Top Artists – Eric Clapton, Cream, Blind Faith, etc.

Blind Faith – Self-Titled

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Reviews and Commentaries for Blind Faith

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  • It’s been years, but Blind Faith has finally returned with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this UK Polydor pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • From the moment we dropped the needle and heard all that fluffy, correct-sounding tape hiss, we knew we were in for a treat – the sound on both sides is punchy, open, spacious, big, bold, and ALIVE!
  • If you doubt this record can sound as good as you remember from back in the day, assuming you are an old goat like me, this pressing will be a revelation
  • 4 stars: “Blind Faith’s first and last album, more than 30 years old and counting [we are up to 52 now], remains one of the jewels of the Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Ginger Baker catalogs. . . it merges the soulful blues of the former with the heavy riffing and outsized song lengths of the latter for a very compelling sound unique to this band.”

Here is the Blind Faith you’ve been waiting for: Tubey Magical, Transparent, full of Life and Energy — dear friends, it’s all here. And the vinyl is some of the quietest we’ve ever heard for this album.

Sick of buying one harsh, thin, distorted, veiled, closed-in, smeary LP after another in a vain attempt to find a copy that reminds you of why you LOVED this record so much when it came out back in 1969?

(Assuming you’re as old as I am; we had the 8 track tape that could play in the car and the house — music was so convenient back then. Of course I had the domestic original vinyl – I was 15 years old, I had never seen an import record in my life.)

This is no audiophile made-from-the-master-tape snake oil. This is the real thing. This copy is guaranteed to blow the bad memories of all those other versions you’ve owned in the past right out of your memory banks. A short list: the MoFi LP and Gold CD, Simply Vinyl LP, the new Heavy Vinyl version if there is one, and anything else that comes out from here until the end of time.

Face it: It’s all JUNK compared to a record like this.

Why mince words? We’ve played all those records (except for the bad ones that have yet to be pressed of course). (more…)

John Mayall with Eric Clapton – Blues Breakers

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Want to find your own shootout winner? Scroll to the bottom to see our advice on doing just that.

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this superb pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Far more richer, smoother and livelier than most, with Tubey Magic and space you won’t believe
  • The Decca UK vinyl on this superb pressing is as QUIET as we ever expect to find for this album
  • 5 stars: “Bluesbreakers was Eric Clapton’s first fully realized album as a blues guitarist — more than that, it was a seminal blues album of the 1960s, perhaps the best British blues album ever cut, and the best LP ever recorded by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.”

This copy is guaranteed to be clearly superior to virtually all imports, all domestic pressings, whatever crappy Heavy Vinyl they’re making these days — in short, any version of this music on any format that you’ve ever played. This is it folks. They cut this one right and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to know it. Blues Breakers finally sounds the way you always wanted it to sound.

We’ve been searching for copies of Bluesbreakers for years — everyone wants a great copy of this Five Star Classic, the only album John Mayall ever made that we would consider a Must Own. After many, many years of experimentation and dozens of copies purchased we’ve finally discovered the British pressings that deliver the best sound we’ve ever heard for this music.

But they don’t come easy and they sure don’t come cheap, so don’t expect the floodgates to open with White Hot Stamper after White Hot Stamper hitting the site. One was it and it will be a year or two at the very least before we have a big enough stack of copies with which to do a shootout fo find another.

Until then this is a great copy that belongs in your collection, and it’s QUIET. (more…)

Eric Clapton / At His Best – But Is It?

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Sonic Grade: D

This pressing, along with the rest of the series, was mastered by Robert Ludwig. The sound may be as rich and full as we described it years ago, but the tapes RL had to work with were dubs, so the sound is not up to audiophile standards, not ours anyway.

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.

Cream / Disraeli Gears – Live and Learn

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A classic case of Live and Learn

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Our shootout quite a while ago for Cream’s classic second album provided proof positive that We Was Wrong when we said:

No reissue we’ve ever played sounded especially good and none likely ever will.

Ah, but some do! We would love to tell you exactly what to look for so that you can go find one for yourself, but that’s bad for business as I’m sure you can see. Let’s just say there will be at least one later reissue of the album with very good grades coming soon to a site near you.

We also have to admit to being wrong about this:

If you’re expecting Sunshine of Your Love to rock on record like you remember it rockin’ on the radio back in the day, forget it. When you heard that song your brain added the bass and dynamics that are missing from the record. Either that or you did it through the loudness control on your old receiver. There’s maybe five db of dynamic range on that song and there can never be more than that.

There are copies with dynamic vocals on that track. The vocals are practically the only thing that do get loud, but on some copies they do; we heard it. Likewise, on some copies the drums have much more body and punch than than they do on most.

