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Forgotten Rock Classics

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Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: stillsteph_2018) 

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Rock Classic.

Love the One You're With and Sit Yourself Down are to die for, but there's really not a bad track on the album. A triumph of engineering for Bill Halverson and Andy Johns - this and Deja Vu are the very definition of Big Production Rock.

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Cat Stevens Catch Bull at Four

Sometimes There Really Is Just One Set of Magic Stampers

  (Item #: stevecatch_stampers) 

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

As is sometimes the case, there is one and only one set of stamper numbers that consistently wins our Catch Bull At Four shootouts. We stumbled upon an out-of-this-world copy of the right pressing about two years ago, a copy took the recording to a level we had no idea could even be possible. (We were going to give it Four Pluses, and probably should have, but cooler heads prevailed.)

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Barbra Streisand - Guilty

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

  (Item #: streiguilt_masterpiece) 

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

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

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Queen - The Game

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: queengame_2011) 

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

Two SUPERB SIDES with side one beating all comers to achieve White Hot Stamper status! Throughout this copy you get solid bass, tubey magic, breathy vocals and BIG BOLD sound!

But watch out: this side one kicks it up to a whole 'nother level, with BIGGER energy, BIGGER bass and even more PRESENT and breathy vocals from Mr. Mercury. This is without a doubt some of the best sound we have ever heard for Queen, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

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Little Feat - Feats Don't Fail Me Now

Their Most Consistent, Most Inspired Songwriting

  (Item #: littlfeats_best) 

This is, we regret to say, a Forgotten Rock Classic from Little Feat.

Feats Don't Fail Me Now is the best sounding album of the first four the band recorded. We think the songs are great too; we would hope that goes without saying. Waiting For Columbus -- their live masterpiece and inarguably the definitive recording statement by the band -- has at least one song from this album on each of its four sides. That ought to tell you something. This is where the band really hit their stride. (The next album is a personal favorite as well.)

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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.

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Joni Mitchell - For The Roses

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mitchforth_2011) 

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

This is probably the most underrated Joni Mitchell album, both in terms of sonics and music. It seems that everyone wants a great copy of Blue or Court And Spark, but this album ranks right up there with them and does not deserve to be overlooked.

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Poco - Poco

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: poco_poco_2016) 

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

Poco's second album is an unusual blend of country-rock, with some long, jazzy instrumental breaks that center around Rusty Young's pedal steel, which doesn't sound like any pedal steel guitar you've ever heard. It's played with a wah-wah pedal and, if that wasn't enough, the resulting sound is sent through a Leslie organ speaker.

We know it sounds crazy, but it really works. There is nothing else like it on record, nothing that we've ever heard anyway.

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Harry Nilsson - Harry

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: nilssharry_2011) 

A distinguished member of the Better Records Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from one of our favorite singer songwriters of the last fifty years, Mr. Harry Nilsson.

This forgotten gem sank like a stone in 1969, but time has treated this album well; it stil holds up. The production is superb throughout. Judging by this early Nilsson's album, it appears he was already a pro in the studio, as well as an accomplished songwriter, and, more importantly, the owner of one of the sweetest tenors in popular music, then or now.

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The Fleetwood Mac You Don't Know

The Self-Titled First Album & English Rose

  (Item #: fleetblack_2014) 

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from 1971.

You just can't write better songs than Love That Burns or Black Magic Woman, both of which can be found here. And Albatross, the mellow instrumental that closes out side four, was a Number One hit in the UK in 1969, can you believe it? It was backed on some releases by Need Your Love So Bad, another one of our all time favorite Fleetwood Mac songs. The band was on fire back when Peter Green was at the helm. These two LPs are proof enough.

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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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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.

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Carly Simon - Another Passenger

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: simonanoth_2010) 

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

A TOP PRESSING of what we consider to be the best -- and best-sounding -- Carly Simon album! I’ve been telling people for years how amazing this album can sound, but we almost never hear it sound quite like this! Side one rates A++, side two rates A+++ and both sides play quietly. Most copies are gritty and edgy, but this one is smoother, sweeter and much more musical.

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Crosby / Nash - Graham Nash/ David Crosby

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: crosbgraha_2015) 

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.

This album has some of the BEST SOUND Crosby and Nash ever recorded, but you'd never know that listening to the average pressing. You need plenty of deliciously rich Tubey Magic if this music is going to work, and on that count this copy certainly delivers.

David Crosby / Graham Nash

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Little Feat - The Last Record Album

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: littllastr_2012) 

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from 1975.

This White Hot Stamper pressing has the sound I've been trying to find on a pressing of The Last Record Album for more than thirty years. Finally, here it is! This was my first Little Feat album, purchased way back in 1975, and it's still my favorite by the band. The recording is notable for having amazing bass; it goes REALLY deep in places (Long Distance Love) and it's punchy and rich throughout the album.

