never-again

The Hollies – Hollies Sing Hollies

More Hollies

More of our favorite Sixties Pop albums

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  • A stunning copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last 
  • Both sides here were doing everything right — clean, clear and full-bodied with a big punchy bottom end
  • “After delving into more “serious” music with the Dylan album, the Hollies return to their pop roots with this fine effort… as usual, there is inconsistency in the quality of songwriting. However, even the most inconsequential tunes boast a good melody and solid musicianship… this is a good effort that maintains a balance between lightweight and serious pop material.” – All Music

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Gino Vannelli / Powerful People – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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This is some of the best sound we heard in our shootout, coming in right behind our winning sides. Few copies were as BIG and BOLD as this, and that is unquestionably our sound. 

Overall this copy is far richer and fuller than most, and that’s a big deal on Powerful People, an album which is almost always pure midrange — no bottom, no top, just midrange. Until we did this shootout I wasn’t sure we would ever find a copy with any real bass or top end. For that very reason we had more than once abandoned this project in past years.

Then, a few months back I came across a cheap CD of the album in my local record store and started playing the hell out of it in my car. I had completely forgotten how good the music was, but it all came rushing back to me — once I had cut the CD’s treble and boosted the bass so that it sounded rich and smooth like the MoFi vinyl. Soon enough I knew we had to do the shootout, and fortunately for all involved the best copies of the album sounded amazingly good, much better than I remember and a whole lot better than the seriously flawed MoFi I used to play. (more…)

Dave Brubeck – Bossa Nova USA

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Clean, clear, spacious and present yet still super rich and full, this is Columbia All Tube Sound at its best
  • So rich, clear and resolving this copy in some respects best even the legendary Time Out
  • “With the popularization of bossa nova in the early ’60s, practically every recording artist had to have at least one bossa nova album. This effort by the Dave Brubeck Quartet is better than most due to the high quality of the compositions, of which the title cut is best-known.” – All Music

Believe me, we were as surprised to hear the stellar sound of this copy as you no doubt will be when you play it.

Who knew?

Not us and not anybody else it seems. We are not aware that any of the audiophile cognoscenti have ever taken this recording seriously, but that just goes to show how uninformed — or perhaps more likely underinformed — they have always been.

Gems such as this sit undiscovered even after thousands of pages of audiophile-oriented record reviews have been written. Then, along come a handful of guys in Thousand Oaks, California many years later, 52 to be exact, and reveal to the world a heretofore all but unknown yet nonetheless amazing Brubeck record.

And they actually back up everything they say with pressings that sound every bit as good as they say they will. Imagine that.

But wait just a minute. We sold an early pressing ourselves back in 2010 for $30 as a “nice sounding” record, nothing more, so who are we to talk?

Which simply goes to show that the decade we spent perfecting the Record Shootout has finally paid off for Bossa Nova U.S.A. Now we can clean them better, play them better, hear them better, and, with a big stack to work with, find one that sounds as good as this one does. (more…)

Dave Brubeck – Brubeck a La Mode

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  • You’ll find superb sound on this very well-recorded Fantasy session from 1960 – both sides earned Double Plus (A++) sonic grades
  • Wonderfully Tubey Magical and natural – this may not be an original, but it sure sounds like a good All Tube recording from 1960 should
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout with both sides playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus – they didn’t press them any quieter
  • “One of Brubeck’s three recordings of the 1959-61 period that featured clarinetist Bill Smith in the place of altoist Paul Desmond with the Quartet, this one finds Smith contributing ten originals that use various modes and unusual scales. The music generally swings and there are some fine solos…”

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Elvis Presley – Elvis Now – Our Shootout Winner from 2017

More Elvis Presley

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If you’ve been on the site for any time at all you know how rare it is for any Elvis album to show up in Hot Stamper form. Most of his records don’t sound good on most of the pressings we play, and far too often the best sounding pressings are just too noisy to be of any real interest to audiophiles.  

