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801 - 801 Live

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: 801__live_2007) 



The best Island copies of this album ROCK HARDER than practically any record we've ever played. If you have the system for it, this one will bring a Live Art Rock concert right into your living room!

It's right at the top of the list of my Favorite Albums -- a Desert Island Disc if ever there was one. I stumbled across it more thirty years ago and I've loved it ever since. It all started when a college buddy played me the wildly original Tomorrow Never Knows from the album and asked me to name the tune. Eno's take is so different from The Beatles version that I confess it took me an embarrassingly long while to catch on.

More Phil Manzanera


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Are You a Detail Freak?

At Better Records We Call that Pitfall Number 1

  (Item #: 801__live_detail) 


Is that where the music is -- in the details? Brighter ain’t necessarily better; most of the time it’s just brighter.

This album isn't about clarity. It's about the sound of a live Rock and Roll concert. It's about the raw power of one of the most phenomenal rhythm sections to ever be captured in performance.

More Phil Manzanera / More Brian Eno


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801 Live

It's All About the Bass (Except for that One Time When It Wasn't)

  (Item #: 801__live_listen) 



What's especially interesting about this copy is that we went crazy for it even though it did not have the best bass of the copies we played, which, as you will see below, clearly contradicts what we had previously written. We thought that the copies with the best bass had the best everything else too, but that was not what we heard this time around.

THIS copy got the music to work its magic, and it did it with most, but not all, of the bass of the best. Not sure how to explain it. Rules were made to be broken maybe?

More Phil Manzanera & Roxy Music


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The Allman Brothers ... At Fillmore East

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: allmaatfil_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

There was a time when we never dreamed we’d find a copy of this hard rockin’ live album with SUPERB SOUND and QUIET VINYL on all four sides, but we got a hold of a seriously hot one here! This is one of the all-time great live albums, and with a copy like this one YOU ARE THERE at the Fillmore!

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The Allman Brothers - Eat a Peach

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: allmaeatap_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

THE ALLMAN’S MASTERPIECE CONQUERED AT LAST! I don’t think you could find a more tubey magical Southern Rock record than this! We just shot out a huge stack of these double LPs, no mean feat, and this Original Capricorn pressing manhandled the competition, rating A++ or better on ALL FOUR SIDES. Not only that, but the vinyl plays mostly Mint Minus throughout -- exceptionally quiet for an old Allman Brothers record.

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The Band - Rock Of Ages

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: band_rocko_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

White Hot Stampers for side two -- WOW! Check out the track listing for that side: Stage Fright / The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down / Across the Great Divide / This Wheel’s on Fire / Rag Mama Rag

Pretty hard to beat that batch of Band songs; practically every one is a classic. And considering how difficult it is to get a good sounding copy of the albums those songs are taken from, this double album is a great way to go if you love The Band. The performances are uniformly excellent, and the live horn section adds a lot to the fun and energy of the music.

More of The Band


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The Band - Rock Of Ages

Turn Up Your Volume, Now It Rocks!

  (Item #: band_rocko_volume) 



Yet another record that really comes to life when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Most copies of this album do not have a boosted bottom or top, which means that at normal listening levels -- depending on how you define that term -- they can sound pretty flat. This is one album that needs to be turned up, obviously not to the levels of a live rock concert, but up about as loud as you can until you can get the bass and the highs to come out. We found ourselves adding more and more level in order to get the sound to come to life, and it was playing pretty loud before the sound was right.

See all of our The Band albums in stock


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The Beatles - Let It Be

Our 4 Plus Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: beatlletit_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

TWO AMAZING SIDES, including a MIND-BLOWING A++++ SIDE ONE for this White Hot Stamper 2-pack! At its best, this album has the real power of live music, but it takes a special pressing to make it happen. Both of these copies had one stunning side and one that just didn't impress us, so we've paired them up to give you incredible sound for the entire album!

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Harry Belafonte - Belafonte... Live!

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: belafbelaf_live_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

White Hot Stampers on sides one and three! This copy also has an A++ side two and an A+ side four, so there's a ton of good sound on this fun concert LP. This album features Harry performing on all four sides, but also includes music from some of the guests he brought along to perform with him at the early '70s shows in Toronto from which these performances are taken. The first three sides are all KILLER -- you get real-life immediacy, excellent clarity, breathtaking transparency and boatloads of tubey magic!

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David Bowie - David Live

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bowiedavid_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

The best copies have Live Rock and Roll Energy like you will not believe. The band is ON FIRE. These are the A List players of the day and they gell like a band that's been together for years. The sonic treats include multiple horn players (David Sanborn KILLS on almost every track, and the baritone sax and oboe are rendered beautifully ) and multiple percussionists, all-male chorus background vocals, the seering fuzzed-out guitar leads of Earl Slick, piano and Mellotron by Mike Garson, the amazing Herbie Flowers on bass -- the list goes on.

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Live Albums

  (Item #: BR_live) 


Hot Stamper pressings of classic live albums

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Dave Brubeck Trio Featuring Gerry Mulligan - Compadres

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: brubecompa_2017) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

If you haven't heard one of our killer Gerry Mulligan vintage Columbia pressings, with the fullness of its lower midrange bringing out all the magic of the man's remarkably rich baritone, this is your chance.

And if too much baritone sax is not your thing, this may be just the right record for you, with Brubeck taking half the leads.

More Dave Brubeck / More Gerry Mulligan


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Dave Brubeck Trio Featuring Gerry Mulligan - Compadres

What to Listen For - The Audience

  (Item #: brubecompa_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album, or any live album for that matter.

