white hot stampers

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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Letter of the Week – “I cannot recall a purchase that’s made me happier since I went back to vinyl a year ago. It’s THAT good.”

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

Hey Tom, 

You’ve done it again. I thought the Hot Stamper copy I bought back in June sounded extraordinary. But this White Hot Stamper puts it to shame. This is truly unbelievable.

Paul’s bass on the opening track blew me away. Ringo’s drums are so strong it’s scary. I ALMOST had to turn it down (I live in a top-floor apartment and push my neighbors below me right to the edge), but screw it, this sounds so good at my regular listening volume I’ll happily put up with a complaint if I must. Hell, I’ll invite him in and put him in The Chair, and that’ll be the end of THAT.

And you weren’t kidding about George’s vocals and his sitar on Within You, Without You. That’s always been one of my least-favorite cuts on the album, but I’ll skip it no longer. (more…)

Elvis Costello – Trust

More Elvis Costello

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  • With a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one, this copy has Demo Disc sound guaranteed to knock you right out of your listening chair
  • The clarity and transparency allow you to appreciate subtleties in the high end even when the bass and drums are really POUNDING – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • 5 stars: “…their most ambitious and eclectic album to date… Costello & the Attractions demonstrate their musical skill and savvy by essentially sticking to the direct sound of their four-piece band. In the process, they recorded, arguably, their most impressive album, one that demonstrates all sides of Costello’s songwriting and performing personality without succumbing to pretentiousness.”

This copy has The Big Sound that lets this music REALLY ROCK. There’s a TON of low-end on this record; regrettably, most copies suffer from either a lack of bass or a lack of bass definition. I can’t tell you how much you’re missing when the bass isn’t right on this album. It’s without a doubt THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT of the sound on this album.

When the bass is right, everything falls into place, and the music comes powerfully to life. When the bass is lacking or ill-defined, the music seems labored; the moment-to-moment rhythmic changes in the songs blur together, and the band just doesn’t swing the way it’s supposed to. (more…)

Traffic – The Best of Traffic

More Traffic

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this British Pink Label Island pressing
  • Here are the full-bodied mids, punchy lows and clear, open, extended highs that let this 1969 release come alive
  • This amazing compilation boasts superb sound, often better than the very same tracks on many of the original British releases
  • Top 100 and 4 stars: “The entire second side of the LP, comprising ‘Medicated Goo,’ ‘Forty Thousand Headmen,’ ‘Feelin’ Alright,’ ‘Shanghai Noodle Factory,’ and ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy,’ was the kind of progressive rock that would define Traffic and give it its place in the rock pantheon.”

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The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers

More Rolling Stones

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  • A Sticky Fingers like you’ve never heard — amazing Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Finally, with the best vintage pressings we can hear the power and the beauty of this truly superb recording
  • A landmark Glyn Johns / Andy Johns recording, our favorite by the Stones, a Top 100 Title (of course) and 5 stars on Allmusic (ditto)
  • Q magazine said this was “the Stones at their assured, showboating peak … A magic formula of heavy soul, junkie blues and macho rock.”
  • 5 stars: “With its offhand mixture of decadence, roots music, and outright malevolence, Sticky Fingers set the tone for the rest of the decade for the Stones.”

A Very Special Pressing

On this copy you will find the best sounding side of any Stones album ever made. Nothing in our last few shootouts could touch it. We kept it as reference copy for a year or two, but decided that it would be better if someone enjoyed it rather than have it sit on a shelf in our stockroom.

We used to give a side like this Four Pluses, but we decided not to do that anymore, so the grade you see in the listing is Three Pluses. Make no mistake, these are the best sounding Three Pluses on the site right now, bar none.

Sure, it’s a lot of money for a record with condition issues. However, since almost every copy of Sticky Fingers has condition issues of some sort, they should be more acceptable here than they might be were they found on a different title.

Those of you who want to acquire one of the best copies of Sticky Fingers we’ve ever played — better than the last ten or fifteen we auditioned, and we only buy the ones with stampers that have Shootout Winning potential — may find the price not too out of line with the quality of the goods once the needle hits the groove. (more…)

The Recordings of Lena Horne – These Five Didn’t Make the Grade

More Albums that Didn’t Make the Grade

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These are just some of the recordings by Lena Horne that we’ve auditioned over the years and found wanting. Without going into specifics, we’ll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

You can find these in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.  These are also records you can safely avoid.)

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Carly Simon – Hotcakes

More Carly Simon

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  • A stunning side one, clocking in between Double and Triple Plus
  • Side two is excellent as well, earning One and a Half Pluses for its superb presence and transparency
  • Great sound for Mockingbird and Haven’t Got Time For The Pain
  • All Music Guide gives this Richard Perry production Four Big Stars

The grit and grain that plagues most copies is GONE here, replaced with the kind of space and transparency that really make sense of the recording. The bottom end has real weight and punch, and the whole thing is much richer and more natural than usual.

That Glossy Richard Perry Sound

Many copies of this album suffer from (at least) one of two problems: unnaturally hi-fi-ish sound or an excess of grit and grain. Both are in large part due to the processing-intensive production of Richard Perry.

The best copies make it easy to understand his choices: the sound is lovely. Unfortunately that rich, sweet sound he obviously got on to the master tape didn’t quite make it to the average vinyl pressing of this album. The effects used on Carly’s vocals turn her voice into a gritty, grainy mess on most copies — certainly not the kind of sound that audiophiles want to hear.

As is so often the case, it took a few exceptional copies to make us understand what Simon and Perry were going for. Compare this Hot Stamper to the typical copy and you’ll hear it for yourself right away. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Heroes Are Hard To Find

More Fleetwood Mac

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  • A superb copy of the band’s 1974 release, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • This is the sound you want on Heroes Are Hard to Find – not midrangy, but rich and full-bodied, with an extended top end for sweeter, silkier vocals
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the way to go
  • “… the album is one of their most cohesive yet diverse… Heroes is a minor gem that retains its effortless pop charms and contains some buried jewels in the extensive Fleetwood Mac catalog.”

If you’re a fan and have never heard this album, you will find numerous gems that make it worth the price. The title track is excellent, as is Come a Little Bit Closer. (Practically everything Christine McVie does on these pre-Buckingham Nicks albums is good. On weak albums such as Penguin it’s McVie’s performances and songwriting that carry the day.) (more…)

Mose Allison – Mose Alive!

More Piano Jazz

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  • An outstanding copy of this wonderful live album, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • This copy is full-bodied and natural, with a nicely extended top end, plenty of space around the instruments, and relatively few of the problems that plague many of the pressings we played
  • “Allison was one of the finest songwriters in blues of the 20th and early 21st centuries.” – All Music Bio

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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…)