Top Artists – Red Garland

John Coltrane – Black Pearls

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  • This superb 1958 stereo LP boasts two Triple Plus (A+++) sides – the sound of this copy simply cannot be beat
  • It’s big, lively, tubey, present and very transparent – nothing we played could compete with it
  • A great Rudy Van Gelder recording that hits a whole nother level on a copy like this
  • 4 stars on Allmusic: “…captures Coltrane at the height of perfecting the intense volley that would garner the name ‘sheets of sound.’ “

A killer copy of this wonderful 1958 Coltrane album, unbeatable on either side! We heard one that blew us away a few years big, so we picked up a bunch more and finally had the chance to evaluate them. The music was always enjoyable, but on a copy like this things really get going. Coltrane is joined here by Donald Byrd, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor — a top lineup, the same crew behind the great Lush Life. (more…)

Jackie McLean – McLean’s Scene

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  • McLean’s 1959 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl for the most part as well
  • Surprisingly rich, lively and clear, with plenty of space for this exceptional group to occupy
  • Credit must go to Rudy Van Gelder once again for capturing the swinging energy of this superbly sympathetic ensemble
  • 4 stars: “McLean never really copied Charlie Parker and was one of the first in his generation to develop his own sound.”

*NOTE: A mark makes 2 moderately light stitches during the intro and one moderate stitch near the end of track 1, Gone With The Wind. There is nothing to fault in the sound of side one of this pressing , and side two was nearly as good – what a record!

Both sides are Tubey Magical, rich, open, spacious and tonally correct. These guys are playing live in the studio and you can really feel their presence on every track — assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one.

Based on what I’m hearing my feeling is that most of the natural, full-bodied, smooth, sweet sound of the album is on the master tape, and that all that was needed to transfer that vintage sound correctly onto vinyl disc was simply to thread up the tape on a high quality machine and hit play.

The fact that practically nobody seems to be able to make an especially good sounding record these days — certainly not as good sounding as this one — tells me that in fact I’m wrong to think that such an approach would work. Somebody should have been able to figure out how to do it by now. In our experience that is simply not the case today, and has not been for many years, if not decades. (more…)

John Coltrane – Lush Life – Should You Collect the Original Pressing on this Title?

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No. We was wrong about Lush Life.

Previously we had written:

“There are great sounding originals, but they are few and far between…”

We no longer believe that to be true. In fact we believe the opposite of that statement to be true. The original we had on hand — noisy but with reasonably good sound, or so we thought — was an absolute joke next to our best Hot Stamper pressings. Half the size, half the clarity and presence, half the life and energy, half the immediacy, half the studio space. It was simply not remotely competitive with the copies we now know (or at least believe, all knowledge being provisional) to have the best sound.

Are there better originals than the ones we’ve played? No doubt. If you want to spend your day searching for them, more power to you. And if you do find one that impresses you, we are happy to send you one of our Hot Copies to play against it. We are confident that the outcome would be clearly favorable to our pressing. Ten seconds of side one should be enough to convince you that our record is in an entirely different league, a league we had no idea even existed until just this year.

By the way, the mono original we played was by far the worst sound I have ever heard for the album. By far.

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Red Garland Trio – Red Garland’s Piano

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  • Red Garland’s third studio album makes its Hot Stamper debut on this early mono pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • The sound is clear, spacious, relaxed, and full-bodied, with Tubey Magical richness and analog smoothness that on the best vintage pressings can offer
  • Another top jazz recording from Rudy Van Gelder – big, bold and lively, just the right sound for this music
  • 4 stars: “Red Garland’s third session as a leader finds the distinctive pianist investigating eight standards (including ‘Please Send Me Someone to Love,’ ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy,’ ‘If I Were a Bell,’ and ‘Almost Like Being in Love’) with his distinctive chord voicings, melodic but creative ideas, and solid sense of swing.”

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Standard Coltrane – If You’re Looking for the Best Sound…

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As you may have guessed by now, remastered is a bit of a dirty word around these parts. Most remastered records we play, from The Beatles to John Coltrane to ZZ Top, sound to us like pale imitations of the real thing, whether the real thing is an original or a reissue from back in the day.

But only a fool could fail to appreciate how correct and lively the best copies of this remastered record sound, and we’re no fools here at Better Records. We judge records by one and only one criterion: how they sound. We pay no mind to labels, record thicknesses, playback speeds, mastering speeds or anything else you can read about on audiophile websites.

