Top Artists – The Band

The Band – The Band (2011)

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

Holy mother of god, this is one KNOCKOUT copy of The Band’s self-titled masterpiece! Both sides earned our top grade of A+++ and beat the pants off every other copy — including quite a few RL-mastered originals — in the shootout. On top of that, both sides play between Mint Minus and Mint Minus Minus, which is pretty dan quiet for this album. We love this music, but most copies out there have flimsy sound, trashed vinyl, or both. Here’s the exceedingly rare copy that does just about everything right WITHOUT the typical crackly campfire surface noise!

This Capitol Green Label pressing mastered by Robert Ludwig has TWO KILLER SIDES. When you play either side of this copy, you are going to lose your mind. It’s got Master Tape clarity, You Are There presence, and unbelievable transparency. Drop the needle on Night They Drove Old Dixie Down or Up On Cripple Creek and get ready for some SERIOUS MAGIC! (more…)

The Band – Music From Big Pink (2012)

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

This Capitol pressing has some of the best sound we’ve ever heard for this album! It’s beyond frustrating to try to find great sound for Big Pink — most copies tend to be an absolute nightmare. The sound is rich, warm, sweet, and full-bodied with exceptional clarity and transparency. There’s tons of ambience and you can really hear the sound of the room around the drums. The sound of the organ is AMAZING!

Side one earned an A++ grade. It has a strong bottom end and the vocals sound correct. The sound can be a bit murky at times, but that’s pretty much the case for every Band record we’ve ever played — it’s just kind of their sound. (The Moody Blues are another band whose records always sound murky, for whatever reason.)

Side two was a bit better — fuller, cleaner, livelier and more transparent than just about any copy we’ve ever heard. There’s tons of tubey magic and real weight to the bottom. We gave it an A++ to A+++ — you’ll have a VERY hard time finding one that sounds even close to this good if our experience is any guide. (more…)

The Band – Rock Of Ages (2009)

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

White Hot Stampers for side two — WOW! Check out the track listing for that side: Stage Fright / The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down / Across the Great Divide / This Wheel’s on Fire / Rag Mama Rag

Pretty hard to beat that batch of Band songs; practically every one is a classic. And considering how difficult it is to get a good sounding copy of the albums those songs are taken from, this double album is a great way to go if you love The Band. The performances are uniformly excellent, and the live horn section adds a lot to the fun and energy of the music.

(The same can be said for Little Feat’s live album, Waiting for Columbus. We’ve been trying to find Hot Stampers on that one for years with little luck. Guess we’ll just have to keep trying.) (more…)

The Band – Music From Big Pink

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  • Two strong Double Plus (A++) sides AND quiet vinyl make this a consistently impressive copy of this all-time classic album
  • Forget all those lifeless, ambience-free, vague sounding Heavy Vinyl pressings – THIS is the sound of the album
  • It’s big, punchy and dynamic, and resolves all the intricacies of the recording that make it so interesting to us audiophiles
  • 5 stars on Allmusic: “Over time, Music from Big Pink came to be regarded as a watershed work in the history of rock, one that introduced new tones and approaches to the constantly evolving genre.”

We guarantee you have never heard Music from Big Pink sound remotely as good as it does on this very copy. (more…)

The Band’s Second Album – Listening in Depth

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of The Band’s second album.

The best copies have no trace of phony sound from top to bottom. They’re raw and real in a way that makes most pop records sound processed and wrong. Our best Hot Stampers have plenty of the qualities we look for in The Band. Energy, presence, transparency, Tubey Magic… you name it — you will find it there. The biggest strength of this recording is its wonderful, natural midrange. And tons of bass.

Despite what anyone might tell you, it’s no mean feat to find good sounding copies of this record. There are good originals and bad originals, as well as good reissues and bad reissues. Folks, we’ve said it many times — the label can’t tell you how a record sounds, but there’s a sure way to find out that information. You’ve got to clean ’em and play ’em to find out which ones have Hot Stampers, and we seem to be the only record dealers who are doing that, in the process making unusually good pressings available to you, the music-loving audiophile. (more…)

The Band Music From Big Pink – EMI Centennial Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: B?

[I believe this review is from the mid to late ’90s.]

This is the EMI Centennial version we sold years ago for close to thirty bucks. I thought at the time the MFSL gold CD was better. Now, after many stereo changes, I realize the gold CD is actually fat in the midbass and a little thick and sucked out in the midrange. (MFSL’s, and quite a few others’, standard audiophile EQ.)

I know this because the EMI LP is correct in those areas and shows you how truly wonderful the recording is. If only it had more bass. Who knows? Between the music and the sound you may not even miss it.

Above 100 hertz this album is magic. Below 100 it’s tragic. (Ha ha.)

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

The Band Rock Of Ages – Turn Up Your Volume, Now It Rocks!

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Yet another record that really comes to life when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Most copies of this album do not have a boosted bottom or top, which means that at normal listening levels — depending on how you define that term — they can sound pretty flat. This is one album that needs to be turned up, obviously not to the levels of a live rock concert, but up about as loud as you can until you can get the bass and the highs to come out. We found ourselves adding more and more level in order to get the sound to come to life, and it was playing pretty loud before the sound was right.  

But it’s SO GOOD when it’s loud. Why the hell would you not want to crank it up and ROCK OUT? (more…)

Northern Lights, Southern Cross – A Forgotten Classic from The Band

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

Forgotten Rock and Pop Classics

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Northern Lights – Southern Cross

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and one of their four essential albums (the others being Music from Big Pink, the Self-Titled second and Rock of Ages).

This is the UNDISCOVERED GEM in the Band catalog. Allmusic is right on the money when they call this the best Band album since their self-titled second release. I positively LOVE this music, having practically worn out my copy soon after the album was released in 1975.

More of The Band

This album is a favorite of ours here at Better Records, but it’s beyond difficult to find good-sounding copies. Most are just too flat, dry and grainy to bother with, but we’ve finally managed to unearth a few copies that are capable of doing justice to these great songs. If you’re a fan I wouldn’t wait too long on this one!

Yes, every track is good, something that one cannot say about any other Band release after their classic sophomore effort. What makes the album a Must Own is the song It Makes No Difference. It’s a strong contender for the Best Band Ballad ever written (and takes the prize in my book).

Further Reading

We invite you to check out some of our favorite albums which You May Not Know.

Many of them are also Desert Island Discs for yours truly. A Desert Island Disc is simply a record I would not want to live without. If there are any on the list that you haven’t heard, try giving them a listen. You may be glad you did. (more…)