Top Artists – Tom Petty

The Traveling Wilburys – Volume One – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE ONE backed with an excellent side two, both on very quiet vinyl! It took us ages to put together enough clean copies to get this shootout going again. Many of the pressings we played suffered from too much compression and a phony hi-fi quality. We knew there had to be great copies out there somewhere, so we kept dropping the needle until we found a few good men. Here’s the best of them all — it rates our top grade of A+++ on side one and A++ on side two. Drop the needle on Handle With Care to hear how wonderful this music can sound when it’s cut right!

Side one of this copy is As Good As It Gets! The sound is natural, balanced, and tonally correct from top to bottom. Most copies we played weren’t nearly this open or transparent. The energy factor here is OFF THE CHARTS and the clarity is superb. We heard a lot of copies with a spitty, gritty top end, but this one is smooth like butter and sweet like candy! Side two is nearly as good but doesn’t have quiet the same energy factor. It’s still dramatically better than most copies out there.

It’s hard not to enjoy this music. Put Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne in a recording studio together and something good is bound to happen, right? This may not be these guys at the very top of their game, but the songs are still a lot of fun. Now that we’ve discovered these Hot Stampers, the sound is finally where we want it to be. Until this week, we were convinced that these songs sounded better on the radio! (That’s what tons of compression will do for you.) (more…)

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – You’re Gonna Get It! – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This Minty looking Shelter original LP has THE TWO BEST SOUNDING SIDES we have ever heard for this album! It’s a freak in the world of Tom Petty records, which tend to have NO good sounding sides. And this is the band’s MASTERPIECE to boot, with four or five of their best and Hardest Rockin’ songs. Both sides come flyin’ out of the gate with uptempo straight ahead rockers that have the Big Sound we go crazy for here at Better Records. Side one was so unbelievable that we had to award it the rare Four Plus (A++++) rating.

Of course the sound is punchy and alive — with Hot Stampers, what else would they be? — but where did all that studio ambience come from? Simple: the best copies have the RESOLUTION that’s missing from the average pressing. You know the kind of run-of-the-mill LP I’m talking about: punchy but crude and just a bit too aggressive to really enjoy.

Oh, but not this bad boy. Sweetly textured guitars, breathy vocals — all the subtleties of a Top Quality Recording are here, along with prodigious amounts of bass and powerful dynamics. (Check out that drum sound!) If you can play this one loud you will be shocked at how good it sounds. (more…)

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – You’re Gonna Get It!

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You’re Gonna Get It!

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  • A solidly hard rockin’ copy with seriously good grades of Double Plus (A++) or BETTER on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Rich and open with a killer bottom end, musically it’s surely the best record Tom Petty ever made – a late ’70s Rock Classic 
  • Three of Petty’s best songs are on this one – Restless, I Need To Know and Listen To Her Heart – and they sound amazing
  • “Overall, the current LP boasts an impressive stylistic cohesiveness with its predecessor, but what makes the album exciting are the fresh hints of openness and expansion just beneath the surface. The rhythms are a bit looser, and there’s a new emphasis on Petty’s rough, driving, rock & roll guitar in the mix.” Rolling Stone

Sweetly textured guitars, breathy vocals — all the subtleties of a High Quality Recording are here, along with prodigious amounts of bass and powerful dynamics. Check out that drum sound! If you can play this one at the levels it demands you might just be shocked at how good it sounds. (more…)

Tom Petty – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

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

Big and punchy with great energy, this copy really rocks. And rockin’ is what this album is all about — this is fun, high-energy music, but it takes a Hot Stamper copy like this to bring it life.

This is the classic first album, with two of their best songs: Breakdown and American Girl. It’s straight ahead rock and roll, with sonics to match.

This is not purely an audiophile album. The sound is a little spitty and transistory as a rule. But when you find a copy with Hot Stampers, the elements start to work together, and the good far outweighs the bad. If somebody tried to EQ this album differently, they’d probably end up taking away some of the Raw Rock Energy. (more…)

Tom Petty – Hard Promises

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Hard Promises

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  • An impressive copy of this 1981 release, with KILLER nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Recorded at Sound City, home to some of the greatest analog sound ever recorded
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…filled with great songwriting, something that’s as difficult to achieve as a distinctive sound… The Waiting became the best-known song on the record, but there’s no discounting A Woman in Love, Nightwatchman, Kings Road, and The Criminal Kind, album tracks that would become fan favorites… it has a tremendous set of songs and a unified sound that makes it one of Petty’s finest records.”

