vintage-smooth-sound

Rod Stewart – Never A Dull Moment

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More British Blues Rock

  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this early Mercury pressing of Stewart’s fourth solo album
  • Extremely well-recorded, full of great songs – Rod Stewart was on top of the world when he followed up the brilliant Every Picture Tells A Story with this album in 1972
  • The music comes alive on this vintage domestic pressing (the only ones that have the potential for Hot Stampers in our experience), assuming you have your volume up good and loud
  • 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 in AMG, and simply “… a masterful record … He never got quite this good ever again.”

Listen to the percussion on Angel — you can really hear all the transients and the sound of the drum skins. The meaty guitar in the left channel sounds mind-blowingly good. The bass is deep and well-defined, and the sound of the drums is awesome in every way. Who has a better drum sound than Rod Stewart on his two best albums?

Along with Every Picture Tells A Story this is one of the two Must Own Rod Stewart albums. Practically every song here is a classic, with not a dog in the bunch. Rod Stewart did what few artists have ever managed to do: release his two best albums back to back.

And this Hot Stamper, not to overstate the obvious, is clearly the way to hear it. (more…)

Jackson Browne – His Debut Is Still His Best Album

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More Asylum Label Recordings

  • Balanced, musical, present and full-bodied throughout – this copy was a big step up from most of what we played, particularly on side two
  • “… Jackson Browne’s first album is among the most auspicious debuts in pop music history”
  • 5 stars: “… the album has long since come to seem a timeless collection of reflective ballads touching on still-difficult subjects — suicide (explicitly), depression and drug use (probably), spiritual uncertainty and desperate hope — all in calm, reasoned tones, and all with an amazingly eloquent sense of language.”
  • If you’re a Jackson Browne fan, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this title from 1972 is clearly one of his best, and one of his two best sounding, the other one being The Pretender.
  • The complete list of titles from 1972 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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XTC – English Settlement

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More New Wave

  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all FOUR sides of this early Virgin UK import pressing – impossibly quiet vinyl too
  • Side two boasts the best condition grade we give out, Mint Minus, and the other three sides play close to it – you won’t find another record on the site with vinyl this quiet!
  • You won’t believe how good this record sounds – on a Big System with lots of firepower down low, this is a sonic tour de force, a MONSTER Demo Disc
  • The first three sides of this copy have huge amounts of open studio space and that Tubey Magical, rich, fat, dense, bass-heavy British Rock Sound we love, and the fourth isn’t far behind in all those areas
  • It has taken YEARS to get this shootout going – what happened to all the clean British pressings? They have disappeared over the last five years it seems
  • 4 stars: “There are plenty of pop gems – ‘Senses Working Overtime’ stands as one of their finest songs — but the main focus seems to be the more expansive sound…the textural sound of the album is quite remarkable.”

This is an AMAZINGLY well-recorded album, with huge amounts of open studio space and that Tubey Magical, rich, fat, dense British Rock Sound. That sound isn’t easy to reproduce, but this copy absoluely nails it. Nothing else in our shootout came close to it!

If you have big speakers and the room to play to play them good and loud , this is quite the sonic tour de force.

Credit Hugh Padgham, producer and engineer, who’s worked with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Genesis, The Police, Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Those bands recorded music that makes good use of Padgham’s trademark sound: wall-to-wall, deep, layered, smooth, rich and stuffed to the gills. XTC, with Padgham’s help, have here produced a real steamroller of an album in English Settlement.

The big hit on this album is one that most audiophiles will probably know: “Senses Working Overtime.” Even over the radio you can hear how dense the production is. Imagine what it sounds like on an original British pressing with Hot Stampers, played on a modern audiophile rig. Simply put, IT ROCKS.

