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1966

The Beach Boys Masterpiece Is Released (and Plenty of Other Classic Albums as Well)

  (Item #: 1966) 



When you look closely at all the great records that were released that year -- some of which can even be purchased in Hot Stamper form on this very site -- you may come to agree with us that 1966 was a wonderful year for music.

Click HERE to see the records currently on the site that were recorded or released in 1966.

And HERE to see the records from 1966 that we've reviewed, a substantially larger group as you can imagine, more than 60 at the time of this writing.


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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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AC/DC - Back In Black

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: acdc_backi_fame) 



If you love HUGE drums, meaty guitars, and monster riffs as much as we do, you’re going to freak out over the MASTER TAPE SOUND ON BOTH SIDES. Moments after dropping the needle we heard a prominent low octave to the intro bells that we hadn’t noticed on other copies. We kept our fingers crossed and waited for the band to kick in, hoping for some serious bottom end power. And man oh man, it was there all right! I am pleased to report that the whomp factor on this copy was nothing short of MASSIVE.

I ask you, what album from 1980 sounds better than Back in Black?

More AC/DC


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Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: addersomet_2013) 



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

A+++ SOUND, giving you a KILLER copy of one of the most beloved Blue Note albums ever! The music here is stunning -- as I'm sure most of you know, this is as much a showcase for Miles Davis as it is for Cannonball himself -- but the good news for audiophiles is that it's also one of the BEST SOUNDING BLUE NOTE ALBUMS we know of! When you hear it on a copy like this, it's just about As Good As It Gets.

You will not believe the energy, presence and amazing transparency you get on this monster pressing without sacrificing the relaxed quality this music requires.

More Cannonball Adderley


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Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else

Rudy Van Gelder Outdoes Himself

  (Item #: addersomet_setting_the_record) 



After doing this shootout, the current consensus here at Better Records is that this album deserves to hold three -- count 'em, three -- somewhat related titles:

One, The Best Sounding Blue Note record we have ever played.

Two, The Best Sounding Jazz Record we have ever played.

Three, Rudy Van Gelder's Best Engineering (based on the copies we played).

More Cannonball Adderley


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Airto - Fingers

Truly a Desert Island Disc

  (Item #: airtofinge_obsess) 



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

Fingers is one of our all time favorite records, a Desert Island disc to be sure. I've been playing this album for more than thirty years and it just keeps getting better and better. Truthfully it's the only Airto record I like. I can't stand Dafos, and most of the other Airto titles leave me cold. I think a lot of the credit for the brilliance of this album has to go to the Fattoruso brothers, who play keyboards, drums, and take part in the large vocal groupings that sing along with Airto.

More Airto


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Ambrosia - Ambrosia

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: ambroambro_2010) 



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.

Here's another INSANELY GOOD pressing of my all-time favorite album, which is every bit as good sonically as it is musically! Side two in particular (A+++, As Good As It Gets!) has DEMO DISC quality sound with the kind of SONIC ENERGY that not one out of a hundred titles can lay claim to.

More Ambrosia


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Ambrosia - Ambrosia

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: ambroambro_obsess) 



AMBROSIA is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it. It's also part of our extensive Listening in Depth series. There is no question that this band, their producers and their engineers sweated every detail of this remarkable recording. They went the distance. In the end they brought in Alan Parsons to mix it, and Doug Sax to master it. The result is a masterpiece, an album that stands above all others.
More Ambrosia


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America - America

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: ameriameri_2009) 



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

TUBEY MAGICAL practically MASTER TAPE SOUND on side one! A good sounding copy of this album is a real treat; a superb sounding copy like this one is an EXPERIENCE! We’ve been playing this album for years but I cannot recall a copy with a more extended top end than the ones here. The transparency is off the charts. Side one is natural, relaxed, musical, sweet, tonally correct from top to bottom and overflowing with Tubey Magic.

More America


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The B-52s - The B-52s

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: b-52sb-52s_2013) 



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

TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES for this amazingly well-recorded album! We think some of you will bo shocked at just how good the sound can be. And you may or may not be surprised at just how FUN the music is! It's sure to be a future member of our Rock and Pop Top 100. (UPDATE: It has officially made the list.)

See more of our B-52s albums in stock


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Badfinger - Straight Up

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: badfistrai_2010) 



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

This relatively quiet WHITE HOT STAMPER Straight Up is KILLER, with a A++ side one and an A+++ side two -- you can't do much better than that! Side two has Master Tape Sound, the kind that we like to call AGAIG -- As Good As It Gets. Both sides have the kind of PRESENCE in the midrange that most copies can't begin to compete with. The sound here just JUMPS out of the speakers, which is exactly what the best copies of the album are supposed to (but rarely) do. For fans of the band -- and Power Pop in general -- this is the Straight Up you have been waiting for!

More Badfinger


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The Band - The Band

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: band_band_2011) 



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

Holy mother of god, this is one KNOCKOUT copy of The Band's self-titled masterpiece! Both sides earned our top grade of A+++ and beat the pants off every other copy -- including quite a few RL-mastered originals -- in the shootout. On top of that, both sides play between Mint Minus and Mint Minus Minus, which is pretty dan quiet for this album. We love this music, but most copies out there have flimsy sound, trashed vinyl, or both. Here's the exceedingly rare copy that does just about everything right WITHOUT the typical crackly campfire surface noise!

More by The Band


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The Band - Music From Big Pink

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: band_music_2012) 



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

This Capitol pressing has some of the best sound we've ever heard for this album! It’s beyond frustrating to try to find great sound for Big Pink -- most copies tend to be an absolute nightmare. The sound is rich, warm, sweet, and full-bodied with exceptional clarity and transparency. There's tons of ambience and you can really hear the sound of the room around the drums. The sound of the organ is AMAZING!

