1986-best

The Pretenders – Get Close

More of The Pretenders

More Women Who Rock

  • Get Close returns to the site with INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them throughout this vintage WEA import pressing
  • These sides are energetic, clear and full-bodied, with Chrissie Hynde’s vocals front and center where they belong
  • If all you know are audiophile or domestic pressings, you should be prepared for a mind-blowing experience with this German-pressed copy
  • It takes years to get a shootout for this album going – three to five is my best guess, so get while the gettin’s good if you’re as big a fan of the album as we are
  • “Hynde’s voice is in great form throughout, and when she gets her dander up, she still has plenty to say and good ways to say it; ‘How Much Did You Get for Your Soul?’ is a gleefully venomous attack on the musically unscrupulous; ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ is a superb pop tune and a deserved hit single; and the Motown-flavored ‘I Remember You’ and the moody ‘Chill Factor’ suggest she’d been learning a lot from her old soul singles.”

Get Close has long been a personal favorite of mine. Side one starts off with a bang with “My Baby,”” one of the best tracks this band ever recorded. Of course at this point it’s hard to call The Pretenders a band as it is pretty much Chrissie Hynde’s show. She continues to mature as a songwriter, and the arrangements and production value are excellent as well, with heavy hitters such as Steve Lillywhite, Bob Clearmountain and Jimmy Iovine involved.

(more…)

Steve Winwood – Back In The High Life

More Steve Winwood

More Traffic

  • Both sides of this UK copy of Steve Winwood’s Solo Masterpiece earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER
  • This early British pressing is guaranteed to be dramatically bigger, richer, fuller and smoother than anything you’ve heard
  • Higher Love with better than Double Plus sound? You’re gonna love it! And there’s really not a bad track on the album
  • “The first undeniably superb record of an almost decade-long solo career … the passion long smoldering in his finest work explodes in the album-opening duet with Chaka Khan, Higher Love…” — Rolling Stone

On the best copies, the sound is spacious and high-resolution. The bright, dry, grainy, analytical sound is replaced with something warmer, richer, fuller, sweeter, smoother — in other words, more ANALOG sounding. (more…)

Elvis Costello / Girls Girls Girls – Skip It on Vinyl (But Get the Brilliant 2 CD Set)

More Elvis Costello

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Elvis Costello

Years ago we had a British Import Demon Records 2 LP set that sounded decent — better sound than you’d find on any domestic copy — and the songs, spanning the period from 1976 to 1986, are GREAT! 

But the CD has much better sound than any vinyl I have yet to hear.

Buy the CD, it’s one of the best compilations — of any artist’s music — I know of.

(more…)

Oscar Peterson – If You Could See Me Now

Reviews and Commentaries for the Recordings of Oscar Peterson

A Top Pablo Recording

This is a SUPERB set from Oscar Peterson’s sometimes underwhelming Pablo period. This one is from 1986 and includes the estimable Joe Pass on guitar.

Side one has the kind of sound one associates with late-’70s jazz, jazz that often seems to be recorded in dead studios.

Side two sounds much better somehow — more clear, present and lively.

The liner notes tell us it’s the same studio, even the same day, but there is simply no mistaking the better sound quality. Such are the vagaries of the vinyl record.

If you’re in the market for a top quality Oscar Peterson piano trio recording (with bonus guitar), this side two should be just the ticket.

Peter Gabriel – So

More Peter Gabriel

  • This insanely good copy of Gabriel’s breakthrough album boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • It’s the impossibly rare copy that’s this lively, solid and rich – drop the needle on the title track and you’ll see what we mean
  • Great songs including Don’t Give Up, Sledgehammer, Big Time, Mercy Street, Red Rain, In Your Eyes and more
  • “Excellent albums followed, but the breathtaking So is the best introduction to a dazzling discography.” — Bruno MacDonald

Here is a copy of So with the Big and Bold Peter Gabriel sound we love. If you want your Art Rock to actually rock (as well as be arty), this is the copy for you.

It’s not a perfect recording by any means, but when it sounds this good you can just forget its shortcomings and marvel at how consistently good the material and the production are. (more…)

Paul Simon – Graceland

More Paul Simon

Hot Stamper Pressings of Graceland Available Now


  • A KILLER copy of Paul Simon’s 1986 release with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Richer, smoother yet still very clear and highly resolving, in precisely the way so few copies are
  • Guaranteed to trounce the well-reviewed but nevertheless AWFUL Heavy Vinyl LP in every way, or your money back and the shipping is on us
  • There’s a delicate, extended top end on this pressing that simply does not exist on the new reissue
  • 5 stars: “An enormously successful record, Graceland became the standard against which subsequent musical experiments by major artists were measured.”