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David Lindley – El Rayo-X

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  • El Rayo-X finally returns to the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • If you’re looking for deep punchy bass, crashing dynamics, silky sweet vocal harmonies, grungy slide guitars, tons of ambience, and super low distortion sound, this is the copy for you
  • Engineered in 1981 by Greg Ladanyi, the very next year he would take home the Best Engineering Grammy for Toto IV (one helluva good sounding album and a former member of our Top 100)
  • 4 1/2 stars: “One of the greatest rock music albums of its time. Fabulous.”
  • If you’re a fan of the man, this is a classic from 1981 that belongs in your collection (and the only record of his that does).
  • The complete list of titles from 1981 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This superb Asylum original LP is a real DEMO DISC — if what you are trying to demonstrate is how BIG and BOLD a good old-fashioned analog recording can sound.

After hearing Lindley’s white-bread session playing on ’70s albums by Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, et al., you might think the man must have a stick up his butt. His solos just never seem to let loose or get loose, and they rarely rock. Mercury Blues is proof positive that he can rock like a wild man when he wants to. On this album, perhaps for the first time, he really does seem to want to.

The sound on this record is so punchy and dynamic, the rest of your rock records should seem positively anemic in comparison. Most of it sounds live in the studio, and live in the studio is how you get a bunch of guys to play with this kind of enthusiasm and energy.

Engineered in 1981 by Greg Ladanyi, the very next year he would take home the Best Engineering Grammy for Toto IV (one helluva good sounding album and a former member of our Top 100).

Fortunately for us audiophiles, this album catches him before the overly-processed, digital drums and digital echo “sound of the ’80s” had gotten into his blood. (Just play any of the awful Don Henley records he made to hear what we mean.) This record still sounds ANALOG, and even though it may be 1981 and mostly transistorized, the better copies display strong evidence of TUBES in the recording chain.

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

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Neil Young / After the Gold Rush

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More on After the Gold Rush

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  • This KILLER original Reprise pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish
  • This is the vinyl embodiment of the Classic Analog Rock sound we love – smooth, rich, full-bodied, warm, punchy, dynamic and clear
  • 5 stars in Allmusic, Top 100, and a Demo Disc that is guaranteed to knock your socks off
  • “It’s a magnificent, style-setting album which saw the Canadian’s elevation to rock hero. For those who like their emotion raw.”
  • If you’re a Neil Young fan, and who isn’t?, this classic from 1970 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Folks, a Hot Stamper collection of the Greatest Rock Records of All Time would not be complete without a knockout copy this album. That’s why it’s been a Better Records All-Time Top 100 Title right from the start.

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Peter Frampton – Wind of Change

The Music of Peter Frampton Available Now

Peter Frampton Albums We’ve Reviewed

  • Frampton’s solo debut returns, now with Double Plus (A+++) sound on both sides and fairly quiet vinyl for an early UK pressing circa 1972
  • This vintage British pressing is the very definition of TUBEY MAGIC, with sound so rich and sweet it will make you want to take all your CDs and dump them in the trash (now that record stores don’t even want them anymore)
  • The best copies like this one keep what’s good about the recording while letting us hear into the soundfield with glorious transparency
  • 4 stars: “The sound is crisp, the melodies catchy, and Frampton’s distinctive, elliptical Gibson Les Paul guitar leads soar throughout…“

This is some of the best High-Production-Value rock music of the ’60s and ’70s. The amount of effort that went into the recording of this album is comparable to that expended by the engineers and producers of bands like Supertramp, Yes, Jethro Tull, Ambrosia, Pink Floyd, Elton John and too many others to list. It seems that no effort or cost was spared in making the home listening experience as compelling as the recording technology of the day permitted.

The best song Peter Frampton ever wrote (and performed) is on this very record, in White Hot Stamper sound no less: All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side). It has the Tubey Magical sound WE LOVE here at Better Records.

However, the richness that makes British recordings from the era so good can easily go over the edge, turning the sound into a thick, mucky stew in which the individual sonic components become difficult to separate out. Think of the typically dull Who’s Next or early Genesis or Jethro Tull albums and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Only a select group of pressings are able to strike the right balance between Tubey Magic and clarity. This is one of those.

