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White Hot Stamper

Arlo Guthrie
Alice’s Restaurant

  (Item #: guthralice_1908_10) 

Our Price: $399.99

  • For the first time in almost two years -- a "Triple Triple" (A+++) copy of Arlo Guthrie's classic debut
  • The 18 minute plus title song sounds wonderful here - natural, Tubey Magical, and tonally correct, as befits any top quality vintage pressing
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout -- Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • 4 stars: "... provide[s] an insight into his uniformly outstanding — yet astoundingly overlooked — early sides on Warner Bros."
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White Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
Francis A. Sinatra & Antonio C. Jobim

  (Item #: sinatjobim_1909) 

Our Price: $349.99

  • This outstanding original stereo pressing of Sinatra and Jobim's sublime collaboration earned Triple Plus (A+++) grades on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) grades on the second -- exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The Tubey Magical space, ambience and richness of the sound here is the only way we know of to bring the Chairman of the Board and his Brazilian buddy into your listening room
  • This is a magical album from start to finish, one of a handful of a Must Own Sinatra releases, and my personal favorite of all his recordings
  • 4 1/2 stars: "After a few plays, the album begins to slowly work its way underneath a listener's skin, and it emerges as one of his most rewarding albums of the '60s."
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White Hot Stamper

Ry Cooder
Jazz

  (Item #: coodejazz_1909) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • Off the charts sound for this classic Ry Cooder album - both sides earned our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++)
  • These are the stampers that always win our shootouts, and when you hear them you will know why - the sound is big, rich and clear
  • A one-time TAS List Super Disc that proves its worth on this Shootout Winning copy
  • "The complexity of the material on Jazz, as well as the arrangements by Joseph Byrd, dictate that this is Cooder's most polished and orchestrated effort to date." -- Allmusic
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Nearly White Hot Stamper

Van Morrison
Tupelo Honey

  (Item #: morritupel_1908_1) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • A stunning copy of this Green Label Tupelo Honey with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides, finishing right behind our recent shootout winner
  • Wild Night and the title track sound amazing - rich and full-bodied with lovely warmth and above all, the naturalness we associate with Warner Brothers recordings in the early '70s
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic and featuring some of Stephen Barncard's best engineering - this is Analog Sound at its best
  • "Tupelo Honey is in one sense but another example of the artist making increased use of the album as the unit of communication as opposed to merely the song or the cut. Everything on it is perfectly integrated."
See all of our Van Morrison albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Chris Isaak
Chris Isaak

  (Item #: isaakchris_1909) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • This superb copy of Isaak's sophomore release boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl from start to finish
  • Outstanding size and weight with rich, clear sound and good space up top, thanks to Lee Herschberg's engineering skills
  • "... 11 songs of smoky, wounded romance and dark menace given great all-around performances. Isaak's gift for capturing a perfect blend of early rock & roll twang and making it sound perfectly of the now is his greatest strength..."
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White Hot Stamper

Ry Cooder
Into the Purple Valley

  (Item #: coodeintot_1905_9ex) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • A STUNNING sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish - the best to hit the site in many years
  • Note how naturally and correctly everything is arranged and presented on these brilliant '70s releases - thanks Lee Herschberg!
  • "With an emphasis on eclecticism, intricate syncopations and dazzling slide guitar and mandolin work, Ry Cooder’s “Into The Purple Valley” remains one of the artist’s most intriguing and influential albums"
  • 4 1/2 stars: "'Phenomenal' is the descriptive word to describe his playing, whether it is on guitar, Hawaiian "slack key" guitar, mandolin, or the more arcane instruments he has found. This is a must for those who love instrumental virtuosity, authentic reworkings of an era, or just plain good music."
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Nearly White Hot Stamper

Rickie Lee Jones
Rickie Lee Jones

  (Item #: jonesricki_1909) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A superb pressing, earning Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades on both sides, right up there with the best we heard in our shootout all day
  • Exceptionally present, real and resolving, this pressing is guaranteed to murder any remastering undertaken by anyone at anytime, now and far into the future
  • The superbly talented musicians and engineers deserve much of the credit for making this album a Grammy Winning Must Own Audiophile Favorite
  • 4 stars: "One of the most impressive debuts for a singer/songwriter ever, this infectious mixture of styles not only features a strong collection of original songs but also a singer with a savvy, distinctive voice that can be streetwise, childlike, and sophisticated, sometimes all in the same song."
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Nearly White Hot Stamper