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Graham Nash's Wild Tales

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: nash_wildt_2015) 

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from 1974.

Like the man's first album, no one pays much attention to this music nowadays, but Better Records is trying to remedy that situation by making available to the audiophile public numerous copies of this album, every one of which is guaranteed to turn you into a fan. This is not new music, but it may be new music to you, so "discovering" it will be every bit as much fun for you in 2016 as it was for me in 1973.

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Stevie Wonder - Fulfillingness’ First Finale

A True Stevie Wonder Masterpiece

  (Item #: wondefulfi_wtlf) 

In my humble opinion this is clearly the second of Stevie Wonder's two MASTERPIECES, as well as a Forgotten Classic.

Over the course of the last year or two, for the first time in my life I've finally taken the time to really get to know the album well, having found a CD at a local store to play in the car and a cassette tape to take to the gym. I've listened to Fulfillingness’ First Finale scores of times and now see that is some of the best work Stevie Wonder ever did, right up there with Innervisions and miles ahead of any other Stevie Wonder album.

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Neil Young - Comes A Time

What to Listen For

  (Item #: youngcomes_wtlf) 

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours), and a Forgotten Classic from 1978.

So many copies we played just sounded flat, with dull guitars and hard vocals. Some made Neil sound like he was singing from the back of the studio. Still others noticeably lacked leading edge transients of any kind, blunting the attack of the various stringed instruments.

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The Donovan You Don't Know

In Concert

  (Item #: donovincon_2015) 

A distinguished member of our Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from 1968.

We discovered a while back just what an excellent recording this can be and now we know how magical the best copies can be. Only the very best copies delivered the kind of natural, immediate sound we were looking for.

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A Classic of Classic Rock

The Heart and Soul of Better Records

  (Item #: claptericc_classic_rock) 

We had a killer pressing a few years back which sounded a whole lot better than I ever thought the album could sound. Man, what a revelation to hear an old favorite -- a Forgotten Classic --sound so amazingly spacious and sweet.

I've been playing this album since 1970, the year it came out. Back then my collection was made up of albums by The Beatles, The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills and Nash, America, Rod Stewart, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Chicago, James Taylor, Spirit, The Band, Loggins and Messina, Blind Faith, Bread, The Who ...

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The Band Album You Don't Know

Northern Lights - Southern Cross

  (Item #: band_north_2016) 

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and one of their four essential albums (the others being Music from Big Pink, the Self-Titled second and Rock of Ages).

This is the UNDISCOVERED GEM in the Band catalog. Allmusic is right on the money when they call this the best Band album since their self-titled second release. I positively LOVE this music, having practically worn out my copy soon after the album was released in 1975.

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The Fleetwood Mac You Don't Know

Future Games

  (Item #: fleetfutur_know) 

This is another one of Fleetwood Mac's Forgotten Classics from 1971.

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

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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!

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The Supertramp You Don't Know

Even In The Quietest Moments

  (Item #: supereveni_know) 

After discovering killer Hot Stampers for this Forgotten Classic we feel the album can hold its own with any of Supertramp's classic '70s releases, from Crime of the Century all the way through to Breakfast in America.

Our White Hot stamper pressings showed us some of the best Supertramp sound we have ever heard on any of their albums, which is saying a lot. Supertramp is one of the most well-recorded bands in the history of pop music. GEOFF EMERICK took over most of the recording duties after the band decided to work with a different engineer for this, their 1977 album.

More Even in the Quietest Moments

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James Taylor - Dad Loves His Work

His Most Underrated Album? Sadly, the Answer Is Yes

  (Item #: taylodadlo_underrated) 

This is one of our favorite James Taylor albums here at Better Records, a Forgotten Classic from 1981. It's the last album written and performed by this hugely talented man that bears much resemblance to the genius of his early work. It's steeply, steeply downhill after DLHW. (Case in point: His specials for PBS of the last few years are a positive cure for insomnia, with every song slowed down and all the energy drained from the material.)

But he still had fire in his belly when he made this one -- one listen to Stand and Fight is all the evidence you need; the song rocks as hard as anything the guy ever did. And it's got plenty of cowbell, always a good sign.

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Elton John - Rock of the Westies

Rockin' Like No Other

  (Item #: john_rocko_rocks) 

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 AND a Forgotten Classic from 1975.

Rock of the Westies is a SHOCKINGLY better album than I remember it being from years back. It's a knockout, with a great bunch of Elton John / Bernie Taupin rockers that still hold up forty years later.

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The Fleetwood Mac You Don't Know

Kiln House

  (Item #: fleetkilnh_know) 

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

Kiln House is one of the all-time great Fleetwood Mac albums. It’s the first they recorded after Peter Green left. With Green gone Jeremy Spencer’s influence came to the fore. He was apparently quite a fan of Buddy Holly. His songs are straightforward and unerringly melodic.

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