More by The Band


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The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: beachpetso_2014) 



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

We've obviously been at this Hot Stamper business for a long, long time. Well folks, today is the day that an amazing A+++ copy of Pet Sounds finally makes it onto the site (we've found a few before, but they always sold before they got a chance to be listed!). I'm not sure if you want to hear the story of how we finally found these good pressings or just snap this one up before the next man does -- I think we all know this record isn't going to last long here!

More Beach Boys


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The Beatles - Abbey Road

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlabbey_depth) 



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

Those of you who follow the site (or do your own shootouts) know that it’s much tougher to find great copies of Abbey Road than it is for MMT or Please Please Me. Most of the copies we’ve played just aren’t good enough to put on the site. For whatever reasons -- probably because this recording is so complicated and required so many tracks -- Abbey Road is arguably the toughest nut to crack in the Beatles' catalog.

More Abbey Road


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The Beatles - The White Album

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlwhite_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with plenty of What to Listen For (WTLF) tips.

It's exceedingly difficult to find audiophile quality sound on The White Album. The Beatles were breaking apart, often recording independently of each other, with their own favorite engineers as enablers, and George Martin nowhere to be found most of the time. They were also experimenting more and more with sound itself, which resulted in wonderful songs and interesting effects. However, these new approaches and added complexity often result in a loss of sonic "purity."

More White Album


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Jeff Beck - Truth

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: beck_truth_2016) 



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

One of the most surprising things we learned during this shootout was how well recorded the album is. It's yet another triumph from one of our favorite engineers, KEN SCOTT.

An interesting bit of trivia: most side twos earned a sonic grade that was a full plus higher than any given copy's grade for side one. Side two most of the time just plain sounds better than side one, so when evaluating your copy be sure to check side two first to hear what is probably going to be the best sound on the album.

More Jeff Beck


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Bernstein / The Music of Leonard Bernstein / Rogers

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: bernsmusic_2012) 



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

This London Phase 4 British import has some of the most SPECTACULAR sound I have ever heard reproduced from disc. The sound is so BIG and BOLD that it handily puts to shame 95% or more of all the Golden Age Shaded Dogs, London Bluebacks, Mercury Living Presence's, EMI's and Decca's we've ever played. If we had a Classical Top 100 list, this record would belong in a Top Ten taken from it, right near the top judging by what I heard when I played it.

More of the music of Leonard Bernstein


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Bizet & Saint-Saens / Carmen Fantasie / Ricci - Gamba

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bizetcarme_6165) 



This London Whiteback LP has DEMO DISC sound like you will not believe, especially on side two, which earned our coveted A Triple Plus rating. The sound is warm, sweet and transparent; in short, absolutely GORGEOUS. We call it AGAIG -- As Good As It Gets!

As this is one of the Greatest Violin Showpiece Albums of All Time, it is certainly a record that belongs in every right-thinking audiophle's collection. (If you're on our site and taking the time to read this, that probably means you.) Ruggiero Ricci is superb throughout.

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875)


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Blind Faith - Blind Faith

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: blindblind_2010) 



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

This early British pressing SLAUGHTERED all the other pressings we played it against! It's the Blind Faith you’ve been waiting for: Tubey Magical, Transparent, full of Life and Energy -- dear friends, it’s all here! And the vinyl is some of the quietest we've ever heard for this album.

Sick of buying one harsh, thin, distorted, murky LP after another in a vain attempt to find a copy that reminds you of why you LOVED this record so much when it came out back in 1969?

More Blind Faith


 
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Blondie - Parallel Lines

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: blondparal_2016) 



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

Can this kind of music get any better? This album is a MASTERPIECE of Pure Pop, ranking right up there with The Cars first album. I can't think of many albums from the era with the perfect blend of writing, production and musicianship Blondie achieved with Parallel Lines.

More Blondie


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Blood, Sweat and Tears

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: bloodblood_2016) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

In my opinion this is the BEST SOUNDING rock record ever made. Played on a BIG SPEAKER SYSTEM, a top Hot Stamper pressing is nothing less than a thrill, the ultimate Demo Disc.

Credit must go to the amazing engineering skills of ROY HALEE. He may not be very consistent (Graceland, Still Crazy After All These Years) but on this album he knocked it out of the park. With the right copy playing on the right stereo, the album has the potential to sound like LIVE MUSIC.

More Blood, Sweat & Tears


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Blood, Sweat & Tears - Child is Father to the Man

What to Listen For

  (Item #: bloodchild_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 first Blood Sweat and Tears album.

Have you ever played the first BS&T album? The average copy is a headache-inducing MESS. It will never be a Demo Disc, but that certainly doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable.

More Blood, Sweat & Tears


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Boston - Boston

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bostobosto_2010) 



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.

MASTER TAPE SOUND! We just finished another big Boston shootout; stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but most copies are pretty darn mediocre. If you want to deal with grainy highs, hooded mids, leaned-out bass and on overall lack of enthusiasm on the part of the band, I suppose that’s your prerogative, but this music is a heckuva lot more fun when it sounds like it does on this White Hot Stamper!

More Boston


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David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust

Our Shootout Winning Copy from 2011

  (Item #: bowieziggy_2011) 



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

Is this one of the Greatest Rock Albums of All Time? Unquestionably. It's the pinnacle of Glam Rock. Every track is superb; not a moment is less than stellar from beginning to end.

Is it Bowie's Masterpiece? Absolutely. No other Bowie record ranks higher in my book. No other Bowie record would command a similar price, regardless of its sonic merits.

Is it amazingly well recorded? You better believe it. This is not just Bowie's masterpiece; it's Ken Scott's as well. For BIG, BOLD, wall to wall, floor to ceiling sound, look no further.

More Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars


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Brewer & Shipley - Tarkio

Do All the Robert Ludwig Mastered Copies Have Hot Stampers?

