1968-best

James Taylor – Self-Titled

More James Taylor

More Debut Recordings of Interest

  • An early UK Apple pressing of James Taylor’s debut LP with excellent sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Big, rich and solid on both sides, with a more relaxed, musical quality, as well as the clarity that was missing from most other copies we played
  • Listen for Paul McCartney on bass and an uncredited George Harrison providing backing vocals on “Carolina In My Mind”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The absolute conviction that runs throughout this music takes the listener into its confidence and with equal measures of wit, candor, and sophistication, James Taylor created a minor masterpiece…”

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Jeff Beck – Truth

More Jeff Beck

More Rod Stewart

  • An excellent reissue LP with Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Easily – and by a wide margin – the best sounding record Jeff Beck ever made – thanks Ken Scott!
  • This pressing embodies the Big Rock Sound that we go crazy for here at Better Records (particularly on side two)
  • Really fun music – it’s a blast to hear Rod Stewart fronting such a heavy rock band
  • 5 stars: “…almost as groundbreaking and influential a record as the first Beatles, Rolling Stones, or Who albums.”

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.


This is a SHOCKINGLY good sounding pressing of Truth, Beck’s As-Heavy-As-I-Can-Make-It Rock debut, the kind of record that would define Classic Rock for the next forty plus years.

The soundstage is absolutely HUGE, while the presence and transparency of this copy go way beyond most pressings. Great rock and roll energy too of course — without that you have nothing on this album.

Note how spacious, big, full-bodied and DYNAMIC both sides are. That’s why they’re Super Hot. I am pleased to report that the whomp factor on these sides was nothing short of MASSIVE. With tons of bass these sides have what it takes to make the music ROCK. (more…)

Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 – Fool on the Hill

More Sergio Mendes

More Bossa Nova

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other Fool on the Hill you’ve heard
  • Sergio’s unique rearrangement of two songs in particular here make this a Must Own album: Scarborough Fair and title trackl
  • Top engineers for A&M, Henry Lewy and Larry Levine, capture the natural, breathy intimacy in the voices of these wonderful female leads – Lani Hall, Karen Philipp and Gracinha Leporace
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “Even though he had become thoroughly embedded in the consciousness of mainstream America, Mendes still managed to have it three ways, exposing first-class tunes from little-known Brazilian talent, garnering commercial hits, and also making some fine records.”
  • If you’re a fan of Sergio and the band, this early pressing from 1968 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1968 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Two songs in particular make this a Must Own album: Scarborough Fair and The Fool On The Hill. Both of them are given wonderfully original treatments. These songs hold their own against the originals, and that’s saying something.

Sergio took on many of the heavyweights of his day, and most of the time he succeeded in producing a uniquely satisfying version of well-known material. Superb original tracks by The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Buffalo Springfield, Joni Mitchell and others were given the Sergio Mendes latin pop treatment and came out much the better for it.

This vintage A&M 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.

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Simon & Garfunkel / Bookends

More Simon and Garfunkel

Reviews and Commentaries for Bookends

  • Our hottest copies have lovely midrange magic on the guitars and voices as well as plenty of studio ambience on most tracks, especially the simpler, more folky ones
  • An album that has become much tougher to come by, especially copies that play as well as this one does
  • Top 100, 5 stars – side two alone has four all time classics: Fakin’ It, Mrs. Robinson, A Hazy Shade of Winter and At the Zoo
  • If you’re a fan of this phenomenal folk duo, this early domestic pressing of their 1968 classic belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1968 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

The best copies of Bookends and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme are a sonic step up in class from anything else these two guys ever released. If you’re looking for the Ultimate Audiophile Simon & Garfunkel record, you just can’t do better than a killer Hot Stamper pressing of either title.

This album has exceptional bass as well as lovely midrange magic on the guitars and voices. There’s plenty of studio ambience on most tracks, especially the simpler, more folky ones.

Do you know how hard it is to find a clean copy of this record? I’ll bet we look at 50 every year and probably buy no more than a few, which, after cleaning and going into a shootout may or may not sound good or have audiophile quality surfaces. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Self-Titled

  • An incredible copy of the band’s debut album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish, and impossibly quiet vinyl for a vintage Fantasy pressing
  • These sides are exceptionally low-distortion, solid, dynamic, with the neutral tonality completely missing from the current spate of reissues
  • Featuring classics such as I Put a Spell on You, the extended-length jam Susie Q (8:37, perfect for Underground Radio), The Working Man, Porterville and more
  • 4 stars: “CCR’s self-titled debut album was gloriously out-of-step with the times, teeming with John Fogerty’s Americana fascinations. … the band’s sound is vibrant, with gutsy arrangements that borrow equally from Sun, Stax, and the swamp.”

It’s unlikely you will be demonstrating your system with this record, but you may find yourself enjoying the hell out of it for what it is — an early example of Roots Rock that still holds up today.

This is an album that’s nearly impossible to find with excellent sound and clean surfaces. This is one of the best copies we’ve managed to come across. (more…)

The Moody Blues / In Search Of The Lost Chord

More of The Moody Blues

Reviews and Commentaries for The Moody Blues

  • Chock full of Moodies Magic: warm, full-bodied, rich and smooth, with tremendous space and plenty of rock energy
  • The first Moody Blues album to feature their trademark mellotron arrangements, and what a glorious sound that is when it sounds like this
  • “…the album on which the Moody Blues discovered drugs and mysticism as a basis for songwriting and came up with a compelling psychedelic creation, filled with songs about Timothy Leary and the astral plane and other psychedelic-era concerns.”

