Top Artists – The Doobie Brothers

The Doobie Brothers – The Captain and Me – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

OH BABY! This is the HOTTEST copy of The Captain And Me to ever hit the site, bar none. The sound is nothing short of PHENOMENAL from the first cut to the last. Side two earned our top A+++ grade while side one clocked in just half a plus behind. You can’t even begin to imagine what we’ve gone through trying to find Hot Stampers for this album. Here’s the copy that proves it was all worth it. 

We had TWICE tried to shootout this album and gave up both times with little to show for it. The one great sounding, reasonably quiet copy we found had a nasty edge warp that obliterated the first track on both sides. So we knew that great copies of this album must be out there, but where? We had OVER THIRTY COPIES of this record on our shelves and none of them were worth listing. The warped copy sounded so much better than any of the rest, and we felt it was wrong to call even the best of the rest a Hot Stamper. (more…)

The Doobie Bros. – Takin’ It To The Streets – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

SUPERB SOUND on this A++ / A+++ White Hot Stamper — who in his right mind thought this record could sound this good? Not us! We’ve been buying pressings for years with virtually nothing to show for it; that’s why you haven’t seen a Hot Stamper hit the site since 2007. The typical copy of this album has no real top or bottom; that’s what separates the men from the boys on Takin’ It to the Streets. That shrunken, flat, two-dimensional, lifeless, compressed, midrangy sound you’re so used to hearing on Doobies Brothers albums (to this day I still haven’t found a good Minute by Minute!) is the rule, and this pressing the exception.  

Why go to all the trouble? Because we love the album! This is the first album featuring Michael McDonald’s infusion of white soul, and that is the Doobie Brothers sound we love here at Better Records.

But the average copy of this record is such a letdown, it’s hard to imagine many audiophiles taking it seriously over the years. They should; the band cooks on practically every track, and the songwriting is some of their best, with top tracks like Losin’ End and It Keeps You Runnin’.

What do the Hot Stampers give you? The Big Sound for starters — wall to wall, lots of depth, all that sort of thing. Next: transparency — you hear into the soundfield, with space and air around all the instruments. Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t back there somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them. Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — a White Hot Stamper.

Side one earned an A++ and side two received top A+++ honors. Both sides are lively, rich, full-bodied, natural, and transparent. Side two has a wonderful three-dimesional quality and some of the tightest, punchiest bass we’ve ever heard on this album, hence the extra plus. (more…)

The Doobie Brothers – Toulouse Street – Templeman, Barncard and Landee Work Their Magic

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Two of our favorite engineers worked their magic on this one: STEPHEN BARNCARD and DONN LANDEE. This copy surely has all the Tubey Magic one could ask for, but it’s the size, space and clarity here that really shocked us.

After listening to one smeary, veiled mess after another it was a thrill to hear one rock like this.

The vocals have room to breathe, the acoustic guitars are big and up front with extended, correct harmonics, and the bass has more punch and definition than we had any right to expect.

The huge bass on the better copies of this album has to be the handiwork of STEPHEN BARNCARD (American Beauty, Tarkio), although DONN LANDEE (Little Feat, Van Halen), one of the other two engineers here, likes plenty of bass as well.

Back in the day I had no idea this record could sound so punchy in the bass, be this dynamic, yet still have smooth, silky, oh-so-analog vocals.

Some copies have wonky, bloated bass. Others have a bit of a boost at 10k, adding a sparkly unnatural quality to the vocals and cymbals, somewhat like a MoFi pressing.

The best copies have none of those problems. You have never heard ‘Listen To The Music’ sound better. It’s everything a good Ted Templeman produced rock record should be. (more…)

The Doobie Brothers – What Were Once Vices… – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This quiet Palm Tree Label pressing is one of the best sounding copies of this album we’ve ever played! We had a massive shootout for this fun album recently and this was the big winner, earning an A+++ grade for the first side and a strong A++ for the second. Drop the needle anywhere on side one; you won’t believe how open, clear and dynamic the sound is. It’s also big, present and spacious with unusually high resolution. No other side one we played came close. Black Water sounds KILLER here! 

We sure don’t find too many copies like this that sound correct from start to finish and play quietly, but this one sure knocked us out. The sound is strong down low with the kind of three-dimensional imaging that bring the music of the Doobs to life in your listening room!

These songs sound every bit as good now as they did thirty plus years ago when they came out. Better, because we can clean their records and play them so much better than we could back then. I’ll be the first to admit that back in the day I was a bit of a snob when it came to bands like this. Too mainstream. Too radio-friendly. Now I realize that the best of this kind of pop rock has stood the test of time very well. One listen and we think you’ll agree: this is good music that belongs in your collection. (more…)

The Doobie Brothers – Takin’ It To The Streets

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides of this 1976 release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • With the awesome Michael McDonald contributing songs and vocals, this is the kind of Doobies album we can get behind 
  • Credit must go to Donn Landee for the full-bodied, rich, smooth, oh-so-analog sound of the best pressings such as this one 
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…shows off the new interplay and sounds that were to carry the group into the 1980s, with gorgeous playing and singing all around.”