  (Item #: brewetarki_RL) 



Even though all the original Pink Label pressings are mastered by Robert Ludwig, they have a marked tendency to be dull, thick and opaque. The sound is just too smooth. The best copies however have the top end and the transparency to let you hear all the guitar and vocal harmonics, surrounded by the large acoustic of the studio.

This time around we discovered something new: one specific stamper that seemed to be the only one with the potential for an extended top end. This special stamper did not always fare well; some copies with it were mediocre. We have always found this to be the way with the "right" stampers; they often let us down and sometimes they really let us down hard.

More Brewer and Shipley


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Jackson Browne - Jackson Browne

What to Listen For

  (Item #: brownjacks_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Jackson Browne's first (and best) album.

The real trick with this album is in striking the right balance between richness and presence. A White Hot Stamper from years back made me change my mind about this recording. I used to think it was dull, but I was wrong. I used to think that even the best copies of this recording sounded rolled off on the top end. I no longer believe that to be true. On the best pressings the top end is correct for this music.

See all of our Jackson Browne albums in stock


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Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: brubetimeo_2011) 



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

STUNNING A+++ SOUND AND QUIET VINYL ON BOTH SIDES! Breathtakingly spacious and transparent, this copy has the big three-dimensional soundstage that makes this record such a joy to listen to. The piano has weight and heft, the drums are big and dynamic, and everything is relaxed and sweet -- in short, this copy does everything we want it to.

More Dave Brubeck


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Buffalo Springfield - Last Time Around

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: buffalastt_2013) 



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

It's really shocking how good this album can sound on the right pressings. When you get hold of one and know how to clean it right, some of these pressings are a damn sight better than the vast majority of audiophiles think! And the music, of course, is CLASSIC. The best side one and the best side two in our last shootout, unfortunately, were less than impressive on their flipsides. We've paired them up to give you the best sound we can find for the entire album! And if you want to hear exactly what you're paying for, just turn either copy over and prepare to be underwhelmed.

More Buffalo Springfield


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Kenny Burrell - Midnight Blue

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: burremidni_2007) 



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

Both sides have that Midnight Blue magic -- superb transparency, plenty of deep bass, silky highs, and TONS of energy. The sound of the congas on this copy is wonderful -- so punchy with clearly audible transients and so much ambience, it sounded to us like Ray Barretto was right there in the room with us, over by the left speaker. The ultimate copies have a degree of clarity that can BLOW YOU AWAY.

More Kenny Burrell


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Caldera - Carnavalito!

Turn Up the Volume

  (Item #: caldeskyis_loud_2014) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Carnavalito is a track that really comes ALIVE when you Crank Up the Volume. I played it FULL BLAST on two different occasions for audiophile friends of mine just to show them what happens when a Big Speaker Stereo meets a Large Scale Recording with absolutely AMAZING audiophile quality sound -- BIG and BOLD, wall to wall and then some!

It’s my favorite track not only for the album as a whole but for the band’s entire recorded output. It just doesn’t get any better than this if you have the system for it.

See all pressings of Sky Islands in stock


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Captain Beefheart - Clear Spot

A Desert Island Disc

  (Item #: captaclear_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and the Captain's MASTERPIECE of bent rock.

Side one earned an A++ grade for its powerful energy and exceptional fullness and richness. When we flipped this copy over we were surprised to find that it was even BETTER, with all of the above qualities and more: the punchiest, tightest, most note-like bass; more presence in the vocals and guitars; and the most clarity sacrificing the tubey magical richness the best copies have to offer. Folks, this is without a doubt the best copy we have ever put on the site.

More Captain Beefheart


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The Cars - The Cars

Ramping Up the Horsepower Like Crazy

  (Item #: cars_cars_wtlf) 



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

The best copies must have one absolutely essential quality if this groundbreaking New Wave album is to come to life -- a huge, spacious soundstage.

More of The Cars


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Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: chabrorche_2009) 



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

This side one has some of the loveliest classical music reproduction we’ve heard around here in ages. Man, this has it all going on: it’s super clean and clear, tonally correct from top to bottom, and it has the full weight of the orchestra down low. The string tone is so sweet and silky I have to say it’s AGAIG -- As Good As It Gets. We've only heard one other copy that was worth the coveted Three Pluses on side one that this LP earned. If you want a classical record to TEST your system, if you want a classical record to DEMO your system, you will have a hard time finding a better pressing than this one for both.

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)


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Chicago - Chicago Transit Authority

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: chicachica1_depth) 



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

The average copy of this album is an unmitigated DISASTER. The smeary brass alone is enough to drive anyone from the room. To a list of its faults you can confidently add some or all of the following: 1) blobby, blurry, out of control bass; 2) opaque veiled mids; 3) rolled off highs, or no highs, whichever the case may be, common to virtually every pressing you find (cont.)

More Chicago


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June Christy - Something Cool

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: chrissomet_2016) 



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

We are HUGE fans of this album at Better Records, but it's taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble!

The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Get the volume just right and June will be standing between your speakers and putting on the performance of a lifetime. This is one of our three or four favorite female vocal albums (along with Clap Hands, Julie Is her Name and not many others!) and this amazingly good copy will show you why -- the sound and music are As Good As It Gets.

More June Christy


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The Joe Cocker You Don't Know

With A Little Help From My Friends

  (Item #: cockewitha_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and Cocker's MASTERPIECE of White Soul, and, sadly, a Classic That's All but Forgotten.

We just finished our first shootout in over FIVE years for the album and were SHOCKED by how amazing the best copies can sound, even better than we remember them from last time around. Turn this one up good and loud and you’ll have Joe Cocker in all his raspy glory belting out With A Little Help From My Friends right in your very own listening room!

