Top Artists – Loggins and Messina

Loggins & Messina – These Choruses Really Get Up and Going

Hot Stamper Albums with Huge Choruses that Are Big and Clear

More Records that Are Good for Testing Big, Clear and Lively Choruses

At about the two minute mark the big chorus in Watching the River Run is also a great test for weight, resolution, dynamic energy, and freedom from strain in the loudest parts. When the whole band is really belting it out, the shortcomings of any copy will be exposed, assuming you are playing the album at loud levels on big dynamic speakers.

It was a key test every pressing had to pass. That’s what makes it a Good Test Disc.

When the music gets loud you want it to get better, with more size, energy and, especially, emotional power, just they way it would be heard in concert.

Any strain or congestion in the choruses we hear in our shootout causes the pressing in question to be downgraded substantially.

Hot Stampers are all about the life of the music, and when this music gets lively, it needs to be clear and clean.

This is of course one of the biggest issues we have with Heavy Vinyl — it never gets up and it never gets going the way real records do. “Boring” is the adjective we most commonly use to critique the few we hear, and who wants to listen to boring records?

EQ Issues

Practically all copies have a midrange equalization problem, with a lack of lower mids and boosted upper mids, which often thins out the vocals and leads to hardness and honkiness.

The better copies manage to keep the EQ anomalies within bounds while giving us full-bodied pianos; rich, lively vocals, full of presence and brimming with enthusiasm; harmonically-rich guitars, and a three-dimensional soundstage that reveals the space around them all. (more…)

Loggins and Messina – Mother Lode

More Loggins and Messina

  • This outstanding copy of Mother Lode boasts Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • A surprisingly dynamic, well-recorded album – with Demo Disc quality sound – and a personal favorite from way back
  • I can’t recall another pop or rock recording that better captures both the plucked energy and the harmonic nuances of the mandolin
  • Never a band to find favor with the critics, even Allmusic had to concede that the album was “Elegantly, tastefully accomplished.”

This superb Hot Stamper pressing of L&M’s fourth release demonstrates pretty convincingly just how well-recorded this album is! The bottom end is tight and punchy, and the clarity and transparency are truly off-the-charts.

When Jim Messina rips into his mandolin solo half way through Be Free, your jaw is likely to hit the ground. On the best copies, it positively LEAPS out of the left speaker. I can’t recall another pop or rock recording that captures either the plucked energy or the harmonic nuances of the instrument better.

To hear such a well-recorded mandolin on a copy of this quality is nothing less than a THRILL.

This copy gives us full-bodied pianos; rich, lively vocals, full of presence and brimming with enthusiasm; harmonically-rich guitars, mandolins, dobros and the like, as well as a three-dimensional soundstage that reveals the space around them all. (more…)

Loggins and Messina – On Stage

More Loggins and Messina

More Country and Country Rock

  • Tubey Magical, lively and clear, with three-dimensionality that will fill your listening room from wall to wall
  • A pressing this good puts you front and center at these live performances, recorded on two dates, at the famous Orpheum Theatre in Boston and the incomparable Carnegie Hall
  • 4 stars: “After a gorgeous yet subdued introduction by Loggins as a solo performer on a handful of numbers, Messina and the band take the stage and loft the proceedings into a bracing mix of folk- and country-rock.”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this 1974 release surely belongs in your collection

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The 20 to 1 Ratio for Finding Your Personal Favorites

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently (and one that is still on its way to him):

Hey Tom, 

So I go on YouTube to refresh my memory and listen and James Taylor, that could be good, Toto, what a feel good album, brings back memories, Wish You Were Here, already have a pretty good copy, Sinatra-Basie, what’s that?

So I go to YouTube and first track HOLY CRAP! You know it’s good when you’re throwing a sound stage off your lap-top! Basie orchestra, perfect. Frank comes in swinging and man that guy was so freaking cool, people today have no idea how unbelievably cool he was, and so like 20 seconds if that I am SOLD!!!😂😂😂

Francis A and Edward K was a fave for years. You turned me onto Mel Torme Swings Schubert Alley. Fabulous voice. What I love most of all though is the sense of live flowing swinging music of FA&EK and with Basie. Gets me even off the laptop!

You know, there’s two kinds of audiophiles, the ones who want a vast array of new music, and the ones who are happy with only a small amount of high quality music.

I am definitely in the second group. Love new music but when it comes to what I will sit and listen, very hard to please. When I do find something new though, man do I ever appreciate it. Got a good feeling about Sinatra-Basie. Thanks!

I replied:

One quick note: I would not be happy with a “small amount” of new music, but I am very happy with a “smaller amount.” Quality over quantity, right? Mediocre records don’t get played — that’s at least one of the many reasons that so many audiophile pressings still remain in pristine condition decades after their production.

