Top Artists – The Kinks

The Kinks – Lola Versus Powerman… – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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EXCELLENT SOUND ON BOTH SIDES, A+++ for the first and A++ for the second — I don’t remember ever hearing a better copy! This is the first copy to make it to the site in over three years, and there were only a small handful to hit the site before that. It’s hard to find clean early Kinks pressings, and it’s much tougher to find ones like this that actually sound good!

Now this obviously ain’t the best sounding album in the world, but this copy sure sounds better than the ones we played it against. The sound is lively, clean, transparent and natural. Most importantly, it sounds CORRECT. (more…)

The Kinks on Get Back Heavy Vinyl

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Sonic Grade: F

HALL OF SHAME PRESSINGS, EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM

Some of the worst sound I have ever heard on Heavy Vinyl. The average cassette sounds better than these vinyl pieces of crap. 


More Heavy Vinyl Reviews

Here are some of our reviews and commentaries concerning the many Heavy Vinyl pressings we’ve played over the years, well over 200 at this stage of the game. Feel free to pick your poison.

Heavy Vinyl Commentaries

Heavy Vinyl Disasters

Heavy Vinyl Mediocrities

Heavy Vinyl Winners

There are many kinds of audiophile pressings — Half-Speeds, Direct-to-Discs, Heavy Vinyl Remasters, Japanese Pressings, the list of records offered to the audiophile with supposedly superior sound quality is endless. Having been in the audiophile record biz for more than thirty years, it has been our misfortune to have played them by the hundreds,

In order to help you avoid the worst of the worst, we put a great many of them in a section of their own, which we call:

Bad Sounding Audiophile Records – The Complete List

How did we find so many bad sounding records? The same way we find so many good sounding ones. We included them in our shootouts, comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stampers.

When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more inexcusable.

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The Kinks – Misfits

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  • With seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides, this was one of the better copies we heard in our recent Misfits shootout
  • Quite a bit richer and tubier than most of what we auditioned, qualities that helped the acoustic-guitar-based tracks work their magic 
  • The big hit here was Rock and Roll Fantasy and it sounds every bit as good as you hope it would
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The Kinks became arena rockers with Sleepwalker, and its follow-up, Misfits, follows in the same vein, but it’s a considerable improvement on its predecessor…Misfits is a moving record that manages to convey deep emotions while rocking hard. The Kinks hadn’t made a record this good since Muswell Hillbillies.”

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The Kinks / Kinda Kinks – Stick with the Mono Tri-Color Pressings

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  • This outstanding copy of The Kinks’ sophomore release has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
  • This Pink and Green Reprise original MONO pressing is lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Richness the Kinks’ recordings need in order to sound the way they should
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…this album showcased a much more sophisticated sound… it also put them right in the front of the British Invasion pack for seriousness and complexity, out in front of where the Beatles or almost any of the competition were in early 1965…”

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The Kinks – Face To Face

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  • A very strong copy of this ’60s classic, one of the few to every make it to the site – they’re hard to find!
  • Both sides earned Double Plus (A++) grades, putting this pressing far ahead of the pack
  • It’s taken us ages to find this album with anything approaching smooth, full-bodied, musical sound
  • 5 big stars on Allmusic: “The Kink Kontroversy was a considerable leap forward in terms of quality, but it pales next to Face to Face, one of the finest collections of pop songs released during the ’60s.

Side two has four or five bubbles that make 4 or 5 light thumps under the music.

We’ve played plenty of copies of Face To Face over the years and most of them have left us cold. Let’s face it — The Kinks weren’t the most well-recorded band, so only the very best pressings of their albums can deliver sound that is both correct and audiophile-friendly. Not every album needs to be a hi-fi spectacular and that’s not what Kinks albums are about, but as audiophiles we can’t help but hope for copies that will bring the music to life without too many sonic limitations.