As is the case with most live albums, the sound of the crowd tells you a lot about the recording, and on this copy the crowd sounded exceptionally clear and natural.

More Dave Brubeck / More Gerry Mulligan


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Dave Brubeck Quartet - Newport 1958

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: brubenewpo) 



This is a very nice looking Columbia Six-Eye LP. The sound here is actually pretty good, particularly on side one. It's open and present, relaxed and natural, with some nice weight to the piano and fairly tight bass. It's not exactly a knockout, but if you're looking for a musical and enjoyable copy this one should do the trick. Side two is almost as good, and both sides have been through our extensive cleaning process.
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The Byrds - Untitled

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: byrdsuntit_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

WOW! The best pressing to ever hit the site, and it's Triple Plus (A+++) on ALL FOUR SIDES. The overall sound is really rich, full-bodied, and open with impressive transparency and presence. Features a 16 minute Eight Miles High on the live disc that just kills -- especially on a lively copy like this.

More of The Byrds


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Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: cash_atfol_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Two great sides on quiet vinyl! We've been trying to find good copies of this fun album for ages, but it wasn't until recently that we heard this music sound right. Most copies are just too thin and edgy with lots of strain and hardness on the vocals. This one is richer, smoother and sweeter, with lots of body and excellent transparency. It ain't easy to find great sounding Johnny Cash records, but this copy had the sound we were looking for.

See all of our Johnny Cash albums in stock


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Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash at San Quentin

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: cash_atsan_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This Columbia 360 Label pressing has TWO WONDERFUL SIDES and quiet vinyl. We just finished a big shootout for this great album and this copy was a MAJOR step up from most of them we played, particularly on side two. It's of course not the world's greatest recording (San Quentin is not quite Olympic Studios) but on a Hot Stamper copy the sound can actually be very good.

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Eric Clapton - Just One Night

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: claptjusto_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

With so many bad sounding Clapton albums from the mid- to late '70s out there in the bins, it's refreshing to hear this material sounding lively and clear for a change. The performances seem to hold up as well. If you like the "Tulsa Time" era, this record is going to be hard to beat.

Many of his best songs are here, including Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, After Midnight, Blues Power, Cocaine, Further on Up the Road and plenty more.

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Joe Cocker - Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: cockemaddo_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This original A&M 2 LP pressing has FOUR EXCELLENT SIDES, including a shootout-winning A+++ SIDE TWO!

We did not give out a lot of top grades on this record -- Super Hot is WAY better than most of what we heard (which to be honest was just not very good, a subject we discuss below). Overall this is the best copy to ever hit the site, boasting plenty of soulful rock and roll energy.

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John Coltrane - Impressions

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: coltrimpre_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

BIG, BOLD JOHN COLTRANE SOUND -- ain't that something?! We had a big stack of pressings to compare and this one just blew us away, earning our top grade of A+++ for the first side and a strong A++ for the second. The clarity and transparency on this copy are mind-boggling, and the immediacy puts early '60s Coltrane blowing his brains out right there in your listening room!

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Cream - Goodbye

Some of the Best Live Rock Sound Ever Recorded

  (Item #: creamgoodb_2016) 



When you get a good side one of Goodbye you'll hear exactly why we are calling it one of the Best Sounding Live Rock Albums of all time.

Goodbye has the Big Rock Sound that we go crazy for here at Better Records. The top copies just plain ROCK HARDER than all the others. Yes, they're bigger. Yes, they have more weight and whomp down low. Yes, they are smoother and more natural up top. But what really sets them apart is the tremendous Energy they contain in their grooves. The music EXPLODES out of the speakers and comes to life on the best copies like practically nothing you have ever heard.

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Cream - Wheels Of Fire

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: creamwheel_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

It wasn’t easy, but we’ve cracked one of the toughest nuts around -- WHITE HOT STAMPERS FOR WHEELS OF FIRE! Sides one, two, and three on this RSO British LP have SUPERB SOUND AND QUIET VINYL! We’ve never heard White Room sound nearly as amazing as it does here -- you aren’t going to believe all the WHOMP!

More Eric Clapton and Cream


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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - 4 Way Street

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: crosb4ways_2012) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

If you want to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock out live in your listening room, this copy will let you do it. It's not easy to find good sound on even one side of this album, let alone all four!

See all of our Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young albums in stock


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Miles Davis - In Person - Friday Night

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: davisinper_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Normally our notes for the sound of the records we are shooting out against each other fall into two categories: what the record is doing right and what the record is doing wrong. You'll note that in this case there was nothing wrong about the sound to write about.

The secret is TUBES - they work their magic on this music like nothing else can.

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Miles Davis - My Funny Valentine

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: davismyfun_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

1965 Live Analog at its best. Present and lively with solid, full-bodied tonality, thanks to the engineering of the legendary Fred Plaut. A wonderful live performance, showcasing the more lyrical side of Miles.

See all of our Miles Davis albums in stock


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Deep Purple - Made In Japan

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: deeppmadei_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Machine Head Live? That would not be far off, and the fact they brought MARTIN BIRCH along with them all the way to Japan in order to engineer a live album that was only supposed to sell to the Japanese market (!) could not have been more fortuitous for us audiophiles.

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Deep Purple - Made In Japan

What to Listen For

  (Item #: deeppmadei_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

We've raved about a number of live albums over the years. Some of the better sounding ones that come readily to mind (in alphabetical order) are Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, David Live, Johnny Cash At San Quentin, Donny Hathaway Live, The Jimi Hendrix Concerts, Performance - Rockin The Fillmore, Live Wire - Blues Power, Waiting For Columbus, Get Your Ya-Ya's Out and Live at Leeds. I would be proud to have any of them in my collection.

