Top Engineers – Mack

Billy Squier – Don’t Say No

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

This Billy Squier LP has HUGE Rock Sound — the guitars and drums are positively jumping out of the speakers with dynamic energy, presented on a stage that’s exceptionally wide and tall — which means the two monster hits In The Dark and The Stroke both rock like crazy, with more bottom and top end extension than practically any of the other copies we played.

There’s a reason this album sounds big and lively. It was produced by Mack (“& Billy” according to the liner notes), Mack being the man who produced one of the few truly amazing sounding Queen albums, The Game. If you’ve ever heard a serious Hot Stamper of that album, you know what we’re talking about when we say it delivers the Big Rock Sound we love here at Better Records. Turn it up and rock out!

As Wikipedia noted:

Squier asked Brian May of Queen to produce his second album Don’t Say No. May declined due to scheduling conflicts, but he recommended instead Reinhold Mack who had produced one of Queen’s albums, The Game. Squier agreed, and Mack went on to produce Don’t Say No. The album became a smash, with the lead single “The Stroke” becoming a hit all around the world, hitting the Top 20 in the US and reaching top 5 in Australia. “In The Dark” and “My Kinda Lover” were successful follow-up singles. Squier became a monster act on the new MTV cable channel as well as on Album Rock radio, with most tracks on the Don’t Say No album receiving airplay. Don’t Say No reached the Top 5 and lasted well over two years on Billboard’s album chart, eventually selling over 4 million copies in the US alone. (more…)

Queen – The Game – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

Two SUPERB SIDES with side one beating all comers to achieve White Hot Stamper status! Throughout this copy you get solid bass, tubey magic, breathy vocals and BIG BOLD sound!

But watch out: this side one kicks it up to a whole ‘nother level, with BIGGER energy, BIGGER bass and even more PRESENT and breathy vocals from Mr. Mercury. This is without a doubt some of the best sound we have ever heard for Queen, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

When reading the above it’s best to keep this in mind: The Game may be the BEST SOUNDING record Queen ever made. The Dirty Little Secret of Queen’s recorded output is that they are mostly pretty mediocre, and often downright dreadful.

Do you see a lot of them going up on the site? No? Well, there’s a reason for that. As much as people love Queen, we just can’t seem to find pressings that do their music justice. Take A Night at the Opera for example. Is this a good sounding record? I’ve played twenty of them over the last ten years — imports, domestics, the DCC, the MoFi – and NONE of them sounding particularly good to me. Don’t rely on your memory. Pull out your own copy and listen closely; you should hear the distortion and smearing and transistory grain that’s there on all the copies I’ve played. It’s a record that’s trying to sound good but just doesn’t, so far anyway. Hope springs eternal.

[This is no longer true, the Hot Stampers were discovered a few years back!] (more…)

Queen – Hot Space

More Queen

More Hot Space

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  • With Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy of Hot Space took top honors in our recent shootout
  • The best pressings – like this one – have plenty of bass and are smoother and fuller than the rest
  • Disco, funk, rhythm and blues, dance and pop music all found their way onto this 1982 release -the monster hit Under Pressure with none other than Mr. David Bowie closes out side two
  • “Hot Space is an essential cog for Queen completists… [it] has invention and ideas to spare.”

Queen albums in general are notoriously hard to find good sound for, and Queen albums from 1982 are probably even harder.

We’re guessing this album’s appeal is probably limited to fans of the band, but for those of you who want something different, or to hear Under Pressure sound good, we offer Hot Space with White Hot Stamper sound. (more…)

Queen – The Game – What to Listen For

More Queen

More The Game

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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 of the album.

The best sounding side ones were rarely as good as the best sounding side twos.

Even the good side ones tended to have a trace of harmonic distortion and compression that is simply nowhere to be found on the good side twos. How and why this is we have no idea. Since every copy had the same sonic issues we discounted it in our grading. Only the better copies bring the hits on side one to life and give them the size and power we know they can have.  (more…)