- An absolutely amazing sounding copy with both sides rating Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it!
- SHOCKINGLY GOOD from start to finish — big, bold and Tubey Magical, with guitars and vocals that will jump out of your speakers
- Hard To Fault (HTF) sound and fairly quiet vinyl too, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus on both sides
- “Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were remarkable craftsmen from the start, as Steely Dan’s debut illustrates. Each song is tightly constructed, with interlocking chords and gracefully interwoven melodies, buoyed by clever, cryptic lyrics.” — Allmusic, 4 1/2 stars
From the moment the needle hit the groove on side one, we were treated to some of the best sound we’ve ever heard for this album.
Both sides have an incredibly tight and punchy bottom end, with the kind of energy and WHOMP that brings this music to life! The soundfield is BIG, WIDE, and OPEN, with a three-dimensional quality that we didn’t hear on other copies. The top end is silky sweet — just listen to the cymbals on Do It Again.
Dirty Work sounds superb here — rich and sweet mids, breathy brass, and lots of texture to the vocals. Often this track sounds dull and dubby, but it’s actually just a case of the mix being smoother than most of the other songs on the album. If this track sounds smooth, and the other songs sound right, the tonality is correct for the whole side, because that’s what the best copies sound like.
Flip the record over and the good times begin all over again. Elliot Randall’s guitar on Reeling In The Years has the meaty texture and uncanny presence to take the song to an entirely new level. Fire In The Hole is exceptionally dynamic with real weight to the piano, and the double tracked vocals on Turn That Heartbeat Over Again sound rich and poppy the way they should.
Combine two sides this good and press them on fairly quiet vinyl and you have yourself an LP that’s practically a FLUKE. (more…)
In his latest letter Dan tells us of his disappointment with the new reissues he’s been trying:
… And thanks again for that amazing “Who’s Next” record. It was startling to hear the difference between that and the Classic – and that was one of the better modern audiophile records!I can’t tell you how many modern reissues I’ve bought over the past couple months that have lost, and lost badly, to just my one single original or early pressing of an album. Reissues by AC/DC, The Who, ZZ Top, The Rolling Stones, and Patti Smith have all failed miserably against my merely average sounding originals.
If you’re looking for quiet vinyl and good sound on this title I don’t think we will have anything for you for the foreseeable future. But of course you never know, we could luck into some killer copies on any one of our regular record hunting days. It’s pure luck to find any early stereo copy in good shape, let alone one that has the right stampers, the right sound and good surfaces. Each of our last two shootouts took us five years to make happen if that tells you anything.
This Reprise Tri-Color stereo pressing has killer Hot Stamper sound on both sides, which means it came out on top in our recent shootout, only the second we’ve done since 2006 (!).
See all of our Rimsky-Korsakov albums in stock
- This AMAZING side one with the complete Tsar Saltan was so good we gave it our rare Four Plus (A++++) grade
- We freaked out when we heard this side – it took the sound beyond anything we had ever experienced for the work
- It’s so rich and real, with huge WHOMP factor down low, as well as clear, uncolored brass and robust lower strings – wow!
- We figure about one out of a hundred sides earn our Four Plus grade – you can’t get much more rare than that
We award this copy’s side one our very special Four Plus (A++++) grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a recording to a level never experienced by us before, a level we had no idea even existed. We estimate that about one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade.
This London pressing contains a stunningly BEAUTIFUL Tale of the Tsar Saltan Suite. It’s clearly one of the great Demo Disc Quality recordings from the Golden Age (or any age for that matter), with everything that a top Golden Age Orchestral recording should have: all the magic; all the timbral and harmonic subtlety; all the sweetness and warmth; all the Tubey Magical richness.
All that and more. Folks, this is the kind of record that makes you sit up and take notice. Finally, HERE is the kind of sound that can bring an orchestra to life in your very own listening room. (more…)
Sonic Grade: D
A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.
Same problems as the MoFi Thick As a Brick: The MoFi is super-TRANSPARENT and OPEN, and the top end will be lush and extended. If you prize clarity, this is the one!
