Top Artists – David Bowie

David Bowie / Ziggy Stardust – MoFi Reviewed

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Reviews and Commentaries for Ziggy Stardust

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Sonic Grade: C-

The MoFi pressing is decent, probably better than the average domestic copy I suppose. The colorations and the limitations of their cutting system make it painful for me to listen to it though, especially the sloppy bass and dynamic compression.

You can do worse but you sure can do a lot better.

MoFi did two of the greatest Bowie albums of all time, Ziggy and Let’s Dance, and neither one can hold a candle to the real thing. If you want to settle for a pretty poor imitation of either or both of those albums, stick with your MoFi. If you want to hear the kind of Demo Disc sound that Bowie’s records are capable of, try a Hot Stamper. (more…)

David Bowie – Scary Monsters

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Records We Only Sell on Import Vinyl

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  • An outstanding original UK pressing of Scary Monsters with Double Plus (A++) sound from on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Exceptionally present, real and resolving, this pressing is guaranteed to murder any remastering undertaken by anyone, past, present and future
  • 5 stars: “Reworking glam rock themes with avant-garde synth flourishes, and reversing the process as well, Bowie creates dense but accessible music throughout Scary Monsters.”

This original RCA 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.

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. (more…)

David Bowie / Aladdin Sane

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  • An outstanding vintage UK pressing of Bowie’s 1973 post-Ziggy classic with solid Double Plus (A++) sonic grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Remarkable for the richness, smoothness and warmth that the best Ken Scott Tube Recordings are renowned for
  • Plenty of Bowie Classics: Watch That Man; Aladdin Sane; Panic in Detroit; Cracked Actor; The Jean Genie; Lady Grinning Soul and more
  • “Bowie encyclopedist Nicholas Pegg describes it as ‘one of the most urgent, compelling and essential’ of his releases.”
  • Fun fact: Bowie “ruled the (British) album chart, accumulating an unprecedented 182 weeks on the list in 1973 with six different titles.”

THE BIG BOWIE SOUND for this wonderful follow-up to Ziggy Stardust! We just finished shooting out a number of import pressings of the album, and this import was one of the better copies we heard. This one’s got the kind of Tubey Magical Richness that takes these Glam Rockers to a whole new level. (more…)

David Bowie – Space Oddity

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  • An outstanding copy of Bowie’s sophomore release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • The sound here is huge, full-bodied, punchy and relatively smooth throughout, with real space and ambience around the vocals and instruments
  • “Abandoning both the mod and Anthony Newley fascinations that marked his earlier recordings, Bowie delves into a lightly psychedelic folk-rock, exemplified by the album’s soaring title track. . .”

One of the reasons the song “Space Oddity” sounds so amazing is that it was produced by none other than Gus Dudgeon, the man behind all the best Elton John records. It has Paul Buckmaster doing the string arrangements as well. His work on Elton’s self-titled album is awe-inspiring; we know of none better. (more…)

David Bowie / Heroes – For the Best Sound, Skip the Original British Pressings

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More Hot Stamper Pressings that Sound Better on the Right Reissue

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  • An outstanding copy of Heroes with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This import is ALIVE with musical energy and Tubey Magical Analog sound the likes of which you may never have experienced
  • Until we discovered these amazing British reissues, we had no idea the album could sound as good as it does here
  • 5 stars: “Repeating the formula of Low’s half-vocal/half-instrumental structure, Heroes develops and strengthens the sonic innovations David Bowie and Brian Eno explored on their first collaboration. The vocal songs are fuller, boasting harder rhythms and deeper layers of sound.”

It has taken us years to get this shootout going. The reason for the long delay is simple. The domestic pressings we had on hand to play were not exactly thrilling us and even the best of them are no better than acceptable, and not likely to win a shootout.

Even worse, our intuition that the British originals would sound the best also turned out to be incorrect. (In the audiophile record collecting world intuitions have a bad track record, but more than a few audiophiles — many of whom seem to be addicted to sharing their “record knowledge” on audiophile forums — are unaware of this unassailably true fact.) The original UK Orange Label pressings did not sound especially good to us, so we kept looking.

Over the course of the last few years, during which time we investigated every different pressing we could get our hands on, finally some good sounding copies of the album came our way. And they were not originals. The lucky owner of this copy will be one of the few to know what label the record is on, and in what country it was pressed. (more…)

David Bowie – The Man Who Sold The World

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Big space, breathy vocals, grungy guitars and plenty of Ken Scott’s luscious Tubey Magic makes this album a true audiophile treat
  • As it says on the back of the jacket, “Many thanks to our engineer Ken (Scott, one of our favorites).”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Working with guitarist Mick Ronson and producer Tony Visconti for the first time, Bowie developed a tight, twisted heavy guitar rock that appears simple on the surface but sounds more gnarled upon each listen.”