Ry Cooder
Jazz

  (Item #: coodejazz_1909_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With two Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the best we've heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • These are the stampers that always win our shootouts, and when you hear the big, rich, clear sound of this pressing, you will know why
  • The Audiophile Pressings of this album are a disgrace - THIS is the way it should sound I tell you!
  • "Beginning with his self-titled debut in 1970, Ry Cooder's records seemed to be as much history lesson as they were entertainment. Not because Cooder was trying to club you over the head with this stuff; he simply gravitated to great songs, no matter what the era or genre. Here he pays homage to some of the early tunes and masters of jazz... "
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Nearly White Hot Stamper

Ry Cooder
Paradise and Lunch

  (Item #: coodeparad_1904_1908) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A STUNNING pressing with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • You'll feel like you are right in the studio with Ry and his top-notch crew as they kick out the jams, the sound is so present, rich, full-bodied and transparent
  • I can’t think of another Ry Cooder album with such consistently good material, or better sound
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Like his three previous records, Paradise and Lunch is filled with treasures which become part of a world where eras and styles converge without ever sounding forced or contrived... Eclectic, intelligent, and thoroughly entertaining, Paradise and Lunch remains Ry Cooder's masterpiece."
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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
Francis A. Sinatra & Antonio C. Jobim

  (Item #: sinatjobim_1907) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This outstanding original stereo pressing of Sinatra and Jobim's sublime collaboration earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades for sound on both sides and plays about as quietly as any copy ever does
  • The Tubey Magical space, ambience and richness of the sound here is the only way we know of to bring the Chairman of the Board and his Brazilian buddy into your listening room
  • This is a magical album from start to finish, one of a handful of a Must Own Sinatra releases, and my personal favorite of all his recordings
  • 4 1/2 stars: "After a few plays, the album begins to slowly work its way underneath a listener's skin, and it emerges as one of his most rewarding albums of the '60s."
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
Strangers In The Night

  (Item #: sinatstran_1906_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides, this Sinatra title surprised us with its DEMO DISC sound
  • Clearly one of the best sounding Reprise-era Sinatra pressings we have ever played
  • Credit must given to the extraordinarily inventive arrangements of Nelson Riddle and the All Tube engineering of Lee Herschberg
  • "Sinatra's singing is relaxed, confident, and surprisingly jazzy, as he plays with the melody of "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" and delivers a knockout punch with the assured, breathtaking "Summer Wind."
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Ry Cooder
Ry Cooder

  (Item #: cooderycoo_1903_9) 

Our Price: $149.99
Sale Price: $119.00 (You save $30.99 / 21%)


  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this vintage Reprise pressing of Cooder's debut album from 1970 - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • If you want to hear the brilliant Lee Herschberg's All Analog Recording skills brought to bear on so many different instruments serving an assortment of sonic textures, this is the copy that will let you do it
  • 4 stars: "Cooder's debut creates an intriguing fusion of blues, folk, rock & roll, and pop, filtered through his own intricate, syncopated guitar; Van Dyke Parks and Lenny Waronker's idiosyncratic production... Cooder puts this unique blend across with a combination of terrific songs, virtuosic playing, and quirky, yet imaginative, arrangements."
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Super Hot Stamper

The Three
The Three
(33 RPM)

  (Item #: threethree_33_1906_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A true Demo Disc of this wonderful recording, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The transients are uncannily lifelike - listen for the huge amounts of kinetic energy produced when Shelly whacks the hell out of his cymbals
  • My favorite Piano Trio Jazz Album of All Time; every one of those six tracks is brilliantly arranged and performed (if you have the right takes of course; more about that later)
  • 4 Stars: "One of Joe Sample's finest sessions as a leader" - with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown, we would say it's clearly his finest session, as a leader or simply as the piano player in a killer trio
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Super Hot Stamper

