Top Artists – John Coltrane

John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme – Better Sound than the Originals?

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

The original Impulse pressings on the brown and orange label are the best, right?

Not in our experience. We think that plays into one of the biggest canards in all of record collecting, that the first pressings are always the best sounding.

For this album, having sampled a large group of pressings from every era, we found the originals to be inferior to the best reissues we played. Naturally the ones we offer here as Hot Stampers will be the best of those reissue pressings. We are not the least bit worried that this vintage Impulse LP won’t beat the pants off of any original as well as any reissue you may have heard. And of course it is guaranteed to be dramatically better sounding than any Heavy Vinyl pressing produced by anyone, anywhere, at any time. (more…)

John Coltrane – Coltrane Plays the Blues – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

ONE OF THE VERY BEST COPIES WE’VE EVER HEARD of this phenomenal album! This is PURE GOLD for the jazz-loving audiophile. I can count the number of jazz records we’ve played this year in a league with this one both sonically and musically on one hand. Both sides here are AMAZINGLY GOOD — exceptionally rich and full-bodied with superb transparency. Coltrane’s sax sounds OUT OF THIS WORLD with the lots of that airy, breathy quaility that we just love here. The immediacy is OFF THE CHARTS! (more…)

John Coltrane – Blue Train – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This Blue Note pressing has THE BEST SIDE TWO we’ve ever heard or expect to hear! It does EVERYTHING right, giving you the kind of Blue Train sound that most jazz fans have dreamed of forever but certainly have never heard before. The sound is absolutely KILLER, sounding dramatically more like live music than any copy we’ve played. It’s full-bodied and rich with tons of energy, YOU ARE THERE immediacy and wonderful clarity. There’s also a ton of tubey magic and an unbelievably strong bottom end, making this the kind of record that’s going to BLOW YOU AWAY. I bet you never believed Blue Train could sound like this — heck, we sure didn’t! (more…)

John Coltrane – Plays For Lovers

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Plays For Lovers

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  • This superb compilation has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound for side two – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • It’s rich, warm and natural, with loads of ambience and the Tubey Magic that was still on the tapes fifty years ago (and is surely long gone by now)
  • 4 stars: “… these half-dozen selections provide evidence of his tremendous facility and musical sensitivity… For anyone who is even nominally curious about Coltrane, or simply wants an excellent anthology of the man at his most alluring, John Coltrane Plays for Lovers pretty much says it all. Included are nearly 40 minutes of examples that acknowledge his remarkable capacity for naturally exquisite balladry.”  

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the remastering into stereo for this title from the mono tapes carried out in 1969 was done delicately, with an ear to keeping the tonal balance correct and the spread of stereo information to a minimum.

As proof, note that this pressing actually beat our true mono pressings on side one. If we had twenty mono copies no doubt one of them would have beaten even this side one. Getting five or six clean copies of this album, mono, stereo or otherwise, is hard enough these days. Twenty is out of the question.

Readers may wish to check out the especially insightful Allmusic review to gain a better understanding of this very special group of ballads. (more…)

John Coltrane – Giant Steps – The Rhino 45 RPM 2 Disc Set Sucks

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Sonic Grade: F

The sound of the new 45 RPM 2 disc version cut by Bernie Grundman sounds thick and dull, much like the Deja Vu he remastered years ago for Classic Records.

As is the case with so many of the Heavy Vinyl reissues released these days, the studio ambience you hear on these pressings is a pitiful fraction of the ambience the real pressings are capable of revealing, the ones mass-produced by Atlantic, original and reissue alike. We’re not sure why audiophiles have trouble noticing such an obvious shortcoming but it and others like it sure don’t get by our crack listening panel here at Better Records too often. (more…)

Miles Davis – Basic Miles – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2018

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

We award this copy’s side two our very special Four Plus A++++ grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a recording to a level never experienced by us before, a level we had no idea even existed.

We estimate that less than one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. As I write this there is not a single other record on the site that earned that grade on either side. You can’t get much more rare than that.

Kind of Blue

Want to know how good our Hot Stamper Kind of Blue pressings sound? Listen to this very record. If you play the tracks that were recorded in 1958, the year before Kind of Blue, you will hear practically the same lineup of musicians.

That means Stella By Starlight and Little Melonae on side one, and Green Dolphin Street and Fran-Dance (Put Your Little Foot Right Out) on side two. We’re talking Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley in their prime, 1958, with top 1958 sound to match.

The nine minute plus Green Dolphin Street that opens side two is nothing short of amazing, some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear it, on any record, at any price. With Fran Dance on the same side, that gives you about 17 minutes of great sounding jazz by Miles’ classic Kind of Blue lineup.

Side one has the same cats playing for more than 12 minutes. By my calculation that’s close to another album’s worth of material from the group. The rest of the material on this compilation is best seen as gravy; maybe not essential, but never less than interesting. (more…)

John Coltrane – The Stardust Session

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

Superb sound quality courtesy of Rudy van Gelder (1958) and the brilliant mastering of David Turner (1972). The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on these incredibly Hot sides.

We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it — odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us — was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be on the right pressing.

The record takes its material from three John Coltrane albums: ‘Bahia’, ‘Stardust’ and ‘Standard Coltrane.’ We would be surprised if the originals of any of them can beat the sound of this reissue. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Elton John and John Coltrane

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

Hey Tom, 

You got me again. After hearing the Elton John record I was thoroughly pleased. It realized what I was imagining when I read your description on the website. I can only imagine what the Super Hot Stamper LP would sound like as a White Hot Stamper. Can’t wait to hear the Coltrane Hot Stamper.   (more…)

John Coltrane – Giant Steps on Real Atlantic Vinyl

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

As you might expect, the original Blue and Green label pressings have — potentially — superb sound on Giant Steps, but somewhat surprisingly — assuming you’ve heard a White Hot original copy — the Red and Green label pressings can sound every bit as good.

The Tubey Magical richness and warmth carried over into the ’70s, at least on some copies of this title, and we’re very glad they did, as finding clean original Coltrane albums from the early ’60s is not so easy these days. (more…)

Coltrane’s Sound – Forget the Reissues

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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound, or close to it, on both sides of this early pressing of Coltrane’s Sound
  • An authentic Green and Blue Atlantic stereo pressing, the only version of the album that has the potential for Hot Stamper sound, which explains why this is only the second copy to hit the site since 2011
  • “This is one of the most highly underrated entries in Coltrane’s voluminous catalog. Although the same overwhelming attention bestowed upon My Favorite Things was not given to Coltrane’s Sound upon its initial release, both were actually recorded during the same three-day period in the fall of 1960… these recordings remain among Trane’s finest.”

This is yet another superb Tom Dowd recording of Coltrane in his prime, with support from the brilliant McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones.

Advice

Forget the later Red and Green Atlantic pressings. Every one we’ve ever played was flat, dry, and thin. They sound like the cheap reissues that we Atlantic churned out in the ’70s. Don’t get me wrong; there are some good sounding records on the Red and Green label, but you really have to know what you are doing, or be really lucky, to find them.

We’ve played them by the score, and found relatively few winners among a slough of losers. If you want to take your chances on some, knock yourself out, more power to you, but expect to come up with nothing to show for your time and money almost every time. That’s been our experience anyway.

And be very thankful if you happen to run into one of these early Atlantic stereo pressings, especially if it plays as quietly as this one does. Few Classic Coltrane albums survived the jazz lovers of the day and their awful turntables. (more…)