Top Engineers – Armin Steiner

Bread – On The Waters – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

Hot Stampers have finally been discovered for the most consistent and BEST SOUNDING of the Bread albums (not counting the Best of Bread compilation, one of our long time favorites here at Better Records, but a compilation nevertheless). This is the record that put their heavily Beatles-inflected Pure Pop on the map, and at the top of the charts with their Number One hit single Make It With You.

We used to think that only the Best of Bread album could get that song to sound as luscious and Tubey Magical as it does when we hear it in our heads, but it seems we were wrong — it sounds positively amazing on the best copies of On The Waters. To hear the vocal harmonies that these guys produced is to be reminded of singers of the caliber of the Everly Brothers or The Beatles. (more…)

Neil Diamond – Hot August Night

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

Our two White Hot sides here are bigger, richer, clearer, livelier and more tonally correct than the two others — two others which are guaranteed to be bigger, richer, clearer, etc. than any sides of any copy you own or even any copy you have ever heard .

In fact, the sound here presents a textbook case of just what the basic elements we listen for would be, for Hot August Night as well as practically any other Classic Live Rock Album we might be playing. As we’ve said for years, none of this rocket science. It all boils down to critical listening to lots of copies played on top quality equipment — no more, no less. 

The sound here presents a textbook case of the basic elements we listen for, on Hot August Night as well as practically any other Classic Live Rock Album we might be playing. As we’ve said for years, none of this is rocket science. It all boils down to critical listening of lots of copies played on top-quality equipment, no more, no less. (more…)

Bread – Manna – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

Presented for your listening pleasure, an original pressing of Manna, Bread’s third album, with Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides. Side one rocks with the best of them — yes, Bread can rock; just play Let Your Love Go to see what I mean.

Side two boasts sweet and rich 1971 ANALOG sound, a credit to engineer ARMIN STEINER (who was also one of the engineers on Spirit’s first album, assisted on Ram and has more than a hundred other engineering credits).

That big rich bottom end and the volume of space that surrounds all the instruments and singers are the purest and most delightful form of Audiophile Candy of which we know.

The acoustic guitars? To die for. Talk about Tubey Magical Analog, this copy will show you just what’s missing from modern remastered records (and modern music generally). Whatever became of that sound?

This record put Bread’s heavily Beatles-inflected Pure Pop back on the charts after their the single from their previous album, On The Waters, made it to Number One, that song of course being Make It With You. “If”, the big hit off this album, went to number five, but we like it every bit as much as that earlier chart topper. Both represent the perfect melding of consummate songcraft and pure emotion.

We used to think that only the Best of Bread album could get those two songs to sound as luscious and Tubey Magical as they do when they’re playing in our heads, but it seems we were wrong — the latter sounds positively amazing on the best copies of Manna, and this is a VERY good copy indeed: A++ on both sides. (more…)

Neil Diamond – Moods

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  • Moods makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • There’s real Tubey Magic on this album, along with breathy vocals and in-your-listening-room midrange presence – don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing along with “Song Sung Blue” 
  • “This album, and its follow-up live album Hot August Night, are generally acknowledged to be the two most important recording projects of Diamond’s career in terms of defining his signature sound for the future.”
  • “There is nothing on this album that is not catchy, intelligent, playful, sentimental and incredibly likable.”

(more…)

Bread – Bread – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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More Bread – Bread

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

Side two of Bread’s debut here — the one that shows the heaviest influence of The Beatles, this being 1969 — is smoother, silkier, and sweeter than any copy we’ve EVER played. There’s TONS of life and energy and the clarity and resolution are nothing short of superb. The sound is clean and clear without losing any of the Tubey Magical Warmth we prize so highly here at Better Records. The bottom end here is deep and punchy with stellar definition. Side two rates an A++ to A+++, the best we’ve heard. (It may not get any better.) Bruce Botnick only recorded one album with Bread but it’s clearly one of the best sounding in their catalog, no surprise there. (more…)

Thinking About the Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitars of Bread and Cat Stevens

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Manna

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

In many ways this recording is state-of-the-art. Listening to the Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitars on the best copies brings back memories of my first encounter with an original Pink Label Tea for the Tillerman. Rich, sweet, full-bodied, effortlessly dynamic– that sound knocked me out twenty-odd years ago, and here it is again. 

