Hot Stampers

Leonard Cohen – Recent Songs

xxxxx

  • Insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides AND fairly quiet vinyl – the best copy to ever hit the site bar none
  • Unbeatable richness and freedom from artificiality in the midrange allowed this one to tower over the rest of the field
  • “… a return to Cohen’s acoustic folk music after the Phil Spector experimentation of Death of a Ladies’ Man, but now with many jazz and Oriental influences.”
  • 4 stars: “The first thing Leonard Cohen’s music fans noticed about his sixth new studio album, given the typically open-ended title Recent Songs, was that, musically, it marked a return to the gypsy folk sound of his early records…”

NOTE: A mark makes light ticks for 22 revolutions at the beginning of side two. The price of this copy has been reduced more than $200 from that of the last copy with similar grades.

Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl. The best sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl not withstanding. If you can tolerate the problems on this pressing you are in for some amazing Leonard Cohen music and sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.

This 1979 album marks Cohen’s return to the simple folk arrangements of his early albums. As you might expect, the key elements here are going to be the man’s vocals, the acoustic guitars and Cohen’s trademark female backup singers, Jennifer Warnes among them.

We love Cohen’s albums here at Better Records. No, they’re not audiophile spectaculars, but much like the best Dylan recordings, when they work the sound fits the music perfectly. The vocals are right up front and fairly dry, throwing the words and phrasing into high relief.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that richer, fuller, more solid, more Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate solid, palpable, real people (principally Leonard Cohen and Jennifer Warnes in this case) performing live in your listening room. The best copies had an uncanny way of doing just that. (more…)

Jethro Tull – Benefit

xxxxx

  • A superb copy of the band’s third studio album, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • The sound is big and rich, yet still wonderfully clean, clear and open with fantastic energy – you will not believe all the space and ambiance here
  • Huge, rich, tubey and solid, the best track on the album – To Cry You a Song – rocks like you will not believe
  • “Benefit forms the perfect bridge between the rolling, tumbling Tull of old and the tightly braided riffs and prickly lyrics presented by Aqualung.” Record Collector

(more…)

Thelonious Monk – Straight, No Chaser

xxxxx

  • This early 360 Stereo Columbia pressing boasts stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – relatively quiet vinyl too
  • If you want to hear just how good Monk’s big, rich piano sounds, this copy can show you like nothing by Monk you’ve heard
  • Four Stars in Allmusic, with Teo Macero producing and top Columbia engineering to ensure audiophile standard sonics
  • “Thelonious Monk’s Straight, No Chaser is the pinnacle of his recordings for Columbia Records…” — TheAudioBeat.com

(more…)

Lenny Breau – Lenny Breau Trio, Recorded Direct to Disc

xxxxx

This is a SUPERB SOUNDING Limited Edition Direct Disk Labs LP with a fold-open cover.  

Breau is an extraordinarily gifted guitarist, and the sound is excellent, so we are happy to recommend this audiophile record, something you won’t see us doing very often.

“Breau mixed together elements from country music and jazz to develop an original sound and style. This album gives listeners a strong example of his legendary artistry.” – AMG

Letter of the Week – “Everyone is Amazed and Surprised”

One of our good customers who runs his own stereo store in the Netherlands had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently as demo discs for his customers:

Hey Tom, 

It is really great to play your records and explain how it works for you. Everyone is amazed and surprised. Our presentation is still small in relation to covid rules. But I hear that a number of customers are already finding their way to you and that is good news. I will make a newsletter to my customers about you early next year. We’ll stay in touch.

Greeting
Harry

Harry,

Glad you are enjoying our amazing and surprising Hot Stampers! So much better than all that crappy Heavy Vinyl they play in audio salons these days.

(more…)

Stan Getz / Getz Au Go Go – Live and Learn

xxxxx

A classic case of We Was Wrong. Many years ago we had written:

Of course, you would never know this is a good recording by playing the average domestic copy. This Japanese LP is one of the few pressings that can show you that this wonderful smoky night club jazz LP really can have Demo Disc sound.

Ridiculous, right? Well, at the time we believed it. Now our understanding is quite a bit more sophisticated, in the sense that the Japanese pressing is clearly better than most originals, not all of them.

More importantly, there are amazing sounding domestic reissues of the album that we’ve auditioned over the last ten years or so that really blew our minds and helped to set an even higher standard for the sound of Getz Au Go Go.