Who in his right mind thought this record could sound this good? We’ve been buying pressings for years, with very little to show for it. Most copies have no real top or bottom; that’s what separates the men from the boys on Takin’ It to the Streets. That shrunken, flat, two-dimensional, lifeless, compressed, midrangy sound you’re so used to hearing on Doobies Brothers albums is the rule, and these sides are the exceptions.

Why go to all the trouble? Because we love the album! This is the first album to feature Michael McDonald’s infusion of white soul into what was otherwise just another radio-friendly boogie rock band, and ’70s soul is precisely the Doobies sound we love here at Better Records.

Most copies of this record are such a letdown, it’s hard to imagine that many audiophiles could be bothered to take it seriously. But they should; the band cooks on practically every song, and the writing is some of their best, with essential Doobies tracks like Losin’ End and It Keeps You Runnin’ and no real dogs in the bunch. (more…)

The Doobie Brothers – The Captain and Me

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  • Excellent sound throughout with both sides rating a solid Double Plus (A++)
  • Natural Thing, China Grove and Long Train Runnin’ all sound great – smooth, rich and full of energy   
  • Credit Donn Landee with the full-bodied, rich, smooth, oh-so-analog sound of these good copies
  • Allmusic 4 1/2 stars: “The Doobie Brothers’ third long-player was the charm, their most substantial and consistent album to date, and one that rode the charts for a year.”

There are some great songs on this album, songs that still get plenty of play on the radio: China Grove, Long Train Running and South City Midnight Lady all come to mind. It’s tough to find great sounding copies, but it’s worth all the trouble when you get one with this kind of rich, full tonality, punchy bottom end and real space and ambience. (more…)

The Doobie Brothers – Best Of The Doobies Volume II – Our Shootout Winner from 2005

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

This Warner Brothers LP has exceptionally good sound — you would never know you are listening to a greatest hits compiliation. I bought a promo pressing recently and decided to shoot it out with two copies that had been sitting on the shelf for a long time. The Promo was not particularly impressive; neither was one of the other copies but this one stood head and shoulders above them. It’s full of ambience; the sound is rich and sweet; the vocals are tonally correct and not spitty; and the more you play it, the better you like it — the shortest definition of a Better Record I know of. 

The Doobie Brothers – Toulouse Street

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  • A killer original Green Label pressing with amazing Tubey Magical Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides  
  • Two of our favorite engineers – Stephen Barncard & Donn Landee – worked their magic here, and they really knocked it out of the park
  • Back in the ’70s I had no idea that any pressing could be this punchy in the bass, this dynamic in the choruses, yet still have smooth, sweet vocals (partly because I heard it on crap equipment at Pacific Stereo)
  • 4 stars: “…it all still sounds astonishingly bracing 30 years later; it’s still a keeper, and one of the most inviting and alluring albums of its era.”

This vintage WB 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 – Livin’ On The Fault Line

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

Hey Tom, 

The Doobie Brothers album “Livin’ on the Fault Line” has been my favorite album from one of my favorite bands of all time. It is full of great songs, phenomenal musicianship, and Michael McDonald at his best. As a retiree who has very modest means today I have “shot out” more than a dozen copies of this lp and have a very good copy and backup. So last week Tom put up a double sided Triple Plus White Hot Stamper of “Livin’ on the Fault Line”. Could it be THAT much better than my best copy considering that my copy was the best of over a dozen and when played really sounds great? AND the Better Records copy would be almost 100 times the cost of my used record store “finds”.

But I couldn’t resist so I pushed the button and the Better Records White Hot copy arrived yesterday. I couldn’t wait to play it. It was in minty condition. I heated up the rig and sat down and laid my Jan Allearts “needle” (economy model $3000 cartridge with its Fritz Geiger stylus, ruby cantilever and hand wound gold coils that extract just about everything a record groove contains) on the band of the song “Little Darlin”. Suddenly Michael McDonald was in the room in front of me. The sound was simply amazing! TOTALLY transparent. Dynamics were fantastic…..harmonics were great without losing the high end or low end to the midrange. I was listening to the master tapes!  (more…)

The Doobie Brothers – Minute By Minute

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  • Incredible sound on both sides and the first “Triple Triple” (A+++) copy to hit the site in years!
  • Open Your Eyes, What A Fool Believes and the title track all sound wonderful here
  • The sound is dramatically bigger, richer, livelier and smoother than every other copy we played it against   
  • An Audiophile Quality Pop Music Production as close to perfect as one can ask for, thanks to Ted Templeman and Donn Landee  

This is undoubtedly the band’s masterpiece, assuming you’re a Michael McDonald fan, and we very much are fans here at Better Records. We can now definitively say that the quality of the sound matches the quality of the music. What a wonderful sounding pop record. This is Donn Landee at his best — tonally correct, spacious, clear and sweet, with big bass and vocal choruses that can really take off when called upon. With Ted Templeman running the show this is an Audiophile Quality Pop Music Production that’s as close to perfect as one has any right to expect. (more…)