never-again

The Lovin’ Spoonful – John Sebastian Songbook, Vol. 1

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More Sixties Pop Recordings

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  • With STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades on both sides, the sound quality of the tracks on this compilation is impressive
  • Both sides are rich, full-bodied, Tubey Magical, and natural with a solid bottom end – no sign of radio EQ to be found
  • Features most of the band’s best songs, including Do You Believe In Magic, You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice, Six O’clock and Nashville Cats (a personal fave)
  • The Allmusic critic is not too crazy about this album, but the User Rating is 4 1/2 stars, which we think is about right

Great sound for some the biggest hits of The Lovin’ Spoonful, a band I wouldn’t have expected to hear sound good on vinyl if I lived to be a hundred, and yet, here it is. This is one of the rare cases where, in our experience, the hits compilation sounds BETTER than the original records. Why? Who knows? We don’t pretend to have all the answers. What we do have (that no one else has, if that’s not too obvious) are the records that back up the claims we make for them.

How they came to be that way is anyone’s guess. All we know for sure is that, judging by the best copies of this album, somebody got hold of some awfully good tapes and somebody mastered them with uncanny skill to what sounds to these ears like near perfection.

Actually, the mastering engineer for this compilation and the Best of from the same year is a person well known to us record collecting audiophiles — the person that ends up with this record can look in the dead wax for his info and the rest of you are welcome to guess — so it’s really no surprise that this compilation sounds as good as the Best of that we rave about.

Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound…

and One We Will Probably Never Shootout Again

Some records are just too consistently noisy for us to offer to our audiophile customers no matter how good they sound.

We have a section for records that tend to be noisy, and it can be found here.

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Red Garland Trio – Groovy

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What makes this vintage piano trio album in mono so special? Allow me to quote a review from a few years back for a pair of recordings that Red Garland made with Miles Davis back in the mid-’50s: Workin’ And Steamin’.

To the Jazz Fans of the World, we here present one of the BEST sounding jazz recordings we have ever had the PRIVILEGE to place on a turntable. I cannot ever recall hearing a better sounding Rudy Van Gelder recording, and I have a theory as to why this tape is as good as it is: it’s MONO. It also sounds like it’s recorded completely LIVE in the studio, direct to one track you might say. As good a recording as Kind of Blue is, I think the best parts of this album are more immediate and more real than anything on KOB.

The size, the weight, the solidity, the clarity, the energy, the rhythmic drive – it’s all here and more. We’ve never heard the record sound better, and that’s coming from someone who’s been playing the album since the ’80s.

These guys are playing live in the studio and you can really feel their presence on every track — assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one.

Based on what I’m hearing my feeling is that most of the natural, full-bodied, smooth, sweet sound of the album is on the master tape, and that all that was needed to transfer that vintage sound correctly onto vinyl disc was simply to thread up the tape on a high quality machine and hit play.

The fact that nobody seems to be able to make an especially good sounding record these days — certainly not as good sounding as this one — 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, if not decades. (more…)

Jethro Tull – Living In The Past

More Jethro Tull

and One We Will Probably Never Shootout Again

Some records are just too consistently noisy for us to offer to our audiophile customers no matter how good they sound.

We have a section for records that tend to be noisy, and it can be found here.

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  • A stunning Chrysalis British import double LP set with Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them on sides one, two and four and a solid Double Plus (A++) side three
  • You’re gonna love the sound here – clean, clear and full-bodied with great bass and solid midrange presence and energy
  • These are incredibly tough to find with the right sound and surfaces – this is one of the best copies to hit the site in years
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… this collection is seminal and essential to any Tull collection, and the only compilation by the group that is a must-own disc.”

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Ravel / Piano Concertos / Haas – A Real Sleeper on Philips

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound…

and One We Will Probably Never Shootout Again

Some records never justified the time and money required to find Hot Stamper pressings of them in order to make it worth our while to do them again. This is one such album, and the link above will take you to many more

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This Philips recording from 1970 on exceptionally quiet Dutch vinyl has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on side one for one of Ravel’s best known piano works, the Piano Concerto in G. Most Philips records are much too thick, dull and opaque to be taken seriously, by us anyway. (In this respect they have many sonic attributes in common with Londons from the ’70s and ’80s.)

Dropping the needle on this pressing, however, was a pleasant surprise. It’s big and spacious on side one, with zero smear on a piano that is both full and clear.

This is a difficult combination to achieve in our experience, and the kind of sound we do not hesitate to praise highly here at Better Records.

To us it sounds right, and when the sound is as right as it is here, the wonderful piano music of Ravel can really work its magic. (more…)

The Hollies – For Certain Because…

More by The Hollies

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This is a rare, original Hollies Parlophone Black & Yellow label LP in stereo.

The album has very good sound on surprisingly quiet vinyl.

