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Random Thoughts

Audio Commentary  >  Start Here  >  Random Thoughts

 

Thoughts and observations on issues that relate to recordings, LP pressings, and practically anything to do with playing records. If you want to collect better sounding records and hear them on better sounding equipment, many of the commentaries contained herein should be of interest.
 

 

 

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Ambrosia - One Eighty

A Little Soft Rock Never Hurt Anybody, Right?

  (Item #: ambrooneei_soft_rock) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning music and recordings.

One Eighty has an excellent mix of rock songs and softer pop ballads. The last track, Biggest Part Of Me, no matter how many times you may have heard it on the radio is an exceptionally well-produced (designed?) piece of songcraft that will tug at anyone's heartstrings, anyone who has a heart that is (if I may quote the title of the best song Burt Bacharach ever wrote). On a big audiophile system it should be both powerful and emotional.

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The Fleetwood Mac You Don't Know

Future Games

  (Item #: fleetfutur_know) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning records.

Danny Kirwan is the guy who really takes control on Future Games. Some of the best songs this band ever did are here, many of them written by Kirwan. The opening track on side one, Woman Of A Thousand Years, and the opening track on side two, Sands Of Time, are both his and set the tone for the whole side, which is folky, ethereal and extended. The best of these pop songs don't seem to follow any of the standard pop conventions of verse verse chorus. They seem to wander on a journey of discovery. In that way they remind me a little bit of 20th century French classical music, or some of the longer tracks from Neil Young's Zuma.

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London Orchestral Records from the '70s

And the Problem of Opacity

  (Item #: straualsos_6978) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning records.

The average copy of this 1976 recording has that dry, multi-miked modern sound that the '70s ushered in for many of the major labels, notably London and RCA. How many Solti records are not ridiculously thick and opaque? One out of ten? If that. We're very wary of records recorded in the '70s; we've been burned too many times.

And to tell you the truth we are not all that thrilled with most of what passes for good sound on Mehta's London output either. If you have a high-resolution system these recordings, like those on Classic Heavy Vinyl we constantly criticize, leave a lot to be desired.

More orchestral music conducted by Georg Solti


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Paganini / Violin Concertos 1 & 2

Expensive Heavy Vinyl Trash

  (Item #: paganvioli_outrage) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning (usually old) records.

Had I paid good money to buy this pressing in the hopes of hearing the supremely talented Yehudi Menuhin of 1961 tear it up on Paganini's legendary first two concertos, I can tell you one thing: I would be pissed.

Where is the outrage in the audiophile community over this kind of trash? I have yet to see it. I suspect I will grow quite a bit older and quite a bit greyer before anyone else notices just how bad this record sounds. I hope I'm proven wrong.

More of the music of Niccolò Paganini


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Tchaikovsky / Concerto for Violin & Orchestra / Oistrakh

Not Too Big to Fail

  (Item #: tchaivioli_mhs_wtlf) 



Side two of this copy from our 2016 shootout provides a clear example of the effect known as the "The Violin That Ate Cincinatti."

Yes, it may be oversized, but it's so REAL and IMMEDIATE and harmonically correct in every way that we felt more than justified in ignoring the fact that the instrument could never sound in the concert hall the way it does here -- unless you were actually playing it (and even then I doubt if it would be precisely the same sound -- big, but surely quite different).

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


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Barbra Streisand - Guilty

Bab's Best and Most Underrated (By Too Many Audiophiles Anyway)

  (Item #: streiguilt_fame) 



This ain't no zombie audiophile BS, the kind of sleep-inducing reverb-drenched trash that passes for "female vocals" in bad audio showrooms around the globe. (Paging Diana Krall.) This is Barbra and The Bee Gees at the peak of their Pop Powers. It just doesn't get any better.

This is THE BEST ALBUM Babs ever made, and you can take that to the bank. It's also one of the best sounding, if not THE best sounding of her later Monster Pop Productions. Can't say for sure as I haven't played all that many. Her first album is a true Demo Disc as well, but that one's all about the Tubey Magical '60s Columbia era, the Golden Age of Natural Sound, a world away from Guilty and its layers and layers of tracks. Having said that, there are multi-tracks and then there are multi-tracks.

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Ray Charles - The Genius After Hours

Top Quality Remastering Was Possible in 1985

  (Item #: charlthege_remastering) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning (usually) old records.

Proof positive that there is nothing wrong with remastering vintage recordings if you know what you're doing. These sessions from 1956 (left off of an album that Allmusic liked a whole lot less than this one) were remastered in 1985 and the sound -- on the better copies mind you -- is correct from top to bottom.

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David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust

Breaking the Price Barrier in 2007

  (Item #: bowieziggy_2007) 



This RCA Import has DRAMATICALLY better sound than any Ziggy LP we’ve ever played here at Better Records. Whatever you think you know about the sound of this record, THINK AGAIN. The sound of this copy is so far beyond any expectation I had that hearing it was nothing short of a REVELATION. It's TWO FULL GRADES better than any copy we played in our shootout.

Ater hearing this copy we had to lower our grades for every other pressing we had played. This was a completely new standard. Todd, who does these shootouts with me, commented that the rest of the evening's record auditions were pretty much pointless after playing the hot Ziggy. No other record, hot stamper or otherwise, had this kind of sound. Playing them after playing Ziggy wouldn't be fair; this copy was in a league of its own.

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