So, when it comes to bass and dynamics, yes, some copies have some, maybe even more than you remember. (more…)

Cream – Live Cream

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  • An outstanding copy of Live Cream, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Super lively and clear with the kind of bass that most pressings simply don’t have in our experience
  • 4 stars: “Foreground and background seem to dissolve as all three musicians take charge, using the full range of their instruments. And where Bruce goes with his bass, especially on ‘Sweet Wine,’ is every bit as rewarding as the places that Clapton’s guitar takes us; and Ginger Baker’s playing is a trip all its own. Performances like this single-handedly raised the stakes of musicianship in rock.”

Cream were certainly no slouches in the musicianship department, and this live performance captures them at the peak of their powers!

When you get a good copy of this album you’re sure to hear what we heard — that this is truly one of the great live rock albums (with a bit of studio material on side two as well). This has the Big Rock Sound that we go crazy for at Better Records. The best pressings, the ones that are full-bodied and smooth, let you crank the levels and reproduce the album good and loud the way it was meant to be heard.

When it’s all working, you’re front and center for a fiery Cream concert with these guys delivering one heckuva performance. And where else are you gonna get that these days?

Over the last twelve years that we’ve been doing our Hot Stamper thing we’ve heard scores of Cream albums; we know their music well, and they are hard to beat when playing live.live (more…)

Eric Clapton – Slowhand

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  • This KILLER of Clapton’s 1977 release boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • One of our favorite Clapton albums – this one is notoriously difficult to find good sound quality and reasonably quiet surfaces
  • With Glyn Johns behind the board, rest assured the sound will be suitably rich, smooth, sweet and above all ANALOG
  • 4 1/2 stars: “This is laid-back virtuosity — although Clapton and his band are never flashy, their playing is masterful and assured. That assurance and the album’s eclectic material make Slowhand rank with 461 Ocean Boulevard as one of Eric Clapton’s best albums.”

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Eric Clapton – Money and Cigarettes

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  • Money and Cigarettes makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • A superb pressing, with lovely richness and warmth, good space, separation between the instruments, and real immediacy throughout
  • ” Eric Clapton’s first album for Warner Bros. is an unexpected show of renewed strength after a debilitating illness and too many sleepy records… the simple, unaffected blues power at work here is surprising and refreshing.”

The one real flaw in the recording is the amount of compression the engineer used — it’s a bit heavy-handed. This is after all a radio-friendly pop album, so no surprise there.  (more…)

Eric Clapton – There’s One In Every Crowd

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Balanced, musical and full throughout – this pressing is a big step up from many of the other copies we played
  • Bigger and bolder, with more bass, more energy, and more of that “you-are-there-immediacy” of ANALOG that set the best vintage pressings apart from reissues, CDs, and whatever else you care to name
  • The sound and music here are very similar to 461 Ocean Boulevard, so if you’re a fan of that title, you’ll find much to like here

It is tough to find copies of There’s One In Every Crowd that aren’t murky, overly smooth and/or lifeless. If you’re a fan of this music and want to hear it come to life, this copy can do it! (more…)

Eric Clapton – Journeyman

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  • A superb sounding Duck/Reprise import copy with Double Plus (A++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget the dry sounding domestic copies – these imports were the only ones good enough for us to put in a shootout
  • Rich, lively, spacious – these imports are surprisingly good sounding for a recording from as late as 1989
  • The big hit was Pretending, but Bad Love (both went to Number One) won the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… a laid-back and thoroughly engaging display of Clapton’s virtuosity. On the whole, it’s the best studio album he’s released since Slowhand.”

(more…)

Cream / Wheels of Fire and its Glaring Lack of Bass

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It’s EXCEPTIONALLY difficult to find even decent sounding copies of this album. We’ve played SCORES of original domestic copies, original imports, and all kinds of reissues — trust me, most of them would make you cringe.

When you get a good copy, this music is AWESOME! For ’60s power trio hard rock, you just can’t do much better than the studio material.

White Room, Sitting On Top Of The World, Politician, Born Under A Bad Sign — this is the very essence of Classic Blues Rock. Unfortunately, the typical copy barely hints at the potential of this recording, and the audiophile pressings are even worse.

The DCC Gold CDs are especially bad in our opinion; they sound nothing like the good pressings we’ve played over the years.

Where’s The Bass?

Most early pressings you find these days are thrashed beyond belief. We used to pick up every clean Plum & Gold label copy we’d find back in he day, but no more. We gave up. The Cream magic was just plain missing from the early domestic pressings. The problem is simple: a glaring lack of bass.

Let’s think about that. Cream is a power trio. The music absolutely demands a solid, weighty bottom end. Sacrifice the bass and the sound is just too lean to rock.

We can sum up the sound of the whomp-less copies in a word: fatiguing. As is always the case, some copies sound better than others, but none could give us the kind of bass that we were hoping for. (more…)