Top Engineers – David Hentschel

George Harrison – All Things Must Pass

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More of The Beatles

  • With superb sound on all six sides, this early British box set of All Things Must Pass will be very hard to beat
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl for this set – most of the copies we see are heavily played and prone to marks that repeat
  • If you’ve struggled with domestic pressings and later imports or Heavy Vinyl reissues, your troubles are over – here is the sound you were looking for
  • 5 stars: “Without a doubt, Harrison’s first solo recording is his best. Drawing on his backlog of unused compositions from the late Beatles era, Harrison crafted material that managed the rare feat of conveying spiritual mysticism without sacrificing his gifts for melody and grand, sweeping arrangements.”
  • This is clearly George Harrison’s best sounding album. Roughly 100 other listings for the Best Sounding Album by an Artist or Group (sounds like a Grammy Awards category, doesn’t it?) can be found here.
  • This is a Must Own Title from 1970, a great year for Rock and Pop music
  • The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

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Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

  • An excellent early British pressing with big, bold Double Plus (A++) sound on all FOUR SIDES
  • Finding a copy with no marks or issues is no easy task these days, and the DJM vinyl on this pressing is about as quiet as these UK LPs ever are
  • There’s real Tubey Magic on this album, along with breathy vocals, in-your-listening-room midrange presence and no shortage of rock and roll energy
  • Overflowing with great songs, way too many to list – “Candle In The Wind,” “Bennie And The Jets,” and “GYBR” all sound outstanding here
  • A Top 100 Title: “…its individual moments are spectacular and the glitzy, crowd-pleasing showmanship that fuels the album pretty much defines what made Elton John a superstar in the early ’70s.”
  • If you’re an Elton John fan, this has to be considered a Must Own Title of his from 1973
  • The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

GYBR has the best rocker Elton and Bernie ever wrote: Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting. Of course, it’s one of the tracks on side four we used to test with — if you’re going to listen to GYBR all day, why not play the songs that are the most fun to play? On the good pressings, the song just KILLS. (more…)

Elton John / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – What to Listen For

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

The richness, sweetness and freedom from artificiality is most obvious where you often hear it on a Pop Rock Big Production like GYBR: in the loudest, densest, most climactic choruses.

We set the playback volume so that the loudest parts of the record are as huge and powerful as they can possibly become without crossing the line into distortion or congestion.

On some records, Dark Side of the Moon comes instantly to mind, the guitar solos on Money are the loudest thing on the record.

On Breakfast in America the sax toward the end of The Logical Song is bigger and louder than anything on the record, louder even than Roger Hodgson’s near-hysterical multi-tracked screaming “Who I am” about three quarters of the way through the track. Those, however, are clearly exceptions to the rule. Most of the time it’s the final chorus of a pop song that gets bigger and louder than what has come before.

A pop song is usually designed to build momentum as it works its way through the verses and choruses, past the bridge, coming back around to make one final push, releasing all its energy in the final chorus, the climax of the song. On a good recording — one with real dynamics — that part of the song should be very loud and very powerful.

Testing the Climaxes

The climax of the biggest, most dynamic songs are almost always the toughest tests for a pop record, and it’s the main reason we play our records loud. The copies that hold up through the final choruses of their album’s largest scaled productions are the ones that provide the biggest thrills and the most emotionally powerful musical experiences one can have sitting in front of two speakers. Our Top 100 is full of records that reward that kind of intense listening at loud levels.

We live for that sound here at Better Records. It’s precisely what the best vintage analog pressings do so brilliantly. In fact they do it so much better than any other medium that there is really no comparison, and certainly no substitute. If you’re on this site you probably already know that.

Two to Listen For

Number one: Too many instruments and voices jammed into too little space in the upper midrange. When the tonality is shifted-up, even slightly, or there is too much compression, there will be too many elements — voices, guitars, drums — vying for space in the upper part of the midrange, causing congestion and a loss of clarity.

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Elton John’s Caribou Is Usually Noisy and Sounds Bad – But Why?

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Elton John

There’s a good reason you’ve practically never seen this album for sale on our site. In fact there are quite a number of good reasons.

The first one is bad vinyl — most DJM pressings of Caribou are just too noisy to sell. They can look perfectly mint and play noisy as hell; it’s not abuse, it’s bad vinyl.

Empty Sky is the same way; out and out bad vinyl, full of noise, grit and grain.

The second problem is bad sound. Whether it’s bad mastering or bad vinyl incapable of holding onto good mastering, no one can say. Since so many copies were pressed of this monster Number One album (topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic):

  • Perhaps they pressed a few too many after the stampers were worn out.
  • Or pulled too many stampers off the mother.
  • Or made too many stampers from the father.
  • Or used crap vinyl right from the start.

Of course there’s not an iota of evidence to back up any of these assertions, but I just thought I would throw them all out there as a topic for speculation.

Speaking of speculation, have you noticed how much audiophiles and audiophile reviewers love to talk about things that they have no empirical evidence for, one way or the other? (More on unproductive speculation here.)

