Top Artists – Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Tarkus

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other copy of Tarkus you’ve heard
  • This early British pressing with the Island Pink Rim label is guaranteed to rock like no other copy you’ve ever played
  • Eddie Offord’s trademark Tubey Magic, energy, resolution, whomp factor and dynamics are all over this phenomenal recording
  • “More accomplished than the trio’s first album, but not quite as polished as Brain Salad Surgery, Tarkus is nevertheless a must-have.”

This killer copy features some of the more intense prog rock sound to hit our table in quite some time. This is a true Demo Disc LP, one of the most dynamic and powerful rock recordings ever made.

The organ captured here by Eddie Offord (of Yes engineering fame, we’re his biggest fans) and then transferred so well onto our Hot Stamper pressings will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. It’s big Bombastic Prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels it actually does rock your world.

Unlike most British pressings of the first album, the Brits here really ROCK, with greater dynamic contrasts and seriously prodigious bass, some of the best ever committed to vinyl. This music needs real whomp down below and lots of jump factor to work its magic. These Brits are super-low distortion, with an open, sweet sound, especially up top, but they still manage to convey the awesome power of the music, no mean feat.

Folks, This Is Why We Love Analog

This is ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest. You ain’t never gonna play a CD that sounds like this as long as you live. I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but digital media are evidently incapable of reproducing this kind of sound. There are nice sounding CDs in the world but there aren’t any that sound like this, not in my experience anyway. If you are thinking that someday a better digital system is going to come along in order to save you the trouble and expense of having to find and acquire these expensive original pressings, think again.

This is the kind of record that shows you what’s wrong with your BEST sounding CDs. (Let’s not even talk about the average one in your collection, or mine; the less said the better.) This is the kind of record that somebody might hear in a stereo store and realize that the digital road he’s been going down for so many years is nothing but a sonic dead end.

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Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Folks, This Is Why We Love Analog

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Hot Stamper Pressings of Prog Rock Albums Available Now

This is ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest. You ain’t never gonna play a CD that sounds like this as long as you live. I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but digital media are evidently incapable of reproducing this kind of sound. There are nice sounding CDs in the world but there aren’t any that sound like this, not in my experience anyway.

If you are thinking that someday a better digital system is going to come along in order to save you the trouble and expense of having to find and acquire these expensive original pressings, think again.

This is the kind of record that shows you what’s wrong with your BEST sounding CDs. (Let’s not even talk about the average one in your collection, or mine; the less said the better.)

This is the kind of record that somebody might hear in a stereo store and realize that the digital road he’s been going down for so many years is nothing but a sonic dead end.

The organ captured here by Eddie Offord (of Yes engineering fame, we’re his biggest fans) and then transferred so well onto our Hot Stamper pressings will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. It’s big Bombastic Prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels it actually does rock your world.

Unlike most British pressings of the first album, the Brits here really ROCK, with greater dynamic contrasts and seriously prodigious bass, some of the best ever committed to vinyl. This music needs real whomp down below and lots of jump factor to work its magic. These Brits are super-low distortion, with an open, sweet sound, especially up top, but they still manage to convey the awesome power of the music, no mean feat.


FURTHER READING

This record sounds best to us this way:

On Big Speakers at Loud Levels 

On the Right Early Pressing 

On the Right Import Pressing

For more modestly helpful title-specific advice, click here.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Trilogy

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer

More Prog Rock

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this vintage UK Island pressing
  • ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest – you’ll never play a CD (or any other digital sourced material) that sounds as good as this record as long as you live
  • An excellent recording that really shines on a good pressing like this, courtesy the engineering brilliance of Eddie Offord
  • 4 stars: “Every track on this album has been carefully thought, arranged, and performed to perfection…”

It’s not easy to find great copies of this album. This kind of prog rock demands big, bold sound, and not all copies have the size or low end weight to pull it off. Keith Emerson’s organ needs to extend all the way down, or it just doesn’t work. Both sides here have a great bottom end, and some real texture and space up top.

“From The Beginning” has the kind of analog magic that made it a staple in practically every stereo store I walked into back in the ’70s.