Two stunning sides for one of our favorite Petty records! This one is a huge step up from most, which tend to be bright, thin, edgy, pinched and gritty — radio friendly, maybe, but not especially audiophile friendly.

We hate that sound but we are happy to report that some copies manage to avoid it, and this is one of them. Is that richer, fuller sound the sound of what’s on the master tape or did the mastering engineer “fix” it? We’ll never know, now will we? What we can know is the sound of the pressings we actually have to play, and this one is killer.

Recorded by Shelly Yakus at Sound City, Van Nuys and at Cherokee Studios, Hollywood, CA. (more…)

Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever

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Full Moon Fever

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  • This original UK pressing offers excellent sound throughout with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) sonic grades
  • Big, full-bodied, clean, clear and spacious with a huge bottom end and tons of big rock energy!
  • Forget the dry, flat domestic LPs – these UK pressings are the only ones with the Tubey Magical richness the music needs
  • “… the real reason Full Moon Fever became Petty’s biggest hit is that it boasted a selection of songs that rivaled Damn the Torpedoes. Full Moon Fever didn’t have a weak track… [it] might have been meant as an off-the-cuff detour, but it turned into a minor masterpiece.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

*NOTE: On side one a mark makes eight light ticks during the start of track one.

You have not begun to hear how good this record can sound until you play a good import, and this is a very good import indeed. (more…)

The Traveling Wilburys – Volume One

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  • You’ll find very good Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this copy of the Wilbury’s debut album – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Proof that, when you put Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne in a recording studio together, something good is bound to happen
  • Certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, this album was Grammy nominated Album of the Year in 1989 
  • 4 1/2 stars: “There never was a supergroup more super than the Traveling Wilburys… It’s impossible to picture a supergroup with a stronger pedigree.”

It’s hard not to enjoy this music. Put Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne in a recording studio together and something good is bound to happen, right?

This album is proof that it did! (more…)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Long After Dark

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More Long After Dark

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on this copy of the band’s fifth studio album
  • Rich and full-bodied with tight bass, and brimming with Petty’s unique brand of “meat and potatoes” rock and roll
  • You Got Lucky was the big hit on this album 4 Star Album from 1982
  • Rolling Stone raves “…overall, Long after Dark is Petty’s most accomplished record.”

Long After Dark boasts the monster rocker You Got Lucky and very good sound considering that the album was recorded in 1982, not an especially good year (or decade) to be recording rock music. (more…)

The Best Sounding Tom Petty Record We’ve Ever Played

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Damn the Torpedoes is the best sounding Tom Petty album we have ever played.

Credit must go to SHELLY YAKUS, someone who we freely admit, now with a sense of embarrassment, has never been one of our favorite engineers. After hearing this beyond-White Hot Stamper side two and a killer copy of Animal Notes we realize that we have seriously underestimated the man, and for that we deeply apologize.

If your Damn the Torpedoes doesn’t sound good (and it probably doesn’t), you sure can’t blame him — the master tape is mind-boggling in its size, weight, power and rock n’ roll energy.

Our 2014 better than White Hot Stamper copy had the kind of sound we never expected to hear on Damn The Torpedoes, an album that’s typically bright, thin, pinched and transistory — radio friendly but not especially audiophile friendly.

Well folks, all that’s changed, and by “all” I don’t necessarily mean all to include the records themselves. This may very well be a record that sounded gritty and pinched before it was cleaned. And our stereo has come a long way in the last five or ten years, as I hope yours has too.

One sign that you’re making progress in this hobby is that at least some of the records you’ve played recently, records that had never sounded especially good before, are now sounding very good indeed. In our case Damn the Torpedoes is one of those records. It’s the best sounding Tom Petty album we have ever played. (more…)