Top Artists – Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney – Wild Life – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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Wild Life

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

This Apple UK Import LP has TWO outstanding sides! We were not all that familiar with the album going into this shootout, but after spending the day listening to copies like these we found ourselves LOVING IT!

Let’s face it: finding good sounding McCartney records with the exception of the first album is practically impossible. From Ram on it’s slim pickings, even on import. Most of those later albums sound like cassettes; they’re as dead as the proverbial doornail. They bore us to tears.

Wild Life stood up and showed us that there’s more good sound to be found after McCartney’s debut. Band On The Run on the right imports can sound quite good, but I would say without hesitation that the best copies of Wild Life kill it in the sonics department.

If you want the ultimate nexus of music and sound for McCartney, a Hot Stamper of the first album is the way to go. Expect to pay (us anyway) at least $500 for such a record, which is neither here nor there. This album is MUCH BETTER sounding than we ever suspected, and it’s much better music than we were led to believe by the critics. If you aren’t happy with it we will give you your money back. (more…)

Paul McCartney – Tug of War

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Tug of War

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  • You’ll find oustanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on this vintage UK pressing of McCartney’s Tug Of War – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Relatively rich and full-bodied, yet still clean, clear and spacious, with note-like bass and smoother vocals than most 
  • A copy with transparency and clarity like this lets you appreciate George Martin’s masterful production work
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… crowd-pleasing genre-hopping.. in general — it is, by design, a record that gives the people old Beatle Paul — but McCartney in general.”

Drop the needle on the opener Tug Of War and listen to how wide and deep the sound field is. Take It Away follows with a bit of an ’80s reggae feel, and on the better copies you get meaty, tight bass that sets the foundation for the fun to follow. (more…)

Paul McCartney and Wings – Ram

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Ram

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  • This vintage pressing of McCartney’s 1971 Classic boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides
  • A copy like this is a real audiophile treat – here is the rich, warm, clear, natural and lively sound you want for Ram   
  • Many of the man’s most memorable songs are here: Too Many People, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, Monkberry Moon Delight, Heart Of The Country and more
  • 5 stars: “These songs may not be self-styled major statements, but they are endearing and enduring, as is Ram itself, which seems like a more unique, exquisite pleasure with each passing year.”

I remember this album being dismissed as lightweight back in the day and I may have even felt the same to be honest. Heck, compared to Abbey Road and The White Album, the very same thing could be said about most of McCartney’s albums.

McCartney isn’t out to blow you away with high-production value rock here, apart from Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. He’s making some lovely pop music with his wife and sharing it with the world. And what’s so wrong with that? (more…)

Paul McCartney / Wings – London Town

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London Town

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  • This MPL import pressing has incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • Clean, clear, and dynamic with lots of Tubey Magic and a huge bottom end — this copy was doing it all right! 
  • “… it’s certainly stronger than Speed and, in its own way, as satisfying as Venus and Mars… It’s a laid-back, almost effortless collection of professional pop and, as such, it’s one of his strongest albums.” – All Music

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Paul McCartney and Wings – Red Rose Speedway

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Red Rose Speedway

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  • This early British EMI pressing has stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – respectable vinyl too
  • This copy has the sound we look for in a ’70’s McCartney record – the size, the weight, the energy, the vocal presence, they’re all here
  • “Red Rose Speedway winds up being a really strange record… [it’s] every bit as insular as the lo-fi records of the early ’90s, but considerably more artful, since it was, after all, designed by one of the great pop composers of the century. …McCartney’s little flourishes are intoxicating — not just the melodies, but the facile production and offhand invention.” 

We have not had particularly good luck with the domestic pressings we’ve tried. The Brits are the only ones that, to our ears, seem to be made from the real tape. (more…)

Paul McCartney – McCartney

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McCartney

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  • This copy of McCartney’s Apple debut boasts killer Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from first note to last
  • Both sides are big and rich, with plenty of low end, strong midrange presence and the kind of spatiality that will fill your entire listening room
  • Record Collector highlighted “Every Night”, “Junk,” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” as songs that “still sound absolutely effortless and demonstrate the man’s natural genius with a melody.”
  • A Top 100 pick and Paul McCartney’s One and Only Masterpiece – a Must Own when it sounds this good!