More Joe Cocker


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Phil Collins - Face Value

Whomp Factor

  (Item #: collifacev_whomp) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

Until we heard some of the better copies we were simply not able to appreciate just how important good bass definition and serious weight down low are to the sound of this record. When the bass is wooly or thin, as it is on so many copies -- not clear, not deep, not full enough -- it throws the rest of the mix off. When the bass is huge and powerful the music itself becomes huge and powerful.

More Phil Collins and Genesis


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John Coltrane - Giant Steps

Live and Learn

  (Item #: coltrgiant_learn) 



A classic case of Live and Learn. Previously we had written:

The extension on both ends of the frequency spectrum is what really sets the best copies apart from the pack. All the top end and that deep bottom and simply not to be found on most copies, and never on even the best originals in our experience. The cutters back then just couldn't cut it.

Now, having heard some amazing originals, we know that the vintage mastering equipment of the day was perfectly capable of getting all the top, all the bottom, and tons of Tubey Magic besides onto the vinyl.

More John Coltrane


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Ry Cooder - Ry Cooder

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: cooderycoo_2014) 



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

The music reminds me a lot of early Little Feat, which is a good thing. The sound is somewhat similar as well, which is to say that it is natural and musical, nothing like the hyped-up hi-fi sound of his TAS-listed album Jazz -- and that's a good thing as well.

There are some great songs here, including My Old Kentucky Home, One Meat Ball and How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live. It may even be his best album.

More Ry Cooder


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Copland / Billy the Kid / Johanos

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: coplabilly_2010) 



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

AN AMAZING RODEO and an EVEN BETTER BILLY THE KID! We are BIG fans of this performance and this copy will show you exactly why. Side one (Rodeo) rates A++; it is clear and dynamic with an unusually three-dimensional soundfield, giving the instruments their own space and allowing you to hear right INTO the music. Side two (Billy The Kid) earned top A+++ honors with serious weight down low, a wonderfully sweet top end, more texture to the strings and HUGE dynamics.

More of the music of Aaron Copland (1900-1990)


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Elvis Costello Arrayed His Forces

and Produced His Single Best Sounding Record

  (Item #: costearmed_best) 



We consider Armed Forces to be one of the best sounding rock records ever made, and a top copy is proof enough to back up our claim. The best copies are extremely transparent and silky sounding, but with unbelievably punchy, rock solid bass and drums.

The sound of the rhythm section of this album ranks up there with the very best ever recorded. Beyond that, the musical chops of this band at this time rank with the very best in the history of rock. Steve, Bruce and Pete rarely get the credit they deserve for being one of the tightest, liveliest backing bands ever to walk into a studio or on to a stage.

More Elvis Costello


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Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: costemyaim_obsess) 



MY AIM IS TRUE is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands -- maybe a bit too much time on your hands -- please feel free to check out our commentaries.

This link will take you to all of our other ELVIS COSTELLO albums.


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My Aim Is True Can Really Rock

If You Have the Speaker System to Play It

  (Item #: costemyaim_volume) 



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

There is a line in the Hot Stamper commentary below concerning driving punk rock bass. Man, this record lives or dies by your ability to reproduce the powerful bottom end that propels this music. Pardon me for cueing up a broken record again, and with all due respect to the things they do well -- they must do something well, right? People keep buying them -- small speakers and screens are not going to cut it on My Aim Is True. This is precisely the kind of album they don’t do well.

More Big Speaker Recordings


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Crack The Sky - Animal Notes

What To Listen For

  (Item #: crackanima_wtlf) 



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

The best vintage rock recordings usually have something going for them that few recordings made after the '70s do: their choruses get big and loud, yet stay smooth, natural and uncongested.

We've mentioned it in countless listings. So many records have -- to one degree or another -- harsh, hard, gritty, shrill, congested choruses. When the choruses get loud they become unpleasant, and here at Better Records you lose a lot of points when that happens.

More Crack the Sky


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Crack The Sky - Crack The Sky

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: crackcrack_2010) 



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

This White Hot Stamper pressing of the first and best album by the legendary-but-now-mostly-forgotten American Prog band Crack The Sky shows just how amazingly well recorded their debut really was.

This is Big Production rock that pulls out all the stops and then some, with a massive Beatlesque string section, horns, synths, backward guitars and every other kind of studio effect that they could work out.

More Crack the Sky


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Marshall Crenshaw - Mary Jean & 9 Others

A Desert Island Disc

  (Item #: crensmaryj_fame) 



This is my favorite roots rock record of all time, bar none. I love this album. It starts off with the driving This Is Easy and never lets up until the very last song which is a beautiful ballad, "They Never Will Know."

The All Music Guide had this to say about MC's first 3 albums: "...an irresistible combination of masterful pop and vibrant, timeless rock & roll." They weren't that impressed with this album.

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Crosby Stills & Nash - Crosby Stills & Nash

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Crosby, Stills & Nash's first album.

Although millions of copies of this album were sold, so few were mastered and pressed well, and so many mastered and pressed poorly, that few copies actually make it to the site as Hot Stampers. We wish that were not the case -- we love the album -- but the copies we know to have the potential for Hot Stamper sound are just not sitting around in the record bins these days.

More Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young


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Crosby Stills & Nash - Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

Critical Listening Exercise (WTLF)

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_test) 



This commentary from an older Hot Stamper listing for CSN’s debut makes note of some specific qualities in the recording that are a good test for midrange transparency and naturalness.

What’s magical about Crosby, Stills, Nash (& Young)?

Their voices of course. It’s not a trick question. They revolutionized rock music with their genius for harmony. Any good pressing must sound correct on their voices or it has no value whatsoever. A CSN record with bad midrange -- like most of them -- is a worthless record.

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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deja Vu

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: crosbdejav_obsess) 



DEJA VU is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands -- maybe a bit too much time on your hands -- please feel free to check out our commentaries.

This link will take you to all of our other Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young albums.