Rickie Lee Jones
Rickie Lee Jones

  (Item #: jonesricki_1910) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • An outstanding copy of this Singer Songwriter Classic with Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them for sound - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big and clear, with plenty of warmth and richness befitting an all analog recording by Lee Herschberg, even one from as late as 1979
  • The superbly talented musicians and engineers deserve much of the credit for turning Rickie's debut into a Must Own Audiophile Favorite (and Grammy winner too)
  • 4 stars: "One of the most impressive debuts for a singer/songwriter ever, this infectious mixture of styles not only features a strong collection of original songs but also a singer with a savvy, distinctive voice that can be streetwise, childlike, and sophisticated, sometimes all in the same song."
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Super Hot Stamper

Van Morrison
Tupelo Honey

  (Item #: morritupel_1909) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout
  • Wild Night and the title track sound amazing - rich and full-bodied with lovely warmth and above all naturalness
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic and featuring some of Stephen Barncard's best engineering - this is Analog Sound at its best
  • "Tupelo Honey is in one sense but another example of the artist making increased use of the album as the unit of communication as opposed to merely the song or the cut. Everything on it is perfectly integrated."
See all of our Van Morrison albums in stock


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Nearly White Hot Stamper

The Three
The Three
(33 RPM)

  (Item #: threethree_33_1906_11ex) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • A superb copy of this 1976 release with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last - just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Clean and clear and open are nice qualities to have, but rich and smooth are harder to come by on this record - and here they are!
  • My favorite Piano Trio Jazz Album of All Time; every one of those six tracks is brilliantly arranged and performed (if you have the right takes of course; more about that later)
  • 4 Stars: "One of Joe Sample's finest sessions as a leader" - with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown, we would say it's clearly his finest session, as a leader or simply as the piano player in a killer trio
More Shelly Manne


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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
I Remember Tommy

  (Item #: sinatireme_1905_9) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • This vintage Reprise pressing offers the critical listener outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it throughout - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We were shocked to hear how good the originals can sound on this album, and just as shocked to hear other copies that can actually beat the best of them
  • The richness of these Tubey Magical Reprise pressings makes them the clear choice for the heavy-on-the-brass sonics (if you have the right stampers)
  • 100% of Amazon reviewers rate this one Four Stars or better, with 77% giving the album Five Stars!
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

James Taylor
Greatest Hits

  (Item #: taylogreat_1911) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • JT's superb Greatest Hits collection finally returns to the site with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Outstanding size and weight with rich, clear sound and good space up top, thanks to Lee Herschberg's engineering skills
  • Three tracks are unique to this pressing and make it a Must Own for JT fans
  • 4 1/2 stars: "... examples of Taylor's undeniable warmth and facility for folk/country-tinged pop... a good sampler of Taylor's more popular early work."
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Super Hot Stamper

Maria Muldaur
Sweet Harmony

  (Item #: muldasweet_1909) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • This outstanding copy of Maria's third studio album boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or from first note to last exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Clear, natural midrange reproduction is key to getting the vocals sounding their best on these early pressings
  • If you're a fan of what Rickie Lee Jones was doing a few years later, this album will surely be right up your alley
  • 4 stars: "A sort of encyclopedia of country, old-time, boogie, and Memphis jug band influences rolls out in her vocal like a barbecue chef in Kansas City spreading out the evening's offerings. For a musician of her intelligence and savvy, aspects of this session must have surely felt like arrival at some kind of professional nirvana."
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Super Hot Stamper

Ry Cooder
Chicken Skin Music

  (Item #: coodechick_1812_1907) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • This superb copy of Roy Cooder's 1976 release boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Here is that live-in-the-studio quality that we rave about, on this very copy
  • The exceptional transparency and resolution let you appreciate even the most subtle details of the unusually wide variety of instruments Ry and his bandmates play
  • 4 stars: "As he explains in the album's liner notes, Cooder understands the connection between these seemingly disparate styles. This is not merely eclecticism for its own sake. Chicken Skin Music is probably Ry Cooder's most eccentric record since his first, but it's also one of his most entertaining."
See all of our Ry Cooder albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra - Duke Ellington
Francis A. & Edward K.

