- Manna finally returns to the site after more than 6 years with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – fairly quiet vinyl too
- Tubier, more transparent, more dynamic, with that “jumpin’ out of the speakers” quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has
- A superb album, featuring one of the strongest rockers the band ever recorded, “Let Your Love Go”
- 4 1/2 stars: “… this is a record that is laid-back and even tempered, which isn’t a bad thing — it results in a fine listen, especially since the group’s songwriting remains at the high standard instituted on that first Bread album.”
- Tap Root Manuscript makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
- Exceptionally big, full-bodied and musical, with superb presence for the most important element of the recording, Neil’s voice
- Cracklin’ Rosie is on this one, it’s Neil’s first Number One hit, with backup (and near-guaranteed success) by the Wrecking Crew
- 4 stars: “The follow-up to Touching You, Touching Me was an ambitious set of songs, all originals except for a Top 20 cover of “He Ain’t Heavy…He’s My Brother . . . this album confirmed Diamond’s breakthrough as a recording star.”
An album well ahead of its time, or at least it is on side two. The children’s chorus predates The Wall, and the African rhythms predate Peter Gabriel’s and David Byrne’s fascination with World Music. And this from Neil Diamond!
The biggest problem we ran into with Tap Root was Uni’s vinyl. Those of you who have tried to find a quiet pressing of Elton John’s self-titled second album or Tumbleweed Connection on Uni know exactly what we mean when we say they are few and far between. Stitches were the biggest problem, which actually isn’t a vinyl problem as much as it is an defective acetate problem or non-fill. (more…)
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…)
Back in the 2000s, we felt we owed our Hot Stamper customers a more complete picture of the good and bad qualities we noted in our shootout for practically every record we played. The idea was that you too could listen along for what the record was doing well and what it might not be doing so well. If you noticed that you thought the top end was a little soft, well, that’s what we might have heard too. It would be right there in the listing.
Over the years, in order to avoid having to write every listing from scratch, we streamlined the process and dropped the criticisms. Below you can see a typical example of an older listing. This is how we used to recognize when a record was Super Hot as opposed to White Hot. This commentary on the famous recording of The Firebird with Dorati discusses the same issues in somewhat more depth.
A++, with good balance and lots of rockin’ energy. It’s transparent — just listen to how clear the drums are on the first track. It’s a bit dry and doesn’t have all the top end extension of the best, so Super Hot is a fair grade we think.
A++! Big and clear, yet rich, open, and Tubey Magical without being compressed or thick. None of the smear that plagues the average copy either. Could use more top end to help the harmonics on the percussion and guitars, but this is still a STRONG A++ side.
TRACK LISTING (more…)
The best copies of Bread’s third album have amazingly sweet and rich 1971 ANALOG sound on both sides. 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 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 have just recently moved our record business to our new Shopify store. None of the links to the old site will work anymore. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to be able to rectify the situation soon. For now please check out Better Records, Mach II, home of the ultimate vinyl pressing, the White Hot Stamper.
Tom Port – Better Records
Sonic Grade: D
Another Sundazed record reviewed and found wanting.
As usual, the Sundazed only hints at the real sound of the recording. We recommended it back at the day; it’s tonally correct, so for fifteen bucks you are getting your fifteen bucks worth and probably not a dime’s more. We just cannot take this kind of sound seriously these days. Once you’ve heard the real thing, this pressing just won’t do.
This is the band’s Masterpiece as well as a Desert Island Disc for yours truly.
What qualifies a record to be a Masterpiece needs no explanation. We will make every effort to limit the list to one entry per artist or group, although some exceptions have already occurred to me, so that rule will no doubt be broken from time to time. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so memorably wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”
For a record to come to my Desert Island Disc, such a record: 1) must have at some time during my fifty years as a music lover and audio enthusiast been played enthusiastically, fanatically even, causing me to feel what Leonard Bernstein called “the joy of music”; 2) my sixty year old self must currently respect the album, and; 3) I must think I will want to listen to the music fairly often and well into the future (not knowing how long I may be stranded there).