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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deja Vu

Latest Developments

  (Item #: crosbdejav_wrong_2016) 



There are two areas in which we would like to amend some of the previous comments we've made about Deja Vu. The first has to do with early pressings. Many years ago we wrote the following:

As we noted in previous commentary, the originals are uniformly awful. Want some inside info on stampers to avoid, free of charge? C and D are pretty bad news most of the time.

Although that's still true -- Deja Vu is a very difficult album to find with good sound no matter what stampers you have -- we now know that there are very good sounding copies, Shootout Winning copies in fact, with early stampers.

More on Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's 1970 Masterpiece, Deja Vu


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David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name...

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: crosbifico_2008) 



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

THE ULTIMATE PSYCH ROCK DEMO DISC! Both sides are shockingly transparent with tight bass, silky highs, full-bodied vocals and TONS of Tubey Magic.

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David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name...

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: crosbifico_2016) 



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

BEYOND TRIPLE TRIPLE! This Top Copy had a side one that blew us away enough to earn FOUR Pluses!

Here it is, folks... a TRUE ROCK DEMO DISC! A White Hot Stamper copy such as this will show you why we've long considered it one of the All Time Top Ten Rock Albums for Sound and Music. You will not believe how Tubey Magical and three-dimensional this album can be when you have a pressing with this kind of sound. The harmonic complexity and extension on the acoustic guitars are absolutely stunning!

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Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

Our First KOB Hot Stamper - June 2005

  (Item #: daviskindo_2005) 



This Columbia Red Label LP has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND!

Call me crazy, but I DON’T THINK YOU CAN CUT A BETTER SOUNDING KIND OF BLUE THAN THIS ONE!

I’m fully aware of how outrageous a statement that is, considering the fact that this is a '70s Red Label reissue. But I've long known of amazing sounding Kind Of Blue reissues.

Having played dozens of different pressings of this record over the years, I think I know this recording about as well as anyone. The tube mastered original Six Eye Stereo copies have wonderful, lush, sweet sound. I've heard many of them. The 360s from the '60s often split the difference -- less tubey magical, but cleaner and more correct.

More Miles Davis


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Debussy - La Mer - Munch

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: debuslamer_1041_2011) 



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

This late label Victrola pressing (VICS 1041) has EXCEPTIONALLY rich and sweet sound and a superb performance from Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony.

The richness of the strings, a signature sound for RCA in the Living Stereo era, is displayed here beautifully for fans of the classical Golden Age. It's practically impossible to hear that kind of string sound on any recording made in the last thirty years. It may be a lost art but as long as we have these wonderful pressings and the turntables to play them it is an art that will never be lost to us.

See more of Claude Debussy's music


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Deep Purple - Machine Head

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: deeppmachi_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.

AMAZING HARD-ROCKIN' SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We just finished another shootout for this rockin' classic and couldn't find another copy that even came close to this one. The sound is positively HUGE with real energy, presence and WHOMP. That's a BIG deal for this kind of music! This album makes our Top 100 list for one reason: it ROCKS like crazy.

More Deep Purple


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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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Devo - Duty Now For The Future

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: devo_dutyn_2010) 



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

GET DEVOLVED! Here's one of the best copies of Devo's second album that we've ever heard. The average copy of this record barely hints at the sound that Ken Scott was clearly able to get on the tape. This one tells a different story, with serious weight down low, a ton of energy, loads of texture to the synths, and incredible clarity. We know most audiophiles aren't up for this crazy late '70s art rock, but the lucky man who takes this home is sure to get a thrill from it.

More albums engineered by Ken Scott


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Dire Straits - A Tour de Force by Rhett Davies

We Knew It Back in 2007

  (Item #: diresdires_davies) 



This Vertigo British pressing of Dire Straits’ wonderful debut has ABSOLUTELY THE BEST SOUND for this album we have ever heard. Folks, this one just can’t be beat. AGAIG is our shorthand for As Good As It Gets, and that’s an understatement when it comes to the sound of this copy. It blew the doors off every record we put up against it; every Vertigo pressing, regardless of country of manufacture or era. If you're looking for The World Champion, this copy holds the title and is very unlikely to be giving it up any time soon.
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The Dixie Dregs - Dregs of the Earth

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: dixiedregs_2012) 



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

If you want to hear what happens when five virtuoso instrumentalists manage to combine their talent for Jazz, Rock, Classical and Country (thanks god there aren't any vocals) into a potent mix that defies classification and breaks all the rules, this is the one. It reminds me of Ellington's famous line that there are only two kinds of music: good music and bad music. This is the kind of music you may have trouble describing, but one thing's for sure -- it's good. In fact it's really good.

More Dixie Dregs


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The Doors - The Doors

What to Listen For

  (Item #: doorsdoors_wtlf) 



What to Listen For? you ask?

ENERGY and RAW POWER. Few audiophiles have any idea how well recorded this album is, simply because most pressings don't do a very good job of encoding the life of the master tape onto the vinyl of the day, regardless of whether that day is in 1967 or 2017.

The first Doors album is without a doubt the punchiest, liveliest, most powerful recording in the entire Doors catalog.

More by The Doors


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The Doors - The Soft Parade

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: doorssoftp_2007) 



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 incredibly rare, exceptionally quiet Elektra Gold Label LP sounds AMAZING, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG)! The sound is BIG, RICH, and FULL-BODIED, exactly the way it should be. As good as the Hot Stamper Big Red E Label copies can be, and that's very good indeed, the right first pressing is still The King. It just can't be beat.

More of The Doors


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The Doors - The Soft Parade

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: doorssoftp_depth) 



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

Our latest shootout (4/2014) included a minty Gold Label pressing, which did reasonably well, but not great, on side one. Side two however was OFF THE CHARTS and won the shootout on that side handily. The fact that side one wasn't a knockout is yet more evidence that individual pressings with the same label -- even the "right" label -- vary dramatically in sound.

