Phil Collins – Face Value – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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Face Value

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

This Minty British LP has two AMAZING SIDES! Song after song, Collins’ songwriting and musicianship shine with this breakout record. The sound on these Hot Stampers is VIBRANT! Side one has SUPERB extention on the top, PUNCHY BASS and excellent texture on the drums and percussion. Side two has BIG SOUND with really spacious strings and vocals. (more…)

Dexter Gordon – One Flight Up – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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One Flight Up

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Blue Note LP is without a doubt ONE OF THE BEST SOUNDING JAZZ RECORDS WE’VE EVER HEARD! We were auditioning a bunch of jazz records today (4/25/07), and when the needle hit the grooves on this one we were ABSOLUTELY BLOWN AWAY!

I can’t think of one jazz record we’ve ever played here at Better Records with this kind of WHOMP! Everything here is so rich and full — nothing like a typical Blue Note album. (more…)

British Band Classics Vol. 2 – The First Classical Record I Bought as an Audiophile

More the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

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British Band Classics Volume Two was the first Mercury classical LP I ever bought. After hearing it at an audiophile friend’s house I went down to Tower Records and found one in the bin. I think the price was $3.99 for the Golden Import pressing, which of course was the only one available. That was what I had heard, so I had no idea that the original even existed, let alone sounded better and would one day sell for many hundreds of dollars. This was the ’70s, when you could walk into a record store and buy new records, and long before HP created a feeding frenzy for vintage Mercs.

As I’m writing this, I can picture myself in the store. I can still remember that the clerk who helped me find the record commented that I should have come in the week before when the record was on sale for $1 off. I certainly feel like I got my money’s worth that day. This album went on to become one of my personal treasures. I used to marvel at the way the wind instruments actually sounded like the pipes of an organ. (I wasn’t really sure at first that there wasn’t an organ playing somewhere on the record. I didn’t know much about classical music then. ) (more…)

Bruch / Scottish Fantasy / Heifetz

More of the music of Max Bruch 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

WHITE HOT Stamper sound for the Bruch side of this original RCA Shaded Dog, one of the best Heifetz concerto titles of all time. (I’m trying to think of a Heifetz title that sounds better and coming up blank.)

This was our shootout winner on side two, beating all comers, earning our highest grade, the full Three Pluses (our blue ribbon, gold medal, and best in show all wrapped into one). The sound is nothing short of DEMO DISC QUALITY.

If you want to demonstrate the magic of Living Stereo recordings, jump right to the second movement of the Bruch. The sonority of the massed strings is to die for. When Heifetz enters, the immediacy of his violin further adds to the transcendental quality of the experience. Sonically and musically it doesn’t get much better than this, on Living Stereo or anywhere else. (more…)

Letter of the Week – The Pretender

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

After years of buying the latest reissue lps at premium pricing and being frustrated with the sound quality. I bought a copy of Jackson Browne’s “The Pretender” from you and was floored by the sound quality and dynamics and realized that your company takes all the BS out of the Audiophile shopping experience. Since then I’ve used your store a bunch.

Rob R.

The Pretende

Music Of Berlioz / Martinon

More of the music of Hector Berlioz 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This English Stereo Treasury pressing (on an odd lookinig Orange label, with handwritten stampers I have never seen before) has a SUPERB side two and side one is almost as good! The original release is London CS 6101 and I doubt most copies of it would sound this good.

This is Classic Old School Decca sound, rich and smooth with an exceptionally wide and deep soundstage. All the instruments are clear and have good texture, which is what one rarely hears on the most early pressings, which tend to be thick and dark. A little more top and this side two would have earned the full Three Pluses. (more…)

Nat King Cole – Sings Hymns and Spirituals

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More Sings Hymns and Spirituals

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

The sound is big, open, rich and full. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than most, by a long shot. Very few records out there give you the kind of realistic, lifelike sound you get from this pressing, particularly on side one.

We want to give a special shoutout here to conductor/arranger Gordon Jenkins, who also handled the same duties on Nilsson’s Must Own classic A Little Touch Of Schmillson in The Night.

Jenkins worked with Nat King Cole on four albums for Capitol: Love Is the Thing (1957), The Very Thought of You (1958), Every Time I Feel the Spirit (1959) and Where Did Everyone Go? (1963). (more…)

Brahms / Piano Concerto #2 / Bachauer

More of the music of Johannes Brahms 

Piano Concerto #2 / Bachauer 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

This original Maroon Label Mercury pressing has big and rich Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, with a a side one that’s very nearly as good.

In fact the piano itself on side one earned a grade of A++ for its amazingly present and real sound. It’s the orchestra that’s the problem, but that happens quite often with Mercury concerto records in our experience. We’re just happy that side two sounds so good and that side one is clearly a big step up from the average copy.

Side Two

A++, with the orchestra sounding better than it did on side one. Big and rich sound for Mercury? We’ll take it!

Side One

A+ to A++. The piano is close-miked, which makes it present and solid. It’s also very dynamic. The orchestra however is too small and the strings can get shrill at their loudest.

Ella Fitzgerald – Let No Man Write My Epitaph – Reviewed in 2006

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Let No Man Write My Epitaph

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This very nice looking Verve T Label original Mono LP with the early pink cover has lovely sound. Ella’s voice is present, smooth and sweet. Since this recording only involves voice and piano, the loss of stereo information presents no problem for the listener. Ella and her accompanist are dead center and tonally correct. Many Verve Ella records are a disaster sonically – this is one of the exceptions.

Leonard Cohen – Live Songs

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Live Songs

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

We had a big shootout for this live album, compiled from different shows Cohen performed in 1970 and 1972, and we’re pleased to report that the sound was killer on both sides of this copy.

Drop the needle anywhere and you’ll notice the impressive immediacy to the vocals, the clear transients on the guitars and the deep, note-like bass. Cohen’s voice sounds just right here — deep and gravely — and the overall sound is rich, warm and full. (more…)