“An admirable effort that may stand as the group’s most accomplished album of the ’60s.” — AMG

“The Hollies were very much a pop group and didn’t let their somewhat more sober and introspective compositions stand in the way of their glittering harmonies and jangling guitars. Occasional brass, banjo, bells, and vibrating piano embellish their basic rock instrumentation on this pleasant, if hardly earthshaking, work. The circus-like “Stop! Stop! Stop!,” with its manic banjo, was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic; the good-natured “Pay You Back with Interest” was a Top 30 hit in America; and the jazzy “Tell Me to My Face” was one of their best ’60s album tracks.” — AMG

Mike Oldfield / Tubular Bells – A Record We May Never Shootout Again

Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound…

and One We Will Probably Never Shootout Again

Some records never justified the time and money required to find Hot Stamper pressings of them in order to make it worth our while to do another shootout for them. This is one such album, and the link above will take you to many more.

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  • This British Virgin LP has an incredible Triple Plus (A+++) side one backed with an excellent Double Plus (A++) side two
  • The space, the richness and the clarity all combine to make this a powerful listening experience
  • It’s incredibly hard to find good sounding copies of this record – this is only the second White Hot copy to hit the site in a long time
  • “Mike Oldfield’s groundbreaking album Tubular Bells is arguably the finest conglomeration of off-centered instruments concerted together to form a single, unique piece. A variety of instruments are combined to create an excitable multitude of rhythms, tones, pitches, and harmonies that all fuse neatly into each other, resulting in an astounding plethora of music.”

These sides sounds good from top to bottom — the top end extension brings out the harmonics in the bells, and the deep bass really brings the organ to life. Many copies are smeary and veiled, but this one has no such problems.

There is a lot going on here, and unless you have a clear and transparent copy like this one it just turns into a mess. This one has all the presence and space required to bring this music to life, with no attendant sacrifice in richness or Tubey Magic.

What makes this copy better than the others we played? An extended top end; spaciousness and transparency; richness and fullness, and so much more.

Many copies were congested in the louder sections, some never got big, some were thin and lacking the lovely analog richness of the best — we heard plenty of copies whose faults were obvious when played against two excellent sides such as these. (more…)

10cc’s Brilliant Second Album – Sheet Music

More 10cc

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  • This copy of Sheet Music boasts KILLER Shootout Winning Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Rich, full and balanced with plenty of deep bass and Arty Rock energy, this is a Truly Amazing Demo Disc
  • Bassist Graham Gouldman calls it “the definitive 10cc album” and he’s probably right about that (although we love The Original Soundtrack that came out a year later)
  • “Three hit singles spun off the record, and most of the other tracks could have followed suit; it says much for Sheet Music’s staying power that, no matter how many times the album is reissued, it has never lost its power to delight, excite, and set alight a lousy day.”

Sheet Music is in our opinion the most consistently well written and produced 10cc album, with every track performed with heart and recorded with exquisite attention to detail. Each song flows into the next and there is simply not a dull moment to be found. Sheet Music is arguably the best record they ever made, although I’m such a fan, I think they’re all great. (The first five albums anyway.) (more…)

Elvis Presley – Moody Blue

More Elvis Presley

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  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this is a superb copy of Elvis’s 1977 famous Moody Blue album 
  • Considering the blue vinyl, this copy plays exceptionally well, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • Presley’s final studio album, released just a month before his death – not his best but there are a number of songs worth hearing here
  • “For all of its slapped-together feel, however, Moody Blue held up. The title song, authored by Mark James (who’d previously written “Suspicious Minds”), was just about as good a single as Elvis released in the 1970s, topping the country charts earlier in 1977; additionally, he did a superb reinterpretation of the George Jones hit “She Thinks I Still Care.”

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Paul Revere and the Raiders – The Spirit of ’67

More Paul Revere

More Sixties Pop Recordings

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  • A superb sounding copy with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides here are full-bodied and Tubey Magical, the right sound for America’s answer in 1966 to those pesky Brits and all their chart-topping songs
  • 4 stars: “The Spirit of ’67, Paul Revere and the Raiders’ third gold-selling, Top Ten album to be released in 1966, marked the triumph of the group’s in-house writing team of lead singer Mark Lindsay, Paul Revere, and producer Terry Melcher… Paul Revere and the Raiders were riding high.”

This vintage Columbia 360 pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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…)

Harry Edison – ’S Wonderful

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This date features a couple of my personal favorite all-stars: Shelly Manne and Zoot Sims. Together with Edison they whip up quite a storm, ably supported by Monty Budwig on bass and Mike Wofford on piano.  

AMG  Review

This out-of-print Pablo LP (which will certainly be reissued on CD in the future) is from the later days of the label. Trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison was just beginning to fade around this period but he still sounds in fine form, teamed up wtih Zoot Sims (who plays tenor on three and soprano on one of the six selections), pianist Mike Wofford, bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Shelly Manne. They perform the leader’s “Elegante” plus five standards with the highlights including “Centerpiece” (Sweets’ famous blues line) and “Sunday.” Fine swinging mainstream jazz.