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Count Basie - Basie Plays Hefti

Original Versus Reissue

  (Item #: basiebasie_plays_emus) 



The original pressings are the best, right?

Not in our experience. It's (probably) just another Record Myth.

Basie was recording like a madman back in the late '50s and even all through the '60s. In 1958, the year of this release, he put out seven (7!) albums on the Roulette label. We've played quite a number of them over the years and found relatively few with audiophile quality sound.

Including the original Roulette pressing of this very title. We've only heard a few, and had only one for our shootout, but it was awful enough to make us swear off buying more, especially considering the prices vintage jazz albums are going for these days.

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The Beatles Heavy Vinyl Sgt. Pepper’s

Well, I Guess If You Don't Know Any Better...

  (Item #: beatlsgtpe_180_debunk_2015) 



Sonic Grade: D

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

You might agree with some reviewers that EMI's engineers did a pretty good job with the new Pepper. In the March 2013 issue of Stereophile Art Dudley weighed in, finding little to fault on this title but being less impressed with most of the others in the new box set. His reference disc? The MoFi UHQR! Oh, and he also has some old mono pressings and a domestic Let It Be. Now there's a man who knows his Beatles. Fanatical? Who wouldn't be? We're talkin' The Beatles for Chrissake.

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Benny Carter - Further Definitions

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: cartefurth_2009) 


This is an original Minty looking Impulse LP. What I played of this album sounded nice and smooth. There may be livelier copies out there -- I just don’t come acoss enough clean ones to know what the potential for this album is. I prefer smooth to aggressive, that’s for sure. Top players on this album include Coleman Hawkins, Philly Jo Jones, Phil Woods, Charles Rouse and others.
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Super Hot Stamper

Benny Carter
Jazz Giant

  (Item #: cartejazzg_1907_1) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • With two excellent sides each rating a solid Double Plus (A++) or BETTER, this was one of the better copies from our recent shootout; super quiet vinyl too!
  • If you still think that Analogue Productions is remastering records properly, you have definitely never heard a real Contemporary that sounds like this(!)
  • The sound of Contemporary Records is alive on this copy, with space, size, clarity and richness that no other pressing can match
  • "Benny Carter had already been a major jazz musician for nearly 30 years when he recorded this particularly strong septet session for Contemporary ... This timeless music is beyond the simple categories of "swing" or "bop" and should just be called "classic."
See all of our Benny Carter albums in stock


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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

The Amazing Sounding Mono Copy We Played in 2005

  (Item #: cartejazzg_2005) 



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

This Contemporary Yellow Label Mono LP has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND! If you like the sound of Contemporary Records, you won’t find a better example than this! Midrange magic doesn’t get anymore magical. I don’t care who remasters this record, I don't think they can do it as well as it was done in 1958.

I haven't heard the new 45 RPM version, but I seriously doubt that it sounds like this. It wouldn't be done on vintage tube cutting equipment, and that sound is the sound we love here at Better Records.

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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: cartejazzg_2011) 



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

HUGE DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! This Contemporary LP sounds AMAZING -- it has a wide and open soundfield that really allows you to hear into the music. Drop the needle on track three (Carter’s Own ’A Walkin’ Thing’) to hear these guys really swinging! The sound is so natural, and it really jumps out of the speakers. This knocked our original Stereo Records pressing out of the ballpark -- it wasn't even close.

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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

Analogue Productions Debunked

  (Item #: cartejazzg_ap_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Analogue Productions LP debunked.

You may remember that Acoustic Sounds did a version back in the '90s, which was a complete disaster. I haven't heard the new 45 RPM version, but I seriously doubt that it sounds like this. We have yet to hear a single Heavy Vinyl 45 that sounds any good to us, judged by the standards we set in our shootouts. (Actually the records themselves set the standards; we simply grade them on the curve they establish.)

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Benny Carter - Meets Oscar Peterson

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: cartemeets_2007) 



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

This Minty looking Pablo Promo LP, engineered by Allen Sides, is one of the TOP PABLO titles for both sound and music. Top Recommendation.

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The Recordings of Benny Carter

These Three Didn't Make the Grade

  (Item #: carter_benny) 



These are just some of the recordings by Benny Carter that we've auditioned and found wanting. Without going into specifics we'll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.

A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.

Benny Carter Albums with Hot Stampers

Benny Carter Albums We've Reviewed



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Super Hot Stamper

Benny Carter
Swingin' the '20s

  (Item #: carteswing_1907_1) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • With two superb sides each rating a Double Plus (A++) or BETTER, this Contemporary pressing was one of the better we played in our recent shootout
  • These excellent sides are so much bigger and more open, with more bass and energy - the saxes and trumpets are immediate and lively
  • Mr. Earl Hines himself showed up, a man who knows this music like nobody's business - Leroy Vinnegar and Shelly Manne round out the quartet
  • "Great musicians produce great results, and most of the LP's tracks were done in one or two takes. The result is 'a spontaneous, swinging record of what happened' when Carter met Hines 'for the first time. . . .'"


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Benny Carter - Swingin’ The ’20s

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: carteswing_2012) 



STUNNING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES -- we've never played a better copy! The immediacy and presence of this copy will BLOW YOU AWAY -- it’ll put a swingin’ jazz quarter right in your living room. There’s plenty of extension on the top end anchored by some nice deep bass. The tonality is Right On The Money, and the overall sound is open and spacious with lots of room around the instruments.

We finally built up enough copies of this great album to do a shootout, our first since March 2008 which ought to tell you something about the used record market these days, and this one was the White Hot champion on BOTH sides. This copy had most of the Tubey Magic of the originals we played, with all of the amazing clarity and freedom from distortion of the later pressings -- the best of both worlds.