Very little of that sort of thing can be found on our site. We like to stick to the sound of the records we’ve played and leave most of the “reasoning” about the sound to others.

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Genesis – Seconds Out

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  • This is an excellent set of songs and a surprisingly good recording
  • After suffering through so much bad Genesis sound over the years — their pressings are all over the map — it was a real treat to hear the better copies of this one let these classic songs really come to life
  • “Indeed, part of the beauty of this album is the sheer flexibility of the band during this period — in addition to superb vocals by Collins throughout, the drumming by Chester Thompson is at least a match for Collins’ best playing.”
  • If you’re a Genesis fan, this title from 1977 is surely a Must Own.
  • The complete list of titles from 1977 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

This live album from 1977 has some of the best Genesis sound we’ve heard. Their studio recordings are often a bit flat and dull, so it’s really a treat to hear those songs with this kind of big, open, dynamic sound! Phil Collins handles the lead vocals here, but he does a great job even on the Peter Gabriel material.

This vintage British Charisma pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Genesis / A Trick Of The Tail – A MoFi Disaster to Beat Them All

Not long ago I played the MoFi pressing of Trick of the Tail and could not believe how ridiculously COMPRESSED it was.

On top of that, the midrange is badly sucked out (as is the case with most Mobile Fidelity pressings) making the sound as dead, dull and distant as can be.

You think Modern Heavy Vinyl pressings are lifeless? Play this piece of crap and see just how bad an audiophile record can sound.

And to think I used to like this version! I hope I had a better copy back in the ’80s than the one I played a few years ago. I’ll never know of course. If you have one in your collection give it a spin. See if it sounds as bad as we say. If you haven’t played it in a while (can’t imagine why, maybe because it’s just plain awful), you may be in for quite a shock.

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Genesis – Wind and Wuthering

  • Wind and Wuthering finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy has real depth to the soundfield, full-bodied, present vocals, and lovely analog warmth
  • Their Masterpiece is still A Trick of the Tail, the album that came out before this one, but Wind and Wuthering certainly has much to offer in the same vein
  • 4 stars: “Wind & Wuthering followed quickly on the heels of A Trick of the Tail and they’re very much cut from the same cloth, working the same English eccentric ground that was the group’s stock in trade since Trespass.”

We have struggled like crazy to find copies of the album that are able to present the music as well as this one does. Most of the pressings we’ve gotten our hands on were a disaster, and that includes everything that does not say Made in England on the label.

These UK sides are livelier, more dynamic, more transparent and more present than practically any other copy we played. (more…)

Genesis / A Trick Of The Tail – A Must Own Prog Masterpiece

Hot Stamper Pressings of Genesis Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Genesis on Vinyl

  • A stunning sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Here’s an amazing Trick of the Tail that absolutely blows the typical pressing out of the water!
  • The sound is BIG, BOLD and OPEN, breaking free from the grainy and cloudly qualities that screw up the average copy
  • HERE is the deep, note-like, well-articulated bass that the MOFI and 95% of all the other pressings don’t have

It was a thrill to finally hear this album sound great after all these years. The cymbals are clean and silky, the vocals are present, the bass has real weight and the overall sound is balanced and natural! You’ve got to clean and play a TON of copies to have any hope of finding one that’d come anywhere near this one.

At the end of the second track on side one, Entangled, there is a wonderful sounding choral effect which Alan Parsons liked so much he decided to use it liberally on his own recordings. He’s famous for having admitted to analyzing classic rock records, then taking the best bits and pieces, cobbling them together and producing the “music” that he is known for. I prefer the original bits and pieces myself. (more…)

Elton John / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – A Heavy Vinyl Winner!

Sonic Grade: B (or better)

I think these are the labels for the copy we played, It came out around 2000-2005. It’s not Speakers Corner, Simply Vinyl or Back to Black. Those are labels best avoided in our experience.

Hey, they really did a good job with this one. We are going to listen to it again at a later date to see if our initial impressions were correct [I guess by now it should be clear that we are never going to do that, sorry], but it sure sounded good to us when we played it recently during our big GYBR shootout. 

I’m guessing no domestic copy can beat it, and certainly no audiophile half-speed mastered pressing can hold a candle to it. Those records are pretty awful.

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Elton John / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Modern Sounding Stampers?

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Some British copies on some sides sound too much like a modern reissue; they lack weight and tend to be too “clean” sounding.

We take serious points off when records sound modern, a sound the current spate of reissues cannot get away from and one of the main reasons we gave up on them many, many years ago.

Not our thing, sorry.

All the other major audiophile record dealers sell that junk, so if you like that sound you will have no trouble finding plenty of titles that offer it. It frankly bores us to tears.

Why do audiophiles like the sound of records that sound like good CDs? We like to play records that sound like good records. We like records that sound so real that we can forget that we’re even listening to a record.

A Must Own Rock Record

GYBR is a recording that belongs in any serious Rock Music Collection.