Top Artists – Randy Newman

Randy Newman – Self-Titled

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  • Newman’s debut finally arrives on the site with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • The sound here is rich and full-bodied with much less grain and much more Tubey Magic than every other copy we played
  • 4 1/2 stars: “”Randy Newman creates something new under the sun,” read the banner on the back of Newman’s debut album, but it was more that, in keeping with the intended irony of the statement. . . this was an audacious first album by a major, if extremely quirky, talent.”

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Letter of the Week – Sail Away

Hot Stamper Pressings of Sail Away Available Now

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

Hey Tom,   

Another big surprise here; I almost cancelled ordering this before it shipped, as I have an old pressing that to me sounded White Hot Stamper material, impossible to improve on, and I intended just to shoot it out for kicks/education.

But this was a revelation, there was SO MUCH room for improvement. The whole thing as artistic edifice came alive with your pressing, conveying much more on an emotional and intellectual level than I’d picked up on before. And sound-wise it was so juicy in parts, just pure delight with those New Orleans horns.

I might have listened to this record a couple of times a year previously, whereas now it’s become a bible of soul and panache.

A short refresher on some Hot Stamper basics:

  • There can be no hot stamper designation without a shootout for the album having been done.
  • Good sounding records like the one you owned and was happy with are just good sounding records, not Hot Stampers.
  • Shootouts will sometimes be a revelation, as was the case here, White Hots especially. 
  • How high is up? You can’t know how good a record can sound until you play a bunch of copies and discover the one that shows you just how high “up” really is.
  • We’ve been doing shootouts for this album for well over a decade. We understand on a purely practical level exactly what the best copies can be expected to do, and how good the best copies can sound. If you haven’t played fifty copies of the album, how could you possibly know any of these things?

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Randy Newman – 12 Songs

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  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy of what some consider Randy Newman’s strongest album is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner – relatively quiet vinyl too
  • An excellent pressing, with a very strong bottom end, lovely richness and warmth, real space and separation between the instruments and wonderful immediacy throughout
  • The clarity of the piano and guitar perfectly support and complement Randy’s heartfelt vocals
  • 5 stars” “Superb material brilliantly executed, 12 Songs was Randy Newman’s first great album, and is still one of his finest moments on record.”

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Randy Newman – Sail Away

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than anything you have ever heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • Our favorite Newman album for both music and sound (12 Songs being the main competition)
  • 5 stars: “Whether he’s writing for three pieces or 30, Newman makes superb use of the sounds available to him, and his vocals are the model of making the most of a limited instrument. Overall, Sail Away is one of Newman’s finest works, musically adventurous and displaying a lyrical subtlety that would begin to fade in his subsequent works.”

Some of Newman’s best songs can be found on Sail Away, including Political Science, You Can Leave Your Hat On, Last Night I Had a Dream and of course the wonderful title track. AMG goes nuts about Sail Away, giving it the full 5 stars and calling it “musically adventurous” and “one of Newman’s finest works.”

If you only have room for one Randy Newman record in your collection, this would be our pick. (more…)

Randy Newman – Good Old Boys

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  • With two insanely good sides, each earning Shotoout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades, this copy KILLED all of the competition
  • Dramatically fuller and smoother than the average pressing
  • 5 Stars: “Good Old Boys is one of Newman’s finest albums; it’s also one of his most provocative and infuriating, and that’s probably just the way he wanted it.”

With Lenny Waronker and Russ Titelman producing, and Lee Herschberg and Donn Landee engineering, this album has the smooth, rich, analog sound you would expect, and it just happens to be a sound we love here at Better Records. It’s vintage 1974 Reprise. (more…)

Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Sings Newman – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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We’re huge Harry Nilsson fans here at Better Records, and it warms our hearts that many of our customers seem to be as well. We’ve been trying to track down great copies of this album for ages, but they are tough to come by in any condition and are often noisy and/or mediocre when we find ’em. This copy has the kind of rich, full, analog sound that we’ve been trying to find for years with so little luck.

Nilsson Sings Newman is the fourth Nilsson album, the one that came right before his masterpiece Nilsson Schmilsson. Harry is in fine form here, reinterpreting a dozen great Randy Newman songs with Newman himself accompanying on piano. We’ve enjoyed a number of Randy Newman’s songs over the years, but when you take his material and put a voice like Nilsson’s up front, the result is pure magic.

Many copies we’ve played were too gritty, grainy, and thin sounding to get excited about. This one’s got the richness, fullness and smoothness that we’ve been hoping for. The overall sound is lively and dynamic with excellent immediacy. The vocals are breathy, the piano has nice weight and the tonal balance is right on the money.

There’s some surface noise behind the music, pretty much always the case on this album (and also true for most old RCA vinyl on any album — it’s practically never quiet). I don’t think you could find a copy that sounds much better and plays any quieter no matter what you did. Most of the time the surfaces aren’t really a bother, but those of you who are fanatical about such a thing are advised to take a pass on this one. You’ll be missing some lovely music and wonderful sound however. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Little Criminals

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

Hey Tom,   

Good afternoon, Tom, I hope you are doing well today! I wanted to thank you so much for the Randy Newman Little Criminals LP I purchased from your website. This White Hot Stamper truly lives up to your assessment of it, with delightfully natural sound.

Thanks for listening!

Jonathan R.

Added 5/18

I was very honored to see my note to you about Randy Newman’s Little Criminals appear on your On the Record website.  Had I known that was a possibility, I would have gone into a lot more detail about how great the record sounds (especially since I’ve heard that early pressings of the album are very noisy, and your beautifully playing White Hot Stamper most decidedly is not).

Listened to it again on Saturday and am just amazed by the clarity and vibrancy of the LP.  That was money very well spent!

 

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Randy Newman – Little Criminals – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES, making this by far the best copy to ever hit our site! We recently finished our second-ever shootout for Little Criminals and it was a blast. We’ve only found out recently just how good the best sounding pressings of Randy Newman’s records can sound, and we were quite pleased with how rich, full and dynamic the Hot Stampers of this album are.

This album features the big hit “Short People” as well as a number of other great songs, including “Baltimore” which, as far as we’re concerned, is one of the best songs Newman ever wrote.

Both sides here absolutely knocked us out — nothing else in our shootout came close! The soundstage is super open and three-dimensional, the vocals and piano are full and present, and there’s absolutely no trace of thinness or edge.

This was Newman’s first commercially successful album and they stamped out a ton of them. The average copy is thin, dry, and stuck in the speakers — what a shame. Play enough of them, though, and eventually you might find a copy like this one, with wonderfully analog rich and full-bodied sound and the kind of presence that carries the music out of the speakers. (more…)