Top Engineers – Henry Lewy

Burt Bacharach – Reach Out

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) Shootout Winning side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy had some of the best sound we have ever heard on Reach Out
  • This copy was super full-bodied and dynamic with real weight down low, nice bite to the brass, tons of energy and a lot of Tubey Magic. 
  • Tons of hits – The Look Of Love, Message To Michael, Alfie, What The World Needs Now, I Say A Little Prayer and more
  • Engineering by Phil Ramone (Casino Royale) and Henry Lewy (Sergio Mendes, Joni Mitchell) each doing their own tracks – compare and contrast for yourself
  • “[Reach Out] present[s] Bacharach’s vision of his work at its most straightforward, and it is enjoyable on its own terms, as a snapshot of his own sensibilities at that time.”

We were surprised at how lively and dynamic the best pressings of Reach Out can be. (more…)

Joni Mitchell – The Hissing of Summer Lawns

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  • An outstanding pressing, with both sides earning outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them
  • Lots of Tubey Magic, textured synths, big bass and breathy vocals – this copy brings Joni’s jazzy folky fusion to life
  • Check out the big bottom end on The Jungle Line, which features the Drummers Of Burundi
  • Who made a more original, forward looking and interesting album in 1975 than this? I can’t think of anyone, can you?
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Joni Mitchell evolved from the smooth jazz-pop of Court and Spark to the radical Hissing of Summer Lawns, an adventurous work that remains among her most difficult records [as difficult as it is brilliant] … a strange and beautiful fusion of jazz and shimmering avant pop.”

Both sides here are airy, open, and spacious, with plenty of ambience. The bottom end is tight and punchy throughout with good solid weight, and the top end is silky sweet. Many copies of this album have a phony hi-fi “glare” that made us wince, but the sound here is warm and natural.

After hearing a few copies that bored us to tears years ago we had pretty much given up on finding good sound for this album, but once we found some truly hot Hot Stampers we found ourselves really enjoying this sophisticated Jazzy Folk Pop music. (more…)

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Fool on the Hill – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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

EXCELLENT SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It’s rich, full-bodied, and sweet, with super-low distortion and breathtaking transparency. Side Two rates A+++, As Good As It Gets! The vocals on this copy were as sweet as we have ever heard for this record.

The average copy of this record is thin, aggressive and irritating. What separates the best copies like this one from the typical bad sounding copies is more extension on the top end to balance out the upper midrange and lower highs, as well as more weight on the bottom end, to anchor and balance out the sound. (more…)

Joni Mitchell – Clouds

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  • Triple Triple! A stunning copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish- this is As Good As It Gets, folks! 
  • Check out the clear transients on Joni’s guitar — you can really hear her moving her hands around the fretboard and pulling on the strings
  • It’s tough to find this album in clean shape with this kind of warm, natural sound (something the new reissue is no doubt profoundly lacking)
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Clouds is a stark stunner, a great leap forward for Joni Mitchell. Vocals here are more forthright and assured than on her debut and exhibit a remarkable level of subtle expressiveness. Guitar alone is used in accompaniment, and the variety of playing approaches and sounds gotten here is most impressive.”

The best sounding copies of Clouds are the ones that put Joni and her guitar right there in your living room. The copies with veiled vocals really don’t allow the music to come to life, and the copies where her voice is too forward come across as unnatural and hi-fi-ish. It takes an exceptional copy to strike the right balance and put both the voice and guitar right between your speakers, not under a blanket or in your lap.

The intimacy of the recording is simply breathtaking, but most pressing can’t begin to do it justice, especially the reissues, which tend to be thin and edgy and sorely lacking in Tubey Magic. You have not begun to hear these songs with this kind of realism and power unless, like us, you’ve cleaned and played plenty of copies and lucked into a truly killer Hot Stamper. (more…)

Leonard Cohen – Recent Songs – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

This is easily the best copy of this album to ever hit the site, with a superb A+++ side one and an excellent A++ side two! This 1979 album marks Cohen’s return to the simple folk arrangements of his early albums. The songs are as stunning as ever, but only the best pressings really do them justice. As you might expect, the key elements here are going to be vocals, acoustic guitars and Cohen’s trademark female backup vocalists. This one really gets them all right, with the kind of big, spacious soundstage and full, rich tonality nothing else in our shootout could compete with.

