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Super Hot Stamper

AC/DC
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

  (Item #: acdc_dirty_1904) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of the band's 1976 release - one of the few copies to hit the site in many years!
  • These sides have plenty going on down low, real meat on the bones, all the life and energy you could ask for - pretty much everything that the average copy was lacking
  • 5 stars: "... it captured the seething malevolence of Bon Scott, the sense that he reveled in doing bad things, encouraged by the maniacal riffs of Angus and Malcolm Young who provided him with their most brutish rock & roll yet."
See all of our AC/DC albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Cannonball Adderley and His Orchestra
African Waltz

  (Item #: adderafric_1903) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This copy of Cannonball's crazy-fun 1961 album offers outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • ALIVE with musical energy, there's also plenty of space for the players to occupy, a quality vital to this big group's big sound
  • "The surging, compelling, thoroughly earthy sound of this orchestra, led by CANNONBALL ADDERLEY and including as impressive a roster of jazz stars as has ever been assembled, has already been responsible for a major breakthrough on the musical front... Quickly and enthusiastically accepted by a wide public, it leaped almost overnight into the bestseller category."
More Cannonball Adderley


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Super Hot Stamper

Cannonball Adderley - Bill Evans
Know What I Mean?

  (Item #: adderknoww_1904) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this wonderful copy of one of our favorite Cannonball Adderley albums
  • 1961 recording technology coupled with the mastering technology used by the gifted George Horn results in top quality sound
  • These guys are playing live in the studio and you can really feel their presence on every track -- assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one
  • 4 stars: "It's hard to imagine any fan of mainstream jazz not finding much to love on this very fine recording."
See all of our Cannonball Adderley albums in stock


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Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: addersomet_classic) 



Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

There are certainly some incredible sounding original pressings of this album out there, but who has the resources it takes to find one? Most of the original Blue Notes we come across these days turn out to have mediocre sound, and many of them have severely damaged inner grooves. Even the mintiest looking copies often turn out to be too noisy for most audiophiles, Blue Note vinyl being what it is.

More Cannonball Adderley / More Miles Davis


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Airto - Fingers

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: airtofinge_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

At times this record really sounds like what it is: a bunch of guys in a big room beating the hell out of their drums and singing at the the top of their lungs. You gotta give RVG credit for capturing so much of that energy on tape and transferring that energy onto a slab of vinyl.

Of course this assumes that the record in question actually does have the energy of the best copies. It's also hard to know who or what is to blame when it doesn't, since even the good stampers sound mediocre most of the time. Bad vinyl, worn out stampers, poor pressing cycle, it could be practically anything.

More Airto


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The Brilliant Recorded Legacy of

David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young

  (Item #: allcsny) 



Recordings featuring the work of David Crosby
Recordings featuring the work of Stephen Stills
Recordings featuring the work of Graham Nash
Recordings featuring the work of Neil Young

Some of our favorite engineers worked on the albums of these four men, principally Bill Halverson, as well as...


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Super Hot Stamper

The Allman Brothers Band
... At Fillmore East

  (Item #: allmaatfil_1904) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • With four outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, this Pink Label original is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other copy you've heard
  • This is one of the all-time great live albums, and with a copy like this one YOU ARE THERE at the Fillmore
  • The WHOMP factor here kicks up the excitement - here is the low-end foundation that lets the extended guitar jams work
  • 5 stars: "At Fillmore East is like a great live jazz session, where the pleasure comes from the musicians' interaction and playing... The pinnacle of the Allmans and Southern rock at its most elastic, bluesy, and jazzy."
See all of our Allman Brothers albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

The Gregg Allman Band
Playin' Up A Storm

  (Item #: allmaplayi_1904_1) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • This stunning sounding 2-pack of the band's sophomore release boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • A surprisingly well-recorded album - the sound is exceptionally rich, smooth and natural in the best tradition of Seventies Analog
  • "Playin' Up a Storm is a well-made, expertly performed set of blues-rock, soul-pop, and straight-ahead rock & roll ...the thing that makes it one of Allman's best solo efforts is the terrific performances. Not only is he in fine voice, delivering each song with conviction, but his supporting band - featuring such luminaries as Dr. John and Bill Payne - is sterling."
See all of our Greg Allman albums in stock


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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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Ambrosia

... finding the HOLY GRAIL copy...

  (Item #: ambroambro_testimonial) 



Our good customer Ed likes doing his own shootouts, and to that we say Hear Hear -- more power to ya. He had about a dozen copies of Ambrosia's debut on hand and thought he might actually have one or two that were pretty special. Then he popped for one of our Super Hot Stamper copies and heard why we've been such big fans of the album. Here is his story.
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Super Hot Stamper

America
America's Greatest Hits

  (Item #: amerihisto_1809_1903) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • An outstanding copy of America's 1975 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • Both sides have amazing clarity and presence, which is especially noticeable on the vocals
  • THE BIG SOUND on both sides lets this Greatest Hits compilation hold its own against the originals
  • "An essential collection for fans who like their '70s folk with a pop sheen, loads of hooks, and top-drawer arrangements."
More America / More Hippie Folk Rock


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Anderson / Fiddle-Faddle and more / Fiedler

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: anderfiddl_2638_2011) 



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

This famous Fiedler / Boston Pops recording of Leroy Anderson's music has Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides! I frankly admit to never having taken this title seriously. I imagine few hard core Shaded Dog collectors have ever bothered to play it, which is their loss, not ours. It's very well recorded, with tons of Golden Age Living Stereo magic. Talk about BIG and RICH, both sides will show you exactly why modern audiophiles drool over these recordings. You simply cannot find this sound anywhere else.

