Top Producers – Ted Templeman

Michael McDonald – If That’s What It Takes

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  • Insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish for Michael McDonald’s Masterpiece and on fairly quiet vinyl to boot
  • Both of these sides are incredibly clean, clear, spacious and dynamic with excellent clarity, tons of energy and a big punchy bottom end
  • One of the All Time Great Jeff Porcaro Drum Exhibition Records (with the equally amazing Steve Gadd handling the other tracks)
  • Some of the best Pop Rock engineering of all time, courtesy of Lee Herschberg and Donn Landee
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic – more importantly, this is a dramatically better album than anything the Doobies ever released

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The Doobie Brothers – Stampede

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  • With two seriously good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, this was far better than every other copy we played it against
  • Both of these sides are incredibly rich and full-bodied, with lots of deep punchy bass and excellent separation – thanks Donn Landee
  • Contains contributions from such guest musicians as Maria Muldaur, Ry Cooder, and Curtis Mayfield
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic: “The Doobie Brothers’ rootsiest album to date, Stampede was virtuoso soulful countrified rock of a gritty nature, crossing over into blues as well as reaching back to a raw, traditional rock & roll sound that wouldn’t have sounded too out of place 20 years earlier.”

The average copy of this album is compressed and congested, recessed and veiled, grainy and thin; in other words, it sounds like an old Doobie Brothers album. It takes a copy like this to show you just how good the Master Tape must really be. And if we hadn’t had plenty of copies to play with, we would never have found this one! (more…)

Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview

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  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • It’s unusual (to say the least) to find copies of Moondance or Astral Weeks that sound anything like the better copies of Saint Dominic’s Preview (or His Band and Street Choir for that matter)
  • One of the best sounding Van Morrison recordings thanks to the superb engineering skills of Donn Landee at Wally Heider’s
  • 5 Stars in Rolling Stone: “The coexistence of two styles on the same record turns out to be very refreshing; they complement each other by underscoring the remarkable versatility of Van’s musical imagination… the best-produced, most ambitious Van Morrison record yet released.”

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Van Halen – What to Listen For

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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 Van Halen’s debut album.

Most copies just do not have the kind of weight to the bottom and lower mids that this music needs to work. Put simply, if your Van Halen LP doesn’t rock, then what exactly is the point of playing it?

The other qualities to look for on the best pressings are, firstly, space — the best pressings are huge and three-dimensional, with large, lively, exceptionally dynamic choruses.

The copies with the most resolving power are easy to spot — they display plenty of lovely analog reverb trailing the guitars and vocals. (more…)

Van Halen – Van Halen – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

We recently took the time to shoot out a bunch of original pressings of Van Halen’s debut. I’m sure it won’t come as much of a surprise to most of you that the average copy is, well, quite average sounding. Not bad, just mediocre. Not rockin’ all that hard and not all that much fun. You know the kind of record I’m talkin’ about.

Sounds great on the radio, but the record you just picked up at your local Flip Side doesn’t seem to be doing much for you. The problem you find yourself with is the same problem most people have, but they don’t know they have it, because they don’t understand how dramatic the variations in pressings can be.

The problem is simply a mediocre pressing. The world is full of them. We know them well; they’re the kind we wade through in order to get to the good ones. (more…)

Van Halen First Album on DCC – Not My Idea of Good Sound

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing and another DCC LP debunked.

As I recall it isn’t very good — thick and dull and closed-in; in other words, boring — but I played it quite a while ago. If your copy sounds better, more power to you, but I bet it doesn’t. Any copy we sell is guaranteed to blow the doors off of it — as well as any other pressing you own — or your money back.

Go ahead and turn up your nose if you like, but this music is widely considered classic rock by now. I’m not going to pretend it’s on a level with After The Gold Rush or Zep II, but this album does exactly what it’s trying to do — it really ROCKS.

Donn Landee

Credit DONN LANDEE (and Ted Templeman too) with the rich, smooth, oh-so-analog sound of the best copies. He’s recorded many of our favorite albums here at Better Records. (more…)

Van Halen – 1984 – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

THE BEST COPY OF 1984 TO EVER HIT THE SITE — better than A++ on both sides with unusually quiet vinyl! We know this one ain’t for everyone, but we also expect that a bunch of you will be very excited to see this one in Hot Stamper form. And for good reason — on a copy like this one, this music rocks like crazy! Both sides here have the kind of BIG, full-bodied sound that lets the music come to life the way it needs to. There’s nothing phony here — the sound is natural and balanced with big punchy drums and lots of meat to the guitars.

One quick note: PLEASE do not buy this record if you intend to listen to it quietly. This music makes absolutely no sense at lower listening levels. If you’re not gonna turn this one up loud enough to offend the neighbors, you’ll be missing out on the qualities that make this pressing so special. (more…)

Carly Simon – Another Passenger – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

A TOP PRESSING of what we consider to be the best — and best-sounding — Carly Simon album! I’ve been telling people for years how amazing this album can sound, but we almost never hear it sound quite like this! Side one rates A++, side two rates A+++ and both sides play quietly. Most copies are gritty and edgy, but this one is smoother, sweeter and much more musical.  (more…)

Van Halen – Women And Children First

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  • An outstanding copy of the band’s third release, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Full-bodied, smooth analog sound is the key to the best Van Halen pressings, and here both sides have it 
  • One of our favorite engineers, Donn Landee, worked his magic here (together with Ted Templeman) and the results are superb
  • 4 1/2 stars: “After two pure party albums, the inevitable had to happen: it was time for Van Halen to mature, or at least get a little serious … This is the first Van Halen album to consist entirely of original material and there’s some significant growth here to the writing…”

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Van Halen – Van Halen II

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  • A STUNNING copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These killer sides are highly resolving, smooth and full-bodied, with a huge bottom end and massive amounts of rock and roll energy – if this isn’t the right sound for Van Halen’s music, we don’t know what else could be!
  • 4 stars: “… this feels both heavier and lighter than the debut. Heavier in that this sounds big and powerful, driven by mastodon riffs that aim straight of the gut. Lighter in that there’s a nimbleness to the attack… it’s hard not to marvel at these two frontmen, and hard not to be sucked into the vortex of some of the grandest hard rock ever made.” 

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