1979

Rod Stewart – An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down

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  • This UK Vertigo copy of Rod Stewart’s debut solo album boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Rich, smooth and Tubey Magical, this pressing has a lovely musical quality that’s missing from most copies 
  • Titled The Rod Stewart Album for US release, this is Rod the Mod’s acclaimed debut
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The music and the songs are so vivid and rich with detail that they reflect a whole way of life, and while Stewart would later flesh out this blueprint, it remains a stunningly original vision.”

This vintage British pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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…)

Glenn Frey – No Fun Aloud

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this copy of Glenn Frey’s debut album 
  • Big and lively, with rich, breathy vocals, this pressing will show you just how good No Fun Aloud can sound
  • Frey’s phenomenal talent as an artist is matched only by his songwriting genius on this album, which includes hits “The One You Love,” “I Found Somebody” and more
  • “… it’s Frey’s perfectly guided vocals and impeccable talent for crafting laid-back love songs that make the album noteworthy.”

The best copies of No Fun Aloud are both rich and open, with the kind of sound we associate with good ’70s recordings and rarely hear on records from the ’80s. But here’s a record from 1982 that sounds the way we like our records to sound – ANALOG. We don’t really know if it is or not, or mostly is or mostly isn’t, but we’ve never really cared about those sorts of things as long as the record sounds good.

It’s our one and only criterion. Using any other is a sign that you’re not really listening, you’re reading. (more…)

The Mastersounds – Swinging With The Mastersounds

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  • The Mastersounds’ 1960 release finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one – exceptionally quiet Red Vinyl too   
  • These sides are doing everything right — full, clear, and solid, with the Tubey Magical Midrange that can only be found on recordings from this era
  • If you’re a fan of the Modern Jazz Quartet, you may feel as I do that the Mastersounds’ Montgomery brothers on vibes and bass play this kind of smooth jazz much better than the often-sleepy MJQ
  • “Swinging With the Mastersounds is accurately titled; its six tracks are all standards, and all are taken at a gentle, loping tempo and spin out sweetly…”

This reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the ’70s and ’80s. We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 35+ years ago, not the generally opaque, veiled and lifeless mastering so common today. (more…)

Toto – IV

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  • You’ll find stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this copy of Toto’s Must-Own Masterpiece 
  • Huge and clear with the kind of smooth, rich, Tubey sound you sure don’t hear on too many ’80s pop albums
  • Rosanna and Africa are both knockouts here – we’ve rarely heard them with this kind of weight, scale and energy
  • 4 1/2 stars: “It was do or die for Toto on the group’s fourth album, and they rose to the challenge… Toto IV was both the group’s comeback and its peak …Toto’s best and most consistent record.

If more records sounded like this we would be out of business (and the CD would never have been invented). Thankfully we were able to find this TOTO-ly Tubey Magical copy and make it available for our customers who love the album. (more…)

Supertramp – Breakfast In America – An A&M Disaster

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Sonic Grade: F

So washed out, brittle, thin and compressed it practically defies understanding that anyone with two working ears ever considered calling this piece of crap an “audiophile” record. If you don’t think the major labels had anything but contempt for us audiophiles, play this pressing and see for yourself the kind of garbage they were happy to pawn off on an unsuspecting audiophile “community” (if there ever was such a thing. There is now of course, Hoffman’s being the most popular. Wonder what they have to say about this crap).  

Supertramp – Breakfast In America – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade: C-

The MoFi Standard Operating Procedure of boosting the top end does this album no favors; it’s positively ruinous in fact. How dull does a system have to be to make this record sound right? Pretty damn dull. And the bad bass definition just adds to the phoniness. The average domestic copy is not that great either, so let’s give the MoFi a somewhat forgiving grade of C minus.  

Supertramp – Even In The Quietest Moments… – Sweet Thunder Debunked

Even In The Quietest Moments…

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.  

We’re big fans of this album here at Better Records and consider it to be one of Supertramp’s best. That said, this half-speed is a disgrace. There is absolutely no presence to the sound of the copy we played. The guitars, which on some cuts are double tracked, each coming directly out of the speaker hard right and hard left, are so dull it sounds like the speaker is facing the back wall!  

I think I know why — there is quite a bit of processing distortion and grit on the vocals. The Audiophile Masterminds at Sweet Thunder thought the best way to deal with it was to suck the hell out of the presence region (3 to 6k) which takes off some of the edge on the vocals but throws a thick blanket over the acoustic guitars. On the opening track of side one, the big hit off the album, it takes all the energy out of the one element that really drives the music — the guitars.

This is truly one of the worst half-speed mastered records we have ever had the displeasure of hearing. Shame on you, Sweet Thunder. (more…)

Steely Dan – The Royal Scam – Turning Aggressive Energy into Pure Excitement

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The Royal Scam

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

We really went overboard with the track commentary for this one. This should make it easy for you to compare what we say about the sound of these songs with what they sound like to you on your system, using the copy you own or, better yet, one of our Hot Stampers. 

If you end up with one of our Hot Stampers, listen carefully for the effects we describe below. This is a very tough record to reproduce — everything has to be working in tip-top form to even begin to get this complicated music sounding the way it should — but if you’ve done your homework and gotten your system really cooking, you are in for the time of your Steely Dan life. (more…)

Rod Stewart – Never A Dull Moment – What to Listen For

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of NADM. 

Most copies tend to be dull, veiled, thick and congested, but the trick with the better pressings is being able to separate out the various parts with ease and hear right INTO the music.

Just listen to those meaty electric guitars, the note-like bass or that amazing snare drum sound with such a huge THWACK — that’s the raw power of rock n’ roll, baby.

It’s also surprisingly airy, open, and spacious — not quite what you’d expect from a bluesy British rock album like this, right? Not too many Faces records sound like this, we can tell you that.

But the engineers here managed to pull it off. One of them was Glyn Johns (mis-spelled in the credits Glynn Johns), who’s only responsible for the first track on side one, True Blue. Naturally that happens to be one of the best sounding tracks on the whole album. (more…)

Michael McDonald – If That’s What It Takes – Another MoFi Disaster

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

The MoFi pressing of this album is a complete disaster — it’s even fatter, muddier and more compressed than the standard domestic copy, as improbable as that may seem. It was mastered by Jack Hunt, a man we know to be responsible for some of the thickest, dullest, deadest MoFi recuts in the history of their shameful catalog. With mastering credits on this album, Gerry Rafferty (058) and Blondie (050) you have to wonder how this guy kept getting work.