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Derek and The Dominos - Layla

Imports Versus Domestics

  (Item #: dereklayla_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

All four sides of this bad boy have the Layla Sound we had hoped for -- Tubey Magical, energetic, and balanced tonally. Most importantly, it sounds CORRECT; you get the sense that you are hearing the music exactly as the band intended. The best sounding tracks have presence, clarity, and transparency like you have never heard.

More Eric Clapton and Cream


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Derek and The Dominos - Layla

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: dereklayla_listen) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

The best copies of Layla are Tubey Magical, energetic, and tonally balanced. Most importantly, they sound CORRECT; you get the sense that you are hearing the music exactly as the band intended. The best sounding tracks have presence, clarity, and transparency like you have never heard -- that is, unless you've gone through a pile of copies the way we do.

More Eric Clapton and Cream


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Derek and the Dominos - Layla (2 LPs)

Remastering the Remaster (and Keeping It a Secret)

  (Item #: dereklayla_SVLP_revisited) 



NEWSFLASH! [circa 2010]

Noticing that this title had recently come back into print, and remembering that we used to like the SVLP of Layla, we decided to order a current copy of the album from SIMPLY VINYL. Soon enough it came in, we played it, and we were pretty shocked to hear that the damn thing sounded just plain AWFUL.

Was I wrong about it before? Only one way to know. I pulled out my old Review Copy from way back when it first came out and sure enough that early pressing sounded dramatically BETTER than the new one. The stampers were completely different of course; someone had remastered it recently and ruined it.

More Eric Clapton and Cream


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Neil Diamond - Hot August Night

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: diamohotau_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Our two White Hot sides here are bigger, richer, clearer, livelier and more tonally correct than the two others -- two others which are guaranteed to be bigger, richer, clearer, etc. than any sides of any copy you own or even any copy you have ever heard .

In fact, the sound here presents a textbook case of just what the basic elements we listen for would be, for Hot August Night as well as practically any other Classic Live Rock Album we might be playing. As we've said for years, none of this rocket science. It all boils down to critical listening to lots of copies played on top quality equipment -- no more, no less.

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Dire Straits - Alchemy: Dire Straits Live

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: diresalche_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Two of the sides of this original Vertigo British pressing are two of the best we played in our recent shootout, with transparency and spaciousness only hinted at by most of the copies we auditioned.

Of course, this being a live rock album, clarity and detail are not at the top of the list of qualities were looking for. We're after ROCK AND ROLL ENERGY more than anything else, and that means vocal presence, a solid bass foundation and plenty of dynamics. We want this music to come alive in your listening room and this is the copy that can do it!

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Eric Dolphy - Copenhagen Concert

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: dolphcopen_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Rarely have I heard a string bass sound better than it does here. The flute is equally gorgeous. They could record a live jazz concert this well in 1961? Apparently.

Although this is only our second Hot Stamper listing for the album, I've known about Dolphy's legendary Copenhagen Concert for close to thirty years. When an audiophile hears a bass clarinet reproduced the way it is on this record he is very unlikely to forget it.

Do the originals sound as good as these '70s pressings? Not a clue. Never ran into a clean one in my life.

See all of our Eric Dolphy albums in stock


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Bob Dylan & The Band - Before The Flood

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: dylanbefor_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

One of the great Live Classic Rock albums of all time, now available in White Hot Stamper form! We recently undertook a massive shootout for this spirited double LP and three of the better sides from the whole shebang are on this here pressing. Sides one and two each earned our top grade of A+++, while side four clocked in at A++. Side three, as is often the case, was not quite up to the same standards.

More from Bob Dylan / More from The Band


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Earth, Wind & Fire - Gratitude

  (Item #: earthgrati_0810) 



OFF THE CHARTS SOUND on three out of four sides! Make no mistake: This is BY FAR the best copy of Gratitude we have ever played. No other copy in our shootout was the equal of this bad boy. This copy showed us a Gratitude we had no idea existed. Every once in a while you run across a record that has both sides mastered as good as they can be mastered, and this is very nearly one of those times -- for this double album only one side fell short out of four, and that side still rated a very respectable A+ to A++. That's ten and a half pluses all told. Nice job, Mastering Lab. You did Earth Wind and Fire proud.
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Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Pictures at an Exhibition

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: emerspictu_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Minty looking original Island British Import LP has some of the best sound we have ever heard for this album. This copy KILLED a bunch of other Brit imports we played it against. It wasn't even close. This pressing was so much more TRANSPARENT -- you could hear into the crowd in a way that no other copy managed to let you do. When the band started playing the sound was much more clear and present than the other Brit copies we played.

Great live sound thanks to EDDIE OFFORD.

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Bill Evans - At Town Hall, Vol. 1

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: evansattow_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

STUNNING SOUND ON SIDE ONE! It is insanely difficult to find great sounding Bill Evans records, which is why you almost never see any of his albums up on our side. This copy has a side one that is nothing short of Demo Quality. It's one of the better sounding sides of Piano Trio music we'll find this year (along of course with the killer copies of The Three that hit the site). The best music on this album is found on the first side, so this is a very special pressing to say the least.

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Bill Evans - Montreux II

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: evansmontr_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Both sides here have the kind of solid, full-bodied tonality that's really crucial to making sense of this music. There's plenty of space and ambience here as well!

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Bill Evans - Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: evanssunda_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Huge space; clear, highly resolving cymbal harmonics that extend all the way into space; lively energy; bass that's deep and note-like -- I just don't know how you can make this live piano trio music sound any better than it does here!