More of The Doors


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Eagles - Eagles

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: eagleeagle_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy or copies of The Eagles amazingly well recorded first album.

The Eagles first album is without a doubt Glyn Johns' masterpiece -- rock records just don't sound any better! It's exactly the kind of record that makes virtually ANY Audiophile Record pale in comparison. EVERYTHING you could ask for as an audiophile is all here and more.

More of the Eagles' first album


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Eagles - On The Border

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: eagleonthe_2008) 



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

TWO STUNNING SIDES on this British SYL pressing. You Never Cry Like A Lover and The Best Of My Love have SUPERB Glyn Johns Demo Disc Sound. The LIFE and ENERGY of this copy are going to knock you out of your seat! Most copies left us with a headache, but this one had us begging for more!

More Eagles' albums


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Earth, Wind & Fire - That’s The Way of the World

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: earththats_2011) 



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

This BEYOND White Hot Stamper Two Pack has AMAZING SOUND for both sides, which makes it BY FAR the best copy that has ever hit the site! Side two (of record two) earned our highest and rarest grade, A++++. It went beyond any side of any copy we have ever played. When you hear "Reason" on this side you will be floored at how well recorded it is. Think about it: How many people on the planet have ever heard it sound this good? We hadn't until this copy came our way, and we've been playing the record since the '70s!

More Earth, Wind & Fire


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Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: electnewwo_2008) 



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

Even though I am not the world's biggest ELO fan, I am a HUGE fan of this album, which is why I’m so happy to have finally found one with AMAZING SOUND, on both sides! The British originals are the only ones that can convey the sweet TUBEY MAGIC of the British Master Tapes. The string tone on the average domestic copy is shrill and smeary; too little of the critically important texture remains after the master tapes have been dubbed and the copies sent to America for mastering.

More ELO


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Emerson Lake & Palmer

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: emersemers_2008) 



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

TWO SUPERB SIDES! We just finished a MAJOR shootout for this great album, and this Top Copy is going to make an AMAZING Demo Disc for the Lucky Man who takes it home! If you’ve got the system to play this one loud enough, with the bass power this album demands, you are in for a treat. The organ that opens side two will rattle the foundation of your house if you're not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. It's big bombastic prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels it actually WILL rock your world.

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer


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Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: eno__takin_2011) 



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

This is Eno's Masterpiece as well as a Desert Island Disc for yours truly. On the right pressing this is a Twisted Pop Demo Disc like nothing you have ever heard. If you have a big speaker and the kind of high quality playback that is capable of unraveling the most complicated musical creations, with all the weight and power of live music, this is the record that will make all your audio effort and expense worthwhile.

More Brian Eno


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Ella Fitzgerald - Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie

Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: fitzgclaph_2009) 



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

Folks, this record came as a SHOCK -- the first and ONLY mono pressing we have ever played that not only was competitive with the best stereo copies, but actually bettered them in some ways. Some IMPORTANT ways I might add. We’ve only played a handful of mono pressings of Clap Hands over the years, and for good reason -- they’re exceedingly mediocre. On almost every one we’ve ever played Ella was distant, dull and lifeless. Feh! Who wants to play a record the sounds like that?

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Ella Fitzgerald - Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fitzgclaph_2017) 



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

The first "Triple Triple" MONO copy to ever hit the site -- A+++ from start to finish. Our knockout mono pressing here was fuller, more natural and more involving than any copy we heard in our shootout. Presence and immediacy to put Ella practically in the room with you - it's her performance that really comes to life. Our single Favorite Female Vocal album here at Better Records, one that gets better with each passing year.

Check out what the lucky owner of this copy had to say about it.

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Flack / Hathaway - Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: flackrober_2013) 



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

This White Hot Atlantic 2-pack has an AMAZING A+++ SIDE ONE backed with an EXCELLENT A++ SIDE TWO! These soulful duets are WONDERFUL SOUNDING when you get a Hot Copy. There's tubey magic, sweetness and spaciousness all over this recording, more on some songs than others of course, but when it all comes together like it does on Where Is The Love you won't believe how good this record can sound!

More Soul, R&B and Blues


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Fleetwood Mac - Mystery To Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: fleetmyste_2011) 



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.

Here it is, folks -- the best sounding copy of Mystery To Me to ever hit our site. This copy positively DOES IT ALL -- it's super open and spacious with tons of energy and incredible presence. The bottom end is just KILLER and there's dramatically more richness and fullness than you get on most copies out there.

More Fleetwood Mac


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Fleetwood Mac - Mystery To Me

Whomp Factor on "Why"

  (Item #: fleetmyste_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.

There is an amazing bass drum on this album that plays on selective tracks, most notably the song "Why", and it will shake the foundation and knock your knick-knacks right off their shelves if you've got the woofers (and the room) to play it right. I was using this record to demo my system in the mid-'70s. I had a pair of Fulton Js and they could really pump out the low end this record needs.

More Fleetwood Mac


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Peter Frampton - Wind of Change

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: frampwindo_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and Frampton's debut MASTERPIECE.

Hot Stampers for one of our favorite Classic Rock records have finally made it to the site! This British original is the very definition of TUBEY MAGIC. The sound is so rich and sweet it will make you want to take all your CDs and dump them in the trash (if you haven’t done so already).

More Peter Frampton


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Free - Fire and Water

on a Mythical Pink Island

  (Item #: free_firea_myth) 



Free’s Third Album on the Original British Island Pink Label — Wow!

Found one at a local record store a while back. It was the first one I’d ever seen in nice enough condition to buy. Checking the dead wax was a bit of a shock though. Guess where it was mastered. Right here in the good old U S of A. In fact, at one of the worst mastering houses of all time: Bell Sound in New York.