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer / Self-Titled on Cotillion

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More Prog Rock

  • This vintage Cotillion pressing boasts outstanding sound on both sides
  • Our Hot Stamper pressing makes the case that ELP’s debut is clearly one of the most POWERFUL rock records ever made
  • Spacious, rich and dynamic, with big bass and tremendous energy – these are just some of the things we love about Eddie Offord’s engineering work on this band’s albums
  • ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest – you’ll never play a CD (or any other digital sourced material) that sounds as good as this record as long as you live
  • “Lucky Man” and “Take A Pebble” on this copy have Demo Disc Quality Sound like you won’t believe
  • If you are looking for a shootout winning copy, let us know – with such good music and sound, we hope to get another shootout going again soon
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Lively, ambitious, almost entirely successful debut album… [which] showcased the group at its least pretentious and most musicianly …there isn’t much excess, and there is a lot of impressive musicianship here.”

If you’ve got the system to play this one loud enough, with the low end weight and energy it requires, you are in for a treat. The organ that opens side two will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. This is bombastic prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels, it actually will rock your world.

This Cotillion 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 the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
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Listening in Depth to Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Debut

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Reviews and Commentaries for Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Debut

This commentary is from many years ago.

NEWSFLASH

The findings from our most recent shootouts have shown us the error of our ways.

A textbook case of Live and Learn.

This is what we used to think:

The Brit copies may take top honors for side one (“sweetness, openness, tubey magic, correct tonality, presence without aggressiveness, well-defined note-like bass, extended airy highs”) but the Hot Stamper Cotillion copies KILL on side two. They really ROCK, with greater dynamic contrasts and seriously prodigious bass, some of the best ever committed to vinyl.

The Brits tend to be a bit too “pretty” sounding. They’re too polite for this bombastic music. This music needs the whomp down below and lots of jump factor to work its magic.

The Brits are super-low distortion, with a more open, sweeter sound, especially up top, but the power of the music is just not as powerful as it can be on these very special Cotillions.

This Cotillion on side one is a rare gem indeed, one of the best domestics we’ve ever heard. It’s not quite as smooth and sweet as some, but it’s every bit as good in most other areas, and better in the bass. The Cotillion pressings of this album have bass that puts 99% of all the rock records in the world to shame. (And 100% of the half-speed mastered records!)

This is a case where, to get the ultimate sound, you not only need two copies, you need two copies made in different countries!

We actually prefer the British pressings on both sides now.


Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

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Letter of the Week – “It feels like you are at the concert.”

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

Hey Tom, 

One of my favorite albums growing up was pictures at an exhibition, but just for the music not the sound. I sold my domestic copy years ago but recall it was a muddy mess and always the worst sounding of all my ELP albums.

Fast forward decades later and I am totally blown away at what an amazing sounding album this really can be! Now the quality of the music matches the quality of the sound. The tonal balance is superb with just the right amount of weight down low. I never thought this record could sound this good. The wall of Organ sound as you put it when cranked to the lush acoustic guitar and tenderness of Greg’s vocals. It feels like you are at the concert.

That is why I am so impressed with all the hot stamper live albums I own. It shows a concert experience can be replicated with the right equipment but, most importantly, with the right pressing!

An amazing album and a great price to boot.

Thank you!!

Rob

Fantastic, thanks for your letter.

The “muddy mess” you refer to was no doubt the result of many things, but one of the main problems with your old copy was that it was the domestic pressing, which is made from second generation masters and therefore hopelessly outclassed by the right early Island pressings, which are of course the only ones we sell.

Even if you had an Island pressing, you would have had to know how to clean it using the right machines and fluids.

Not many audiophiles have either, and nobody had them back in the day, because they hadn’t been invented yet!

Your experience is what good records are all about, and we are gratified to have played a part in helping to bring that music to life in your very own listening room.

You can be at the concert as often as you want now. How could anyone put a price on that?

Oh, but people do.

