The best of this kind of mainstream radio-friendly pop rock has stood the test of time very well. One listen and we think you’ll agree: this is fun music that belongs in your collection.
IF you get hold of a good pressing, and in our experience this mass-produced stuff leaves a lot to be desired most of the time.
Actually that’s not really fair; the specialty audiophile limited edition pressings of most records are even worse sounding, so the production numbers really don’t have much to do with the final product, now do they? (more…)
The best copies realistically convey the live-in-the-studio quality of the sound. This is a tight ensemble working at the top of their game, no surprise there; Ry surrounds himself with nothing but the best.
But the better copies have such amazingly transparent sound you can’t help feeling as though you really are in the presence of live human beings You really get the sense of actual fingers plucking those guitar strings. You hear mouths blowing air through horns and woodwinds.(more…)
This East Wind Japanese Direct-to-Disc LP has AMAZING SOUND. The boys do a fantastic version of Greensleeves here, flawlessing switching idioms from swing to bossa nova to bop.
Altoist/flutist Bud Shank and Brazilian acoustic guitarist Laurindo Almeida first teamed up in the 1950s to create music that predated but strongly hinted at bossa nova. In 1974, they reunited to form the L.A. Four with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Chuck Flores. With Shelly Manne and later Jeff Hamilton replacing Flores on drums, the L.A. Four recorded eight albums for Concord through 1982, breaking up shortly afterward. Their mixture of cool-toned bop, Brazilian-oriented music, and ballads was quite attractive.
We’re big fans of Ry here at Better Records, and it’s always a lot of fun to hear the eccentric instruments and arrangements he and his cohorts cook up. Of course, it’s even more fun when you get a great sounding pressing like this one!
Far Beyond Your Average Rock or Jazz Record
The instrumentation here goes far beyond your average rock or jazz record. Rounding up a panoply of relatively exotic instruments for an album doesn’t make it especially noteworthy. Thankfully Cooder’s up to more than that. Using an ensemble of seriously talented musicians, as well as studio engineers who really understand how to capture these instruments, with Jazz Cooder succeeds in giving the audiophile public a full course spread of new and unusual sounds, all the while staying true to these popular songs from days long gone.(more…)
Two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, with excellent sound for one of James Taylor’s best softer rock albums
Soulful JT at his best, an underappreciated album by our man and one that belongs in your collection
Mexico, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) and I Was A Fool To Care are standouts – there are no weak tracks here
Rolling Stone notes, “With Gorilla, Taylor is well on his way to staking out new ground. What he’s hit upon is the unlikely mating of his familiar low-keyed, acoustic guitar-dominated style with L.A. harmony rock and the sweet, sexy school of rhythm and blues.”
This is soft rock at its best, made up primarily of love songs, and helped immensely by the harmonically-gifted backing vocals of Graham Nash and David Crosby.
Rolling Stone notes that “With Gorilla, Taylor is well on his way to staking out new ground. What he’s hit upon is the unlikely mating of his familiar low-keyed, acoustic guitar-dominated style with L.A. harmony rock and the sweet, sexy school of rhythm and blues.”
To be honest, the recording of Gorilla itself cannot compete with the likes of Sweet Baby James or JT, both of which are Top 100 Titles. It can be a good sounding record, not a great one, certainly not in the same league as those two.(more…)
On a windy and unusually cold night in Los Angeles, each of the three musicians arrived before the session start time of 10 PM on November 28, 1975. At exactly 10 PM, The Doobie Brothers session that was going on since morning ended. Two assistants immediately started setting up for the session. The Steinway concert grand piano, delivered the previous day, was wheeled in to the center of the room and got tuned. Shelly Manne’s drum kit was assembled in a makeshift “booth.” Microphones were set up, checked and positions adjusted.(more…)
LEE HERSCHBERG is one of our favorite producers and recording / mixing engineers. Click on the link to find more of the albums he engineered or produced, along with plenty of our famous commentaries.
One of the top guys at Warners, you’ll find his name in the credits for many of the best releases by the Randy Newman, Gordon Lightfoot, The Doobie Brothers, Ry Cooder and Frank Sinatra, albums we know to have outstanding sound (potentially anyway; you have to have an outstanding pressing to hear outstanding sound of course).
And of course we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the album most audiophiles know all too well, Rickie Lee Jones’ debut. Herschberg’s pop and rock engineering credits run for pages. He won the Grammy for Strangers in the Night.
The one album that gets my vote for Herschberg’s Pop Engineering Masterpiece would have to be Michael McDonald’s If That’s What It Takes. On the best copies the sound is out of this world.
The most amazing jazz piano trio recording we know of is Herschberg’s as well: The Three (with Shelly Manne, Ray Brown and Joe Sample).
Man, this record has more TUBEY MAGIC than any Sinatra record I can remember playing.
Find me a Sinatra CD, any Sinatra CD, that sounds like this and I will eat it.
If you want to know what the best sounding Sinatra records sound like, this is your chance. Folks, in my opinion it simply does not get any better than a killer Hot Stamper pressing of Strangers In The Night.(more…)
For soulful pop it doesn’t get much better than a Hot Stamper pressing of Michael McDonald’s first album. The bottom end has real weight, the top is extended and sweet, the vocals are breathy and present, and the energy is off the charts. Just listen to how rich and full-bodied the midrange is!
With the right pressing the highs open up and his vocals JUMP out of the speakers. He’s RIGHT THERE.
The next step is to check to see if you have punchy, well-defined bass, a key element in this rhythmically complex music. With plenty of presence in the vocals and punch down below, you have a copy that can hold its head high, with sound that really brings this music to life.
Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with plenty of advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of RLJ.
On the best of the Hot Stamper copies it becomes abundantly clear just how well the string bass was recorded — assuming you like the close-miked, maximum-presence quality they were after. You hear all the fingering, the wood of the body resonating; all the stuff you could never hear live unless you were ten feet from the guy. Natural it’s not, but natural is not what most hit records are all about anyway.