How many records meet the Desert Island Disc criteria? Certainly many more than you can see when you click on the link, but new titles will be added as time permits. (more…)
- A Shootout Winner – Triple Plus (A+++) on the second side, Double Plus (A++) on the first – this is the way to hear Neil Diamond!
- Armin Steiner engineered the album, and it’s Neil’s best recorded release (that we’ve critically auditioned in large numbers)
- Stones and I Am… I Said are killer on the A+++ side one, but both sides have outstanding sonics
- 4 Stars: “Stones is a stronger album than most of Neil Diamond’s late-’60s records. An engaging collection of mainstream pop.”
I can’t say for sure that this is the best sounding Neil Diamond album, we haven’t been through all of them yet, but it’s certainly the best sounding album of his that we’ve critically auditioned in large numbers. Good luck finding another copy of Stones out in the bins that deliver top quality sonics the likes of these — we went through a TON of copies and only a small number held our interest. (more…)
- With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this pressing will show you just how good Bread’s music can sound on All Analog vinyl
- A Better Records Desert Island Disc if there ever was one — believe me, there are scores of them
- This is one of the rare Greatest Hits compilations (and this band had a LOT of hits) that is sonically competitive with the original albums
- You’ll find most of the best Bread ballads here, including Make It With You, Everything I Own, Baby I’m A Want You, and If
- All Music on their first album – “… effectively the birth of Californian soft rock…” (We think this applies equally well to all of their early material)
A Better Records Desert Island Disc if ever there was one. Believe me, there are plenty of them.
Listening to these acoustic guitars brings back memories of my first encounter with a British original of Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman. Rich, sweet, full-bodied, effortlessly dynamic — that sound knocked me out thirty years ago, and here it is again. I guess I’ve just always been a sucker for this kind of well-crafted pop. (I was buying Bread album in the early Seventies while still in high school.) If you are too, then this killer copy of The Best of Bread will no doubt become a treasured disc in your home as well.
When you hear sound this good, it makes you appreciate the music even more than the sound. Over the years I’ve even come to enjoy the rockers on side two. I used to consider side two the weak part of the album. 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 borrow a good line from Nick Lowe.
Of course, by Now People, I’m referring to people who appreciate the music that came out more than thirty years ago. Whenever I hear a pop record with sound like this, I have to ask myself, “What went wrong with popular recordings over the last two or three decades? Why do none of them ever sound like this?”
Not to worry. Audiophiles with good turntables have literally an endless supply of good recordings to discover and enjoy. No matter how many records you have, you can’t have scratched the surface of the recorded legacy of the last 60+ years. That’s the positive thought for the day. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just another step on your journey through the world of music.
One further note. Records like this only get better over time. There are no shortcomings in this recording to be revealed by better equipment, in painfully stark contrast to the vast majority of audiophile pressings and remasterings that reveal their phony, lifeless and often just plain weird sound as your stereo and critical listening skills improve. In other words, if you make a change to your stereo and this record starts to sound better, you did the right thing. (more…)
One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:
The Neil Diamond Live is one the best I’ve ever bought from you. You were too kind to the Mofi: yours destroyed it. My stock copy is worthless. An unusually well recorded live album. You are so right. And your copy is awesome. (more…)
- KILLER sound on ALL FOUR SIDES with each earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
- The superb presence and energy here have the power to bring the definitive Neil Diamond concert performance right into your very own listening room
- If you own the MoFi, this copy will show you how they screwed up the sound of Neil’s voice – nothing new there, right?
- 4 1/2 stars: “This is the ultimate Neil Diamond record. Not necessarily the best – he’s at his most appealing crafting in the studio – but certainly the ultimate, capturing all the kitsch and glitz of Neil Diamond, the showman.”
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…)