Top Artists – The Bee Gees

Letter of the Week – “I am still amazed by the negativity I read sometimes about your records and prices…”

More of the Music of Stevie Wonder

More on the Subject of Hot Stamper Pricing

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

Hey Tom,Β  Β 

I also offer my humble apologies for ordering one LP at a time, it started with that (insanely good by the way) 4-star pressing of my wife’s favorite Stevie Wonder record, then, I have been waiting for a solid B-52 pressing for years now, so I had to grab it and just today, I noticed the Bee Gees… just glad nobody snatched it before me, seriously, this is the HARDEST Bee Gees record to get in any condition at all !!

I am still amazed by the negativity I read sometimes about your records and prices… we talked about it before but, for god’s sake, nobody is forced to buy anything. Plus, you have very fair prices for hot stampers that are great pressings of the best records, if the luxury items are not your cup of tea.

Still keeping my eyes open for a 4-star (or maybe 5 stars πŸ˜‰ Hunky Dory one day. Would not mind a similar grade for a copy of Southern Accent too !!

Cheers,
David

My reply to David, in part:

The general ignorance and lack of curiosity of the audiophile community is really something, but who am I to complain? I held many of the same mistaken ideas about Heavy Vinyl up until about 2000, so let’s be fair and give the audiophile community another twenty years and hope they catch on the way we did here at Better Records.

But of course they won’t. We had to work very hard for more than twenty years to get to where we are now and most audiophiles don’t seem very interested in doing that. It takes time, effort and discipline to create, tweak and tune a system to be revealing and accurate. When it gets to be resolving and accurate enough, such a system can reveal to anyone how lacking the modern remastered LPs audiophiles love to collect really are.

Why would audiophiles want to put in all the work it takes to create such a system?

It would mean they would have to stop collecting all the new, fancily-packaged records being released these days.

Instead, they would have to start digging through the used record bins where actual good sounding records can be found and spend their nights and weekends cleaning them and critically listening to them to separate the winners from the losers.

Seems like a rough row to hoe.

We know exactly how rough it is, we hoed it.

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Bee Gees et al. – Saturday Night Fever

More Bee Gees

More 5 Star Albums

  • An OUTSTANDING copy of this ’70s classic with top quality sound on all FOUR sides
  • There’s real Bee Gees vocal magic here – “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” “More Than a Woman,” “Jive Talkin’,” and more!
  • One of the most underrated tracks that holds up surprisingly well after all these years is “A Fifth of Beethoven,” and it sounds great here
  • 5 stars: β€œSaturday Night Fever is virtually indispensable as a Bee Gees album, not just for the presence of an array of songs that were hits in their own right but because it offered the Gibb brothers as composers as well as artists…”
  • If you’re a Bee Gees fan, this title from 1977 is surely a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1977 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

This copy of the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack has truly killer sound throughout, and that ain’t no jive talkin’! We collected a bunch of these and put them through the shootout process and were delighted to find out that some of the material on here can sound wonderful on the best pressings.

Like any compilation, some songs are going to sound better than others. The good news here is that most of the tracks you’d hope to be impressive actually are: “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love” and “Disco Inferno” are among the better-sounding songs here.

Find your favorite song on here, drop the needle, and see if the dramatically improved sound doesn’t bring back some special memories, and maybe even inspire you to bust a move!

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Barbra Streisand / Guilty – Bab’s Best and Most Underrated Album (By Too Many Audiophiles Anyway)

More Barbra Streisand

This ain’t no zombie audiophile BS, the kind of sleep-inducing, reverb-drenched trash that passes for “female vocals” in bad audio showrooms around the globe. (Paging Diana Krall.) This is Barbra and The Bee Gees at the peak of their Pop Powers. It just doesn’t get any better.

This is THE BEST ALBUM Babs ever made, and you can take that to the bank. It’s also one of the best sounding, if not THE best sounding of her later Monster Pop Productions. Can’t say for sure as I haven’t played all that many. Her first album is a true Demo Disc as well, but that one’s all about the Tubey Magical ’60s Columbia era, the Golden Age of Natural Sound, a world away from Guilty and its layers and layers of tracks. Having said that, there are multi-tracks and then there are multi-tracks.

The engineers and producers here pull it off brilliantly.

If you don’t feel something deep inside when playing this record, open up a vein and let some of that ice water that passes for blood in your system run out.

It’s From WHERE?

This very copy was on the site for a long time. Nobody wanted to buy it even though it was quite cheap, and there’s a good reason nobody wanted to buy it:Β it’s a Japanese pressing.