But if you prize clarity at the expense of everything else, you are seriously missing the boat on Meddle (and of course Thick As A Brick too). The MoFi is all mids and highs with almost nothing going on below.
This is a rock record, but without bass and dynamics the MoFi pressing can’t rock, so what exactly is it good for?
Including some Hot Stamper copies guaranteed to blow your mind.
Vivaldi / The Four Seasons / Societa Corelli
This excellent RCA Shaded Dog has the kind of clarity, harmonic texture and freedom from smear that few Golden Age recordings can claim.
Through the effort and skill of the RCA engineers, that striking openness in the recording is combined with an immediacy in the sound of the lead string players, no mean feat. One rarely hears both, except of course in live performance.
Both sides are big, rich, and natural, with lovely string texture.
We Was Wrong in 2007 About Tubes
In 2007 we did a shootout for this album and noted the following:
For those with better tube gear, the string tone on this record is sublime, with that rosin-on-the-bow quality that tubes seem to bring out in a way virtually nothing else can, at least in my experience.
Our experience since 2007 has changed our view concerning the magical power of tubes relative to transistors to bring out the rosiny texture of bowed stringed instruments. We have in fact changed our minds completely with respect to that common belief. (more…)
Ella Fitzgerald – Whisper Not
A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
Both sides of this original stereo pressing are White Hot – Triple Plus all the way! Breathy, tubey, big and clear, this is the best sound we have ever heard for Whisper Not. Superb engineering from the man behind so many great sounding Verve records, Val Valentin. “These fine-tuned arrangements also provide the perfect launching pad for Fitzgerald to place her own stamp on material associated with other singers.”
Two As Good As It Gets sides back to back. You get superb space and transparency, a three-dimensional soundfield, and full-bodied, immediate vocals.
The key to any Ella recording on Verve is to find the pressing with the most presence, breathiness, richness, tubiness and all that other good stuff that vintage analog records can give you, whilst minimizing the midrangy EQ that plagues most of her albums.
And it can be done. This copy is proof! Hardness and honkiness are no strangers to her records, but the best pressings make the EQ on her vocals sound maybe not perfect, but right for the music. (more…)
This is amazing copy of AFTER THE GOLD RUSH and a member of our Rock Hall of Fame.
It’s an album we admit to being just a bit obsessed with. We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands — maybe a bit too much time on your hands — please feel free to check out our commentaries.
Folks, your Hot Stamper collection is just not complete without a knockout copy of After The Gold Rush; that’s why we’ve named it a Better Records All Time Top 100 title. We built our reputation on finding records that sound like this, because who else can find a copy of this album that delivers so much magic? When you drop the needle on any track on side two, you’ll know exactly why we are able to charge these kind of prices for a record like this — because on the right system, it’ll sound like a million bucks! (more…)
We’ve been wandering around in the dark for more than a decade with Bridge of Sighs — that is, until we found a clean early UK Chrysalis pressing. Now we know just how good this album can sound, and that means ASTOUNDINGLY good. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any Geoff Emerick album that sounds as big and clear as this one. The three dimensional space is really something else on the better UK copies.
There is a substantial amount of Tubey Magic and liquidity on the tape, recalling the kind of hi-rez vintage analog sound that makes the luminous A Space in Time such a mind-expanding experience. Recorded a few years earlier, both albums have the kind of High Production Value sound that we go crazy for here at Better Records. You can find many of our favorites in our Rock and Pop Top 100, and if we can find more of this title, it will surely be on the list as well.
No domestic pressing could touch our better British imports I’m sorry to say, and I’m sorry to say it because finding the right Brit copies in good condition is going to be a very expensive proposition going forward. I expect I shall be paying much too much to get a fairly high percentage of noisy, heavily played old records shipped to me. But that’s the business we’re in.
Fortunately for our Rock Guitar loving customers, when the sound and the music are this good, it’s more than worth all the effort and expense.
Size and Space
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center. (more…)