artist-best-sound

Al Stewart – Year Of The Cat

More Al Stewart

More British Folk Rock

  • You’ll find seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this vintage Janus pressing of Stewart’s 1976 Masterpiece
  • 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
  • The sound may be too heavily processed and glossy for some, but we find that on the best copies that sound really works for this music
  • 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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Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Out of This World Sound at Loud Levels

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer

More Prog Rock

  • Boasting excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout, this UK Island Pink Rim pressing makes the case that ELP’s debut is clearly one of the most POWERFUL rock records ever made
  • Spacious, rich and dynamic, with big bass and tremendous energy – these are just some of the things we love about Eddie Offord‘s engineering work on this band’s albums
  • ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest – you’ll never play a CD (or any other digital sourced material) that sounds as good as this record as long as you live
  • “Lucky Man” and “Take A Pebble” on this copy have Demo Disc Quality Sound like you won’t believe
  • If you are looking for a shootout winning copy, let us know – with such good music and sound, we hope to get another shootout going again soon
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Lively, ambitious, almost entirely successful debut album… [which] showcased the group at its least pretentious and most musicianly …there isn’t much excess, and there is a lot of impressive musicianship here.”

If you’ve got the system to play this one loud enough, with the low end weight and energy it requires, you are in for a treat. The organ that opens side two will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. This is bombastic prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels, it actually will rock your world.

This UK Island pink rim import 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…)

Jimmy Buffett – Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes

More Jimmy Buffett

  • Boasting two excellent Double Plus (A++) sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard Buffet’s 1977 Pop Masterpiece sound this good – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the way to go
  • 4 stars: “…one reason Changes… is his best record yet is simply the sound… The main reason it’s Buffett’s best is the songs, most of which he wrote. Buffett has always been a good songwriter when he had the time to apply himself, and he’s been developing a persona that reaches its culmination here.”

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Elton John / Tumbleweed Connection


  • This early DJM import pressing of Elton John’s 1970 Masterpiece boasts solid Double Plus (A++) grades from first note to last
  • The sound here is richer, with much less transistory grain, and more of the All Important Tubey Magic than most other copies we played
  • An incredible recording and longtime member of our Top 100 — our pick for Elton’s very best music and sound
  • Problems in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these vintage LPs – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • 5 stars: “….[Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s] most ambitious record to date… A loose concept album about the American West… draws from country and blues in equal measures…”
  • If you’re an Elton John fan, this is a classic from 1970 that belongs in your collection
  • We consider this Elton John album a Masterpiece. It’s a recording that should be part of any serious popular Music Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.

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Ry Cooder – Self-Titled

More Ry Cooder

More Debut Albums of Interest

  • A vintage Reprise pressing of Ry Cooder’s 1970 debut with seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • If you want to hear the brilliant Lee Herschberg‘s All Analog Recording skills brought to bear on so many different instruments serving an assortment of sonic textures, this is the copy that will let you do it
  • 4 stars: “Cooder’s debut creates an intriguing fusion of blues, folk, rock & roll, and pop, filtered through his own intricate, syncopated guitar; Van Dyke Parks and Lenny Waronker’s idiosyncratic production… Cooder puts this unique blend across with a combination of terrific songs, virtuosic playing, and quirky, yet imaginative, arrangements.”
  • This is clearly George Harrison’s best sounding album. Roughly 100 other listings for the Best Sounding Album by an Artist or Group (sounds like a Grammy Awards category, doesn’t it?) can be found here.
  • This is a Must Own Title from 1970, a great year for Rock and Pop music, perhaps the best ever
  • The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

The music reminds me a lot of early Little Feat, which is a good thing. The sound is somewhat similar as well, which is to say that it is natural and musical, nothing like the hyped-up hi-fi sound of his TAS-listed album Jazz — and that’s a good thing as well.

There are some great songs here, including My Old Kentucky Home, One Meat Ball and How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live. It may even be his best album. (more…)

Phil Collins – Face Value

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  • An early UK copy of Phil Collins’ killer solo debut with superb Double (A++) sound from start to finish
  • The recording quality of this album is still analog and can be excellent, thanks to hugely talented engineer and producer Hugh Padgham (Peter Gabriel, Genesis, The Police, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, etc.)
  • We’ve tried his other albums, but nothing we’ve played has struck us as being remotely as well recorded as his debut
  • 5 stars: “. . . Collins’ most honest, most compelling work. He went on to become a huge star, with loads more hits, but Face Value stands as his masterpiece and one of the finest moments of the ’80s musical landscape.”
  • If you’re a fan of Phil’s, this has to be seen as a Top Title from 1981 that belongs in your collection
  • It’s without a doubt his best sounding album, and, to our way of thinking, his only essential one
  • The sound may be heavily processed, but that kind of sound works surprisingly well on the best sounding pressings (played at good, loud levels on big dynamic speakers in a large, heavily-treated room, of course)

Song after song, Collins’ songwriting and musicianship shine with this breakout record, the first and clearly the best of all his solo albums. The sound on the best copies, like this one, is VIBRANT, with SUPERB extension on the top, PUNCHY BASS, and excellent texture on the drums and percussion, as well as spacious strings and vocals.

There may be some hope for Hello, I Must Be Going! (1982), but Phil’s third album, 1985’s No Jacket Required, is digital and ridiculously processed sounding. I suppose not many albums from 1985 weren’t, but it’s still an unfortunate development for us audiophile types who might’ve wanted to enjoy these albums but are just not able to get past the bad sound.