But we found this one, and it blew everything else out of the water. It’s got the glorious sound of 1972 (!) in its grooves. (more…)

Johnny Hodges / Wild Bill Davis – Wings & Things

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  • A KILLER copy of Wings & Things with amazing Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • The 1965 stereo sound here is clear, open and highly resolving, yet still incredibly rich, warm, and smooth
  • All the hallmarks of Vintage Analog are fully on display – when was the last time we played a Heavy Vinyl pressing that sounded as good as this one does? We can’t remember
  • This original vintage Verve LP has TONS of Tubey Magic – it’s simply more musically involving than the other copies we played, and that’s the quickest way to win a shootout
  • “The group always swings, and it is interesting to hear Hodges in this setting.”

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The Banjo Barons – Banjo Party

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

and One We Will Probably Never Shootout Again

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  • The best Banjo Barons record we have ever played, nearly White Hot on both sides
  • This original Six Eye pressing has exceptionally quiet vinyl – a true Mint Minus
  • Produced by Teo Macero, there are 36 selections here, arranged for maximum enjoyment
  • Not everybody’s musical cup of tea but lots of fun and wonderful sounding

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J.J. Johnson – J.J.!

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  • J.J. Johnson makes his Hot Stamper debut with this SUPERB copy of J.J.! – Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • The sound is big, lively, open and clear with Tubey Magical richness that only the best of the best vintage pressings can show you
  • Features a lineup of top-notch talent, including Clark Terry, Oliver Nelson, Hank Jones, as well as quite a few others – plenty of reeds, a French Horn, a tuba and more are here
  • 4 stars: “J.J.! is considered to be J.J. Johnson’s first big-band album, at least as a leader… The music is solidly played,… modern forward-looking mainstream jazz that features Johnson in excellent form.”

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You Know What’s Shocking About This Dionne Warwick Record?

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

and One We Will Probably Never Do Again

Some records are just too consistently noisy 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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What’s shocking about a record like this is the fact that the instruments you hear behind and to the side of Dionne Warwick are REAL instruments, and for the most part they are not really being processed much, they are simply being recorded. How many times do you hear a pop album with sound like that? Rarely in our case, and we play them by the hundreds.

Just played a Linda Ronstadt album that she did with Nelson Riddle — you know the one —  and I can tell you one thing, the sound of that album and this one are on opposite sides of the recording spectrum in terms of naturalness. On a scale of one to a hundred, Linda scores about a two, and Dionne scores 90, maybe more. It’s a JOY to hear a record with this kind of sound.

Play this one for your audiophile friends who own and respect the recordings of Dianna Krall, Patricia Barber and the like. Be sure to squeeze in the phrase “Boy, they don’t make ’em like they used to…” whenever there is a pause in the music or conversation.

You might also want to ask them if they think the invention of digital reverb was such a good idea after all.

If they’re good analog buddies, ones that you want to keep being your buddies, you might not want to say anything at all. Just keep quiet and let their own ears shame them. This is the kind of record that can do it. (more…)

Vivaldi / The Four Seasons / I Solisti di Zagreb / Tomasow – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

More of the music of Antonio Vivaldi

More Violin Recordings

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Folks, we have some good news for those of you who have been waiting for one of the best sounding, most beautifully performed Four Seasons ever recorded. THIS IS IT! White Hot on both sides, I can’t say the sound is better than the White Hot Shaded Dog pressing we heard in our recent shootout. It’s certainly different, and one could easily make the case for either. Of course one’s taste enters into the calculation, so choosing a clear winner is simply not possible with markedly superior pressings such as these.

Let’s just say that this small ensemble recording is as close to perfect as any we have ever heard. The harpsichord is especially good on the Vanguard recording, better than the RCA I would venture. Its placement in the soundfield is subtly natural, precisely the way one would expect to hear it in performance.

All four movements are performed with great spirit, and other than a sour note right at the start — listen for it! — the playing is of the highest quality. I prefer the performance — slightly — to the famous RCA. 

It should be noted that this is only the second time we have heard a good pressing of this Vanguard title. Normally the vinyl is abysmal — not just noisy, but grainy and lacking in top end. (You can listen for the sound of the vinyl itself on the lead-in grooves before the music starts.) This pressing is an absolute FLUKE. It gets all the sound of the tape onto the vinyl in a way that we have never heard before and would not have thought possible. But, as we never tire of saying, hearing is believing! (more…)