More Living Stereo


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Super Hot Stamper

Louis Armstrong
The Essential Louis Armstrong

  (Item #: armstessen_1812) 

Our Price: $59.99

  • With solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout, this original stereo copy will be hard to beat
  • Big, rich, and Tubey Magical, Louis Armstrong has rarely sounded this good on record - we should know, we've played his albums by the score
  • This pressing boasts rich lower mids and nice extension up top, critical to getting the right sound for this vintage recording
  • "... a definitive look at the Louis Armstrong All-Stars in their later years, when Tyree Glenn was on trombone and the group was riding high from the success of "Hello Dolly."
See all of our Louis Armstrong albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington
The Great Reunion

  (Item #: armstgreat_1901_2) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With two excellent sides each rating a solid Double Plus (A++), this vintage stereo pressing was one of the better copies in our most recent shootout
  • Both sides here are incredibly big, full-bodied, clean and clear with lots of deep punchy bass
  • We remember the Classic pressing as being a very good sounding record but make no mistake, this is a GREAT sounding one
  • "One of the best things about this configuration is the sound of the Duke’s piano - an underrated pianist, he seldom recorded in such an intimate context."
More Louis Armstrong / More Duke Ellington


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Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington - The Great Reunion

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: armstgreat_2017) 



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

With two Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sides, this original stereo copy simply could not be beat. So big, so rich, so Tubey Magical, we guarantee you have never heard Louis Armstrong sound remotely as good as he does here. We remember the Classic pressing as being a very good sounding record, but make no mistake, this is a GREAT sounding one.

More Duke Ellington


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Super Hot Stamper

Louis Armstrong
I've Got The World On A String

  (Item #: armstivego_1810_1901) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • This outstanding pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Russell Garcia's orchestral arrangements and Louis Armstrong's sublime interpretations of The Great American Songbook are a match made in heaven
  • Classic Records remastered this title back in their heyday, but if you have any doubts that our Hot Stamper will murder it we encourage you to do the shootout for yourself
  • "Armstrong finds the essence of each tune, bending and projecting them with his patented joie de vivre and gravel-voiced warmth every time."
See all of our Louis Armstrong albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Louis Armstrong
I've Got The World On A String

  (Item #: armstivego_1901) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An insanely good sounding original pressing with a Triple Plus (A+++) side two and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one
  • One of the best copies from our most recent shootout (especially on the first side) - the sound is big, full, lively and spacious
  • Russell Garcia's orchestral arrangements and Louis Armstrong's sublime interpretations of The Great American Songbook are a match made in heaven
  • "Armstrong finds the essence of each tune, bending and projecting them with his patented joie de vivre and gravel-voiced warmth every time."
See all of our Louis Armstrong albums in stock


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Louis Armstrong - I’ve Got The World on a String

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: armstivego_2009) 



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

I first heard this album on the wonderful Classic Records pressing from the '90s. I remember really enjoying the music and liking the sound of Bernie Grundman's remaster very much. We reviewed and recommended the album (along with Under the Stars) in our old paper catalogs.

I have no idea what I would think of their version these days -- well, to be honest I do have some idea of what I would think of it -- but their version is at least good enough to make the case that Russell Garcia's orchestral arrangements and Louis Armstrong's sublime skills interpreting The Great American Songbook are a match made in heaven.

More Louis Armstrong


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Louis Armstrong - I’ve Got The World on a String

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: armstivego_classic_records) 



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


Sonic Grade: B (probably)

I first heard this album on the wonderful Classic Records pressing from the '90s. I remember really enjoying the music and liking the sound of Bernie Grundman's remaster very much. We reviewed and recommended the album (along with Under the Stars) in our old paper catalogs.

More Louis Armstrong


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The Association - Insight Out

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: associnsig_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

The real stars of Windy (and the album itself) are Hal Blaine and Joe Osborne, the famous session drummer/ bass player team from The Wrecking Crew who create the driving force behind these songs. Osborne's web site puts Windy front and center as the first track demonstrating what a top rhythm section can do for a pop song. This whole album can be enjoyed simply for the great drum and bass work, not to mention the sound that both instruments are given by the Master of Tubey Magical Pop Recording, Mr. BONES HOWE.