  (Item #: sinatfranc_1708_1904_1908) 

Our Price: $74.99

  • One of the better copies of this top quality recording to hit the site, with superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Sinatra is both natural and present - he actually sounds like he is standing on the same stage as Ellington's band
  • Outstanding size and weight with rich, clear brass and good space up top, thanks to Lee Herschberg's engineering skills
  • "... this collaboration between America's most popular singing icon and pre-eminent jazz composer still endures as one of Sinatra's most enjoyable Reprise-era albums."
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Super Hot Stamper

James Taylor
Gorilla

  (Item #: taylogoril_1806_1907) 

Our Price: $74.99

  • Two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, with excellent sound for one of James Taylor's best softer rock albums
  • Soulful JT at his best, an underappreciated album by our man and one that belongs in your collection
  • Mexico, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) and I Was A Fool To Care are standouts - there are no weak tracks here
  • Rolling Stone notes, "With Gorilla, Taylor is well on his way to staking out new ground. What he's hit upon is the unlikely mating of his familiar low-keyed, acoustic guitar-dominated style with L.A. harmony rock and the sweet, sexy school of rhythm and blues."
See all of our James Taylor albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Ry Cooder
Into the Purple Valley

  (Item #: coodeintot_1906) 

Our Price: $74.99

  • An outstanding copy of Cooder's sophomore release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Note how naturally and correctly everything is arranged and presented on these brilliant '70s releases
  • "With an emphasis on eclecticism, intricate syncopations and dazzling slide guitar and mandolin work, Ry Cooder’s “Into The Purple Valley” remains one of the artist’s most intriguing and influential albums"
  • 4 1/2 stars: "'Phenomenal' is the descriptive word to describe his playing, whether it is on guitar, Hawaiian "slack key" guitar, mandolin, or the more arcane instruments he has found. This is a must for those who love instrumental virtuosity, authentic reworkings of an era, or just plain good music."
More Ry Cooder


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Super Hot Stamper

Ry Cooder
Jazz

  (Item #: coodejazz_1909_2) 

Our Price: $74.99

  • This superb copy of Ry Cooder's classic 1978 release earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • Exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, as well as relaxed and full-bodied - this pressing was a noticeable step up over many of the copies we played
  • The Audiophile Pressings of this album are a disgrace - THIS is the way it should sound
  • "The complexity of the material on Jazz, as well as the arrangements by Joseph Byrd, dictate that this is Cooder's most polished and orchestrated effort to date."
More Ry Cooder


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Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra - Duke Ellington
Francis A. & Edward K.

  (Item #: sinatfranc_1803_1905-) 

Our Price: $69.99

  • This pressing boasts very respectable Hot Stamper sound from first note to last
  • Sinatra is both natural and present - on the best pressings, he actually sounds like he is standing on the same stage as Ellington's band
  • This copy plays on relatively quiet vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • "Recorded on Sinatra's birthday in 1967, this collaboration between America's most popular singing icon and pre-eminent jazz composer still endures as one of Sinatra's most enjoyable Reprise-era albums." - Amazon
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums as well as our Duke Ellington albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Randy Newman
Good Old Boys

  (Item #: newmagoodo_1801_1812) 

Our Price: $69.99

  • With a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two and a side one that's right up there with it, this copy has a lot going for it
  • Big and rich analog, tonally Right On The Money (ROTM) as well
  • Dramatically fuller and smoother than the average pressing
  • 5 Stars: "Good Old Boys is one of Newman's finest albums; it's also one of his most provocative and infuriating, and that's probably just the way he wanted it."
See all of our Randy Newman albums in stock


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Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: sinatjobim_2008) 



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

This Reprise original tri-color label stereo LP has EXCELLENT SOUND on both sides. This, in my opinion, is the best sounding Sinatra record on Reprise. It’s so rich, sweet, and tubey magical you would think it was prime Capitol period Sinatra but it's not -- it just sounds that way.

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Frank Sinatra - Duke Ellington - Francis A. & Edward K.

What to Listen For

  (Item #: sinatfranc_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.

Notice that, at least for most of the material, and perhaps all of it, Sinatra does not seem to be stuck in a vocal booth. He sounds like he is actually standing on the same stage as Ellington's band.