That’s right, it’s one of those typically awful Japanese pressings that we criticize endlessly on the site, the purest form of audiophle BS vinyl in the history of the world. We played side one and heard the kind of sound that did not exactly float our boats. (Before it was cleaned itΒ reallyΒ sounded bad.)

But when we filpped it over we were positively KNOCKED OUT by the sound and decided it had to be part of our shootout. While evaluating the record the listening panel (mostly me) had no idea which pressing was playing. When the Side Two A Triple Plus Gold Star was awarded to this much-maligned Japanese pressing we were FLABBERGASTED.

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Bee Gees – Main Course

  • KILLER sound for this early RSO pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to them – this is the best sounding Main Course ever
  • I can’t recall how many times we’ve tried to get this shootout going and failed – this very pressing represents the breakthrough we were hoping for the last twenty or so years
  • 4 1/2 stars: “It may sound silly to call the 12th album by a group with an eight-year string of gold records behind them a “breakthrough,” but that’s what Main Course was… Years later, Main Course holds up as well as anything the group ever did, and with killer album cuts like “Wind of Change” (featuring a superb Joe Farrell tenor sax solo) and “Edge of the Universe” all over it, demands as much attention as any hits compilation by the group.”

The impossible has happened – we found a good sounding copy of Main Course. The right stampers eluded us for a very long time, but we finally lucked into a good sounding pressing, and that allowed us to put the wheels in motion for this shootout.

Here are some other titles that represent the most dramaticΒ BreakthroughsΒ from the last ten years or so. (more…)

Barbra Streisand / Guilty – CBS Half-Speed Debunked

More of the Music of Barbra Streisand

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Barbra Streisand

Sonic Grade: F

An Audiophile Hall of ShameΒ pressing and aΒ Half-Speed Mastered DisasterΒ if there ever was one.

The two CBS Half Speeds of the album that we played had very different sound. Imagine that! Our story:

We had two copies of the CBS Half-Speed in stock, and having just done a big shootout for the album, we decided to play them to see how they stood up against The Real Thing, the real thing in this case being a pretty common pressing: a plain old Columbia original.

One copy was dead as a doornail, so smooth, opaque and lifeless it would have put you to sleep.

The other literally sounded like a CD, and not a very good one at that.

Grungy, gritty, hard and cold, it was everything we analog lovers hate about digital.

We grade both copies F for Failing. If you want a good sounding one steer clear of the CBS Half Speed. (more…)

Bee Gees / Spirits Having Flown – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

We sat down with a big stack of pressings recently and only found a few that really had their mojo workin’. This copy was one of the best we heard, earning an A+++ grade on side one — where the best songs are found — and performing quite well on side two also (A+ to A++). The energy factor is off the charts on side one, and that’s exactly what this music needs to really come to life. You are going to be surprised how rich and full-bodied this album can sound when you have a great copy like this.

Variety is the spice of life, and since we can’t play Neil Young records every week we decided to take this disco classic for a spin. We were very impressed with the better pressings, but most copies we played bored us to tears. Most copies are just too thin and dry to take seriously, and even the richer and fuller ones usually lacked too much in the way of life or immediacy. (more…)

Bee Gees – Trafalgar

  • An outstanding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound form start to finish – the first to ever hit the site!
  • The code has finally been cracked – thisΒ specificΒ early Atco domestic pressing showed us a huge, rich, Tubey Magical Trafalgar we had no idea could even exist, mostly because all the British LPs we had on hand for the shootout were a joke next to it
  • The lead single “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” was the first Bee Gees’ No. 1 single in the United States
  • 4 stars – “Trafalgar remains one of the Bee Gees’ most critically acclaimed albums and can be found within the pages of 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die.”

This vintage Atco pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for —Β this sound. (more…)

Bee Gees – 2 Years On

  • The Bee Gee’s 1970 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Tubey Magical, with strong midrange presence, the sound here is worlds away from the dubby domestic pressings sitting in the bins at your local record store
  • This album marked the musical reunion of the Gibb brothers, and the band returned with this “surprisingly hard-edged… more progressive” sound
  • 4 stars: “…[with 2 Years On] the Bee Gees suddenly found themselves right back in the thick of popular music, and as close to the cutting edge of pop/rock as they’d ever been.”

Why does no one ever mention that the song Lonely Days that starts off side two, which is surely one of the best tracks these boys ever recorded, had its arrangement, structure and harmonies stolen and reworked by Jeff Lynne throughout the entire time he was fronting ELO? That’sΒ hisΒ sound, but the BeeGees had it first! (more…)