Top Artists – Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Listening in Depth to Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Debut

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer

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

Folks, 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 your parade but let’s face it, digital media are pretty much 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 and save you the trouble and expense of having to find and acquire these expensive original pressings, think again. Ain’t gonna happen. 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 ones in our collections; the less said the better.)

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

The Barbarian
Take a Pebble

Superb sound! Big, spacious and effortlessly alive!

Knife Edge

Again, some of the best sound to be found on any ELP album. We much prefer the tracks with vocals as opposed to the heavy keyboard ones. This is PROG at its best, right up there with Yes’s and King Crimson’s biggest and boldest musical statements. When it’s good, it’s REALLY GOOD. (Conversely, of course, when it’s bad, it’s pretty bad. Played Relayer lately?)

Side Two

The Three Fates: Clotho/Lachesis/Atropos

This is a super tough test for side two. It’s guaranteed to bring even the biggest and best systems to their knees. The organ is HUGE, so big and powerful it has a tendency to break up a bit in the loudest parts, either from groove damage or the inability of the cutting system to properly transfer the enormous amounts of bass that exist on the master tape onto the cutting acetate. You need plenty of amplifier cutting power and not every mastering chain had it.

Tank
Lucky Man

My favorite ELP track, sounding about as good as it gets. You need the right Cotillion copy for the ultimate sound; the better bass brings Palmer’s kick drum to life, not to mention the synthesizer solo.

Listen also to the electric guitar solo in the left channel. On the best copies it really comes to life and rocks out. If it lays back in the mix you do not have a Hot Stamper for side two, I can assure you of that!

By the way, this track is cut a bit low compared to the two that precede it. It needs click or two on the volume know to work its magic.

Not Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

The organ that opens side two is always going to break up a tiny bit. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. In fact, if it DOESN’T break up for you, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that either your copy or your stereo is too smooth. We played somewhere between two and three dozen copies this week, and you just can’t find a hot copy without at least a hint of distortion on the organ.

NEWSFLASH

This commentary is from many years ago. The findings from our most recent shootouts have shown us the error of our ways. We actually prefer the British pressings on both sides now. 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!


FURTHER READING

Basic Concepts and Realities Explained 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments 

Key Tracks for Critical Listening 

We Was Wrong

Emerson, Lake & Palmer / Self-Titled – Out of This World Sound on Big Speakers at Loud Levels

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer

More Prog Rock

  • This vintage Island Pink Rim import pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too
  • Spacious, rich and dynamic, with especially smooth, present vocals – this is what we love about Eddie Offord’s work here
  • ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest – you’ll never play a CD that sounds this good as long as you live
  • Lucky Man and Take A Pebble on this copy have Demo Disc Quality Sound like you won’t believe
  • 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 UK Island pink rim import 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. (more…)

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Pictures at an Exhibition

xxxxx

  • 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.”

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. (more…)

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Tarkus

xxxxx

  • 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. (more…)

Letter of the Week – ELP Tarkus and Hampton Hawes Vol 2: The Trio

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

Hey Tom, 

Just wanted to express my excitement with the ELP Tarkus and Hampton Hawes Trio Vol 2 LP’s! Wow!!! Great sound as described and played quieter than described, beyond near mint ! The ELP only had one moderate pop on the opening of “The Only Way” track 3 on side two. Otherwise dead quiet all through !!!!

I am beyond pleased!!! Looking forward to the next order coming in !!! Lastly, can you show me where you get those terrific rice paper inner sleeves? They are nice and thick ply!! Better than MFSL or Quality RP…!!!

Thanks again!

I will surely be doing business in the future with you and have your accurate descriptions locked in to what I prefer surface wise. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Trilogy

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

Hey Tom,   

Once again, you folks have proved that your albums are worth EVERY PENNY that you charge for them.

For years, I’ve had a couple of domestic pressings, and a “200 gram Anadisq” MOFI, of ELP’s Trilogy. Always thought the sound was pretty solid.

But I JUST finished spinning the British A+++ pressing I scored from you folks this past week, and OH MY. It absolutely CRUSHES all prior versions. It leaves the MOFI in the DUST. I mean, it’s not even close. Not subtle. Not “Well, if I listen closely, I think I MIGHT hear a difference….” NO. It’s utterly ridiculous. I’m hearing things I’ve never heard before. Orders of magnitude better.

THANK YOU, for your dedication to optimizing the quality of listening. SUCH a great album – and sound that finally is commensurate to the quality of the musicianship. 🙂

Steve

Steve,

So glad to hear it!

I was selling MoFi records when that pressing of Trilogy came out. What a murky piece of crap. The cutting system they were using was a joke, and the one they have now is not much better.

Thanks for your letter.

Best, TP

 

Letter of the Week – Wild Planet, Greatest Hits, The Cars and Emerson, Lake & Palmer

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

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday, I attended an audio event at Audio Connection, in Verona, NJ (where I purchased my stereo).

I played the B-52s, Wild Planet, “Party Out Of Bounds”, on their cost-no-object flagship system.
It was spectacular!  

I played other titles that were also spectacular, such as Sly And The Family Stone’s “Dance To The Music” and The Cars’ “Good Times Roll” (all purchased from your store).

A couple of other pressings were very good, but not as impressive (Cat Stevens’ WHS, for example). And my WHS of ELP’s “Take A Pebble” had a fair amount of sibilance (a song I had not previously played). But overall, a wonderfully musical experience.

Great job unearthing / identifying these gems! (more…)

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

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 positive 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 with “Hearing 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. (more…)

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Tarkus – The Brits Really Rock

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer

More Tarkus

xxxxx

  • Triple Triple (A+++) – this shockingly good copy had Shootout Winning sound on BOTH SIDES and plays as quietly as any copy ever will
  • Our monster Tarkus shootout produced exactly one amazing sounding British pressing of this quality, this one, guaranteed to rock your world
  • 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. (more…)

Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Trilogy – A Classic of Tubey Magical British Prog Rock


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

xxx

  • One of the best copies to ever hit the site and boy is it KILLER! Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • An excellent recording that really shines on a good pressing like this; fairly quiet vinyl too!
  • “Every track on this album has been carefully thought, arranged, and performed to perfection…”

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer

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. (more…)