(more…)

Crowded House – Self-Titled

Reviews and Commentaries for Crowded House

  • A stunning sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides here are super punchy, musical, clean and clear with a solid bottom end – what album from 1986 sounds as good as this one?
  • The best sounding Crowded House album ever recorded? It gets our vote!
  • Great songs like Don’t Dream It’s Over, Something So Strong and World Where You Live
  • “… the record was blessed by good timing, and the majestic ballad “Don’t Dream It’s Over” became an international hit, while its follow-up, the breezy “Something So Strong,” also turned into a hit. Both revealed different sides of Finn’s talents, with the first being lyrical and the second being effervescent…” – All Music

(more…)

Jennifer Warnes – Famous Blue Raincoat

More of the Music of Jennifer Warnes

More of the Music of Leonard Cohen

  • A Demo Disc quality pressing of this longtime audiophile favorite, with stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too, as quiet as we can find them
  • Turn this one up good and loud (which you can do when the sound is right) and you’ll have a living, breathing Jennifer Warnes standing right between your speakers
  • The space, resolution, and clarity here are wonderful – for evidence just look to the rosiny texture on the string arrangement of the Song of Bernadette
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The high point may have been the Warnes-Cohen duet on “Joan of Arc,” but the album was consistently impressive.”

We’re big fans of this album here at Better Records. It’s the only thing Jennifer Warnes ever did that we would consider a Must Own recording or Desert Island Disc. In my humble opinion it’s both.

This copy showed us the Famous Blue Raincoat Magic we know and love. The drums are big and punchy with plenty of WHOMP and the sound of skins being THWACKED. Jennifer’s voice is clear and breathy. If you know the record well you will surely be amazed at just how good this music can sound on a pressing as hot as this one.

With a Shootout Winning side two, these songs are guaranteed to sound dramatically better than you ever imagined they would:

  • Ain’t No Cure for Love
  • Coming Back to You
  • Song of Bernadette
  • A Singer Must Die
  • Came So Far for Beauty

So well recorded you could demo your system with most of these tracks! (more…)

The Robert Cray Band – Strong Persuader

  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last, this is a superb copy of Strong Persuader – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This is the album that propelled Cray into the mainstream, earning him a spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest albums of the 80’s, 5 stars on AMG, and endless accolades from critics and fans alike
  • Clear and open, but still fairly analog sounding, this copy has the right sound for the kind of electric blues Cray brought back from the dead in the ’80s
  • 5 stars: “The set that made Cray a pop star, despite its enduring blues base… his innovative expansion of the genre itself that makes this album a genuine 1980s classic.”

(more…)

Bonnie Raitt / Nine Lives – An Early Shootout Winning Copy of Her Underrated Album from 1986

More Bonnie Raitt

Reviews and Commentaries for Bonnie Raitt’s Albums

I did a little shootout today (7/3/06) with a few copies of this album and this one was CLEARLY SUPERIOR. The others were a bit smeared and thick sounding. This copy has the LIFE of the recording preserved in the grooves. With George Massenburg involved, there’s no way this record could sound “natural”. This copy does sound the way it’s supposed to and that’s the most we can hope for. If you have an aggressive or thin sounding stereo this is not the record for you.  

Side One COOKS from start to finish, with some of her best work — far better (IMHO) than anything she did for Capitol.

Of course the rest of the world disagreed with me about that, as after this album the label dropped her, and her first album for Capitol outsold all the records she ever made put together. But that’s sales. I’m talking about musical quality. Her Capitol albums are much too mellow for my taste. I discovered Bonnie with Home Plate and saw her live numerous times, where she proved she can rock with the best of them (like on this album).

Mellow isn’t the Bonnie I like. If you want an album with more energy, try this one. If you want something to play in the background while you sip wine and engage in polite conversation, both the DCC titles are perfect for that.

Actually that’s not fair: they have much to offer the serious listener whose tastes run more to Norah Jonesy middle of the road fare. I like that kind of material too, but Bonnie Raitt can do both, and I prefer her this way.

Two of her best songs ever are on this album: the rocker “Who But a Fool (Thief Into Paradise)” and the ballad “Angel”, with some of the best slide guitar she ever played while the tape was running. If you don’t like those two songs, send this record back to me and I’ll give you your money back. (more…)