1976

These are the albums released in 1976 that we’ve auditioned and mostly reviewed favorably.

Queen – A Day At the Races

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Hot Stamper Albums with Huge Choruses


  • This UK import copy of the band’s fifth studio album has outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Forget the domestic pressings — they may be cut at Sterling, but they never sound like these shockingly good British LPs
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • Problems in the vinyl is sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around it if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • “A Day at the Races is a bit tighter than its predecessor… its sleek, streamlined finish is the biggest indication that Queen has entered a new phase, where they’re globe-conquering titans instead of underdogs on the make.”

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Al Stewart – Year Of The Cat

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  • Boasting Double Plus (A++) sound throughout, this pressing is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other copy of Year of the Cat you’ve heard
  • With engineering by Alan Parsons, the top pressings are every bit the Audiophile Demo Discs you remember
  • The best sides have Tubey Magical acoustic guitars, sweet vocals, huge amounts of space, breathtaking transparency, and so much more
  • 4 1/2 stars: “A tremendous example of how good self-conscious progressive pop can be, given the right producer and songwriter — and if you’re a fan of either prog or pop and haven’t given Al Stewart much thought, prepare to be enchanted.”

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The Richie Furay Band – I’ve Got A Reason

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  • This vintage Asylum pressing boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Richness, warmth, Tubey Magic, and clarity are important to the sound of the best pressings, and here you will find plenty of all four
  • 4 1/2 stars: “[It’s] Furay’s clear, emotive tenor, along with his sense of melody and passion for the material, that carries the album”

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James Taylor – In The Pocket

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  • Both of these sides are SUPERB in all respects; there’s plenty of Tubey Magic, and that’s one quality that’s hard to come by on this album
  • Rich, sweet, and lively — Woman’s Gotta Have It sounds fantastic here
  • An underappreciated album that we’re big fans of here at Better Records!

The quality of the songwriting is what makes this album such a moving listening experience. These songs are superb, individually and collectively, and can hold their own up against those found on Gorilla, an album with which In the Pocket has much in common.

Just as they did on Gorilla, Taylor and his multi-talented, multi-tracking production team polish these songs into three and four minute gems of popcraft, and they do so without ever compromising the emotional heart of the material. I’ve searched and I honestly cannot find a bad song on the album. Better than that, not even a weak one.

Both of these sides are rich, smooth, yet transparent and high-rez. The vocals are breathy, and again, that is not something we heard nearly enough of in our shootout.

And no hardness. This is key. And the best tonal balance, which is also key. (more…)

Lincoln Mayorga, Pianist – Reverse Your Polarity!

Hot Stamper Pressings of Direct-to-Disc Recordings

Reviews and Commentaries for Direct to Disc Recordings

This IMMACULATE Sheffield Direct-to-Disc LP with Very Little Sign Of Play (VLSOP) is one of the best Sheffields. Lincoln Mayorga is an accomplished classical pianist: this is arguably his best work. (I had a chance to see him perform at a recital of Chopin’s works early in 2010 and he played superbly — for close to two hours without the aid of sheet music I might add.) 

You might want to try reversing the phase when playing this LP; it definitely helps the sound, a subject we discuss below.

This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.

Reversing the absolute phase on this record recently was quite interesting. The sound of the piano itself was already very good. With the phase reversed what really changed with the sense of space surrounding it, which immediately became much more palpable. The piano, though tonally similar to the way it sounded with the phase left alone, came to life more — more solid and punchy and percussive.

How do you change the absolute phase you ask? You must either switch the positive and negative at the speaker, the amp, or at the head shell leads, or you must have a switch that inverts phase on your preamp or phono stage. (The EAR 324p we use has just such a switch and let me tell you, it comes in very handy in situations like these.) If you can’t do any of those, or are unwilling to do any of those, this record will still sound good. It just won’t sound as good.

