes?

You just can’t beat ’em. (more…)

Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall

 


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • This later black label pressing boasts excellent sound, with a shootout-winning Triple Plus (A+++) side three and excellent Double Plus (A++) grades or close to it for sides one, two and four
  • You’ll hear a very large group of musicians bring their wonderful energy to this music, all backing Harry live on the stage in real time and in ANALOG
  • Harry Pearson made his reputation bringing this kind of amazing recording to the attention of the audiophile public, and for that we owe him a debt of gratitude
  • 5 stars: “The granddaddy of all live albums, this double-LP set captures the excitement of a Harry Belafonte concert at the height of his popularity.”

See all of our Harry Belafonte albums in stock

Harry Pearson brought this record to the attention of audiophiles with his TAS list a long time ago, and rightfully so: it’s an amazing recording.

We happen to love the music too, which makes it one of the most recommendable records we have ever offered. If you can find a better combination of demo disc sound, with music worth the hassle and expense of reproducing it properly, more power to you. We sure can’t.

Because this is a live recording, because it has lots of natural instruments as well as a vocal, because it was recorded in the Golden Age by one of the greatest labels of all time, RCA, by Bob Simpson no less — for this and many other reasons, it has to be considered one of the most amazing recordings in the history of the world.

That said, it is our contention (and the basis of our business model) that the brilliant quality of the recording can only be appreciated if you have the pressing that captured the sound that the engineers recorded. In other words, a Hot Stamper. (more…)

Harry Belafonte – Belafonte… Live!

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Vocal Classics

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Harry Belafonte – Belafonte… Live!

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

White Hot Stampers on sides one and three! This copy also has an A++ side two and an A+ side four, so there’s a ton of good sound on this fun concert LP. This album features Harry performing on all four sides, but also includes music from some of the guests he brought along to perform with him at the early ’70s shows in Toronto from which these performances are taken. The first three sides are all KILLER — you get real-life immediacy, excellent clarity, breathtaking transparency and boatloads of tubey magic!

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Be sure to click the AMG Review tab above, they give it four out of five stars and do a better job of describing the music than I am capable of.

This double album isn’t quite as essential as the great Carnegie Hall album, but Hot Stampers of that one are very tough to come by. These kind of grades on Belafonte at Carnegie Hall would run you a heckuva lot more dough than this, that’s for sure.

Only side four rated below A++, and at A+ it was certainly no slouch. It just didn’t have the kind of You Are There presence that you get on the three sides that precede it.

Harry Belafonte Sings The Blues

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“The Analog sound of this pressing makes a mockery of even the most advanced digital playback systems, including the ones that haven’t been invented yet. I’d love to play this for Neil Young so he can see what he’s up against. Good Luck, Neil, you’re going to need it.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you.

Naturally the vocals have to be the main focus on a Harry Belafonte record. He should sound rich and tubey, yet clear, breathy and transparent. To qualify as a Hot Stamper the pressings we offer must be highly resolving, not crude and ambience-challenged the way so many modern LPs seem to be. You should be able to hear every element of the recording, with the voice and instruments surrounded by the natural space of the studios in which the recording was made.

See all of our Harry Belafonte albums in stock

This Copy

This copy is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.

The Analog sound of this pressing makes a mockery of even the most advanced digital playback systems, including the ones that haven’t been invented yet. I’d love to play this for Neil Young so he can see what he’s up against. Good Luck, Neil, you’re going to need it.

THIS is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There actually IS a CD of this album, and youtube videos of it too, but those of us in possession of a working turntable could care less.

Truly a Spectacular Demo Disc in its own right. (more…)