Top Artists – Chet Atkins

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RCA Living Stereo Recordings

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Chet’s later remixed and re-recorded version, released in 1961, seems to have the better sound overall, but the difference in the best sounding original pressing and the best sounding later version would probably not be obvious to most listeners without the two versions playing side by side.

I suppose we owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Pearson for pointing out to us with his TAS List what a great record this is, although I’m pretty sure anybody playing this album would have no trouble telling after a minute or two that this copy is very special indeed. (more…)

Chet Atkins – Our Man In Nashville 666666

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  • You’ll find superb Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound and fairly quiet vinyl on both sides of this Chet Atkins title from 1963 – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • We’ve known this was a great sounding record for a very long time, and now we have the copy to prove it
  • Bill Porter working in his custom Nashville studio sure knew a Tubey Magical Living Stereo recording should sound like
  • “Chester remains his usual unclassifiable self, dealing out the country picking, smooth easy listening guitar, jazz, and even some very mild rock & roll on this session, with some overdubbed strings discreetly decorating a few tracks.”

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” being 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.

The soundstage width, depth and height of this spacious recording are huge and three-dimensional.

This vintage Living Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 Atkins, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Our Man In Nashville have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1962
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments (especially the guitar and percussion) will lack the full complement of harmonic information of which they are capable.

Tube smear is common to most pressings from the late ’50s and early ’60s. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Our Man In Nashville

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. Atkins isn’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. He’s 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 — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Scare Crow
Alexander’s Ragtime Band
Melissa
Goodnight Irene
The Old Double Shuffle
Down Home

Side Two

Always On Saturday
Drown In My Own Tears
Spanish Harlem
Streamlined Cannon Ball
A House In New Orleans
A Little Bitty Tear

AMG  Review

If any of RCA Victor’s extensive series of “Our Man in So-and-So” albums bore the ring of truth, it was this one, for Chet Atkins indeed was RCA’s point man in Nashville, in charge of the operation. For all of that, Chester remains his usual unclassifiable self, dealing out the country picking, smooth easy listening guitar, jazz, and even some very mild rock & roll on this session, with some overdubbed strings discreetly decorating a few tracks.

Chet Atkins – Class Guitar

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

This RCA original pressing from Nashville, circa 1967, has DEMO DISC quality sound from start to finish, first note to last. Class Guitar is more or less a solo session from 1967, concentrating mostly on classical guitar pieces, with a few pop and jazz hits of the day thrown in for the sake of variety. Chet’s good buddy and main man Jerry Reed joins him on rhythm guitar on some tracks.

Both sides have plenty to offer the discriminating audiophile, with the spaciousness, clarity, tonality and freedom from artificiality that are the hallmark of the best Living Stereo recordings.

Truth be told, technically this is not a real Living Stereo record. It’s an RCA Stereo record. It has the Bill Porter Tubey Magic of the Chet Atkins albums we all know and love, the bulk of which we’re familiar with through our critical listening shootouts. (We’d love to do more but where are the clean stereo copies?)

In fact, not only is this record not a Living Stereo, it’s — gasp — a Dynagroove pressing. And it’s not even Bill Porter at the board, it’s his successor, Jim Malloy.

No matter. Bill may have left in 1964. but he left behind an amazing studio that he practically single-handedly turned into one of the best sounding recording venues in the world. This record may say Dynagroove, but it sure doesn’t sound Dynagroove. And Bill Porter may have left, but his signature sound is all over this record. As we noted in a previous listing: (more…)

Chet Atkins – Mister Guitar – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

This RCA Living Stereo LP is as TUBEY MAGICAL as it gets. It seems as though Bill Porter just doesn’t know how to not make a Living Stereo record with shockingly good sound. Practically anything the guy touches is GOLD!

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These records are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

I suppose we owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Pearson for pointing out to us through his TAS Super Disc List some of the other amazing sounding Chet Atkins records, although I’m pretty sure anybody playing this album would have no trouble telling after a minute or two that this recording, especially on this copy, is very special indeed. I would rank it right at the top with the best Bill Porter / Chet Atkins records we have ever heard.

The All Music Guide gives Mister Guitar 4 1/2 Stars! They rate no Chet Atkins record higher by the way. (The User Rating is even better, Five Stars.)

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Note how the record has that Bill Porter extra dB or two of bottom end — his signature sound.

There is a misprint on the cover. The last track on side two is listed as Concerto In C Minor (Rachmaninoff) but the song on the record is actually Piano Concerto In B Flat Minor (Tchaikovsky).

 

Chet Atkins – Workshop – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND! That is, if what you’re demonstrating is Living Stereo magic at its best. Certainly this is no sonic blockbuster. It’s not trying to be. It’s just more of that rich, sweet Bill Porter tubey magic from Nashville. Has there ever been a CD that sounds like this? If there is, I sure haven’t heard it.

Chet Atkins – Mister Guitar – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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This RARE Minty looking RCA Living Stereo LP is as TUBEY MAGICAL AS IT GETS. It seems like Bill Porter just doesn’t know how not to make an amazing sounding Living Stereo recording. Everything the guy touches is GOLD! Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here. Note how the record has that Bill Porter extra dB or two of bottom end — his signature sound.

The vinyl plays about Mint Minus Minus, a little bit better on side one, which is par for the course on these old RCA pressings.

Most copies we’ve played are smeary with tubby bass, but this one sounds just right! (more…)

Chet Atkins / Chet Atkins in Hollywood – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

DEMO DISC SOUND! Exceptionally quiet and ususually clean for a record of its age! TAS List of course, and full of Living Stereo Magic. You can feel the cool air of the studio the minute the needle hits the groove!

I suppose we owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Pearson for pointing out to us with his TAS List what a great record this is, although I’m pretty sure anybody playing this album would have no trouble telling after a minute or two that this copy is very special indeed. (more…)

Chet Atkins – The Other Chet Atkins

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

It seems as though Bill Porter just doesn’t know how not to make an amazing sounding Living Stereo recording. Everything the guy touches is GOLD! Need a refresher course in tubey magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These records are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — it’s all here.

I suppose we owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Pearson for pointing out to us with his TAS List what a great record this is, although I’m pretty sure anybody playing this album would have no trouble telling after a minute or two that this recording is very special indeed. (more…)

Chet Atkins – Travelin’ – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This original White Dog Black Label RCA pressing may not say Living Stereo on the label, but it sure has the kind of Living Stereo sound we audiophiles have come to love. It’s got the sound of RCA’s Nashville studios and Bill Porter’s engineering all over it, not to mention the kind of 1963 Tubey Magical Analog that would be long gone by the time the decade came to an end.

Along with George Harrison, who wrote the liner notes for Chet Atkins Picks on The Beatles, we’re proud to call ourselves Chet Atkins fans. (more…)

Chet Atkins – Christmas with Chet Atkins – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

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Christmas with Chet Atkins 

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

This is a very nice looking RCA reissue LP with DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! I can’t believe how good this late reissue sounds! It may not have all the tubey magic of the best originals, but it does have the tubey magic that Bill Porter recorded and that the RCA engineers managed to transfer accurately to this LP. I can tell you I’ll never pass up another one of these. Without a doubt this has to be the best sounding Christmas record we have for sale.

Sleigh Ride sounds amazing, but, as you can see in the reviews for his other classic recordings, most everything sounds amazing on these Bill Porter engineered Chet Atkins records! (more…)