And as far as we can tell it’s the only version of the album that’s pressed from the master tape. The domestic A&M LPs are clearly made from dubbed tapes. They are as flat, small, smeary, veiled and opaque as any Heavy Vinyl pressing being made today, and we long ago gave up on them (i.e., domestic pressings of this album and Heavy Vinyl in general). (more…)

Milhaud / La Creation du Monde / Munch

1s/ 2s. Side 2 has DEMO QUALITY sound. These rare Soria pressings have a tendency to be noisy so this is as quiet a copy as you are likely to find.

Unusually smooth. Just the opposite of the Mercury recordings. Perfect for this kind of music.


FURTHER READING

Advice – What to Listen For on Classical Records

Classical – “Sleeper” Top Quality Recordings

Classical – Best Performances with Top Quality Sound

Classical – Demo Disc Quality Recordings

Well Recorded Classical Albums – The Core Collection

Well Recorded Classical Albums from The Core Collection Available Now

The Cars – Self-Titled

More of The Cars

Hot Stamper Pressings of New Wave Recordings

  • With superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this is a killer copy of The Cars’ debut album – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • You may have heard these songs a million times, but you’ll be shocked at just how much better they sound on this very pressing
  • A Better Records Top 100 title, the band’s masterpiece, and a New Wave Must Own Classic from 1978
  • 5 stars: “Whereas most bands of the late ’70s embraced either punk/new wave or hard rock, the Cars were one of the first bands to do the unthinkable — merge the two styles together. With flawless performances, songwriting, and production (courtesy of Queen alumnus Roy Thomas Baker), the Cars’ debut remains one of rock’s all-time classics.”

The material is superb — just check out the first three tracks: Let The Good Times Roll, Best Friend’s Girl, and Just What I Needed — how many albums start off with that kind of a bang? Each of those tracks sounds amazing — if you’ve got big speakers and a front end capable of resolving musical information at the highest levels, put this record on, turn it way up and get ready to hear some serious Demonstration Quality Sound. (more…)

Steely Dan – Pretzel Logic

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Pretzel Logic

  • Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum of the guitars, along with the kind of richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern remasterings.
  • Becker and Fagen spared no effort in the recording of this album – the mix is PERFECTION
  • A Top 100 Album and our pick for The Best Sounding Steely Dan Record of Them All
  • 5 stars: “Steely Dan made more accomplished albums than Pretzel Logic, but they never made a better one.”

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Graham Nash – Songs for Beginners

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Reviews and Commentaries for Songs for Beginners

  • With two amazing Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, this original pressing has the analog magic in its grooves
  • We love the All Analog Tubey Magical sound of the recording, especially on a copy as rich and full-bodied as this one
  • Arguably the best of the solo CSN albums – a founding member of our Top 100 Rock and Pop List and, with grades like these, a True Demo Disc
  • 4 1/2 stars: “From the soaring “I Used to Be a King” through the gossamer “Simple Man” to the wah-wah-laden “Military Madness,” the record is filled with gorgeous melodies, flawless singing, and lyrical complexities that hold up decades later.”

When you hear Chicago here you will not believe how cinematic the sound is! It’s everything we love about analog and then some.

Most of the credit must go to the team of recording engineers, led here by the esteemed Bill Halverson, the man behind all of the Crosby Stills Nash and Young albums. Nash was clearly influenced by his work with his gifted bandmates, proving with this album that he can hold his own with the best of the best. Some songs (We Can Change The World, Be Yourself) are grandly scaled productions with the kind of studio polish that would make Supertramp envious. For me, a big speaker guy with a penchant for giving the old volume knob an extra click or two, it just doesn’t get any better.

Others (Sleep Song, Wounded Bird) are quiet and intimate. Their subtlety is highlighted by the big productions surrounding them. This is the rare album in which every aspect of the production, from the arrangements to the final mix, serves to bring out the best qualities in the songs, regardless of scale. (more…)