I like to say that you have to buy twenty albums to find the one you will fall in love with, and without those other 19 you will never discover the one.

There is no way to predict any of this music stuff. Or sound stuff. You have to experience it, and to experience it you have to spend the time and you definitely have to spend some money.

The work we do in pursuing this hobby is supposed to be fun, and most of the time it is, but it is definitely work to buy hundreds of records and set aside the time to play them. I’ve been doing it since I was about 17; I can still remember the converted house of a record store I used to shop at in Leucadia right off the coast highway here in California.

I bought Loggins and Messina’s first album there the year it came out, 1971, because I was already a big Poco fan and Buffalo Springfield fan and Jim Messina was in both. Bought Frampton’s Wind of Change from the same store the next year. Not even sure why I bought that one. I don’t think I knew who Peter Frampton was and I certainly had no idea who Humble Pie were.

Both became favorites and have been played hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times in the intervening five decades. (We have a section for these kinds of records which can be found here.)

I needed to buy two or three thousand records to find my top one or two hundred, the records, like our writer here, that I play over and over and never tire of.

It never made any sense to me to accumulate lots of records just to own lots of records, the way this guy did.

Knowing just how much work it takes to dig deeply into the music and the sound of any album makes owning this kind of big collection a sure sign of a superficial approach to both the music and the sound.

It’s easy to buy lots of records. Getting to know them in a serious way is a great deal harder, and a great deal more rewarding if you are serious about sound.

For those of you who insist on doing things a different way, we wish you good luck.

Best, TP

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Rockin’ the Mandolin with Loggins and Messina

More of the Music of Loggins and Messina

More Country and Country Rock

A recent White Hot Stamper pressing of L&M’s fourth release demonstrates pretty convincingly just what an amazing DEMO DISC this album can be. When Jim Messina rips into his mandolin solo half way through Be Free your jaw is likely to hit the ground. On the best copies it positively LEAPS out of the left speaker.

I can’t recall another pop or rock recording that captures either the plucked energy or the harmonic nuances of the instrument better. To hear such a well-recorded mandolin on a copy of this quality is nothing less than a THRILL.

This copy gives us full-bodied pianos; rich, lively vocals, full of presence and brimming with enthusiasm; harmonically-rich guitars, mandolins, dobros and the like, as well as a three-dimensional soundstage that reveals the space around them all.

What to Listen For

What typically separates the killer copies from the merely good ones are two qualities that we often look for in the records we play: transparency and lack of smear.

Transparency allows you to hear into the recording, reproducing the ambience and subtle musical cues and details that high-resolution analog is known for.

Note that most Heavy Vinyl pressings being produced these days seem to be quite Transparency Challenged. Lots of important musical information — the kind we hear on even second-rate regular pressings — is simply nowhere to be found.

Lack of smear is also important, especially on a recording with so many plucked instruments. The speed and clarity of the transients, the sense that fingers are pulling on strings, strings that are ringing with tonally correct harmonics, is what makes these L&M records so much fun to play.

The best copies really get that sound right, in the same way that the best copies of Cat Stevens’ records get the sound of stringed instruments right.

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Loggins and Messina – So Fine

More Loggins and Messina

More Country and Country Rock

  • This shootout winning White Hot Stamper side two will show you just how good this album can sound
  • Side two has space and energy like no other, with plenty of weight down low (an L&M trademark)
  • Side one is richly Tubey Magical, with the kind of breathy vocals that are critical to the better copies
  • The last of the good Loggins and Messina albums and well worth a listen

The reading here of A Lover’s Question is one of my favorite tracks on any L&M album. The music on side two might be somewhat better than side one, so start your listening on that side to get the most from this collection of favorite early rock and roll tracks.

Side Two

This copy is so big, clean, clear and rich it makes the mix work like magic. Here everything is laid out perfectly. No other copy could do what this copy was doing, which is basically showing you just how good the master tape must be.

Side One

Rich vocals, an extended top end, with good clarity and presence, this side was getting the heart of the music right.

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Loggins and Messina – Hear that Boost at 10K?

More of the Music of Loggins and Messina

Recordings that Are Good for Testing Sibilance

Practically any copy you find will have a bit of a boost in the bottom end. The kick drum really kicks on this album, more than it should in fact.

And almost all copies have too much top end right around 10k. The ones with the worst case of boosted highs and boosted bass sound like they were mastered by Stan Ricker and pressed in Japan, much like those put out by a famous label back in the ’70s.

Oddly enough, many audiophiles to this day do not seem to know that this particular label has been responsible for a slough of the phoniest sounding audiophile records ever pressed.