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Frank Sinatra - Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim

Rhino Debunked

  (Item #: sinatjobim_rhino) 



Sonic Grade: C-

Not recommended. The originals are better and not that hard to find. (The sound on the best original pressings is superb.) Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

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Frank Sinatra - I Remember Tommy

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: sinatireme_2017) 



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

You'll find relaxed, rich, natural big band reproduction on this copy, with the trombones and woodwinds sounding especially good. Those of you who have a good selection of recordings from this era will recognize the glorious sound of vintage tubes, a sound that has been lost to the world for decades now, but one that is in full flower on this very record.

Frank is of course in top form and his voice on this album sounds about as good as it does on any recording you can find on our site.

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Frank Sinatra - Strangers In The Night

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: sinatstran_2013) 



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

Folks, for The Best Sound on a Frank Sinatra record it simply does not get any better than Strangers In The Night. It's a real treat to be in the presence of the Chairman Of The Board, in his prime, working his magic -- but only an exceptional copy like this one has the power to put him right in the room with you.

1966 was a very good year indeed for Frank Sinatra -- he recorded Live at the Sands with Count Basie that year as well.

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Frank Sinatra - Strangers In The Night

What to Listen For

  (Item #: sinatstran_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.

What to listen for you ask? The superb engineering of LEE HERSCHBERG and EDDIE BRACKETT! The sound is, in a word, luscious.

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Frank Sinatra / Duke Ellington - Francis A. & Edward K.

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: sinatfranc_2014) 



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

An amazing pressing of a superb recording, this White Hot Stamper really gets this music right!

Recorded one year after the remarkable Sinatra-Jobim record that we treasure here at Better Records, Sinatra takes the opportunity to work with one of the greatest bandleaders in the history of jazz, the Duke himself.

More Frank Sinatra / More Duke Ellington


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Gordon Lightfoot - If You Could Read My Mind

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: lightifyou_2014) 



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

Exceptionally good sound -- the best we have yet to hear on a Lightfoot album. We were certainly surprised and quite pleased with the sound of the better copies, so watch for more of Gordon Lightfoot's music coming to the site as we work through his classic catalog from the '70s.

One of the top guys at Warners, LEE HERSCHBERG recorded (with Gary Brandt) and mixed the album, along with a number of others by Gordon Lightfoot.

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James Taylor - Gorilla

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: taylogoril_2011) 



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

This White Hot Stamper copy has TWO AMAZING sides back to back, with a side two that is so off the charts we seriously considered giving it Four Pluses. The Four Plus copies have to meet a standard higher than our regular top grade, and we define that standard as "better than we ever imagined any copy could ever sound." The Triple Plus side here is doing what it should -- it's correct from top to bottom, full of energy, transparent, and musical. It's exactly what you want it to sound like in every possible way.

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James Taylor - In The Pocket

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: taylointhe_2016) 



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

The quality of the songwriting is what makes this album such a moving listening experience. These songs are superb, individually and collectively, and can hold their own up against those found on Gorilla, an album with which In the Pocket has much in common.

Just as they did on Gorilla, Taylor and his multi-talented, multi-tracking production team polish these songs into three and four minute gems of popcraft, and they do so without ever compromising the emotional heart of the material. I've searched and I honestly cannot find a bad song on the album. Better than that, not even a weak one.

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Laurindo Almeida - Virtuoso Guitar

An Awesome Direct to Disc Copy

  (Item #: almeivirtu_2011) 



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

Virtuoso Guitar is yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This White Hot Crystal Clear 45 RPM Direct-to-Disc fulfills the promise of both the direct to disc recording medium AND the 45 RPM cutting speed so much in vogue these days. We had a big pile of these pressings to play through. When we came upon this one halfway through our shootout, it was so big, so clear, so dynamic, so energetic, so extended on the top and bottom, we almost could not believe what we were hearing especially compared to the others copies we played.


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Lee Herschberg

One of Our Favorite Engineers

  (Item #: allleeherschberg) 



LEE HERSCHBERG is one of our favorite producers and recording / mixing engineers. Click on the link to find more of the albums he engineered or produced, along with plenty of our famous commentaries.

One of the top guys at Warners, you'll find his name in the credits for many of the best releases by the Randy Newman, Gordon Lightfoot, The Doobie Brothers, Ry Cooder and Frank Sinatra, albums we know to have outstanding sound (potentially anyway; you have to have an outstanding pressing to hear outstanding sound of course).

