Al Green – Explores Your Mind – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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Excellent soul sound! It’s tough to find copies of these classic Al Green records that deliver sonically and play reasonably well, but we got a hold of a good one here. Green was right in his prime and a copy like this lets you hear just how wonderful a performer he was. You get all the detail and nuance to his voice and the clean, clear sound lets the horns and rhythm section come through. This copy gives you solid bass, excellent presence and lots of energy. Take Me To The River and Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy) both sound great.   (more…)

Los Lobos – How Will The Wolf Survive?

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  • This superb Los Lobos release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big, rich (for 1984), present and lively, with good weight to the bottom end, this is clearly the right sound for this music
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than anything else around, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an unsuspecting record buying public
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… the band’s exemplary taste, musical smarts, and road-tested maturity [is] in evidence on every cut. While rarely flashy, even a casual listen offers all the proof you might need that Los Lobos were a band of world-class musicians…”

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Peggy Lee – Sugar ‘N’ Spice

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More Pop and Jazz Vocal Albums

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  • Sugar ‘N’ Spice makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING sound on both Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides
  • So hugely spacious and three-dimensional, yet with a tonally correct and natural sounding Peggy, this is the way to hear it
  • “Peggy is in fine voice and brings her sweet feminine tones to her ballads and her salty, seductive sounds to the more uptempo material. The backings are by Benny Carter and feature a compact orchestra with an emphasis on brass.”

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The Sons of The Pioneers – Down Memory Trail with The Sons of The Pioneers

More of The Sons of The Pioneers

More Country and Country Rock

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  • Down Memory Trail finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • These sides have a richness and sweetness that’s disappeared entirely from modern recordings yet they’re still incredibly clean, clear and spacious
  • If you want to know why people love Living Stereo records, playing either side of this record should be more than sufficient
  • “Another nostalgic journey through the west”

This vintage RCA Victor 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…)

Steely Dan / Gaucho – Listening In Depth to The Dan’s Last Good Album

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More Gaucho

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Gaucho. Here are some albums currently on our site with similar Track by Track breakdowns.

Of all the great albums Steely Dan made, and that means their seven original albums and nothing that came after, there are only three in our opinion that actually support their reputation as studio wizards and recording geniuses.

Chronologically they are Pretzel Logic, Aja, and Gaucho. Every sound captured on these albums is so carefully crafted and considered that it practically brings one to tears to contemplate what the defective DBX noise reduction system did to the work of genius that is Katy Lied, their best album and the worst sounding. (Those cymbal crashes can really mess with your mind if you let them. To get a better picture of the DBX sound just bang two trash can lids together as close to your head as possible.)

The first two albums can sound very good, as can Royal Scam, but none of those can compete with The Big Three mentioned above for sonics. A Hot Stamper copy of any of them would be a seriously good sounding record indeed. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Grumiaux

The Music of Tchaikovsky Available Now

Album Reviews of the Music of Tchaikovsky

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This Super Hot side one (coupled with an A+ side two) gives you a TOP performance with very good to excellent sound from first note to last. All of which makes this a Must Own copy of the work, surely the most well-known and beloved violin concerto in the classical repertoire.

Grumiaux displays wonderful energy to his playing throughout the recording. What a performance! And the vinyl is lovely, especially on side one.

Side One

A++, big, rich, sweet and smooth — above all the sound on this side is natural and energetic. Slightly dark with a touch of smear, this is very close to the best we heard.

Side Two

A+, Big and lively, but there is some smear to the sound and the violin can get a little screechy in parts. (more…)

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

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

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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.

With the more solid sounding copies, the lower mids are full and rich. Above them, the next “level up” so to speak, there’s plenty of space in which to fit all the instruments and voices comfortably, without piling them on top of one another as so often happens. Consequently, the upper midrange “space” does not get overloaded and overwhelmed with musical information.

Number Two: edgy vocals, which is related to Number One above. Almost all copies have at least some edge to the vocals — the boys want to really belt it out in the choruses, and they do — but the best copies keep the edge under control, without sounding compressed, dark, dull or smeary.

The highest quality equipment, on the hottest Hot Stamper copies, will play the loudest and most difficult-to-reproduce passages with virtually no edge, grit or grain, even at very loud levels. (more…)

Sonny Rollins – Way Out West

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Reviews and Commentaries for Way Out West

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  • A stunning copy of Way Out West with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • This stereo pressing has superb 1957 Contemporary sound – big, open and natural throughout
  • The sax is so smooth and tubey it will have you drooling
  • One of our favorite Rollins records – one listen to this copy and you will know exactly why we love the recordings of Roy DuNann
  • 5 stars: “The timeless Way out West established Sonny Rollins as jazz’s top tenor saxophonist”

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The Alan Parsons Project – I Robot

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  • An outstanding early UK pressing of I Robot with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • The overall sound is clean, clear and transparent – many copies tend to be overly smooth, but this one has the kind of clarity that allows the natural textures of the instruments to come through
  • 4 1/2 stars: “. . . that sense of melody when married to the artistic restlessness and geeky sensibility makes for a unique, compelling album and the one record that truly captures mind and spirit of the Alan Parsons Project.”

If you’re a fan of this album who has been playing a typical copy, or — even worse — one of the MoFi versions, you are sure to be impressed with the kind of sound this superb copy delivers. You get a strong, solid bottom end setting the foundation, which is exactly what you need to make a funky tune like I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You come to life. (more…)

Mozart – Clarinet and Horn Concertos / Maag

More of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

More music conducted by Peter Maag

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  • An outstanding copy of this wonderful classical release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big, clear, present and transparent, with a HUGE bottom end, you better believe that this is some Demo Disc sound
  • Both sides are open, high-rez, and spacious, with depth like you will not believe and some of the least shrill string reproduction we have ever heard for this music (which is the main problem we run into on the album)

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