The best sounding Bill Evans record we have ever played? Probably. it's safe to say that at the very least it's as good as any we've critically evaluated on our current system.

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Ella Fitzgerald - Newport Jazz Festival Live at Carnegie Hall

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: fitzgnewpo) 



This is a very good sounding live album from when Ella Fitzgerald could still sing well. Most of her stuff for Pablo which followed this leaves much to be desired in my opinion. This album is certainly not the equal of her best work from the '60s, but I'm guessing it's better than anything she did after this.
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Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: frampframp_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

What a monster -- this White Hot Stamper Frampton Comes Alive boasts KILLER A+++ sound on sides one, two, and four and very strong A++ sound on side three! If you're looking for a top-shelf pressing of THE iconic Classic Rock Double Live Album, don't let this one pass you by. If you grew up with this album it's going to be a thrill to hear this copy rockin' on a big audiophile system.

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Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive

What to Listen For

  (Item #: frampframp_wtlf) 



Another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

What to listen for you ask? Dynamic, soaring guitar solos! On the best copies the guitar solos are the loudest parts of some songs, which, as everyone who's ever been to a rock concert knows, is exactly what happens in live rock music.

Not many live albums are mixed to allow the guitar solos to rock the way these do. Since Frampton is one of my favorite players, hearing his solos get loud on this album is nothing less than a thrill.

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Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace

A Bit of Experimentation with VTA Can Really Pay Off

  (Item #: frankamazi_wtlf) 



This is a handy record for VTA setup, a subject we discuss at length below.

On the better copies Aretha's vocals are as dynamic as any you will ever hear, and unlike all the records she did with Tom Dowd, her voice never breaks up on this record. If you have big speakers that can play at loud levels, with the right volume level you can really get Aretha to belt it out like nothing you have ever heard.

See more of our Aretha Franklin albums in stock


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Genesis - Live

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: geneslive_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Superb sounding but somewhat noisy British Original (or what appears to be) pressing on the blue Charisma label. This album sounds RIGHT ON THE MONEY. I don’t think you can find a better sounding version than this one.

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Genesis - Seconds Out

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: genessecon_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

STUNNING SOUND FOR ALL FOUR SIDES! This live album from 1977 has some of the best Genesis sound we've heard. Their studio recordings are often a bit flat and dull, so it's really a treat to hear those songs with this kind of big, open, dynamic sound! Phil Collins handles the lead vocals here, but he does a great job even on the Peter Gabriel material.

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Stan Getz - Getz Au Go Go

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: getz_getza_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This WHITE Hot Stamper Stan Getz record has the kind of LIVE JAZZ CLUB SOUND that audiophiles like us (you and me) dream of. More importantly, this ain’t no Jazz at Some Pawnshop -- this is THE REAL THING. Stan Getz, Gary Burton, Kenny Burrell and the lovely Astrud Gilberto, the living embodiment of Cool Jazz, are coming to a listening room near you (assuming you have two hundred and fifty bucks you're not doing anything else with).

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Jimi Hendrix - Hendrix In The West

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: hendrinthe_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

We're still surprised at how well recorded the album is, and a pressing like this allows you to really hear the live Jimi Guitar God Magic.

Rock and roll Legend EDDIE KRAMER, the man who engineered these live recordings, really knocked it out of the park. Drop the needle on Little Wing and you are going to be FLOORED.

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Jimi Hendrix - The Jimi Hendrix Concerts

Huge, Powerful Live Rock Sound

  (Item #: hendrjimih_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This live album, taken from concerts recorded from 1968 to 1970, is wonderful sounding on the best tracks. If you're in the market for live Hendrix on a Hot Stamper, you'll be hard pressed to do any better. The bass on this recording is huge, which is exactly what this kind of music needs most. At the levels we were playing this album it was really rockin'.

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Jimi Hendrix - Rainbow Bridge

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: hendrrainb_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

THE NEW ALL-TIME CHAMPION FOR SIDE ONE! We played over a dozen copies this week, split evenly between domestics and Brit imports -- and this bad boy absolutely MURDERED the competition.

Drop the needle on Dolly Dagger or Pali Gap and prepare to be floored! You won’t believe the big-time presence, the mindblowing energy, or the massive WHOMP factor! This copy has the tightest bass we’ve ever heard for this album, plus an unbelievable amount of Tubey Magic.

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Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks - Where’s The Money

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: hickswhere_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This live album has White Hot Stamper sound on side two, with sound that is rich, real and musical in ways that we have never heard ANY Dan Hicks record sound. Who knew it could sound like this? Certainly not us.

The dryness, the flatness, the you-are-so-not-thereness of their studio recordings is nowhere in evidence on this side two, which is as good and probably better than any side we heard in our shootout. It's not an easy record to find in clean condition in the first place.

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Humble Pie - Performance - Rockin' The Fillmore

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: humblperfo_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

One of the best -- if not THE best -- rock concert albums we have ever heard. Can you imagine if Frampton Comes Alive sounded like this? If you want to hear some smokin’ Peter Frampton guitar work from the days when he was with Humble Pie this album captures that sound better than any of their studio releases, and far better than Comes Alive on even the best copies.

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Billy Joel - Songs in the Attic

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: joel_songs_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

You know how you can tell when you have a Hot Stamper? It's the side you play through to the end. When the sound is right you want to hear more. Since the opening track of this record is one of the keys to knowing whether it's mastered and pressed properly, once you get past the sibilance hurdle on track one, the next step is to find out how the challenges presented by the rest of the tracks are handled on any given LP. Some advice follows.