See more entries in our Favorite Engineers series


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Michael McDonald - If That's What It Takes

Great Sounding Soulful Pop

  (Item #: mcdoniftha_2016) 



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

For soulful pop it doesn’t get much better than a Hot Stamper pressing of Michael McDonald's first album. The bottom end has real weight, the top is extended and sweet, the vocals are breathy and present, and the energy is off the charts. Just listen to how rich and full-bodied the midrange is!

With the right pressing the highs open up and his vocals JUMP out of the speakers. He's RIGHT THERE.

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Michael McDonald - If That’s What It Takes

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: mcdoniftha_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

The MoFi pressing of this album is a complete disaster -- it’s even fatter, muddier and more compressed than the standard domestic copy, as improbable as that may seem. It was mastered by Jack Hunt, a man we know to be responsible for some of the thickest, dullest, deadest MoFi recuts in the history of their shameful catalog. With mastering credits on this album, Gerry Rafferty (058) and Blondie (050) you have to wonder how this guy kept getting work.

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Randy Newman - 12 Songs

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: newma12son_2016) 



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

Both sides here were incredible. You get a very strong bottom end, lovely richness and warmth, real space and separation between the instruments and wonderful immediacy throughout. The heavy, "swampy" vibe of the music comes through well without the sound getting too murky or muddy.

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Randy Newman - Little Criminals

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: newmalittl_2013) 



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

TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES, making this by far the best copy to ever hit our site! We recently finished our second-ever shootout for Little Criminals and it was a blast. We've only found out recently just how good the best sounding pressings of Randy Newman's records can sound, and we were quite pleased with how rich, full and dynamic the Hot Stampers of this album are.

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Randy Newman - Sail Away

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: newmasaila_2012) 



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

Side one of this Original Reprise pressing has A+++ Master Tape Sound! It's open and spacious, with vocals that are tonally Right On The Money (ROTM).

We hear so many records that went off the rails somewhere in the recording, the mixing, the mastering, or the pressing, so it was a real treat to hear a record like this with absolutely no trace of heavy-handed fixing or phony EQ! What you hear on this record has got to be extremely close to what the guys in the control room heard as it was being recorded. This is no-frills, nothing-fancy, old-school analog, and we love it!

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Randy Newman - Trouble In Paradise

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: newmatroub_2014) 



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

Big, punchy sound for Randy Newman's classic '80s album Trouble In Paradise! We collected a big stack of these and set to work looking for copies that delivered the kind of sound that would bring the fun of this album to life in your listening room. Most were disappointing but this copy was a nice step up. Both sides are lively and dynamic with good weight and punch to the bottom end. If you've sat through the typical thin, grainy pressing you'll understand that this is exactly the kind of sound that this music needs.

See all of our Randy Newman LPs in stock


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Rickie Lee Jones - Pirates

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: jonespirat_2016) 



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

The typical copy of this album has a number of problems: midrange honk; hardness to the vocals; lack of presence; congestion; insufficient energy; blunted transients; grainy highs and so on. The Warner Bros. team of this era (Herscberg, Titleman, Waronker, etc.) brought us some wonderful recordings, but you'd never know it from listening to the typical '80s WB Tan Label LP, which tend to be pretty poor. Of course, search hard enough and you can find a copy that delivers some of the magic of the master tape, and that's exactly what we have here.

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Rickie Lee Jones - Rickie Lee Jones

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: jonesricki_2016) 



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

TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES! This is an excellent recording, but you'd never know that listening to the average pressing. This copy is a big step up from the average pressing with real fullness and weight, plus SIZE and ENERGY that must be heard to be believed!

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Rickie Lee Jones - Rickie Lee Jones

180g Rhino / Warner Brothers LP Reviewed

  (Item #: jonesricki_rhino) 



Sonic Grade: C

We were fairly unimpressed with the Rickie Lee Jones on Warners that came out a few years back. It has that phony Modern Mastering sound we find so unappealing on the Rhino reissue of Blue. (We seem to be pretty much alone in not liking that one, and we’re proud to say we still don’t like it. Hey, play The Blue Game and maybe you’ll see why.)