Best, TP

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Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Pictures at an Exhibition

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More Prog Rock

  • Outstanding sound throughout for this ELP Classic Live Album, earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • Tubey Magical and exceptionally spacious, with a massive bottom end and plenty of Rock and Roll energy
  • Listen to that GIGANTIC organ that plays the fanfare opening of the work – you can thank the brilliant engineering of Eddie Offord for getting that sound on tape
  • “…it teased the brain with its mix of melody and heavy rock, and for anyone with some musical knowledge, serious or casual, it was a sufficiently bold use of Mussorgsky’s original to stimulate hours of delightful listening.”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this title is clearly one of their most interesting and best sounding
  • The complete list of titles from 1971 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This British Island LP has real weight and heft, so when Emerson lays into the organ it’ll rattle your walls! As we said previously, it “has that big, fat, rich, smooth sound that we love here at Better Records. It’s warm and full, not thick and sludgy. It’s on the opposite end of the transistory spectrum.”

Listen to that GIGANTIC organ that plays the fanfare opening of the work. Honestly, I have not EVER heard a rock album with an organ sound that stretched from wall to wall and sounds like it’s seventy five feet tall. No, I take that back. The first ELP album has an organ that sounds about that big, but that’s a studio album. How did they manage to get that kind of organ sound in a live setting without actually having to build one inside the concert hall?

The domestic copies are a bad joke as you no doubt have guessed. You might think that you could just pick up any old Brit pressing to get Hot Stamper sound, but you’d be wrong. We’ve played a bunch of Original Brit Island pressings over the years that looked just like this one but sure didn’t sound as good.

Many of them are thick, dull, smeary, veiled, congested and/or just plain lifeless. This one, on the other hand, sounds JUST RIGHT.

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Hot Stampers Helped Some Audiophiles Hear What They’d Been Missing

More of the Music of Emerson, Lake and Palmer

More of the Music of Led Zeppelin

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he played at a stereo show recently. You can read all about it here.

We carried on the conversation:

Tom,

Thank you and for sure I’d be more than happy to spread the word more and help out! Send me cards for sure. I’m def a Better Records disciple.

You should consider teaming up with a room at the show next time, I think worth your while. Time to break the grip of the Mofi Mafia at these shows.

All the best, Mike

Mike,

We went to some shows years ago and nothing came of it.

It may turn out that none of these people will ever want to pay good money for hot stampers. I wrote about it here:

“No one doubted your records after this listening session.”

Experience over many years has borne out this view, disappointing as it may be.

The audiophiles who go to shows for some reason don’t seem to be able to wrap their heads around the Hot Stamper concept.

Hard to imagine that none of them can afford our records. The money someone might pay for three wacky MoFis or three Analogue Productions disasters would probably get you one very good sounding Hot Stamper pressing. In my book, one good record that you might actually listen to and enjoy often is a whole lot better than any number of modern records that you will seldom play and more than likely simply file away on the shelf to collect dust.

I’m guessing. I don’t really know what people do with all these mediocre sounding reissues. I wrote about what I suspect happens to them here.

I Beg the Question

But this is purely an exercise in “begging the question.” I’m assuming things I do not know to be true, in order to make the very point I have the burden of proving.

I need to provide evidence to back up my claim that these records don’t get played and enjoyed, but I have no evidence whatsoever that that is indeed the case.

It’s a naked expression of prejudice on my part, of assuming that what’s obviously true for me must be true for others. I don’t enjoy playing these Heavy Vinyl records, and I think that other audiophiles must be as disappointed by them as I am.

But Heavy Vinyl records are selling very well these days. Somebody must be buying them.

And they buy them even though, as our writer points out, they cannot begin to compete with a good vintage pressing.

(This happens to be something I have a lot of evidence for and can prove with ease. Practically every record on our site is a rebuttal to audiophile pressings from every era, made by every company in the remastering business. To find out how wrong these modern records are, all you need do is buy one of our Hot Stampers and play them head to head.)

Oh well. All we can do is keep trying to get the word out. And we thank you for your help showing audiophiles what they are missing.

Because explaining doesn’t work. Only hearing works.

Best, TP

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Letter of the Week – “No one in that room will ever forget it.”

More Reviews and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin II

Reviews and Commentaries for ELP’s First Album

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

Hey Tom, 

Thanks again!