There is also a sibilance problem with the recording. Some copies keep it under control, while other, more crudely mastered and pressed ones, suffer greatly from spitty vocals, especially noticeable on Danny’s Song. The better copies will tend to have the “cleanest,” least-objectionable sibilance.

Sibilance is a bitch. The best pressings, with the most extension up top and the least amount of aggressive grit and grain mixed in with the music, played using the highest quality properly set up front ends, will keep sibilance to a minimum.

VTA, tracking weight, azimuth and anti-skate adjustments are critical to reducing the spit in your records.

We discuss the sibilance problems of MoFi records all the time. Have you ever read Word One about this problem elsewhere? Of course not.

Audiophiles and the hacks that write for them just seem to put up with these problems, or ignore them, or — even worse — simply fail to recognize them at all.

Play around with your table setup for a few hours and you will no doubt be able to reduce the severity of the sibilance on your favorite test and demo discs. All your other records will thank you for it too.

Back to Sittin’ In

The best copies manage to keep the EQ anomalies within bounds, while giving us full-bodied pianos; rich, lively vocals, full of presence and brimming with enthusiasm; harmonically-rich guitars; and a three-dimensional soundstage, revealing the space around them all.

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Loggins and Messina – The Best of Friends

More Loggins and Messina

More Country and Country Rock

  • White Hot on side two, Super Hot on one, killer from start to finish
  • The sound of Master Tapes, not dubs, shocking as it may seem
  • So many of the band’s best songs on one LP make this a Must-Own
  • This copy rocks with all the energy that L&M’s super-tight band is capable of

Both of the copies in this 2-pack have one excellent side and one side that just didn’t meet our standards, so we combined them to give you Super Hot Stamper sound for the entire album.

The best news we have to report concerning this compilation is that it does not sound at all like a compilation, and by that we mean that the best copies don’t sound “dubby”, flat, small or compressed. The best copies, in fact, ROCK, with all the energy that the band is capable of.

You may have noticed that we do very few Greatest Hits albums here at Better Records, for the simple reason that most greatest hits albums don’t sound very good. This is one of the few exceptions to that rule that we’ve come across in our record playing travels over the years.

The best originals may be better, but the difference between our Hot Stampers of this album and whatever original pressing you own should be pronounced, in our favor of course. (more…)

Kenny Loggins – Celebrate Me Home

More Loggins and Messina

  • One of the best copies to ever hit the site and boy is it killer — Triple Plus (A+++) sound, or close to it, from start to finish
  • Both sides here are rich, full and Tubey Magical with a massive bottom end and lots of space around the instruments
  • It’s also one of the only Loggins solo albums I’ve ever liked; it’s a favorite of mine from back in the day
  • Allmusic 4 Stars: “Loggins is in good form throughout the record, and if even only the title track entered his readily-acknowledged canon, this has a fine, sustained mood: a soft late ’70s vibe that makes it a nice artifact of its time, as well as one of his stronger records, as illustrated by its platinum status — something it achieved without any blockbuster singles.”

This killer copy shows you just how good this record can sound, which is surprisingly good, considering how many copies of the album are just plain awful. Finally, most of the grit, grain, and transitory opacity have fallen away, leaving in its place the rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical ’70s sound one would expect.

As obvious as it may sound (especially to anyone on this site), the master tape is a whole lot better than the average copy of the record would have you believe. This copy is proof positive. Without a doubt this is one of the best pressings of the album we have ever heard.

Two Amazing Sides

The best copies take top honors for rhythmic energy and real frequency extension both high and low. Most copies have no real top end; if you own one give it a listen and we think you’ll agree with us.

Great bass, plenty of Tubey Magic, clarity and richness — no other copy in our shootout could do what this one was doing. (more…)

Loggins & Messina – Self-Titled

More Loggins and Messina

More Country and Country Rock

  • A STUNNING copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • This pressing allows the music to be totally involving, with breathy voices; clear, natural picking on the strings of the guitars and mandolins; choruses that get good and loud – everything you want from this band is here and more
  • L & M are famous for putting plenty of bass on their recordings, but the trick is to find the pressing that actually keeps that bass tightly under control, like this one
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The first full-fledged L&M album found the duo in good form as songwriters, with Messina turning in the sparkling ‘Thinking Of You,’ and the two collaborating on the hit single ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’ and ‘Angry Eyes.'”

We’re big fans of this band, not only for their music but also because their recordings are so good. We know this album about as well as anyone can, having done countless shootouts for it over the years. When it’s good, it’s really good, and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it.

What we have here is the perfect example of a top quality analog studio pop recording. It’s rich, sweet, and dynamic, with the kind of sound that has practically disappeared from the face of the earth. Not to worry though; it can still be found on certain pressings from the ’70s, the ones that we put so much time and effort into auditioning. Why shouldn’t we? It’s where the BEST SOUND is. (more…)