See all of our Free albums in stock


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Genesis - A Trick Of The Tail

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: genesatric_2014) 



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

GENESIS AT LAST! We've been trying to find Hot Stamper copies of this album for years, but it is BEYOND DIFFICULT to find copies of this album that sound great and play quietly. Here's an amazing Trick Of the Tail that absolutely blows the typical pressing out of the water!The sound is BIG, BOLD and OPEN, breaking free from the grainy and cloudly qualities that screw up the average copy.

More Genesis


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Gershwin / An American In Paris & Rhapsody In Blue / Bernstein

What To Listen For

  (Item #: gershrhaps_6091_wtlf) 



This original Six Eye LP has the smooth brass and full-bodied strings that allow this wonderful music to astound the listener.

Smooth and solid, not brash or blary, what really impressed about the sound here was how full it was, yet it was never thick or murky. Instead it was transparent in the lower mids and below, and that sound was just glorious after listening to too many thin and brash pressings. The piano is solid, rich, high-rez and very percussive -- there is no tubey Old School smear to be heard, and that too was a surprise.

More of the music of George Gershwin


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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).

More Getz Au Go Go


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Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto - Getz-Gilberto

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: getz_getzg_2012) 



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

We have been trying to find great sound (on reasonable surfaces) for this album for YEARS -- I kid you not -- but this 2-pack is the first Hot Stamper version to ever hit the site. We have fired up this shootout multiple times since 2006 and been left empty-handed each and every time until the last go-around. We have sunk an insane amount of dough into trying to get a few killer copies because we love the music so much, but we just haven't had much to show for it. If you love this Brazilian-flavored cool jazz as much as we do, you might want to snap this one up because who knows when or if we'll find another one.

More Stan Getz


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Grand Funk Railroad - Closer To Home

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: grandclose_2013) 



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

TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES, giving you As Good As It Gets sound for this hard-rockin' album! We just finished a shootout for this album, and most pressings were off our table in moments. The difference between this and the rest of our copies was NIGHT AND DAY! If you're a fan of this album, you are going to flip out when you hear this copy.

More Grand Funk


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Grieg / Peer Gynt / Gruner-Hegge / Oslo Phil.

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: griegpeerg_rca_2013) 



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

As much as I like Fjeldstad's Peer Gynt on Decca/London with the LSO, I have to say that Odd Gruner-Hegge (love that first name!) and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra turn in the better of the two performances. To these ears theirs is more lyrical; it flows more naturally both within and between the individual movements.

The Oslo Phil also gives me more of a sense that they are feeling the joy in the playing of these works; I do not get quite the same feeling from the LSO.

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)


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Vince Guaraldi - Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus

Keeping the Players Together

  (Item #: guarajazzi_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises, here discussing the importance of transparency, ambience and resolution.

The arrangement of the players is straightforward, with the bass hard left, drums hard right (with leakage well to the left on the cymbals, but that's another story), and Guaraldi on piano in the center. (The first track of side two reverses this arrangement; why I have no idea.)

Here's the crazy thing about this recording: The best copies really connect up the space each of the players is in. I heard it during the shootout, and I can't recall if it actually happened more than once or twice, but I know I heard it. They are all live, they are all on the same soundstage, but on most copies you would hardly know it.

More Vince Guaraldi


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Hall and Oates - Abandoned Luncheonette

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: hallaaband_2008) 



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

If you’re looking for a big production pop record that jumps out of your speakers, is full of TUBEY MAGIC, and has consistently good music, look no further. Until I picked up one of these nice originals, I had no idea how good this record could sound. For an early '70s multi-track pop recording this is about as good as it gets (AGAIG as we like to say). It's rich, sweet, open, natural, smooth most of the time -- in short, it's got all the stuff we audiophiles LOVE.

More Hall and Oates


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Donny Hathaway - Live

  (Item #: hathalive_fame) 



A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

This live recording has YOU ARE THERE sound! It's so natural, rich and transparent, what is there to fault? The soundstage is wide and deep. Your speakers disappear and the music just flows into the room. It just does not get any better.

I've been playing this record regularly since I first heard it back in the mid-'90s and it never gets old. If I could take only one soul album to my desert island, it would be this one, no doubt about it.

See all of our Donny Hathaway albums in stock


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Hampton Hawes - Vol 2: The Trio

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: hawesvol2t_2016) 



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

This Triple Plus (+++) pressing from '55/'56 mono tapes is EVERYTHING that's good about mono. The size, the weight, the solidity, the clarity, the energy, the rhythmic drive - it's all here and more. This killer pressing has the best sound and the best music we have ever heard on any Hampton Hawes album.

More Hampton Hawes


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Heart - Dreamboat Annie

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: heartdream_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.

MASTER TAPE SOUND and QUIET VINYL on BOTH SIDES! If you're an audiophile who loves classic rock, you just haven't lived until you've heard Magic Man and Crazy On You on a Hot Stamper pressing, and they don't get ANY hotter than this copy! We play dozens upon dozens of these every year, and based on that experience this Hot Stamper will be virtually unbeatable for EITHER side.

More Heart


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Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: hendrareyo_2014) 



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

STUNNING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It is no easy task trying to find good copies of this album (or any Hendrix album, really). This one is absolutely killer. The bottom end is big and weighty, the top is open and transparent, and there's plenty of rich, full tubey magic. It's going to be incredibly hard to find a pressing that comes anywhere close to this one.

No matter what version you've been playing, we guarantee you'll be blown away by the energy and punch on this one.

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Bernard Herrmann / Citizen Kane & Other Classic Film Scores

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: herrmcitiz_2013) 



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

The Citizen Kane Suite on this album is to die for -- a real desert island disc for me. (The CD by the way is actually quite good. I have it in the car and play it often.)

The Concerto Macabre for Piano and Orchestra (from "Hangover Square") is superbly well recorded and a brilliant piece of music as well.