*NOTE: A mark makes three very light ticks at the end of track four, Every Night.

The best tracks here have the quality of LIVE MUSIC in a way that not one out of a hundred rock records do. The music jumps right out of the speakers and fills up the room. (more…)

Paul McCartney – McCartney II

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McCartney II

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  • An outstanding UK pressing with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Forget the dubby domestic pressings – these UK imports are the only ones that can deliver the McCartney II Magic
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl for the most part – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus on both sides
  • “Entitled McCartney II because its one-man band approach mirrors that of his first solo album, Paul McCartney’s first record since the breakup of Wings was greeted upon its release as a return to form… McCartney II finds Paul in an adventurous state of mind, which is a relief after years of formulaic pop.”
  • This MPL import pressing has incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • Clean, clear, and dynamic with lots of Tubey Magic and a huge bottom end — this copy was doing it all right! 
  • “… it’s certainly stronger than Speed and, in its own way, as satisfying as Venus and Mars… It’s a laid-back, almost effortless collection of professional pop and, as such, it’s one of his strongest albums.” – All Music

*NOTE: There is a small mark near the start of track five that plays lightly eight times.

If you’ve heard the album, you know it’s not exactly a straight-ahead pop record. Paul is in his one-man-band mode here, just as he was for his brilliant solo debut, but this time around he relies more on synth-heavy arrangements and plenty of studio experimentation. Assuming you have the right pressing, UK only in our experience, it can be a very good sounding record. (more…)

Paul McCartney & Wings – Band on the Run

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Band on the Run

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  • An outstanding British pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too (for this title anyway) 
  • Both sides of this early UK pressing sound right to us, and that makes it a very special copy indeed
  • The legendary Geoff Emerick engineered the album, a Top 100 title here at Better Records – it’s an impressive recording when it sounds as good as this copy does
  • The title track, Jet, Bluebird, Mrs. Vandebilt, Let Me Roll It, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five – so many great songs!
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…sophisticated, nuanced arrangements and irrepressibly catchy melodic hooks… McCartney’s infallible instinct for popcraft overflows on this excellent release.”

This is a TOUGH album to find with great sound and quiet vinyl, but when you a killer copy like this the record is a MONSTER. The track list includes some of the best McCartney songs of the seventies: the title song, Jet, Bluebird, Mrs. Vandebilt, Let Me Roll It, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five (my personal favorite on the album) — there’s really not a dog in the bunch. This is clearly the last consistently good studio album the man recorded. (more…)

Paul McCartney & Wings – Venus and Mars

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More Venus and Mars

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  • Superb sound for this Capitol import pressing with both sides rating a solid Double Plus (A++) — exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • The overall sound here is rich, full-bodied and spacious with plenty of bottom end weight
  • A tough nut to crack, this is the first Hot Stamper copy to ever hit the site!
  • Venus and Mars is an interesting mix of musical styles, punctuated by Paul McCartney’s unerring sense of melody and hooky songs.” – Oldies.com

This vintage Capitol import pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Please Please Me and Unplugged

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

Hey Tom, 

In the fall of 2007 I ordered my first Hot Stamper from you, Please Please Me. Since then I have bought several more Hot Stampers from you, and occasionally you or Todd have written me asking how I like them. I have always replied saying I haven’t listened to them yet, because I’m waiting to buy a good enough turntable to do them justice. 

Good news: I now have a very good turntable. Even better news: I have now listened to the first few Hot Stampers, and the combination of my new turntable and your Hot Stampers is heavenly. The records are so good I cannot concentrate on anything else while they are playing, I just have to listen, and I want them to go on for ever. The detail and clarity are breathtaking and it’s difficult to believe the sound can be really that good, but it is. It’s like the musicians are there in the room, it’s amazing. For example, Please Please Me and McCartney’s Unplugged are stunning, but in truth all the ones I’ve listened to so far are stunning. I’m really looking forward to listening to the rest.

Please keep on finding those Hot Stampers. (more…)