Top Artists – Loggins and Messina

Loggins and Messina / Sittin’ In – Hear that Boost at 10K?

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Recordings that Are Good for Testing Sibilance

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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 (more…)

Kenny Loggins – The Best of Friends

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More Country and Country Rock

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  • 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 slightly 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

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  • 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

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More Country and Country Rock

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  • 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…)

Loggins & Messina – Full Sail

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  • Excellent Double Plus sound or better on both sides
  • Our first shootout for the album – it’s been a long time coming
  • Both sides are clean, clear, lively and present with deep punchy bass
  • “[Messina] achieves a musical flow that’s exhilarating …”

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 – On Stage

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More Country and Country Rock

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  • A STUNNING copy of this superb live double album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on two sides and outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on the remaining two
  • 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.”

(more…)

Loggins and Messina – Mother Lode

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  • An incredible copy of Mother Lode with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • A surprisingly 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 captures either the plucked energy or the harmonic nuances of the mandolin better
  • 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 & Messina – Sittin’ In

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  • This copy of L&M’s debut and Masterpiece boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is big, lively, open and clear with Tubey Magical richness that only these good vintage pressings can show you
  • One of our favorite albums, this one just keeps getting better and better
  • Every track on side one is brilliant, from Nobody But You, to Danny’s Song, to Vahevala, to the ending of the Trilogy with Peace of Mind
  • 4 1/2 stars: “With their infectious blend of country, folk, rock and Caribbean music, L&M started out at the top of their game”

We love this album and have been playing it regularly since it came out in 1972. That’s a long time, and the good news is it just keeps getting better and better, like all the better records in your collection should. (more…)

Loggins & Messina – Full Sail – Choruses that Really Get Up and Going

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

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 projecting, really belting it out, the shortcomings of practically any copy will be most evident. It was a key test every pressing had to pass.  

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 results in the loss of serious points. (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?)

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 & Messina’s Early Albums – Listening in Depth to Their Classic Yacht Rockers

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More Loggins & Messina’s Early Albums

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your Loggins and Messina albums. (For those in need of some good sounding L&M vinyl, click on the link below to see what we have available and why we think at least some of their records belong in your collection.)

The elements that make up a good sounding Loggins and Messina album can be found, in varying degrees, on all the Hot Stamper pressings we offer. Permit us to break them down for you. (We’ve borrowed heavily from ourselves here so if this material looks familiar don’t be surprised, we’ve used it before.)

Top End Extension

Absolutely critical to this record. Most copies of this album have no extreme highs, which causes the percussion and guitar harmonics to be blunted and dull. Without extreme highs the percussion can’t extend up and away from the other elements in the mix. Consequently these elements end up fighting for space in the midrange and getting lost in the dense mixes that Jim Messina favors (and we audiophiles love). (more…)