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Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay

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  • Red Clay is Hubbard’s Soul Jazz Masterpiece, and it’s a record that belongs in every audiophile’s jazz collection
  • Lenny White drums up a storm on this album – on this copy he is playing right in the room with you
  • 5 stars: “This may be Freddie Hubbard’s finest moment as a leader, in that it embodies and utilizes all of his strengths as a composer, soloist, and frontman. [It] places the trumpeter in the company of giants such as saxophonist Joe Henderson, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Lenny White… This is a classic, hands down.”
  • 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. Red Clay is a good example of a record most audiophiles may not know well but should.
  • If you’re a Hubbard fan, or perhaps a fan of early-’70s Soul Jazz, this title from 1970 is surely a Must Own.
  • The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

Hubbard was a master of funky jazz, and the song “Red Clay” is arguably the funkiest jazz track he ever committed to tape. At 12 minutes in length it is a transcendentally powerful experience — and the bigger your speakers and the louder you turn them up the more moving that experience is going to be!

The intro to “Red Clay” begins with a stylized free-form jam, sounding like a bop-jazz band of old, then takes form and solidifies into a groove of monstrous proportions. Ron Carter’s bass playing is stellar! It’s big and lively with tons of presence and energy.

Like many of our funky favorites, this one was eventually sampled for a popular hip-hop song. That may not mean much to you, but it definitely means that nice copies of this album get swiped up quickly by young DJs and producers.

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David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust

More David Bowie

Reviews and Commentaries for Ziggy Stardust

  • A seriously good copy with Double Plus (A++) grades throughout – Ziggy Stardust in analog is simply a phenomenally good sounding recording
  • The stage is huge and the amount of Tubey Magic has to be heard to be believed – this is the pinnacle of sound for Glam Rock
  • Until you hear one of these killer British pressings you simply cannot know what you are missing
  • A Rock & Pop Top 100 album, and Ken Scott’s engineering masterpiece all rolled into one
  • 5 stars: “Fleshing out the off-kilter metallic mix with fatter guitars, genuine pop songs, string sections, keyboards, and a cinematic flourish, Ziggy Stardust is a glitzy array of riffs, hooks, melodrama, and style and the logical culmination of glam.”

Drop the needle on any song. We guarantee you have never heard that song sound better. The mastering is superb. There’s really no “mastering” to listen for — all you’re really aware of is the music flowing from the speakers, freed from all the limitations that you’ve had to accept over the years.

Unquestionably, this is the pinnacle of Glam Rock. Every track is superb; not a moment is less than stellar from beginning to end.

Is it Bowie’s Masterpiece?

Absolutely. No other Bowie record ranks higher in my book.

Is it amazingly well recorded?

You better believe it. This is not just Bowie’s masterpiece; it’s Ken Scott‘s as well. For BIG, BOLD, wall to wall, floor to ceiling sound, look no further. The best copies are swimming in rich, sweet TUBEY MAGIC. This is a sound we cannot get enough of here at Better Records.

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings)

The guitars on this record are a true test of stereo reproduction. Many pressings of this album do not get the guitars to sound right. On some they will sound veiled and dull, and on a copy with a bit too much top, they will have an unfortunate hi-fi-ish sparkle, the kind that Mobile Fidelity was infamous for in the late ’70s and ’80s.

The guitars may not sound “real,” they way they actually would in real life, but they sure sound grungy and GOOD!

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Bruce Springsteen – The River

More Bruce Springsteen

More Rock and Pop

  • This early pressing of Springsteen’s surprisingly well-recorded 1980 release boasts KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on all FOUR sides
  • These sides are energetic, clear and full-bodied, with The Boss’ vocals – always the focus for any Springsteen album – front and center where they belong
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard or you get your money back – it’s as simple as that
  • Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these Classic Rock records – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • 5 stars: “Springsteen rises to his own challenges as a songwriter, penning a set of tunes that are heartfelt and literate but unpretentious while rocking hard, and the E Street Band were never used to better advantage, capturing the taut, swaggering force of their live shows in the studio with superb accuracy… [he] rarely made an album as compelling as this, or one that rewards repeat listening as well.”
  • If you’re a Springsteen fan, this title from 1980 is surely a Must Own
  • This is our pick for Bruce Springsteen’s best sounding album. Roughly 100 other listings for the Best Sounding Album by an Artist or Group can be found here.

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Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Further Out

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Reviews and Commentaries for Time Further Out

  • This vintage Columbia 6-Eye Stereo pressing has some of the best sound we have heard for the album, with both sides earning STUNNING Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • It’s bigger, richer, more Tubey Magical, and has more extension on both ends of the spectrum than practically all the other copies we played
  • It’s also graded just one half plus lower on each side than our Shootout Winner, and it has no audible marks, so you might just find that this is the best way to go for Time Further Out
  • This copy demonstrates the big-as-life Fred Plaut Columbia Sound at its best – better even than Time Out(!)
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The selections, which range in time signatures from 5/4 to 9/8, are handled with apparent ease (or at least not too much difficulty) by pianist Brubeck, altoist Paul Desmond, bassist Eugene Wright, and drummer Joe Morello on this near-classic.”

Time Further Out is consistently more varied and, dare we say, more musically interesting than Time Out.

If you want to hear big drums in a big room these Brubeck recordings will show you that sound better than practically any record we know of. These vintage recordings are full-bodied, spacious, three-dimensional, rich, sweet and warm in the best tradition of an All Tube Analog recording. (more…)