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Albert King - Live Wire - Blues Power

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: kind_livew_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

SUPERB SOUNDING and VERY QUIET! This Stax LP sounds amazing -- super low distortion, super transparent, clean, and clear. I don’t think you could find a better sounding, quieter copy than this no matter what you do!

This is the real deal folks. Most copies sure don't sound like this! It's one of the all time great live Blues albums!

See all of our Albert King albums in stock


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John Klemmer - Straight from the Heart

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: klemmstrai_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This White Hot Stamper Nautilus Direct-to-Disc recording is an AMAZING Demo Disc, and what’s more, it’s actually REAL JAZZ -- a remarkably unusual combination in the Audiophile World, in my experience anyway. This copy takes the sound of this recording -- and the music along with it -- to another level. YOU WON'T BELIEVE how good this record sounds.

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John Klemmer - Straight from the Heart

Listening for the Tubey Magic

  (Item #: klemmstrai_wtlf) 



The best copies give you dynamics and immediacy like you have rarely heard outside of the live event. Hell, this record IS live; it's live in the studio. It's a direct to disc recording, what else could it be?

There is simply nothing in the way of the music. If you have the system for it, you can recreate the live sound of this session in a way that few other recordings would ever allow you to do.

This copy had one quality not heard on most of the others: Tubey Magic. The sound is rich and full-bodied, practically free of grit and grain - this is the kind of sound one hears occassionally on the best tube equipment and practically nowhere else. Of course this is an all-transistor affair, but tubey sound is what ended up on the record, so go figure.

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Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: ledzesongr_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

FREAKISHLY GOOD LIVE ZEP SOUND! This Swan Song LP is just full of the Zep Magic -- super lively and full-bodied with a whole lotta WHOMP. Bonzo’s drum sound is LARGER THAN LIFE on this copy. Three of the four sides here rate ABOVE A++.

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Little Feat - Hoy-Hoy

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: littlhoyho_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Hoy Hoy.

The recording quality of many of these songs is OUT OF THIS WORLD, as good as any rock record I can think of. Although Waiting For Columbus is arguably the best sounding live rock 'n roll album ever made, some of the tracks on this album are every bit as good or BETTER. (And the promo EP is practically in a league of its own for sound!)

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Little Feat - Waiting for Columbus

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: littlwaiti_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This German import pressing of Waiting for Columbus is much better sounding than the typical Mastering Lab-mastered copy.

This German pressing is similar to one that came from my own personal collection, accidentally discovered way back in the early '80s as I recall. It KILLED my domestic original, and got some things right that even my treasured Mobile Fidelity pressing couldn't. We have been meaning to do a shootout for this album for at least the last five years, but kept running into the fact that in a head to head shootout the right MoFi pressing -- sloppy bass and all -- was hard to beat.

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Mobile Fidelity's Approach to Mastering

I Have a Theory

  (Item #: littlwaiti_theory) 



I have a theory about why MoFi's mastering approach here tended to work for the album when it failed so miserably for so many others. It goes a little something like this.

Back in their early days MoFi tended to add bass and treble to practically every record they mastered, regardless of whether or not the master tape they were using needed any such boost. A little extra sparkle up top and a little extra slam down below was what the audiophile public seemed to want. Truth be told, I was a member of that group and I know I did.

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Herbie Mann - Live At The Village Gate

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: mann_livea_0313) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

One of the best copies we've ever heard, and certainly the best to make it to the site! A++ for side one and A+++ for side two, this White Hot Stamper is a real knockout.

We've been trying to track down top pressings of this one for ages, but they are tough to come by and often noisy. It's one of the better flute jazz albums we've heard, both in terms of sonics and music.

Both sides really shine with a meaty bottom end, lots of energy, an extended top and wonderful transparency. The soundstage is big and open with lots of depth, giving room to all the various players and their instruments.

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Herbie Mann - Live At The Village Gate

Audio Fidelity / DCC Debunked

  (Item #: mann_livea_24425) 



Sonic Grade: D-

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Audio Fidelity / DCC LP debunked.

A murky mess. Hard to imagine you couldn't find a common domestic pressing that wouldn't sound better.

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Dave Mason - Certified Live

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: masoncerti_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Unlike Frampton Comes Alive, recorded at different venues, Certified Live was recorded at one location, the Universal Amphitheatre, resulting in very little variation in the sound from track to track. The variation in the sound from side to side is the kind of variation we hear on virtually every pressing we play, since no two sides of a record ever really sound exactly the same.

We like our '70s Rock Records to be rich and full; that's what live Rock Concerts have always sounded like to us and we see no reason to revise our biases now. It's what good analog does effortlessly and what even the best digital finds difficult to achieve.

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Dave Mason - Headkeeper

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: masonheadk_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This White Hot Stamper side one was DOIN' IT ALL! It showed us a Headkeeper that's present and alive. This is some of the BEST SOUND Dave Mason ever managed, so let's give credit where credit is due, to the amazing AL SCHMITT.

He recorded and mixed this album and he sure knocked it out of the park. We know his work well; he happens to have engineered many albums with SUPERB SOUND: Aja, Hatari, Breezin', Late for the Sky, Toto IV, as well as some we can't stand (the entire Diana Krall digital-echo-drenched catalog comes to mind).