Got the White Hot ELP s/t Friday afternoon as I was leaving for a weekend at the Capital Audio Fest in Bethesda Maryland but had no time to listen to it at home so brought it and the Led Zep 2 White Hot I bought from you a year or so back with me to the show with the intention of playing it on some of the crazy systems being demo’ed at the show.

The majority of participants demo their systems with Mofi and other heavy vinyl reissues, rarely will you hear old vinyl.

Saturday night in the “main room” where VAC and Von Schweikert were partnering and demoing their million dollar system, there was a presentation by Greg Weaver (a friend of mine) and the theme was great sounding prog rock. After a few records – all reissues, Greg turns to the 30 or so of us and asked what we wanted to hear next. The guy behind me shouts out “Zep 2 Robert Ludwig hot mix!” and of course he didn’t have it but that was my opening and I took it – “I have it upstairs and happy to bring it down!” Greg of course said “sure!” so I ran up to my room and grabbed the Zep 2 AND the ELP I just got from you but never played.

The Zep 2 was a revelation to many – some people moved closer to take it all in, it was everything you would have expected and beyond, an unforgettable highlight for all! One guy had me pose with him holding the record after it was done, lol!

Greg was excited to see the ELP too and put it on next. He gave a little history about the band and its members and then dropped the needle.

All I can say it was a “Holy Shit!” moment for EVERYONE in the room. Maybe, no…without a doubt, the best record I and many there had ever heard in our lives, coming thru a million dollar system and utterly blowing our minds. What an INSANE sounding record!

No one in that room will ever forget it.

My complements to the chefs at Better Records for making this incredible experience possible!

Mike (more…)

Letter of the Week – “No one doubted your records after this listening session.”

Reviews and Commentaries for ELP’s Debut

Reviews and Commentaries for Abbey Road

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

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday, I attended an audio event in Verona, NJ, where I had purchased my stereo.

I spent my time in the “analogue” room. This room had the flagship equipment (Vandersteen 7 speakers, Aesthetix Jupiter series amps, pre-amps, phono stage, Clearaudio’s Goldfinger Statement cartridge, etc).

I listened for a while, hearing all the issues with almost every record they played. I then asked the store’s “turntable guru” to play some of the records I brought with me.

They thumbed through my boxes and asked me what the difference was between my two copies of Abbey Road. When I explained the superior side X on either copy, the audience found this concept amusing, based on their laughter. Any doubters would soon become believers.

They played Abbey Road‘s side 2 (3+ side, of course). While “Here Comes The Sun” was playing, Garth had his eyes closed. At the track’s conclusion, he exclaimed “Outstanding!”, and the record played on.

Next, we listened to ELP’s “Lucky Man“. Garth said it was the best he had ever heard.

I do not really know Garth, but I suspect he does not easily offer up such compliments in a room full of people. Others in the room, including the store’s turntable guru, were all very impressed. Several folks approached me, all pointing out parts of the music that blew them away.

There were comments about some folks hearing that Better Records was a scam, and others saying that you are the real deal. The discussion ended withHearing is believing.” 

No one doubted your records after this listening session.

I scored points with these important folks, thanks to your records. I provided the source material to allow their equipment to shine.

Any doubt these folks had about your company was put to rest. All that listened were very impressed, and I thought you’d want to know.

Craig D.

Craig,

Thanks for your letter!

I have to confess I am of two minds concerning this demonstration of the obviously superior sound of our best Hot Stamper pressings.

Allow me to make one cynical prediction.  None of those in the audience owns or will ever own one of our records. They like good sound all right, they certainly will tell you as much, but they just can’t wrap their heads around spending the kind of money it takes to get hold of the kinds of records you played them.

But they absolutely love that $17,500 cartridge and are dying to own one.

You can be sure that those folks, like audiophiles in general, have lots of Heavy Vinyl mediocrities and are just fine with that. I have never understood it, but I have seen it time and time again.

If you are serious about good sound, you need good records. You know that as well as anyone.

Now that they have heard it for themselves, they know it too, but what will they do with this knowledge?

My money is on “nothing.”

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