Our old story:

Way back in 2005 I discussed this very subject when listing a sealed copy:

There are pressing variations for this title on Japanese vinyl, and there’s no way to know what this one sounds like but all of them are better than any other pressing I know of. As I played the open copy we have listed on the site (1/12/05) I couldn’t help but marvel at the quality of the sound.

These days we would crack open a sealed one, clean it up and shoot it out with any others we could lay our hands on, because finding a copy with sound like this is a positive THRILL.

I’m no fan of Japanese pressings as readers of this Web site know very well, but the Japanese sure got this one right!

The domestic copies of this album are mediocre at best — there’s simply no real top end to be found on any Verve pressing I have ever heard. The top end is precisely where the magic is! Astrud Gilberto’s breathy voice needs high frequencies to sound breathy. Gary Burton’s vibes need high frequencies to emerge from the mix, otherwise you can hardly hear them. And Stan Getz’s sax shouldn’t sound like it’s being played under a blanket. The only version of this album that allows you to hear all the players right is a Japanese pressing, and then only when you get a good one.

The Revolutions in Audio of the last twenty years made it possible to get the domestic pressings — originals and reissues — to sound much better than the Japanese imports we used to like.

Gerry Mulligan – Jeru

xxxxx

  • This 360 stereo pressing put every other copy we played to shame with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Tubier, more transparent, more dynamic, with that “jumpin’ out of the speakers’ quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has
  • Hard to imagine any reissue, vintage or otherwise, can beat the sound of this LP – we sure couldn’t find one
  • “Jeru flawlessly swings with a relaxed, throbbing, positive life force… The recorded sound, achieved by an unidentified engineer at Nola Penthouse Studio in New York City, has remarkable presence and three-dimensionality.”

(more…)

Letter of the Week – After the Gold Rush and Beatles For Sale

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently: 

Hey Tom, 

Just wanted to write and tell you how much I love that Neil Young After The Gold Rush White Hot Stamper I picked up last week. Really awesome. This ranks up with the best I’ve bought from you guys.

The sound is incredible. Neil’s voice is right in the room. The guitar sounds real and that harmonica is super. I love when he performs, just him and nobody else. I’m really stuck on Neil’s albums. The sound is just soooo good. I’m working on my system to get more out of these records.

Oh yeah, I picked up one of your “Beatles for Sale” albums for $65. Really nice for the money. Those Beatle albums can really be awesome. Have to get a White Hot Stamper Beatles album someday. (more…)

Jefferson Starship – Spitfire

xxxxx

  • Insanely good sound for this Shootout Winning copy of the Starship’s 1976 release — Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl they’re making – the Tubey Magic, size and rock and roll energy of this very special vintage pressing simply cannot be beat
  • “Spitfire was Jefferson Starship’s 1976 follow-up to the chart-topping Red Octopus (1975), and it found the band in a cooperative mood… [it] was more than the sum of its parts, boasting the sort of vocal interplay and instrumental virtuosity that had always been the hallmarks of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.” 

(more…)

Paul Quinichette – On The Sunny Side, a Wonderful OJC Pressing from the ’80s

xxx

  • Both sides of this long out of print OJC title boast lively, big and clear Double Plus (A++) sound quality
  • With three saxophones and a trombone, this is a fresh combination that really brings out the best in all the players during this Prestige jam session, a format for which they are justly famous
  • I raved about this album when it was in print many years ago – it’s solidly swinging jazz that belongs in your collection
  • Allmusic 4 Stars: “Waldron’s three originals (highlighted by “Cool-Lypso”) allow plenty of room for swinging, and Quinichette (who also performs “On the Sunny Side of the Street”) sounds comfortable interacting with the younger musicians. An enjoyable and underrated release.”

As I wrote years ago, back in the days when we regularly sent out catalog mailings:

When we discover a record like this, a record with no reputation either in the jazz world or the audiophile world, we try to bring it to people’s attention, usually with some success. Some of my customers called me up to tell me what a great record this is.

Based on what I’m hearing my feeling is that most of the lively, natural, full-bodied, sound of the album is on the master tape, and that all that was needed to get that vintage sound correctly on to disc was simply to thread up that tape on a reasonably good machine and hit play.

The fact that nobody seems to be able to make an especially good sounding record — certainly not as good sounding as this one — these days tells me that in fact I’m wrong to think that such an approach would work. Somebody should have been able to figure out how to do it by now. In our experience that is simply not the case today, and has not been for many years.

George Horn was doing brilliant work for Fantasy all through the ’80s. This album is proof that his sound is the right sound for this music. (more…)