Top Artists – Henry Mancini

Henry Mancini – Hatari! – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

This Super Hot Stamper pressing is one of the BEST COPIES we’ve ever played! Both sides earned very high A Double Plus honors, beating practically all the other copies we played it against. The sound is relaxed, natural, and musical, with an incredibly sweet top end. 

The overall sound is airy, open, spacious, and SUPER transparent. The brass on this copy also sounds just right: breathy with a nice bite, avoiding most of the blare-y quality we heard on so many other pressings. (There is a touch of smear on even the best copies; this one is no different.)

The sound is Super 3-D. You’re not going to believe all the ambience surrounding this room full of musicians, especially on the drums! We LOVE that sound. (more…)

Henry Mancini – The Mancini Touch – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This original Living Stereo pressing had nearly White Hot Stamper sound on side one, earning a sonic grade of A++ to A+++, with the least amount of smear of any copy we played. (As you may know, smear and opacity are endemic to old Living Stereo pressings such as this.) The sound is SUPER 3-D. You’re not going to believe all the ambience surrounding this room full of musicians, especially on the drums! We LOVE that sound. The DEPTH that can be heard in this recording is almost hard to believe. (more…)

Henry Mancini – Charade – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

This Living Stereo RCA LP has TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES, giving you a healthy dose of the Living Stereo Tubey Magic we love here at Better Records. As is usually the case with Mancini’s records, some tracks sound far better than others. Charade is a particularly good sounding song on side two, with superb reproduction of both female and male voices, rich and sweet in the best tradition of RCA from the Golden Age. More good stuff on side two? Drop the needle on Latin Snowfall to hear exactly what I’m talking about.

As an added bonus, the last track, Charade (Carousel), has absolutely no IGD on the glockenspiel or Calliope. Few copies will not be groove damaged on that track — we speak from experience here.

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music found here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1963 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you. (more…)

Henry Mancini – More Music From Peter Gunn – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

The Super Hot Stamper Sound found on side two of this original Living Stereo pressing will show you just how LIVELY and FUN this music can be! The sound is really JUMPIN’, much more than the other copies we played (and this side one as well). You also get a healthy dose of Tubey Magic on both sides as befits Mancini recordings on RCA. 

Mancini is lucky to have had the RCA engineers from the era on his team. Six of his albums are in our Hall of Fame and this one will make seven. We love to do these Hot Stamper Mancini shootouts but finding clean Living Stereo copies of his albums is getting harder every day. Fans may want to jump on this one while the jumpin’ is good.

Side One

With a grade of A+ to A++ this side had much to offer, mostly Tubey Magic. It’s a bit dark and smeary compared to side two but quite musical and enjoyable.

Side Two

Super Hot Stamper A++ sound. It’s clear and has very low distortion, even a pretty extended top, something you rarely hear on the old Living Stereo pressings. There’s bass but what it really lacks is Whomp Factor down low. It just needs more weight down there, something that would have put it right up there with the best we’ve heard by Mr. Mancini. (more…)

Henry Mancini – The Music From Peter Gunn – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This early White Dog pressing (4s-6s) has plenty of the Living Stereo Magic RCA was justly famous for back in 1958. Both sides earned a sonic grade of A+ to A++. (The best Hot Stamper copies of More Music from Peter Gunn show you just how well this kind of music can be recorded.)

Listen to all that crazy reverb on the piano and drums — it may not be the most natural sound in the world but it’s pretty cool when it’s done this well.

Both sides here had excellent brass as well. So often the pop records from this era have smeary, blary, shrill brass reproduction, but this copy managed to avoid that problem. The brass could use a bit more weight on side one and on side two it sounded a bit more crude than we had heard previously.

There was plenty of 3-D space on both sides, although the overall sound was a bit more distant and dark than we would have liked. (more…)

Henry Mancini – The Pink Panther – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

Both sides are rich, sweet, and smooth. We didn’t hear any other copies that could keep up with the presence and energy on BOTH sides here. The overall sound is airy, open, spacious, and SUPER transparent. The brass sounds AMAZING. You’re not going to believe all the ambience, especially around the drums! (more…)

Henry Mancini – A Warm Shade of Ivory – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

With THE BEST side one we have ever played, backed with a side two that’s very nearly as good, this is a very special copy indeed! This copy was getting everything right on side one. Wide and deep stage, smooth but textured strings, background vocalists who take breaths, room around the piano, clear attack, it’s all here. 

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs. More about that later.

As for the sound of this copy, warm is right. This is some of the smoothest, most natural sound we’ve heard on a Mancini record. Listen to the cello on side 1, track 4, to hear the kind of tubey magic we rave about on old records. Those of you with good tube equipment (and/or the right transistor equipment, truth be told) know how rich and sonorous bowed string instruments can sound — this is a perfect example of it. Those with with more transistory sound in their systems will not be able to fully appreciate the lovely sonority, but if you take this record to a place that has top quality equipment, whether it be a friend’s house or a stereo store, you will undoubtedly hear what I mean. It’s a sound you can’t forget, and it’s all but disappeared from modern recordings and modern (read: heavy vinyl) pressings.

Classic Records, now thankfully defunct, has been producing records for fifteen years that are almost completely devoid of the tubey magic we’re talking about. Records like this show you precisely what the Classic pressings are getting wrong — if your stereo can reproduce the difference. (more…)

Henry Mancini – The Blues and The Beat

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

If you like your large group recordings to have huge three-dimensional space and depth, look no further. This is vintage RCA Living Stereo at its best – transparent, Tubey Magical, big and bold. Let’s give credit where credit is due, to the amazing AL SCHMITT.

We know his work well; he happens to have engineered many albums with SUPERB SOUND: Aja, Hatari, Breezin’, Late for the Sky, Toto IV, as well as some we can’t stand (the entire Diana Krall digital-echo-drenched catalog comes to mind). 

Bold, fun, imaginative takes on jazz standards and other songs, yes, Allmusic is right: this isn’t really jazz, but it sure is jazzy, and with 1960 Hollywood Studios Living Stereo sound you will find yourself lost in these fun arrangements played with style and verve.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Big bass. Both sides have plenty of bottom end on the better copies.

The sound of the saxophone on the second track on side one is so real it may just give you chills.

On the third track take note of the muted horns — that’s cool jazz at its best.

On the first track of side two note how solid and powerful the piano sounds. (more…)

Everything But the Beer / Fiedler Conducts a Boston Pops Concert – Reviewed in 2012

More recordings conducted by Arthur Fiedler

Everything But the Beero

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

This VERY RARE 2 LP Shaded Dog pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound. Much of what’s good about Golden Age recordings is heard here, with side one for example having the sound of a HUGE hall and that Three-Dimensional quality that the best vintage recordings are able to convey so well.

We constantly knock Heavy Vinyl here at Better Records for the simple reason that we play vintage recordings such as this by the score every month and can hear what they do so well. Unfortunately the huge hall and the 3-D soundstaging they effortlessly reproduce cannot be found on any Heavy Vinyl pressing we know of.

Such qualities allow this record to sound — in some ways, to be sure not all — like live music. Heavy Vinyl just plain doesn’t. (more…)