*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 8 light ticks at the beginning of Track 1, The Width Of A Circle. On side two, a mark makes 16 light ticks at the beginning of Track 1, Running Gun Blues.

The sound is rich and full, just the way the Brits (and us audiophiles) like it. The tube compression that both Bowie and Scott favor works its magic at every turn, adding fatness and richness and lovely harmonics to the guitars and the drums.

Mick Ronson’s guitars are wonderfully rich and grungy. The vocals can get a bit hot on the first track on side one (as is often the case), but by track two the sound has settled in and is rich and smooth, just the way we like it. Very present and lively vocals are a strong point. Listen to the big bass, richness and Tubey Magic of the third track on side two — that is some Ken Scott studio wizardry at play.

Note that the second track on the second side seems to be where Alice Cooper found his “sound.” More power to him I say. You could get away with ripping off Bowie in 1970; nobody bought this album in the states, which is why it’s so damn rare and expensive. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Diamond Dogs and Hunky Dory

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

Hey Tom,   

I want to thank you so much for the Diamond Dogs I received from you. It is in a whole different league to the best I have ever managed to find and it is so satisfying to hear something how I always thought it should sound and at a very reasonable price. This is my favourite Bowie album.

Interestingly I bought a Hunky Dory recently that is out of this world. I know one is not supposed to give away stamper numbers and such (blame my compulsive honesty on my Aspergers!) and you probably know this already but the pressing is German RCA International with E 0014A -2 II and E 0014 B 1 II. It is seriously one of the best records I have and by far the best Bowie.

Thanks again Tom and everyone at Better records!

Cheers,

Peter

Peter, glad to hear you liked our Diamond Dogs! Those are indeed very special pressings.

Best, TP

[We happen to know the German pressing he references above. It can be good but not great. They are not competitive with the copies we sell.] (more…)

David Bowie – David Live

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all four sides of this Bowie classic
  • One of our favorite live recordings – a great overview of Bowie’s career through 1974
  • 1984, Rebel Rebel, Sweet Thing and Rock & Roll With Me come ALIVE in performance like you have never heard before
  • A-List players of the day deliver sonic treats, including multiple horn players, multiple percussionists, all-male chorus background vocals, the searing fuzzed-out guitar leads of Earl Slick, piano and Mellotron by Mike Garson, and the amazing Herbie Flowers on bass

*NOTE: On side one, a group of light marks makes about 15 light ticks one-half inch from the end of Track 4, Sweet Thing. On side three, a mark on the edge makes 4 light ticks at the beginning of Track 1, Rock & Roll With Me. On side four, two marks make 8 light ticks during the intro to Track 3, Jean Genie, and 8 moderately light to light ticks during the intro to Track 4, Rock & Roll Suicide.

What can we say? RCA vinyl in 1974 was ticky. Most copies of this album are a helluva lot noisier than this one.

When you listen to an incredible copy of this Bowie classic, you will have no trouble picturing yourself in the audience with a front row center seat. And the great thing about a record like this is that you can be in the front row of this very concert whenever you want!

The other top live album is, of course, Waiting For Columbus, and the two have much in common. Most importantly, the songs played live on both albums are consistently better than their studio versions. (This is especially true on the Little Feat album. Little Feat was not a studio band and their live arrangements — with the Tower of Power horns — just murder the studio ones.)

For us audiophiles, the other reason to own a Hot Copy of David Live or Waiting For Columbus is that the sound is much improved over most of the studio albums in which the material was originally found. Have you ever heard a good sounding Diamond Dogs?

But David Live is full of great sounding material from the album. 1984 is much better here than on the original album. Rebel Rebel, Sweet Thing and Rock & Roll With Me also come alive in performance. They rock! (more…)

David Bowie – Station To Station

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this is one of the more outstanding copies to come out of our most recent shootout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This is a dense, difficult recording to find the right sound for, which means you really need Hot Stampers on Station to Station to enjoy it
  • Superb presence and energy – with Nearly White Hot sound on side two, this is a great copy for the classic, radio-friendly TVC 15, Stay and Wild Is the Wind
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Station to Station is an avant-garde art-rock album … its epic structure and clinical sound were an impressive, individualistic achievement, as well as a style that would prove enormously influential on post-punk.”

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.

Full, punchy and present, with a wide open soundstage and powerful dynamics, this is the right sound for this album, and if you know the album at all, you know that good sound on Station to Station is far from easy to find. (more…)

Every Label Made Bad Sounding Records – Ryko Released This Awful Bowie Set in 1989

David Bowie Records with Audiophile Sound

The sound of digital mastering at its worst. Best to give this one a pass if you are looking for high quality sound.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

You can find this one in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.  These are also records you can safely avoid.)

Note that most of the entries are audiophile remasterings of one kind or another. The reason for this is simple: we’ve gone through the all-too-often unpleasant experience of comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stamper pressings.

When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more inexcusable.