Top Engineers – Frank Laico

Miles Davis – Filles de Kilimanjaro – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND on this ’70s Red Label pressing! This one even knocked out a handful of 360 Label Originals in a recent shootout. It’s richer and fuller with superior clarity compared to most of the copies we’ve heard. The overall sound on both sides is airy, open and spacious with excellent clarity. Most of the Red Label pressings we played were too dry and sterile to enjoy, but this one has some serious analog magic. (more…)

Tony Bennett – For Once In My Life

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For Once In My Life

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  • This vintage pressing gives Tony the sound he deserves, with excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on both of these early stereo sides
  • Amazing vocal reproduction courtesy of the brilliant engineering of Frank Laico at his favorite studio (and ours), Columbia 30th Street studios
  • We are not big soundstage guys here at Better Records, but we can’t deny the appeal of the space to be found on a record as good as this

Everything that’s good about Vocal Recordings from the ’50s and ’60s is precisely what’s good about the sound of this record.

The huge studio the music was recorded in is captured faithfully here. The height, width and depth of the staging here are extraordinary. We are not big soundstage guys here at Better Records, but we can’t deny the appeal of the space to be found on a record as good as this.

Transparency and Tubey Magic are key to the sound of the orchestra and you will find both in abundance on these two sides.

Albums such as this live and die by the quality of their vocal reproduction. On this record Mr. Tony Bennett himself will appear to be standing right in your listening room! The space of your stereo room will seem to expand in all directions in order to accommodate them, an illusion of course, but nevertheless a remarkably convincing one. (more…)

Miles Davis – Filles de Kilimanjaro

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Filles de Kilimanjaro

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  • A KILLER sounding stereo pressing with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish, just shy of our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This Columbia 360 Label LP boasts rich, full-bodied, clear sound with the space and three-dimensionality that was difficult to find on the later pressings we played
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… this middle ground between the adventurous bop of the mid-’60s and the fusion of the late ’60s is rewarding in its own right, since it’s possible to hear great musicians find the foundation of a new form. For that alone, Filles de Kilimanjaro is necessary listening.” 

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

This is one of the all-time classic progressive jazz albums, and a copy like this allows you to appreciate the contributions of Miles and his top-notch band (Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and the great Ron Carter on most of the songs). This one’s not as “out there” as Bitches Brew, but it gives you a taste of the various directions these guys would take in the years to come. (more…)

Alberta Hunter – Amtrak Blues – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

Alberta Hunter – Amtrak Blues

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

Absolutely amazing sound – Alberta is uncannily present and real on this copy. This is High Fidelity Top Quality Uncolored Studio Sound like few records you’ve heard. 

And the crazy thing about Amtrak Blues is that it was recorded in 1980 (when Alberta was 83), not a decade we expect good sound to come from. But this is no ordinary recording. Behind the album is none other than legendary Columbia engineer FRANK LAICO (more…)

Miles Davis – Miles In The Sky

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Miles In The Sky

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

WONDERFUL SOUND on both sides of this Columbia 360 Label pressing! We just finished a big shootout for this wonderful Miles Davis album and this copy was dramatically better sounding than most. Both sides have excellent bass, correct sounding brass, wonderful transparency and loads of tubey magic. The music is wonderful, Miles with his classic ’60s quintet (Hancock, Shorter, Carter, Williams) with the addition of George Benson on one song.

Miles is backed by his classic ’60s crew — Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter & Tony Williams. (more…)

Miles Davis – Bitches Brew – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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Bitches Brew

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

STUNNING MASTER TAPE A+++ SOUND ON SIDES ONE AND FOUR. We had no idea this music could sound anywhere near this good; every Hot Stamper shootout we had tried before this week was a complete bust. It’s not an easy album to find in clean condition, let alone a copy that sounds like this and plays quietly throughout! If jazz-fusion is your bag, sides one and four of this copy will take you on a trip like few other records could. You can hear right in to the soundfield, and you can be sure that there’s a whole lot going on in there.

Our favorite track on this album, Miles Runs The Voodoo Down, is found on the A+++ side four, which means the sound for it is OFF THE CHARTS.

The incredible musicianship and Teo Macero’s innovative production each help take these jazz-fusion soundscapes to places most folks had never imagined before. And a copy like this one takes the entire production to a whole new level. I can’t begin to tell you how many crappy copies have hit our table over the years, but after finding this one I’m really glad we never gave up on this album. It’s the copy that finally made the music work for us. (more…)

Tony Bennett – I’ve Gotta Be Me

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I’ve Gotta Be Me

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  • KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish for this original 360 label Columbia pressing
  • Both sides here wonderfully rich, full-bodied, and as Tubey Magical as you would expect from Columbia in 1969 
  • Brilliant engineering by Frank Laico, the man who recorded I Left My Heart In San Francisco and Sketches of Spain, among others
  • Tony Bennett was in fine form and still able to sing the hell out of these songs in 1969 – when you hear the quality of his voice on this very album you will perhaps appreciate the toll this century has taken on him
  • Vintage record guys with top quality turntables – like us – get to hear Tony the way he should be heard, with his voice at the peak of its powers.

(more…)

Dave Brubeck – Time Out on Classic Records

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Sonic Grade: D

When we did a shootout for this record way back in October of 2007 we took the opportunity to play the Classic Records 200 gram pressing. Maybe we got a bad one, who knows, but that record did not sound remotely as good as the real thing (6 eye or 360, both can be quite good). The piano sounded thin and hard, which was quite unexpected given the fact that we used to consider the Classic LP one of their few winners and actually recommended it.

As we said in our shootout: “We dropped the needle on the Classic reissue to see how it stacked up against a serious pressing. Suffice it to say, the real Time Out magic isn’t going to be found on any heavy vinyl reissue!”

 

 

Another 30th Street Studio Knockout – This One’s from Tony Bennett

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Columbia 30th Street Studios

Everything that’s good about All Tube Vocal Recordings from the ’50s and ’60s is precisely what’s good about the sound of this record.

The huge studio the music was recorded in is captured faithfully here. The height, width and depth of the staging here are extraordinary. We are not big soundstage guys here at Better Records, but we can’t deny the appeal of the space to be found on a record as good as this.

Transparency and Tubey Magic are key to the sound of the orchestra and you will find both in abundance on these two sides.

Albums such as this live and die by the quality of their vocal reproduction. On this record Mr. Tony Bennett himself will appear to be standing right in your listening room, along with the 38 other musicians from the session (actually they’re probably sitting).

The space of your stereo room will seem to expand in all directions in order to accommodate them, an illusion of course, but nevertheless a remarkably convincing one.

(more…)

Dave Brubeck’s Bossa Nova USA – Who Knew?

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

Who knew? Not us and not anybody else it seems. We are not aware that any of the audiophile cognoscenti have ever taken this recording seriously, but that just goes to show how uninformed — or perhaps more likely underinformed — they’ve always been.

Gems such as this sit undiscovered even after thousands of pages of audiophile record reviews have been written. Then, along come a handful of guys in Thousand Oaks, California many years later, 52 to be exact, and reveal to the world a heretofore all but unknown yet nonetheless amazing Brubeck record.

And they back up everything they say with actual records that sound as good as they say they will. (more…)