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Benny Carter on Contemporary

Tube Versus Transistor Tradeoffs

  (Item #: carteswing_original) 



In some ways yes, in some ways no, and we are happy to lay it all out for you based on the critical listening we undertook recently. Here's how we weighed the tradeoffs in the sound of the originals versus that of the reissues, with VTA advice to follow.

This superb sounding ORIGINAL Black Label Contemporary pressing of Benny Carter's swingin’ jazz quartet is the very definition of a top jazz stereo recording from the late '50s mastered through an all tube chain.
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Billie Holiday - All Or Nothing At All

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: holidallor_2018) 



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

A KILLER sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish, on quiet vinyl to boot. This is one of the best sounding Billie Holiday records we have ever heard - it's even a clear step up from the originals we had on hand. This 2 LP set features most of the tracks from the original release plus another handful of recordings from the same period (1955-1956)

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Super Hot Stamper

Billie Holiday
Music For Torching

  (Item #: holidmusic_1809_1903) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this is a killer copy of one of Billie's best - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • A superb recording of jazz standards with a great lineup and Billie in top form - plenty of Tubey Magic and especially breathy vocals as well
  • Great performances with stellar sound for It Had to Be You, Come Rain or Come Shine, A Fine Romance and too many more to list
  • "The overall feeling on this 1955 recording is strictly after-hours: the party is long over but a few close friends remain for nightcaps and, is that the sun peeking through the windows?"
See all of our Billie Holiday albums in stock


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Helen Humes - ’Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: humestaint_2013) 



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

This EXCEPTIONALLY QUIET Contemporary Recording has wonderful sound on both sides. It’s got SHOCKINGLY DYNAMIC VOCALS -- just listen to Miss Humes really belting it out on a great reading of Stardust! The sound is really rich and full with a BIG punchy bottom end. The clarity and transparency are superb, and you can really hear the leading edge transients on the various horns (Carter on trumpet, Rosolino on trombone).

You Can Depend On Me, the opening track, has an exceptionally weighty piano; it's as if Andre Previn himself were pounding on a baby grand right there in your living room!

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Barney Kessel - Some Like It Hot

Our Shootout Winner from 2005

  (Item #: kessesomel_2005) 



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

Original Contemporary Black Label Stereo LP from 1959 with DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND!

For those of you who appreciate the sound that Roy DuNann and, in this case, Howard Holzer, were able to achieve in the ’50s at Contemporary Records, this LP will be a Must-Own unless you already have it. Their stuff just doesn't get any better than this. Tubey magic, richness, sweetness, dead on timbres from top to bottom -- this is a textbook example of their sound at its best.

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Barney Kessel - Some Like It Hot

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: kessesomel_2018_) 



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

This is absolutely the right sound for this music. There was simply nothing that could beat the Triple Plus side, in any area of reproduction. If you like the sound of relaxed, All Tube jazz recordings, you can't do much better than Some Like It Hot. Many of the copies we played suffered from blubbery bass and transient smearing, but the clarity and bass definition here are surprisingly good.

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Julie London - Julie

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: londojulie_2016) 



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

Stunning Julie London sound! We are constantly picking up Julie London records, whatever we can find, in the hopes that we'll stumble upon one that sounds like this. Usually we aren't so lucky, but man is this one something! If you love jazzy female vocal records, you're going to flip out over this pressing.

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Super Hot Stamper

Sonny Rollins
Alfie (Original Music From The Score)

  (Item #: rollialfie_1902_1906) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • A superb copy of Sonny Rollins' Alfie, boasting outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • Even though I've been playing this album for more than 25 years, for some reason this is one of the few truly killer copies to ever hit the site
  • A triumph for Rudy Van Gelder, a Top Impulse title, and as much a showcase for Oliver Nelson (+11) as it is for Sonny Rollins
  • 4 1/2 Stars: " Rollins attempts to capture the textures of life through his incisive and energetic playing, his coherent improvisations, and variations on musical themes."
See all of our Sonny Rollins albums in stock


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Sonny Rollins - Alfie (Original Music From The Score)

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: rollialfie_2017) 



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

A stunning Triple Triple Plus (A+++) pressing that is sure to beat any Sonny Rollins record you own (for sound anyway). Even though I've been playing this album for more than 25 years, for some reason this is the first truly killer copy to ever hit the site. A triumph for Rudy Van Gelder, a Top Impulse title, and as much a showcase for Oliver Nelson (+11) as it is for Sonny Rollins.

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Zoot Sims - Passion Flower

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: sims_passi_2014) 



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

One of the all time great Pablo sleepers. Why is no one else writing about records like these? The music is wonderful and the sound is top drawer on the best copies. If you've tried and failed with other Pablo Zoot Sims records -- some of the ones we didn't care for are pictured above, and there are plenty more where those came from -- fear not: this title is one of his best, musically and sonically.

If you want to hear the Duke’s music swing in top sound, get this album.

See all of our best Pablo records in stock


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Sarah Vaughan - The Lonely Hours

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: vaughlonel_2016) 



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

Wonderfully warm, big and clear, not to mention exceptionally dynamic, this copy shows the listener just how good the master tape must be.

Not only could no other copy touch it; as far as I can tell it's the only copy with two sides good enough to put on the site!

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Sarah Vaughan - The Lonely Hours

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: vaughlonel_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: C

Another mediocre Classic Records LP reviewed.

What do you get with Hot Stampers compared to the Classic Heavy Vinyl reissue? Dramatically more warmth, sweetness, delicacy, transparency, space, energy, size, naturalness; in other words, the kind of difference you almost ALWAYS get comparing the best vintage pressings with their modern remastered counterparts, in our experience anyway. The Classic is a nice record, a Hot Stamper is a MAGICAL one.

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