Top Artists – Booker T. & The M.G.’s

Willie Nelson / Stardust – A Copy This Good Deserves to Be on the TAS List

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Reviews and Commentaries for Stardust

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  • You’ll find superb Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides of this exceptionally well-recorded album – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • From the first few moments of the title track you’ll be blown away by the in-the-room immediacy of The Man himself
  • This copy is hi-res without sacrificing the Analog warmth that makes the recording so exceptional, especially for one from 1978
  • 5 stars: “Stardust showcases Nelson’s skills as a musician and his entire aesthetic — where there is nothing separating classic American musical forms, it can all be played together — perhaps better than any other album…”

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top-quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” meaning relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

Georgia On My Mind is a DEMO QUALITY track on this album. You aren’t going to believe all the ambience on this copy. The top end is gorgeous — sweet, delicate, and silky with loads of extension. The sound is extremely hi-res without sacrificing any of the warmth that makes this music so special.

Just listen to the rimshots and the bell in Georgia On My Mind — we guarantee you have NEVER heard those instruments sound so present, clear, and immediate.

Willie’s voice is natural and tonally correct, with all the breathy texture you could ever hope to hear. The acoustic guitars and Booker T.’s organ are perfection. (more…)

Willie Nelson / Pretty Paper – A Forgotten Vocal Classic

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Imagine the sound of a Hot Stamper Stardust, but instead of Pop Standards you hear Willie, his voice still in its prime, singing Christmas songs, backed by similarly tasteful and understated arrangements. That’s what you get on this copy of Pretty Paper in a nutshell.

Released just a year after Stardust in 1979, many of the same musicians are featured, as well as the same producer, the amazing Booker T.. And the most shocking thing of all is just how good the sound is.

Next to Stardust I’d have to say this is the best sound Willie has ever had. It’s so rich, smooth and natural — in other words, analog sounding — that it puts to shame what has come to be expected from pop recordings over the course of the last thirty years.

Yes, records used to actually sound like this, as hard as that may be to believe after playing so many dismal sounding modern recordings, modern reissues and audiophile “product”. A good pressing of this album is one of the best reasons I can think of to own a high quality turntable these days. I find it hard to imagine that the CD would sound remotely as good.

Note that this record sounds even better when played loud, the result no doubt of having no trace of phony top end boost and very little processing throughout, unlike — you guessed it — much of the vinyl product being produced today.

And of course all digital releases, which should go without saying to anyone reading this commentary. Many if not most pressings of the legendary Stardust album have some phony top added to the sound.

The good ones — meaning the Hot Stamper copies — are the ones that sound more like this: natural up top and and throughout the midrange.

Yet Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound…

and One We Will Probably Never Shootout Againbook

Some records never justified the time and money required to find Hot Stamper pressings of them in order to make it worth our while to give them a second go around. This is one such album, and the link above will take you to many more.

Willie Nelson / Stardust – Resolution and Warmth Are Key to the Best Pressings

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Reviews and Commentaries for Stardust

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This copy is hi-res without sacrificing the Analog warmth that makes the recording so exceptional, especially for one from 1978

Warmth and Resolution

Georgia On My Mind is a DEMO QUALITY track on this album. You aren’t going to believe all the ambience. The top end is gorgeous — sweet, delicate, and silky with loads of extension. The sound is extremely hi-res without sacrificing any of the warmth that makes this music so special.

Just listen to the rimshots and the bell in Georgia On My Mind — we guarantee you have NEVER heard those instruments sound so present, clear, and immediate. 

Willie’s voice is natural and tonally correct, with all the breathy texture you could ever hope to hear. The acoustic guitars and Booker T.’s organ are perfection.

Awareness

Many copies of this album suffer from an phony hi-fi-ish quality (which is probably the reason why Stardust made the TAS List in the first place). You’ve got to play a big stack of copies to come up with a pressing that offers this kind of relaxed, natural sound. That’s our job here at Better Records — playing bad records so you don’t have to. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Without A Song

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout 
  • As he did so brilliantly on Stardust, here Willie brings his inimitable singing style to classics of love and loss taken from The Great American Songbook
  • Top quality arrangements – drop the needle on Autumn Leaves or A Dreamer’s Holiday to hear Booker T and his bandmates at their best
  • Top tracks include Autumn Leaves, As Time Goes By, Harbor Lights and of course, Without a Song
  • The critics may not have been impressed, but music lovers sure were – Amazon buyers award the album more than 4 1/2 stars

Once again Willie is backed by a top-notch backing band fronted by the one and only Booker T. Jones. Drop the needle on Once In A While and dig the uncanny presence of the vocal and astonishing clarity of the ensemble.

Much like Stardust, a Hot Stamper pressing of this record is a real treat for us audiophiles. This is some amazingly soulful music with midrange magic to spare.

There’s lots of air up top, giving the instruments plenty of room to breathe. The vocals are breathy and full-bodied — if Willie’s voice doesn’t sound a bit gravelly, you’re probably playing an overly smooth or lo-rez copy, and we take away a lot of points for both.

This copy gives you everything you could ask for from this music — tight bass, clearly audible guitar transients, generous amounts of warmth and sweetness, vocal immediacy and studio ambience like no other. (more…)

Willie Nelson / Without A Song – Great Demo Disc / Bad Test Disc

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More Country and Country Rock

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Side one of this copy has RIDICULOUSLY GOOD SOUND! Drop the needle on Once In A While and dig the uncanny presence and astonishing clarity. There’s lots of air up top and the instruments have plenty of room to breathe. The vocals are breathy and full-bodied with all of that Willie Nelson texture — if his voice doesn’t sound a bit gravelly, you can be sure you’ve been playing an overly smooth copy. There’s loads of detail in the midrange that you’d never hear on a lesser pressing. The overall sound is rich, relaxed and musical. I don’t think you could make this music sound better no matter what you did!

It’s a stunning side one that gives you everything you could ask for from this music — tight bass, clearly audible guitar transients, generous amounts of warmth and sweetness, big-time immediacy and tons of ambience. This is exactly what we call Master Tape Sound and we rate it accordingly — A+++ all the way!

Side two is every bit as amazing — BIG, full-bodied, room-filling sound positively LEAPS forth out of the speakers.Check out the deep, punchy bass! The piano sounds excellent and the acoustic guitar sounds just right. The vocals have a quality of intimacy that really brings this music to new heights. We rate side two A+++ as well. The sound is more dynamic and lively than we heard anywhere else.

Much like Stardust, a Hot Stamper pressing of this record is a real treat for the audiophile, no matter where they may be on the audio scale. The transparency and clarity on the best copies will be nothing less than astonishing. It’s what we like to call a “Great Demo Disc / Bad Test Disc” — even if your system isn’t at its best, a great copy of this record will still be musical and involving. On the other hand, if you’ve spent the time and energy to really get your stereo cooking, you’re going to be in for some amazingly soulful country-tinged midrange magic!  

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Without A Song
Once In A While
Autumn Leaves
I Can’t Begin To Tell
Harbor Lights

Side Two

Golden Earrings
You’ll Never Know
To Each His Own
As Time Goes By
A Dreamer’s Holiday

Booker T & The M.G.’s – Melting Pot

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  • An excellent sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout- exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Both sides here are super rich and Tubey Magical with a huge bottom end and tons of energy  
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “Melting Pot could be the most well-realized of all the albums by Booker T. & the M.G.’s, a smooth and soulful, yet expansive 35 minutes of all originals…” – All Music

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