- This early pressing was hard to fault – it will put Tom Waits right between your speakers, with a batch of great session players behind and to the side, all playing live in the studio
- “The album contains more ballads than most of his records do, but they were the most effective vehicles for the kind of storytelling he was trying to get to. Produced and engineered by Bones Howe, Foreign Affairs was recorded live in studio by a quintet that included West Coast jazzmen Jack Sheldon on trumpet, saxophonist Frank Vicari, bassist Jim Hughart, and drummer Shelly Manne.
- This outstanding vintage Liberty MONO pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
- In-the-room presence, preternaturally breathy vocals, and boatloads of wonderful Tubey Magic
- This amazing sleeper of a record belongs right up at the top of Ms. London’s oeuvre (25 albums strong) along with Julie Is Her Name – high praise indeed
- 4 stars: “Usually put into a torch song setting, this release allows London to shed that garment and become jazzy. Instead of being sultry, she becomes dazzling and sparkling. She also becomes more adept at phrasing and timing and takes a risk or two in the tradition of a jazz singer.”
The great Jimmy Rowles plays piano, handled the arrangements and fronts the big group here, taking the music in a wonderfully jazzy direction that suits Julie’s vocal style perfectly.
Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Julie London singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now more than 63 years old), 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 less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide. (more…)
- A STUNNING copy of the group’s 1956 release with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
- The clarity and transparency on this vintage pressing are wonderful, but more importantly it’s the unerringly correct tonality that’s most impressive when you play these real Contemporary pressings against the competition
- Yet another amazing All Tube Contemporary recording from Roy DuNann and Lester Koenig at the beginning of the stereo era
- 4 1/2 stars: “During 1956-1957, bassist Curtis Counce led an excellent Los Angeles-based hard bop quintet… All of Counce’s recordings are well-worth getting by collectors [and especially audiophiles] interested in 1950s straight-ahead jazz [with top quality sound].”
Jack Sheldon is absolutely amazing and completely original on trumpet here. Check out his stellar work on the first track, Landslide. Not only that, but the sound of his instrument is wonderful — you’ll never hear a trumpet sound so rich and full on a Rudy Van Gelder recording, that’s for sure!
Both sides are over twenty minutes, giving you a lot of well-played West Coast Jazz for your money. (more…)
This is a nice looking Verve LP with relatively quiet vinyl and surprisingly good sound. Natural, smooth and sweet, I doubt there are copies out there that sound much better. The music itself is great fun. Hearing Mel sing with the female vocalists is really a treat. (more…)
If you like the sound of relaxed, tube-mastered jazz — and what red-blooded audiophile doesn’t — you can’t do much better than Jack Sheldon And His All-Star Band. The warmth and immediacy of the sound here are guaranteed to blow practically any Big Band record you own right out of the water.
This is a wonderful example of the kind of record that makes record collecting FUN.
If you large group swinging West Coast Jazz is your thing — think Art Pepper Plus Eleven — you should get a big kick out of this one.
Both sides of this very special pressing are huge, rich, tubey and clear. As soon as the band got going we knew that this was absolutely the right sound for this music. There was practically nothing that could beat it, in any area of reproduction. (more…)
- Insanely good sound throughout for this Contemporary Yellow Label pressing with both sides earning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades, just shy of our Shootout Winner
- These sides are superb — clean, clear, full-bodied and dynamic with tons of energy
- Counce is a wonderful bassist and here he’s joined by Jack Sheldon, Harold Land, Carl Perkins and Frank Butler; I think you’ll be very impressed with how good this music from the late ’50s still sounds today
- “Bassist Curtis Counce led one of the finer West Coast-based groups of the 1950s, a quintet that was greatly underrated… This excellent music falls somewhere between hard bop and cool jazz.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars
- A superb sounding copy on the real Contemporary label, boasting outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl throughout
- This vintage pressing has the studio space, presence, driving energy, and midrange magic that’s almost always missing from whatever 180g reissue (at 33 or 45, don’t fall for that BS) has been made from the 59 year old tapes
- “Although the Curtis Counce Quintet was not a commercial success, their four Contemporary albums were all timeless in their own way, undated examples of high-quality hard bop from the late ’50s. Excellent music that still sounds fresh four decades later.”
- Benny Goodman Swings Again makes its Hot Stamper debut with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too
- This Columbia Six Eye stereo pressing was hard to fault – big, open, clear, with space and three-dimensionality that modern pressings can only dream of
- On a live recording such as this, the transparency of this All Analog recording has the power to transport you to the front row of Ciro’s in West Hollywood – what a thrill!
- “With a particularly strong lineup that includes vibraphonist Red Norvo, tenorman Flip Phillips and trumpeter Jack Sheldon, this out-of-print LP features Benny Goodman at his best (even if the swing era had supposedly ended 15 years earlier).”
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. (more…)
- A superb copy of Anita’s 1961 release, with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
- Big space, breathy vocals, lovely leading edge transients on the brass, and plenty of Tubey Magic make this album a true audiophile treat
- Johnny Mandel’s and Russell Garcia’s arrangements are the perfect compliment to O’Day’s swinging vocals on this tribute to Billie Holiday
- 4 stars: “… most of this beautiful record find O’Day going her own way in a more forthright, less vulnerable manner… that make[s] haunting use of muted brass at ballad tempos. This was O’Day’s favorite among her Norgran/Verve albums.”
Great players on this one – Ben Webster, Jack Sheldon, Barney Kessel, Al Viola and Mel Lewis are just a handful of the top players on these sessions. A hard record to find in stereo with good vinyl; it took us years to put together this shootout. This ’60s Verve LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)