Of course I’ve always been a sucker for this kind of well-crafted pop. If you are too then a Hot Stamper copy of Manna will no doubt become a treasured demo disc in your home as well.

Audiophiles with high quality turntables literally have an endless supply of good recordings such as this to discover and enjoy. No matter how many records you own, you can’t possibly have even scratched the surface of the vast recorded legacy of the last sixty years. (The first stereo recordings date from 1954, the year of my birth, good timing on the part of my parents.) That’s the positive thought for the day.

We here at Better Records look forward to helping you find recordings that do justice to the music you have yet to hear. (more…)

Bread – The Best of Bread Vol. 2 – Reviewed in 2010

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

This very nice looking Elektra Butterfly Label LP has the best sound I’ve ever heard for this compilation. Keep in mind that this is an album of mostly weak material, not in the class with the first ’Best of Bread’ by a long shot. However, some of these songs sound quite good here, easily better than the typical Bread album from which they are taken. Listen to ‘Been Too Long On The Road’ or ‘He’s A Good Lad’ to hear the best sounding Bread.

Bread – The Best of Bread

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

For just the second time since 2007, here’s a White Hot Stamper copy of The Best Of Bread — a Better Records Desert Island Disc if ever there was one. (Believe me, there are plenty.)

I can’t be sure why these songs sound so much better here than they do on Bread’s standard albums, but we’ve never heard a Bread album that could compete with the best copies of this compilation. [This is no longer true, please read more about this subject in the listings for the individual Bread albums.]

Bread albums have some of the most Tubey Magical, rich and sweet ANALOG sound you can find, thanks to engineer ARMIN STEINER.

He was also one of the engineers on Spirit’s first album, assisted on Ram and has more than a hundred other engineering credits. (more…)

Bread – Baby I’m-A Want You – Check Out Those Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitars

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

Bread’s fourth album has wonderfully sweet and rich 1972 ANALOG sound. The acoustic guitars are to die for on the title track. Talk about Tubey Magic, this copy has got bucketfuls of it on the voices and guitars. Whatever happened to that sound I wonder?

Listen for the delicate space up high above the music on the title track. This copy has the extended top end that opens up the sound and lets the music breathe.

The average copy is dull, compressed, congested and squawky in the midrange, all good reasons that explain why we simply haven’t been able to do many of Bread’s albums outside of the Greatest Hits and the first album. Most copies are so bad sounding that it seems pointless to even try — pointless only until a copy like this comes along to make us (and other Bread fans) believers. 

Pure Pop For Now People

When you hear music sound this good, it makes you appreciate the music even more than the sound. This is in fact the primary raison d’etre of this audiophile hobby, or at least it’s supposed to be. To hear the vocal harmonies that these guys produced is to be reminded of singers of the caliber of the Everly Brothers or The Beatles. It’s Pure Pop for Now People, to quote the famous wag Nick Lowe.

Of course, by Now People, I’m referring to people who appreciate music that came out close to forty years ago. Whenever I hear a pop record with sound like this, I have to ask myself “What has gone wrong with popular recordings for the last three or four decades?”

I can’t think of one recording of the last twenty years that sounds as good as this Bread album. Are there any? (more…)

Spirit’s Third Album, Clear – Another Useless Sundazed Heavy Vinyl LP

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame and another Sundazed record debunked. 

Although it’s been many years since I last played it, I’m fairly confidant that the Sundazed only hints at the real sound of the best copies. Most Sundazed records would end up in our Hall of Shame if we ever bothered to audition them.

Being in the “record business,” such as it is, I’ve played my share and more of awful sounding Heavy Vinyl.

Even back in the (embarrassing) days when we were selling them we carried only about one out of ten that were in print. A big portion of the nine we didn’t stock were just awful as I recall. (more…)