Most pressings are too thin, too grainy, and too gritty on the vocals. We’re willing to make some sonic sacrifices for music this good, but we can’t abide sound that leaves us wondering if the record on our table was previously played by someone with a bad needle. Of course, after hearing that same sound on so many copies, we recognized that the grit and grain were cut right on to the records.

Face To Face will never be a demo disc, but at least with our Hot Stampers is can finally sound mostly right. If you’re a Kinks fan, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s been worth the wait. (more…)

The Kinks – The Great Lost Kinks Album

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  • An outstanding copy of the band’s 1973 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • This one knocks it out of the park – it’s lively and rich, with plenty of deep punchy bass, a nicely extended top and a huge three-dimensional soundfield
  • If you enjoy the classic late ’60s Kinks albums such as Village Green, Arthur, and Lola, you are going to love this album
  • 4 1/2 stars: “An aptly titled collection; out of print for many years, there are even some Kinks cultists who have never been able to hear this ragtag but worthy collection of late-’60s and early-’70s outtakes and rarities… Kinks fans will find it quite worthwhile, and should be on the lookout for it…”

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The Kinks – To The Bone

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  • The Kinks’ 1994 live release makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound on this rare UK pressing is full-bodied and lively, with solid, present vocals, as well as excellent clarity all around
  • “… the bandmembers financed their acoustic greatest-hits record To the Bone themselves, releasing it on the U.K. independent label Grapevine. Naturally, Ray Davies’ songs work well in such a stripped-back setting… featuring a lovely version of “Waterloo Sunset,” possibly the most beautiful song of the rock & roll era.”

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The Kinks – Kinda Kinks in Stereo

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Kinda Kinks

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  • Very good Hot Stamper sound on both sides of this original STEREO copy of The Kinks’ sophomore release
  • There’s a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Richness these recordings need in order to work on this copy
  • The monos win the shootouts but the better original stereo pressings can sound quite good on their own terms
  • “…this album showcased a much more sophisticated sound… it also put them right in the front of the British Invasion pack for seriousness and complexity, out in front of where the Beatles or almost any of the competition were in early 1965…”

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The Kinks – Something Else – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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Something Else

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

This Original Reprise Tri-Color Steamboat Label pressing is one of the best sounding Kinks records we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing here at Better Records. It sounds nothing like the typically dull and smeary domestic Kinks LPs we are used to hearing. The overall sound is lively, musical, and natural. Drop the needle on No Return for wonderful sound and music — it’s got a bit of a Jobim vibe. 

After dropping the needle on a wonderful sounding copy a few months back, we started pursuing these in the hopes of getting a proper shootout together. It didn’t happen easily or inexpensively — clean looking copies of this one go for as much as $50 in the local bins, and that’s obviously with no guarantee of good sound or quiet vinyl. We found a few good ones and a few stinkers, but this copy went beyond our expectations. It’s got punchy bass, great energy, and real texture to everything. Most copies tend to be too smooth and veiled, but this one passed our tests with flying colors.

Play David Watts or No Return on side one for the best sound, and Afternoon Tea or Waterloo Sunset on side two for the same. (more…)

The Kinks – Sleepwalker

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Sleepwalker

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  • A superb copy of the Kinks triumphant return to the charts, with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side two and a solid Double Plus (A++) side one
  • It’s the first copy to hit the site in a year, and it plays on relatively quiet vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout 
  • The sound is full-bodied, lively and smooth – RL’s mastering contributes the big bottom end you want for this music
  • Juke Box Music represents Ray Davies’ fun and engaging pop sensibilities at their best
  • Rolling Stone raved that “The Kinks’ playing on Sleepwalker is easily their most powerful since ‘Lola.'”

We really enjoy the music of The Kinks here at Better Records, but most of the time the sound of their records is too mediocre (or worse) for serious audiophile listening. I love You Really Got Me as much as the next guy, but it’s insanely tough to find killer copies of old records like that. (Every now and then we manage, but regular visitors to the site know how infrequent that is.) (more…)