We’re looking for the best sound. We don’t care where it comes from. (more…)

John Coltrane – Lush Life – We Review the DCC, OJC, and Original Pressings

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Sonic Grade: B or so (DCC) 
Sonic Grade: C or so (OJC) 

The DCC heavy vinyl pressing is a nice record; I remember liking it back in the day. I’m guessing it’s a bit better than the ’80s OJC, which is, like most OJC pressings, typically thin and hard. Neither one of them can hold a candle to the pressings we offer on the site.

If for some reason we could not find copies of the album that substantially beat the sound of either of these two remastered LPs, we simply would not have anything to offer, since neither of these versions could be considered Hot Stampers. Nice records, sure, but Hot Stampers? Not a chance.

It was only a few months ago, early in 2016 in fact, that we chanced upon the right kind of pressing — the right era, the right label, the right stampers, the right sound. Not just the right sound though. Better sound than we ever thought this album could have.

Previously we had written:

“There are great sounding originals, but they are few and far between…”

We no longer believe that to be true. In fact we believe the opposite of that statement to be true. The original we had on hand — noisy but with reasonably good sound, or so we thought — was an absolute joke next to our best Hot Stamper pressings. Half the size, half the clarity and presence, half the life and energy, half the immediacy, half the studio space. It was simply not remotely competitive with the copies we now know (or at least believe, all knowledge being provisional) to have the best sound.

Are there better originals than the ones we’ve played? No doubt. If you want to spend your day searching for them, more power to you. And if you do find one that impresses you, we are happy to send you one of our Hot Copies to play against it. We are confident that the outcome would be clearly favorable to our pressing. Ten seconds of side one should be enough to convince you that our record is in an entirely different league, a league we had no idea even existed until just this year.

By the way, the mono original we played was by far the worst sound I have ever heard for the album. By far. (more…)

John Coltrane – The Last Trane

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  • Coltrane’s wonderful 1966 release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and and outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • A superb album compiled from three mono recording sessions from 1957 and 1958, featuring brilliant accompaniment by Donald Byrd and Red Garland, among others
  • The recording is huge and lively in the long and storied tradition of Rudy Van Gelder’s Coltrane sessions from the fifties
  • The original Blue Trident Prestige mono pressings are clearly superior to anything that came after them, and that is of course what we are offering here

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Miles Davis – Steamin’ – A Thousand Bucks and Worth Every Penny (When It Sounds Like This and Plays This Quietly)

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  • Insanely good sound throughout for this extremely rare original Prestige Yellow and Black label pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This early Mono pressing takes the sound of the recording to a place we never thought it could go – never have we heard an album from these famous sessions sound as good as this very LP
  • An original in pristine condition, with this kind of sound, is a record that is very unlikely to pass our way again
  • 5 stars: “The end results are consistently astonishing. At the center of Steamin’, as with most outings by this band, are the group improvisations which consist of solo upon solo of arguably the sweetest and otherwise most swinging interactions known to have existed between musicians.”

WOW — this Prestige Yellow Label Mono pressing has some of the most realistic, natural Miles Davis sound we’ve ever heard! Both sides earned A+++ grades and play Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, truly exceptional for a vintage pressing such as this one. You will have an incredibly difficult time finding a copy that can hold its own with this one. (more…)

Miles Davis – Steamin’

More Miles Davis

More Steamin’

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

WOW — this Prestige Yellow Label Mono pressing has some of the most realistic, natural Miles Davis sound we’ve ever heard! Both sides earned A+++ grades and play Mint Minus Minus or a little better, truly exceptional for a vintage pressing such as this one. You will have an incredibly difficult time finding a copy that can hold its own with this one. (more…)

Miles Davis – The Beginning (aka: The Musings of Miles)

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  • Here is a killer early pressing of Miles’ 1955 Prestige album with superb Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides and vinyl that is going to be very hard to find any quieter 
  • Unusually rich, full-bodied, lively and present, sound that brings out the best in Miles’ music
  • Recorded in All Tube Mono, this is the real sound of these four jazz giants playing live-in-the-home-studio of none other than a Mr Rudy Van Gelder
  • “Miles Davis was in the process of forming his first classic quintet when he recorded this date… The trumpeter is featured with pianist Red Garland, bassist Oscar Pettiford, and drummer Philly Joe Jones, playing four standards plus a blues (“Green Haze”) and “I Didn’t,” his answer to Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t.””

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