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Rickie Lee Jones - Rickie Lee Jones

Good Demo Disc / Bad Test Disc

  (Item #: jonesricki_test) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

RLJ's first album is what we would consider a Good Demo Disc but a Bad Test Disc.

Meaning that this record can sound good on really crappy stereos -- which explains why it is so often heard at stereo stores and at shows, where really crappy stereos are usually found in abundance. But it’s not what the System Doctor ordered if the goal is to work out some problem or fault with the reproduction of all your other recordings. In other words, records like this can be misleading.

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Rickie Lee Jones - Rickie Lee Jones

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: jonesricki_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with plenty of advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of RLJ.

On the best of the Hot Stamper copies it becomes abundantly clear just how well the string bass was recorded -- assuming you like the close-miked, maximum-presence quality they were after. You hear all the fingering, the wood of the body resonating; all the stuff you could never hear live unless you were ten feet from the guy. Natural it's not, but natural is not what most hit records are all about anyway.

Credit -- or blame -- belongs squarely with LEE HERSCHBERG.


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Ry Cooder - Boomer’s Story

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: coodeboome_2010) 



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

This is a QUIET Reprise Tan Label LP with a good side one and a GREAT side two. It's not the best copy we've ever heard but it's a step up from most of what's out there. Side two is very natural and incredibly clean. The presence is wonderful, the top end is sweet, and the transparency is top-notch. Side one is similar but a bit smooth for our tastes.

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Ry Cooder - Chicken Skin Music

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: coodechick_2010) 



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

Side two of this Reprise pressing is OUT OF THIS WORLD. From the moment the needle hit the groove we were blown away by the huge soundfield, the unbelievable presence and the massive amount of energy. It sounded like Ry and his crew were right there in the room with us, playing their hearts out. The two tracks featuring Hawaiian musicians (steel guitarist and singer Gabby Pahinui and slack key guitar master Atta Isaacs) are both on side two and they sound AMAZING on this copy.

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Ry Cooder - Into the Purple Valley

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: coodeintot_2011) 



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

TUBEY MAGICAL A+++ MASTER TAPE SOUND (and relatively quiet vinyl) ON BOTH SIDES. All of the elements you could ask for from this kind of music are here: superb clarity; amazing richness and warmth; correct tonality; serious energy and immediacy; texture to the vocals and so on. I don’t think you could do anything to these songs to make them sound any better.

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Ry Cooder - Jazz

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: coodejazz_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: D

As you probably know, the MoFi of Jazz goes for big bucks nowadays -- $500 and up. Is it worth it?

Are you kidding? It’s a nice record as far as it goes, but it suffers from the same shortcomings as just about every Mobile Fidelity pressing we take the time to play these days (with some obvious exceptions of course). We have a test pressing, and knowing that the MoFi is the standard against which many audiophiles would prefer to judge our Hot Stampers, we listened to it first before going about our comparison test.

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Ry Cooder - Jazz

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: coodejazz_2007) 



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

This is one of the BEST COPIES WE’VE EVER HEARD! We’re talking MASTER TAPE SOUND on side two, which is very open and spacious and EXCEPTIONALLY TRANSPARENT. There’s so much detail and texture, it blew us away -- and should do the same to you.

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Ry Cooder - Jazz

Transparency Is Key

  (Item #: coodejazz_wtlf) 



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

The best copies realistically convey the live-in-the-studio quality of the sound. This is a tight ensemble working at the top of their game, no surprise there; Ry surrounds himself with nothing but the best.

But the better copies have such amazingly transparent sound you can't help feeling as though you really are in the presence of live human beings You really get the sense of actual fingers plucking those guitar strings. You hear mouths blowing air through horns and woodwinds.

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Ry Cooder - Paradise and Lunch

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: coodeparad_2010) 



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

This copy does almost everything you could ask for from this music -- good energy, tons of richness and clarity and lots of texture to all of the instruments. You'll feel like you are right in the studio with Ry and his top-notch crew as they kick out these fun, eccentric jams. LEE HERSCHBERG engineered this one as well as a great many others for Ry Cooder.

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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.

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The Doobie Brothers - The Doobie Brothers

Our Shootout Winner from 2006

  (Item #: doobidoobi_2006) 



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

This White Label Promo copy of the Doobie Brothers' first album has SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND. It's noticeably richer and sweeter than other copies I have played. It also doesn't get congested in the loud vocal passages the way other copies do. I wouldn't expect to find another one that sounds better, based on my admittedly limited experience with this album.