George Benson – Good King Bad

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  • INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple (A+++) sound on both sides of this original CTI pressing
  • Open and transparent throughout, with wonderfully full-bodied guitars, solid bass and huge amounts of funky jazz energy
  • This is the kind of spacious, low-distortion, dynamic and energetic sound Rudy Van Gelder was getting in the mid-’70s – if you think he was better in the sixties, you need to play some of these recordings from the ’70s that show off just how good his work could be
  • We are exceptionally tough graders these days – you may have no problem with the surfaces of this pressing at all (and if you do, we are happy to refund your money, just say the word)
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “The R&B elements [are] stronger, the sound and mix are more attuned to the dancefloor… and as a result, the record cooks and dances… Buy this one for “Cast Your Fate,” but there is plenty more to savor here.”
  • If you’re a George Benson fan, or perhaps a fan of mid-’70s Jazz Guitar, this title from 1976 is surely a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1976 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

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Rod Stewart – A Night On The Town

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  • Stewart’s 1976 release finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • You get clean, clear, full-bodied, lively and musical ANALOG sound from first note to last
  • 4 1/2 stars: “A Night on the Town isn’t a revival of Atlantic Crossing, it’s its inverse, with Stewart shining as an interpreter on the fast songs and writing the best slow ones, but it’s also its equal, proving that Stewart could still stay true to his open-hearted, ragged soul while on a big budget.”
  • If you’re a Rod Stewart fan, this title from 1976 is surely of interest, assuming you already have Every Picture Tells a Story and Never a Dull Moment and Atlantic Crossing – all three are Must Own Titles

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Bob Seger / Night Moves – His 1976 Masterpiece

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Hot Stamper Rock Masterpieces Available Now

  • A KILLER vintage pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout for Bob Seger’s breakthrough album (the 8th time’s the charm)
  • A big step up over every other copy we heard – richer, fuller, more dynamic, more lively and just plain more fun
  • Knock the album if you like, but there’s no denying it’s one of Seger’s best and certainly a ’70s classic – every song’s a hit, and deservedly so
  • 5 stars: “One of the universally acknowledged high points of late-’70s rock & roll. And, because of his passion and craft, it remains a thoroughly terrific record years later.”
  • If you’re a Seger fan, or perhaps a fan of mid-’70s Classic Rock, this title from 1976 is surely a Must Own.
  • The complete list of titles from 1976 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

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.

It’s not easy to find killer pressings of this album — it took us plenty of fruitless shootouts before we figured anything out. Most copies out there are thin and dry, which is no way to hear these classic ’70s tracks. We brought in copy after copy that made us think, “I swear this sounds better on the radio!”

Finally, after pulling together a ton of copies from different eras, we started to realize that there were indeed vinyl pressings of Night Moves that sounded right… but they are few and far between, the exception and not the rule so to speak. This copy is one of the better ones we played in our most recent shootout, no question about it.

Knock this album if you like, but there’s no denying it’s one of Seger’s best and certainly a ’70s classic. It may not have the audiophile appeal of Tea For The Tillerman, but it’s a blast when it sounds this good.

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Al Di Meola – Land Of The Midnight Sun

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  • A stunning copy of this Fusion Guitar classic
  • Both sides are incredibly lively, full-bodied, open and present — the sound, in a word, is HUGE
  • 4 1/2 stars: ” A very impressive beginning to di Meola’s solo career”
  • A great lineup including Chick Corea, Jaco Pastorious, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, Steve Gadd and more
  • If you’re a Jazz Fusion fan, this title from 1976 is surely a Must Own

If you’ve enjoyed the sonics on one of our Hot Stamper Return To Forever, Weather Report or Santana LPs, I think you’d find a lot to like about this record. (more…)

Jackson Browne – The Pretender

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  • One of the all time great rock / pop Demo Discs — the best copies are so rich and full-bodied they make most rock records sound positively anemic
  • Five Stars in Rolling Stone, one of their Top 500 Albums, and a true classic from 1976
  • Without a doubt the best sounding record Jackson Browne ever made – this is the pressing that backs up everything we say and more
  • If you’re a JB fan, this title from 1976 is surely a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1976 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

As I’m sure you know by now, especially if you own a copy or two, pressings of The Pretender don’t usually sound like Demo Discs. In fact, most copies of this record are mediocre at best — thin, grainy, and flat sounding.

This copy is none of those things. And it positively kills the famous MoFi pressing. (more…)