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Paul McCartney - Unplugged

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mccarunplu_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

WHITE HOT STAMPERS and QUIET VINYL on BOTH SIDES make this the best copy of McCartney's Unplugged to ever hit the site! We just finished a huge shootout for this Better Records favorite and this pressing really blew us away, clearly the best sounding on both sides out of a big stack of copies. The sound is rich, full-bodied and amazingly present, with the kind of jumpin'-out-of-the-speakers sound that you only get on the best pressings.

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Paul McCartney - Unplugged

Life-Size Images and Living Presence

  (Item #: mccarunplu_listen) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises. (This is one of our earliest ones, from all the way back in 2006!)

On the song Blackbird Paul moves the microphone, scraping it along the floor, which causes a huge wave of bass to envelop the room. I was over at one of my customer's houses a while ago, doing some testing with electronics and tweaks, and I remember distinctly that the microphone stand was shrunken and lean sounding in a way I had never heard before. Now this customer, whose system was in the $100K range, had no idea what that microphone stand could really do. I did, because I've been hearing it do it for years.

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Joni Mitchell - Miles Of Aisles

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: mitchmiles_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

WONDERFUL LIVE SOUND AND GREAT MUSIC (of course) on this stunning double LP! We finally had a chance to do a big shootout for this album, and when you find one like this it is OUT OF THIS WORLD. Not too many live albums have this kind of stunning, "you are there" immediacy! Turn down the lights, crank up the volume, and you'll be right there in the crowd as Joni and the LA Express (Tom Scott, Robben Ford, and the crew) knock out wonderful versions of some of her best material.

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Joni Mitchell - Shadows and Light

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mitchshado_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

FOUR INCREDIBLE SIDES! We had a huge shootout for this famous double album and this copy blew our minds with a pair each of White Hot and Super Hot sides and quiet vinyl throughout. In the high-stakes game of Better Records Double Album Poker, that's a full house, my man! Sides one and three earned the A+++ grades while sides two and four were close behind at A++. This one gives you the kind of YOU ARE THERE immediacy and transparency that put you front and center for a late '70s jazzy Joni Mitchell show. Not too many copies will do that!

See all of our Joni Mitchell albums in stock


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Thelonious Monk - Big Band and Quartet

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: monk_bigba_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

An amazingly well-recorded Big Band Concert from 1963, and these White Hot sides make the case like nothing you have ever heard. Our early pressing here is so rich, Tubey Magical, spacious and lively we simply could not fault the sound. Monk alternates between a 10 piece Big Band and his standard quartet, with magical results.

See all of our Thelonious Monk albums in stock


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Thelonious Monk - Big Band and Quartet

The Glorious Sound of Tubes - 1963 Tubes, That Is

  (Item #: monk_bigba_tubes) 



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

On this record, more than most, the tubes potentially make all the difference.

Keep in mind that we are referring specifically to 1963 tubes, not the stuff that engineers are using today to make "tube-mastered" records. Today's modern records barely hint at the Tubey Magical sound of a record like this, if our experience with hundreds of them is any guide. We, unlike so many of the audiophile reviewers of today, have a very hard time taking any of the new pressings seriously. We think our position is pretty clear, and we have yet to hear more than a stray record or two that would make us want to change our minds.

See all of our Thelonious Monk albums in stock


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Gerry Mulligan - And His Concert Jazz Band On Tour

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: mulliandhi_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

White Hot on side two, nearly White on side one, this live album is crazy good sounding on this copy. Huge space, size and clarity, with Tubey Magical richness befitting its 1960 recording dates. On the second track of side two the swingin' Zoot Sims is as immediate and real as any sax player can be.

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Randy Newman - Randy Newman Live

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: newmalive_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

We paired up a wonderful A++ side one with an even better A+++ side two to create this killer Randy Newman Live 2-pack, giving you wonderful sound for this whole album! We had a ton of these around and finally got to the task of comparing them. Many copies were too congested or had an unpleasant edgy quality to the vocals, but the Hot sides of the 2-pack give you the kind of sound that you want for this music.

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Art Pepper - At The Village Vanguard Vol. 4

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: peppeatthe_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Minty Contemporary Demo LP has WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! The highlight of this pressing is the well-defined DEEP bass -- all the intricacies really come to life. The sound is rich and sweet! And holy crap, that piano sounds really nice. On More for Les, Pepper switches from sax to clarinet and the result is a wonderful, bluesy track that is completely original. The clarinet sounds like it is in the room with you.

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Art Pepper - Friday Night At The Village Vanguard

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: peppefrida_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Original Contemporary LP has EXCELLENT MUSIC AND SOUND! The real highligh of this volume is the version of Caravan -- just listen to Art playing both alto AND tenor! There’s also a great version of Pepper’s bossa-influenced track Labyrinth. The sound is rich and full-bodied. Listen to the cymbal crashes to hear how extended the top end is. The piano has real weight to it, but the sax sounds a little bit compressed and the bass could be a bit tighter.

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Art Pepper - Landscape

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: peppelands_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Recorded in Japan in 1979, this is a really interesting album. There are a lot of stinkers in the Art Pepper catalog from this era. (Acoustic Sounds released a few of them on 180 gram as a matter of fact. What a waste of good vinyl.)

But this album is actually quite good. Art plays in an energetic staccato style, which is counterbalanced by the long flowing lines of George Cables at the piano. Cables is actually pretty amazing on this record: this is the best I’ve ever heard him play. He’s not very good as a leader, at least on the records I’ve heard, but he and Art get along very well together.

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Art Pepper - Saturday Night At The Village Vanguard

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: peppesatur_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This very nice looking Contemporary LP has pretty good sound and excellent music. We played all four volumes of Art Pepper’s Village Vanguard series recently, and this copy was our favorite of the bunch. It features an intense live version of Pepper’s tune The Trip, from the wonderful album of the same title, as well as extended versions of the tunes You Go To My Head and Cherokee.