More of the music of Bernard Herrmann


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Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks - Striking It Rich

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: hicksstrik_2016) 



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

Normally this record sounds thick and dead. It's very rare to find a copy like this that has any real transparency. The vocals are sweet and silky and the string instruments are more clear in the mix.

There's nothing more frustrating than a record that defies every effort to hear into it, typically the feeling I get when listening to Dan Hicks' recordings. But on this pressing I could actually appreciate the music without having to fight the sound.

More Dan Hicks


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Holst / The Planets / Previn / LSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: holstplane_emi_2013) 



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

This Beyond White Hot Stamper Planets has Out Of This World sound on side two, where it earned a Four Plus sonic grade for its MINDBLOWING orchestral power, especially from the brass section, a subject we discuss at length below.

This is some of the best sound I have ever heard coming out of my two speakers, if not THE best. Side two of this very copy takes the recording to a level we had no idea was possible. Out of the fifty or so copies of The Planets we've played in the last decade or so, this is without a doubt the best side two of them all.

More of the music of Gustav Holst


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Freddie Hubbard - Red Clay

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: hubbaredcl_2012) 



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

This original CTI pressing has two wonderful sides, including an AMAZING A+++ SIDE TWO! This side two has amazingly good Demo Disc sound. RVG knocked this one out of the park, that's for damn sure.

Hubbard was a master of funky jazz, and the song Red Clay is possibly the funkiest jazz track he ever got down on tape. At 12 minutes in length it is a transcendentally powerful experience -- and the bigger your speakers and the louder you turn them up the more moving that experience is going to be!

More Freddie Hubbard


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It’s A Beautiful Day - It’s A Beautiful Day

  (Item #: itsabitsab_0312) 



This Super Hot Stamper Red Label pressing gives you most of the 360 Label's rich, Tubey Magical sound, and that's saying a lot; most red label pressings of this record are absolute junk. In fact, about half of the side ones are in MONO -- how about that! Who knew, right?

Going through our clean 360 label pressings (which aren't cut quite as loud by the way so watch out when doing your own shootouts), we found one that was better and one that was worse. Others were just too noisy. This red label pressing was BY FAR THE BEST of the red label reissues, with A++ sound on both sides that frankly took us by surprise. As we so often say, Who knew? Now that we've heard red labels that sound this good we are on the hunt! They can be found, and they're usually not in trashed condition the way the 360s are.

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Joe Jackson - Night and Day

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: jacksnight_2012) 



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

This White Hot Stamper of Night And Day BLEW OUR MINDS by taking this great album to a whole new level! The sound is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING, with superb clarity and transparency, shocking You-Are-There immediacy, and amazing weight and punchiness to the bottom end. The overall sound is airy, open, spacious, lively, rich, and full-bodied with unusually high resolution -- on BOTH sides. Fans of Joe Jackson should be sure not to hesitate on this one; it's one of the best sounding copies of Night And Day OF ALL TIME -- A+++ for side two, A++ for side one, and quiet vinyl throughout!

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Michael Jackson - Thriller

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: jacksthril_2010) 



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

A KILLER THRILLER, with an A+++ side one that's going to knock you out! That gives you TOP SHELF SOUND for songs including Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' and the title track, which are going to BLOW YOU AWAY! So many copies of Thriller out there just don't deliver, but this side one does almost everything right.

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Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: jeffesurre_2009) 



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

An OFF THE CHARTS side one with more tubey magic than you probably ever imagined! We always have fun playing a great copy of the psychedelic ’60s masterpiece, because the sound gives you so many of the qualities we love about good ol’ analog. No one’s recording albums any more with this kind of richness, sweetness, and warmth, that’s for sure! Drop the needle on My Best Friend or Today to hear that trippy Sixties San Francisco sound at its best.

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Jethro Tull - Stand Up

Notes from 2009

  (Item #: jethrstand_2009) 



A distinguished member of our Better Records Hall of Fame.

Our last shootout for Stand Up was over a year ago, early in 2008. By some good fortune we have been able to find a number of fairly clean early British pressings, with both Pink and Sunray labels, as well as some very good sounding domestics. (Yes, they are out there. Few and far between and probably not the ones you would think to buy but out there nonetheless. Buy enough of them and clean them right and you will find some too.)

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Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: jethrthick_2012) 



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

This A++++ Beyond White Hot Stamper copy of Thick As A Brick has the best side one we have ever heard! This copy is operating at A WHOLE NOTHER LEVEL.

Side one has HUGE, room-filling, hi-definition sound, with levels of Tubey Magic one would simply never expect to hear coming from a run-of-the-mill domestic Reprise pressing such as this. But here they are; there's no denying the transparency, size and rock and roll energy of this mind-boggling side one. It's truly a Demo Disc of the highest order.

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Antonio Carlos Jobim - The Composer of...

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: jobimcompo_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.The sound is huge and spacious, with instruments popping out all over the place.

Credit engineer PHIL RAMONE for correctly capturing the sound of every instrument here: the guitars, piano, flutes, strings, drums, percussion instruments -- everything has the natural timbre of the real thing. I used to think this recording erred on the bright side, but not the Hot Stamper copies. They are tonally Right On The Money.

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Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection

Elton's Masterpiece

  (Item #: john_tumbl_2012) 



The best copies of this album are so good they belong on the list of the Ten Best Sounding Rock Records of All Time, how about that!

This copy really delivers on the sound side — you get stunning immediacy, big-time presence, tons of depth to the soundfield, full-bodied vocals, amazing transparency, and BOATLOADS of Tubey Magic. Elton John fans, today is your lucky day. The vocals are full and present, with not a trace of the phony EQ that plagues the typical pressing. The entire mix is stunningly high-res, with no attendant sacrifice in richness or Tubey Magic.

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