Better Records

Willie Nelson – The Troublemaker

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The Troublemaker

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this is an excellent copy from our most recent shootout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • It’s richer, fuller, more musical and more natural – Willie’s breathy voice is reproduced with a solidity and immediacy that’s not easy to find
  • “The Troublemaker is Willie Nelson’s first all-gospel album, but country gospel in his hands doesn’t sound like traditional country gospel — it’s a Willie album, through and through… Consequently, it’s every bit as wonderfully idiosyncratic as any of his other mid-’70s work and, in some ways, even more so, because inspirational songs and religious material are usually not given arrangements as imaginative and free-spirited as this… “

This Columbia LP has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s surely missing from The Typical Modern 180 Gram Reissue. This record is dramatically more real sounding than anything that’s been remastered for the audiophile market in years. (more…)

Paul Desmond – Desmond Blue

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Desmond Blue

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  • Paul Desmond’s phenomenal 1962 release finally arrives on the site, boasting outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This is vintage Sixties Living Stereo at its best – big, rich and Tubey Magical like you will not believe
  • A “highly innovative and meticulously crafted work,” this collection is brimming with delightful jazz classics, including “My Funny Valentine,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “Body and Soul”
  • 4 stars: “… lush, reflective, thought-provoking, and soul-stirring. This work is quite a plus for any listener and especially those who consider themselves avid fans of Paul Desmond.”

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These original Living Stereo pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here. (more…)

The Band – Music From Big Pink – MoFi’s Ruinous EQ Destroys Another Classic

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More Music From Big Pink

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Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

In 2012 the new MoFi put out another remastered Big Pink. Since their track record at this point is, to be honest, abysmal, we have not felt the need to audition it.

It’s very possible, even likely, that they restored some of the bass that’s missing from the originals. But bad half-speed mastered bass — poorly defined, never deep and never punchy — is that the kind of bass that would even be desirable?

To us, it is very much a problem. Bad bass is just plain annoying. Fortunately for us it is a problem we have to deal with much less often now that we’ve all but stopped playing half-speed mastered records. (more…)

B.B. King – Blues On Top Of Blues

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Blues On Top Of Blues

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last on this 1968 pressing, BB King’s fourteenth studio album
  • This is the album he made right before Lucille, so the man was definitely on a roll and doing some great work in the late ’60s
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Featuring brassy arrangements by Johnny Pate, it presents King’s sound at its fullest without sacrificing any of his grit or sophisticated swing … the material is very strong throughout.”

Watch for more B. B. King albums coming to the site soon. Some of the Bluesway pressings we’ve auditioned recently have had exceptionally big, rich, lively sound, and that’s the way we like to hear our music. There are plenty of dogs in the King canon, especially in the ’70s, so you have to be a bit careful with the man’s recordings, but good titles in the ’60s with excellent sound can still be found if you’re willing to do the work (or you’re willing to let us do it for you). (more…)

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother

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Atom Heart Mother

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  • A KILLER sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • The overall sound here is incredibly rich, full and dynamic with huge amounts of Tubey Magic and a solid bottom end
  • This is by far the best copy we have played in years – it’s richer, bigger and more solid than practically everything we were able to throw against it
  • While the music here may not be for everyone, if you’re a fan you’ll have a hard time finding a copy that sounds even remotely as good as this one does

This is an album that rarely sounds any good. We’ve spent a ton of money over the years chasing British originals and various other pressings looking for that Pink Floyd magic, but the early pressings were consistently disappointing, as are most reissues. If you like this music — admittedly a big if — I don’t think you can find better sound for it. (more…)

Chet Baker & Art Pepper – Playboys – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

Side one is White Hot, side two nearly so, and both contain swingin’ West Coast Jazz from 1956. These 1983 reissues on Boplicity are dynamic and lively, perfectly suited to the energy of the music. The 1956 All Tube mono recording here has this Hot/Cool jazz sounding the way it should.

The 1983 version we are offering here says stereo on the label, but the sound is pure mono, a good reason not to trust labels!  (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Ella At Duke’s Place

 

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

We have a very hard time doing the famous Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks due to the fact that so many pressings don’t sound good, and the ones that do sound good are usually noisy.

That’s why it came as a pleasant surprise that Ella At Duke’s Place had the potential for excellent sound and reasonably quiet vinyl on the best copies.

We hope to do more in the future but with the reissues from the ’70s being mostly awful and the originals being harder and harder to find we are not at all sanguine about our chance of success. (more…)

Gershwin / An American In Paris & Rhapsody In Blue

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

I’ve always loved these performances, but the shrill Columbia sound has been hard to get past. So many copies suffer from upper-midrangy, glary, hard sound and blary brass. I’ve come to accept that this is nothing more nor less than the “Columbia Sound,” and as a consequence I rarely put much effort into surveying their prodigious catalog these days. (more…)

Michael Jackson – Thriller – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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Thriller

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

A KILLER THRILLER, with an A+++ side one that’s going to knock you out! That gives you TOP SHELF SOUND for songs including Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ and the title track, which are going to BLOW YOU AWAY! So many copies of Thriller out there just don’t deliver, but this side one does almost everything right.  (more…)