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The Doobie Brothers - What Were Once Vices...

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: doobiwhatw_2011) 



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

This quiet Palm Tree Label pressing is one of the best sounding copies of this album we've ever played! We had a massive shootout for this fun album recently and this was the big winner, earning an A+++ grade for the first side and a strong A++ for the second. Drop the needle anywhere on side one; you won't believe how open, clear and dynamic the sound is. It's also big, present and spacious with unusually high resolution. No other side one we played came close. Black Water sounds KILLER here!

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The Doobie Brothers

The Vices of Limited Production

  (Item #: doobiwhatw_listen) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

The best of this kind of mainstream radio-friendly pop rock has stood the test of time very well. One listen and we think you'll agree: this is fun music that belongs in your collection. IF... IF you get hold of a good pressing, and in our experience this mass-produced stuff leaves a lot to be desired most of the time.

Actually that's not really fair; the specialty audiophile limited edition pressings of most records are even worse sounding, so the production numbers really don't have much to do with the final product, now do they?

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The Great Jazz Trio - Direct From L.A.

Reviewed in 2014

  (Item #: greatdirec_2014) 



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

The album features some excellent jazz with outstanding drum work by Tony Williams (one of our favorite drummers here at Better Records).

Albums with Ron Carter on bass / Tony Williams on drums


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The L.A. 4 - Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: lafou_pavan_dd) 



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

This is a Near Mint East Wind Japanese Import Direct-To-Disc LP with SUPERB SOUND. Most copies we come across are quite ticky. Thankfully that ain't the case here. This is an EXCEPTIONALLY QUIET copy!

More recordings engineered by Lee Herschberg


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The L.A. Four - Going Home

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: lafougoing_dd) 



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

This Minty looking East Wind Japanese Direct-to-Disc LP has AMAZING SOUND. The boys do a fantastic version of Greensleeves here, flawlessing switching idioms from swing to bossa nova to bop.

More recordings engineered by Lee Herschberg


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The Three - The Three (33 RPM)

Our Direct Disc Copy from 2009

  (Item #: threethree_dd_2009) 



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

DEMO QUALITY, MASTER TAPE SOUND (!) on BOTH SIDES! Hey, wait a minute, this is the direct to disc version, there is no Master Tape. How can it have Master Tape Sound?

Simple. It's the RARE copy that actually sounds like this one. Most Eastwind pressings -- like pressings on any label -- do not convey all the information of the master tape that you know must exist because you HEAR it on some copies. Some Direct Discs have much more of the sound that was cut live directly onto the acetate than others. This is one of those, one of the ones with MUCH MORE SOUND!

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The Three - The Three (45 RPM)

Our Four Plus Copy from 2013

  (Item #: threethree_45_2013) 



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

We had six (yes, six!) of these 45 RPM pressings (and five Inner City's and a couple of Eastwind 33's -- it was a big shootout), and this side one had the most ENERGY of any of them. This is a quality no one seems to be writing about, other than us of course, but what could possibly be more important? On this record, it took the performances of the players to a level beyond all expectations.

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Van Morrison - Tupelo Honey

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: morritupel_2009) 



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

YIKES! It’s the new ALL-TIME CHAMPION for Tupelo Honey, with MASTER TAPE SOUND and pretty darn quiet vinyl on BOTH SIDES! I’ll bet just about anything that you’ve never heard Van Morrison sound as good as he does here in your entire life. We played a massive stack of copies this week and felt incredibly lucky to find one that sounded like this. I just don’t think you could make this music sound any better no matter what you did.

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Super Hot Stamper

James Taylor
Greatest Hits

  (Item #: taylogreat_2019) 


  • JT's superb Greatest Hits collection finally returns to the site with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Outstanding size and weight with rich, clear sound and good space up top, thanks to Lee Herschberg's engineering skills
  • Three tracks are unique to this pressing and make it a Must Own for JT fans
  • 4 1/2 stars: "... examples of Taylor's undeniable warmth and facility for folk/country-tinged pop... a good sampler of Taylor's more popular early work."
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