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Oscar Peterson Trio - The Trio - Live From Chicago

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: petertrio_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Boy, these original Strobe Label (and T label) Verve pressings are sure all over the map. If there’s one jazz label that gets an F for consistency, it’s Verve. And they typically get an F (or at best a D) for mastering as well, since good sounding Verve pressings are few and far between. I guess that should not come as much of a surprise to many of our long time customers, but to hear how bad some of these pressings are mastered is nevertheless pretty shocking. One of the Strobe label copies we played had such a boosted top end it was positively distorted. (The RIAA curve does not allow that kind of top end boost without causing serious problems.)

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Oscar Peterson Trio - The Trio - Live From Chicago

What to Listen For

  (Item #: petertrio_wtlf) 



What to Listen For? you ask?

Some copies are poorly mastered, so poorly that Ray Brown's bass all but disappears from the trio! Other copies made Thigpen's snare sound hard and too forward in the mix. This is obviously just a mastering EQ problem, since the good copies, such as this one, get all those elements to balance beautifully.

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Oscar Peterson Trio - We Get Requests

Speakers Corner Debunked

  (Item #: peterweget_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

More vinyl dreck from Speakers Corner and a Hall of Shame pressing if there ever was one. Awful sound. Worse than the CD.

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Elvis Presley - On Stage February 1970

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: preslonsta_2017) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

With two Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sides, this original RCA Orange Label copy simply could not be beat. This is Elvis doing songs made famous by others, proving that he can still out-rock and out-soul practically anybody alive. With ten million copies sold to date, this album's appeal has transcended its time and must be considered a true Elvis Classic.

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Lou Rawls - Live!

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: rawlslive_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is one of the best live vocal recordings we know of, but only a great copy like this will bring that sound to your stereo. Lou is live, singing his heart out in a small club that exists between, behind and maybe even around your speakers. If you can reproduce the three-dimensional space of this club well you are in for a real treat.

The songs are great, the musicians are brilliant, the sound is amazing -- what else could you ask for?

This album was a late addition to our 2014 update of our Rock and Pop Top 100 list. or live soul-infused vocals we know of none better.

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The Rolling Stones - Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: rolligetye_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

UNBELIEVABLE! The sound on this Decca Blue Label British Import pressing went far beyond our expectations and far beyond that of any copy we played it against -- on BOTH sides. And the music? It’s the Stones at their best, baby -- we love it!

The credit must of course go to GLYN JOHNS, who happens to be one of our favorite producers and recording / mixing engineers. It's albums with sound like this that make us such big fans of his work.

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Flamenco Fever "Live Direct to Disc"

Reviewed in 2017

  (Item #: rosa_flamc_2017) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides, this is a Direct to Disc Demo Disc like nothing you've heard. The sound is breathtakingly real - you are there in the club with the guitarist and these dancers. If you have the power to drive big speakers, the dynamics and bass transients of this copy are going to rock your world, literally.

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Horace Silver Quintet - Doin’ The Thing

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: silvedoint_2006) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Minty Blue Note LP has EXCELLENT LIVE JAZZ SOUND! It’s rich, full, and tonally correct from top to bottom. Just listen to the cymbals on the track Doin’ The Thing -- you’ll hear how wonderfully extended the top end is.

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Simple Minds - Live In The City Of Light

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: simpllivei) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is a very nice looking Virgin British Import Double LP with BIG BOLD live rock sound. These import pressings consistently trounce the domestic versions.

Recorded primarily at Le Zenith in Paris on the last date of a world tour in August 1986 and released as a stopgap to satiate fans while the group spent another two years crafting its studio follow-up to Once Upon a Time, Simple Minds' double-album Live in the City of Light was a good summation of the band's rise to worldwide fame between 1982-1985.


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Frank Sinatra and Count Basie - Sinatra At The Sands

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: sinatatthe_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This double album presents Sinatra and Basie at the height of their powers, in a setting especially conducive to both men's music, the big room at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. If you missed it -- and I'm sure most all of us did -- here's your chance to go back in time and be seated with the beautiful people front row center. This two disc all tube-mastered analog set is practically the only way you'll ever be able to hear the greatest vocalist of his generation -- in his prime no less -- performing with one of the swingingest big bands of the time.

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Stockhausen / Noda - Zyklus & Eclogue

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: stockzyklu_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This Super Hot RCA 45 RPM Direct-to-Disc fulfills the promise of both the direct to disc recording medium AND the 45 RPM cutting speed so much in vogue these days. As with the Virtuoso Guitar record we listed today, the sound is simply SUPERB -- open, dynamic and distortion free. This is a real DEMO DISC, no doubt about it.

I've known this record had top quality sound for decades; we started way back in 1987 selling these kinds of audiophile pressings and this one was clearly a Top Title even back then. I'm happy to say that, unlike most of the audiophile pressings we used to sell, this title has actually gotten BETTER with time.

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Mel Torme - Live at Marty's

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: tormelivea_fame) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

We just finished a shootout for this album and had a blast with the ol’ Velvet Fog. Many copies of this album are transistory, gritty and dry, but this one has got enough richness and warmth to smooth out those unpleasant qualities. The immediacy and presence throughout are going to KNOCK YOU OUT. Mel is gonna be in the room with you when you play this one good and loud.