We love these albums around here. No, they’re not audiophile spectaculars, but much like the best Dylan recordings, when they work the sound fits the music perfectly. The vocals are right up front and fairly dry, throwing the words and phrasing into high relief. Hard to argue with that! (more…)

Leonard Cohen – Recent Songs


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • Another BR rarity — Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • Here you will find a big, spacious soundstage and rich, natural vocals virtually no other copy in our shootout could compete with
  • Fairly quiet vinyl on both sides — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “The first thing Leonard Cohen’s music fans noticed about his sixth new studio album, given the typically open-ended title Recent Songs, was that, musically, it marked a return to the gypsy folk sound of his early records…” – All Music

See all of our Leonard Cohen albums in stock

This 1979 album marks Cohen’s return to the simple folk arrangements of his early albums. The songs are as stunning as ever, but only the best pressings really do them justice. As you might expect, the key elements here are going to be vocals, acoustic guitars and Cohen’s trademark female backup vocalists (Jennifer Warnes among them). This one really gets them all right, with the kind of big, spacious soundstage and full, rich tonality most of the copies in our shootout could not compete with. (more…)

Joni Mitchell – Miles of Aisles

More Joni Mitchell

Miles of Aisles

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  • This Joni Mitchell classic boasts STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on all four sides
  • The sound is incredibly rich, warm and Tubey Magical with huge amounts of space and breathy presence on her vocals
  • Joni reworks all her material here, giving the songs new arrangements and making them fresh again – it’s got a cool Court and Spark vibe
  • “It’s a strong album of her best songs performed mostly informally… Much of the material here is beautiful, replete with the patented Mitchell tension. And a word for engineer Henry Lewy—the sound is terrific, the best reproduced concert album I’ve heard.” Rolling Stone

(more…)

Joni Mitchell – Mingus

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More Mingus

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  • An outstanding copy of this wonderful collaboration from 1979 with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Rich, dynamic and natural sounding with low end weight, midrange smoothness and powerful, punchy bass
  • If you’re a fan of Joni’s more adventurous work you’ll find a lot to like here
  • Features “luminaries” including Herbie Hancock and some of Weather Report, who join Mingus in helping Joni bring these jazzy works to life
  • “… Mitchell could not have chosen any finer musicians than the sextet she ultimately incorporated into this work.”

Two of Joni’s more famous late ’70s songs are on here — God Must Be A Boogie Man and The Wolf That Lives In Lindsey. If you like the more adventurous music that Joni produced at different stages of her career, this should make a wonderful addition to your collection.

This vintage LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)

Joni Mitchell – Ladies Of The Canyon – What To Listen For

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More Ladies Of The Canyon

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy.

The growl of the cello on Rainy Night House can clearly be heard behind Joni, with the wood of the instrument sounding real and correct. The kind of You Are There immediacy and transparency of the best copies has to be heard to be believed. 

Listen to the piano Joni plays throughout the album: this is not the thin and hard-sounding instrument that accompanies her on practically every LP you have ever had the misfortune to audition, hoping against hope that someday you would find that “elusive disc” with sound worthy of such extraordinary music. No, this piano has real weight; it has body; and it’s surrounded by real, three-dimensional studio space. (more…)

Joni Mitchell – Wild Things Run Fast

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More Wild Things Run Fast

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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this copy has Joni rockin’ like you will not believe
  • Her last great record – fortunately for us audiophiles it’s spacious, open and powerful with present vocals and solid bass
  • Relatively quiet, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout – they don’t come any quieter in our experience
  • “On her first new studio album of original material in five years, Joni Mitchell achieved more of a balance between her pop abilities and her jazz aspirations, meanwhile rediscovering a more direct, emotional lyric approach. The result was her best album since the mid-’70s.”

One of our favorite Joni Mitchell albums and one of the few good reasons to listen to new music in the ’80s. (more…)