This early Deram British Import LP has STUNNING SOUND and fairly quiet vinyl. It has higher resolution, is more dynamic, sweeter and clearer than most copies, WITHOUT SACRIFICING the richness, warmth and lushness for which the Moody Blues recordings are justifiably famous. I’ll put it this way — this pressing is correct from top to bottom, so present and alive, while still retaining all the richness and sweetness we expect from British Moody Blues records, that I find it hard to believe you can do any better.

This copy has all the elusive elements that we search for: vocal clarity, real weight down low, great energy, tight punchy bass, and lots of texture to the keyboards and synths. This copy is full of Tubey Magic and, importantly, it doesn’t sound too murky or muddy. That’s a neat trick for any copy of this album, as those of you who’ve been playing it for years certainly know by now.

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Canned Heat – Boogie With Canned Heat

More Canned Heat

More Blues Rock

  • This vintage Liberty pressing of Canned Heat’s sophomore album boasts seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • An outstanding copy with hard-rockin’ blues energy, rich, solid bass, open top end, and freedom from congestion
  • It’s big, lively, clear and present, with the kind of Tubey Magical richness we flip out for here at Better Records
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Canned Heat’s second long-player, Boogie with Canned Heat (1968), pretty well sums up the bona fide blend of amplified late-’60s electric rhythm and blues, with an expressed emphasis on loose and limber boogie-woogie.”

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The Doors / Waiting For the Sun

More of The Doors

More Psych Rock

  • The sound is present, lively and tonally correct, with Jim Morrison’s baritone reproduced with the weight, presence, space and depth all but missing from the reissues
  • It’s tough (not to mention expensive) to find these early Gold Label pressings with this kind of sound and reasonably quiet vinyl
  • “Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore were never more lucid… This was a band at its most dexterous, creative, and musically diverse …”
  • If you’re a fan of Jim and his band, this early pressing of their 1968 classic belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1968 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Here is THE BIG SOUND that makes Doors records such a thrill to play. Morrison’s vocals sound just right here — full-bodied, breathy and immediate. The transparency makes it possible to easily pick out Bruce Botnick’s double tracking of Morrison’s leads.

For a thrill just drop the needle on Not To Touch The Earth. Halfway through the song the members have sort of a duel — Robbie Krieger wailing on the guitar in one channel, Ray Manzarek pounding on the keyboards in the other, and John Densmore responding with drum fills behind them. On the average copy, the parts get congested and lose their power, but when you can easily pick out each musician, their part will raise the hair on your arms. It’s absolutely chilling, and it will no doubt remind you why you fell in love with The Doors in the first place. Who else can do this kind of voodoo the way that they do?

Check out the piano on Yes The River Knows on side two (such an underrated song!) or the big snare thwacks on Five To One to hear that Hot Stamper magic. The overall sound is airy, open, and spacious — you can really hear INTO the soundfield on a track like Yes The River Knows. The opaque quality that so many pressings of this album suffer from is nowhere to be found here. Not only that, but you will not believe how hard these sides rock. (more…)

Bizet-Shchedrin / Carmen Ballet Suite / Rozhdestvensky

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875)

 More Orchestral Spectaculars

  • A stunning pressing of Bizet’s masterpiece, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Side one is also impossibly quiet at Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, a grade that practically none of our vintage classical titles – even the most well-cared-for ones – ever play at
  • 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)
  • Gloriously exciting and fun music that belongs in any audiophile’s collection – side one is where the action is, and this side one had the best sound we heard all day
  • This spectacular Demo Disc recording is big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic – HERE is the sound we love
  • We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. This album is a good example of a record many audiophiles may not know well but should.

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Borodin / Symphony No. 2 / Tchaikovsky / Francesca Da Rimini / Varviso

Hot Stamper Classical and Orchestral Imports on Decca & London

More Classical ‘Sleeper” Recordings We’ve Discovered with Demo Disc Sound

This London Whiteback pressing (CS 6578) has SHOCKINGLY GOOD sound; in many ways it deserves to be called a Demo Disc. It has at least one quality that one virtually never hears on an audiophile reissue: a smooth, natural top end. This record only sounds correct and “real” at louder volumes, in the same way that a live orchestra often sounds a bit lifeless in the quiet passages, only to get exciting, big and powerful when the score calls for it. For this to happen on record you need real dynamics and tonal neutrality.

We have not heard many audiophile reissues pull these things off either, just two of the reasons we no longer carry them.

And you can find all the other reasons on the site easily enough. We can’t stop talking about how disappointing Heavy Vinyl sounds to us now.

We graded both sides AT LEAST A++, a bit vague we admit; we just don’t have enough copies to know if the sound could get much better.

We played a good many vintage classical LPs that day and this was clearly one of the best sounding, so we feel this grade should be accurate, perhaps even conservative.

Credit for the sound must go to the Decca engineers, of course, but also to the hall that the L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande played in, where so many of the great Ansermet recordings were made. This recording is from 1968. Ansermet died in 1969. One imagines that he was perhaps not able to conduct at this stage of his life and turned his wonderful orchestra and hall over to Varviso, a man better known for conducting operas at the time.

Side One – Borodin

At Least A++, with the kind of Golden Age sound that has rarely if ever been realized in the modern era. Big, wide and deep, with smooth, rich orchestral sound, these are the kind of records that let you forget the sound and just enjoy the music. The performance is taken a brisk pace, rarely a bad thing.

Side Two – Tchaicovsky

At Least A++, and a lovely work that has never made it to the site in Hot Stamper form before, hint hint.

Rich, with deep bass, big stage, huge space and so 3-D, this is what we love about vintage recordings. And a great performance as well.