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Stevie Ray Vaughan - Live Alive

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: vaughlivea_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

FOUR HOT SIDES and quiet viny throughout! We just finished a big shootout for this bluesy live album, and this was one of just a handful of copies that impressed us from start to finish. Sides one and two each rated between A+ and A++, side three was nearly as good at A+, and side four was the best of all with an A++ grade. Most copies we played were thick, murky, overly smooth and/or veiled, but this one almost never suffers in any of those areas. The sound is clean, clear, transparent and lively throughout.

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Tom Waits - Nighthawks At The Diner

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: waitsnight_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

A stunning Top Copy of this Tom Waits classic! A superb recording, with much credit due to Waits' constant collaborator Bones Howe who produced and engineered. It's a live-in-the-studio romp through Los Angeles with Waits playing the role of tour guide, and the results are wonderful.

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Muddy Waters - Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: watermuddy_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

If you've got the system to play a record like this (the bigger the better), you can have Muddy Waters perform live in your listening room -- eyes closed of course, you won't be able to see him, but you sure will be able to hear him, and in shockingly realistic sound.

It's shocking how well recorded Muddy's later albums are. Who knew?

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The Weavers - The Weavers At Carnegie Hall

  (Item #: weavecarne_0210) 



This is a wonderful Weavers album, recorded in Carnegie Hall on Christmas Eve, 1955 -- when and if you can find one that's properly mastered and not too scratched up. This is not easy, as most copies of the album -- now fifty plus years old -- have not survived in very good condition. This copy is the exception to that rule, with reasonably quiet surfaces (Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, about as quiet as they come) and EXCELLENT SOUND.

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The Who - Live at Leeds

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: who__livea_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES! Get ready to rock out, as this is one of the BEST SOUNDING live albums ever recorded. Young Man Blues on a copy such as this has drums that are so solid, punchy and present they positively put to shame the drum sound on 99 out of 100 rock records you've ever played. Keith Moon lives on!

More by The Who


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The Who - Live at Leeds

Universal Debunked

  (Item #: who__livea_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame Pressing

Universal Records 180 gram LP. Flat as a pancake sound. The CD almost has to be better.

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

See all of our in-stock albums by The Who


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Neil Young - Live Rust

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: youngliver_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

SUPERB SOUND ACROSS ALL FOUR SIDES! Neil Young and Crazy Horse are really tearing it up here, and on a White Hot copy like this the sound is amazingly REAL. Full and spacious with plenty of weight and presence, this gets you as close to the stage as any copy of this album can.

This KILLER live set, the ultimate Neil Young concert collection, combines brilliant early material, such as "After the Gold Rush," with his wonderful middle-era material, including the amazing "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" and "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" and "Tonight's the Night."

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Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: youngrustn_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

A great (A++) side one backed with an AMAZING (A+++) side two, this is without a doubt one of the very best sounding copies of Rust Never Sleeps we have ever had the privilege of playing here at Better Records. Side two simply cannot be beat. Drop the needle on Powderfinger to hear the Crazy Horse sound at its best -- the raging guitars, the big meaty bottom end, and the kind of immediacy that puts Neil Young and his band of misfits right in your listening room.

Tubey Magic in 1979? Yes, analog was still alive and well then -- both sides of this copy prove it. The disastrously synthesized '80s were on their way but thankfully they hadn't gotten here yet.

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Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps

Just How Good Is a Second Tier Neil Young Album?

  (Item #: youngrustn_wtlf) 



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

AMG raves about this album, giving it 5 big stars. (For those of you keeping score at home, that's half a star MORE than they gave Harvest.) We like the album just fine, but I doubt we would want to go quite that far. Sure, these are great songs, but give us After The Gold Rush, Zuma or Harvest (all Top 100 titles, Hot Stampers of which are sometimes in stock) over this one any day.

Still, a second tier Neil Young album (by our standards) usually will beat a first tier album from just about anybody else making records in 1979.

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Neil Young - Time Fades Away

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: youngtimef_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

TWO AMAZING A+++ SIDES, making this the best copy ever to hit our site! Unlike most "live" albums this one was cut direct-to-disc with no fixes or overdubs. On a White Hot Stamper like this the sound is incredibly open and spacious, with a three-dimensional quality that puts you right there with the band!

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The Dynamic Energy of Neil Young and His Crazy Horse Pals

They're LIVE in the Studio

  (Item #: youngzuma_listen) 



Another in our series of Random Thoughts and observations on recording-related issues.

Hot Stampers are all about finding those rare and very special pressings that manage to represent the master tape at its best.

Notice I did not say ACCURATELY represent the master tape, because the master tape may have faults that need to be corrected, and the only way to do that is in the mastering phase. I can tell you without fear of contradiction that fidelity to the master tape should never be, and rarely is, the goal of the mastering engineer.

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Frank Zappa / Captain Beefheart - Bongo Fury

Our Shootout Winning Copy from 2006

  (Item #: zappabongo_2006) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This Minty looking Discreet LP has STUNNINGLY GOOD SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It’s very transparent and full-bodied from top to bottom. The bass is meaty and punchy, and the top end is wonderfully extended. You can hear lots of ambience the cymbals and hi-hats. It doesn't sound like there's anything between you and the music. I can't remember ever hearing this record sound so good.

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Frank Zappa - Fillmore East - June 1971

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: zappafillm_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

KILLER SOUND ON QUIET VINYL -- what are the odds? We're big fans of this album, and Zappa in general, but it's incredibly difficult to find copies that do justice to the music. The vinyl is typically thrashed, and even the copies in relatively clean condition usually don't sound good. This one has about the quietest vinyl you could hope for, playing Mint Minus on both sides, and the sound is just about as good as it gets!

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