More of The Association


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Nearly White Hot Stamper

The B-52's
The B-52's

  (Item #: b-52sb-52s_1806_1903) 

Our Price: $199.99
Sale Price: $149.00 (You save $50.99 / 25%)


  • Amazing Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides of the B-52s classic debut - close to the best copy we played in our recent shootout
  • Listen to the huge, spacious soundstage and amazingly rich, full-bodied and uncolored tonality that earned this recording a place in our Top 100
  • Tubey Magic in 1979? Somehow they managed to pull it off. So dynamic too. What a recording!
  • A New Wave Classic and 5 stars in the All Music Guide: "These songs illustrated that the B-52's' adoration of camp culture... was a world view capable of turning out brilliant pop singles and, in turn, influencing mainstream pop culture... a hell of a good time."
See more of our B-52s albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

The B-52's
The B-52's

  (Item #: b-52sb-52s_1901) 

Our Price: $89.99

  • With a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side one and a side two that's close to it, this vintage pressing has plenty of analog magic in its grooves
  • Tubey Magic in 1979? Somehow they managed to pull it off. So dynamic too. What a recording!
  • A New Wave Classic and 5 stars in the All Music Guide: "These songs illustrated that the B-52's' adoration of camp culture... was a world view capable of turning out brilliant pop singles and, in turn, influencing mainstream pop culture... a hell of a good time."
See more of our B-52s albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Burt Bacharach
Reach Out

  (Item #: bachareach_1810) 

Our Price: $49.99

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout
  • This copy had extension high and low and dynamic power that greatly impressed us
  • Tons of hits - The Look Of Love, Message To Michael, Alfie, What The World Needs Now, I Say A Little Prayer and more
  • Engineering by Phil Ramone (Casino Royale) and Henry Lewy (Sergio Mendes, Joni Mitchell) each doing their own tracks - compare and contrast for yourself
See all of our Burt Bacharach albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Chet Baker
Plays The Best Of Lerner And Loewe

  (Item #: bakerplays_1901_1) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big, rich, smooth, open, natural, with plenty of tight bass - what's not to like? This copy is killin' it
  • Some of the best jazz guys of the day back up Chet on this one: Zoot Sims, Pepper Adams, Bill Evans, Herbie Mann and more
  • "...the timelessness of the melodies, coupled with the assembled backing aggregate, make Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner and Loewe (1959) a memorable concept album."
See all of our Chet Baker albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Anita Baker
Rapture

  (Item #: bakerraptu_1901_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This quiet-storm classic earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER for sound on both sides and plays on exceptionally quiet vinyl to boot
  • Rapture is one of the best sounding recordings from the era - with all due respect to Whitney Houston, if I could only have one album of '80s female vocals, it would have to be this one
  • Key to the sound is richness and Tubey Magic, along with strong midrange presence, and on this Super Hot Stamper you get all three
  • 5 stars: "Rapture gave Baker one moving hit after another, including "Sweet Love," "Caught up in the Rapture," "Same Ole Love," and "No One in This World."
See all of our Soul and R&B albums in stock


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Nearly White Hot Stamper

The Band
The Band

  (Item #: band_band_1810_1902) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • With nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sonic grades on both sides, this is a great sounding copy of an absolutely essential album
  • Big bass, rich meaty guitars and smooth silky vocals make this a Band album like you have never heard before.
  • Not only is the sound superb, but both sides here play Mint Minus Minus, about as quiet as we can find them
  • 5 stars: "The arrangements were simultaneously loose and assured, giving the songs a timeless appeal..."
See all of our albums by The Band in stock


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The Band - The Band

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: band_band_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 Band's second album.

The best copies have no trace of phony sound from top to bottom. They're raw and real in a way that makes most pop records sound processed and wrong. Our best Hot Stampers have plenty of the qualities we look for in The Band. Energy, presence, transparency, Tubey Magic... you name it -- you will find it there. The biggest strength of this recording is its wonderful, natural midrange. And tons of bass.

More from The Band


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The Band - Music From Big Pink

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: band_music_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

In 2012 the new MoFi put out another remastered Big Pink. Since their track record at this point is, to be honest, abysmal, we have not felt the need to audition it.

It's very possible, even likely, that they restored some of the bass that's missing from the originals. But bad half-speed mastered bass -- poorly defined, never deep and never punchy -- is that the kind of bass that would even be desirable?

More by The Band


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The Band - Music From Big Pink

Thoughts on MoFi's Midrange Suckout

  (Item #: band_music_mofi_midrange_suckout) 



I was a big Mobile Fidelity fan in 1982 when they released this album, which, for some strange reason, I knew practically nothing about. I was 15 when the second album came out and I played that album all the time, but the first album had eluded me. How it managed to do that I cannot understand, not at this late date anyway. A major malfunction on my part to be sure.

At some point in the early '90s I got hold of an early British pressing of the album. Comparing it to my MoFi I was shocked to hear the singers in the band so present and clear. Having only played MoFi's remastered LP I had never heard them sound like that. The MoFi had them standing ten feet back; the Brit put them front and center. There was no question in my mind which presentation was right.

More by The Band


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Super Hot Stamper

Count Basie
88 Basie Street

  (Item #: basie88bas_1904) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • This unusually strong copy of an exceptionally well-recorded classic boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • This is a Top Basie Big Band title in every way -- musically, sonically, you name it, 88 Basie Street has got it going on
  • With 18 pieces in the studio this is a real powerhouse - the sound is rich, powerful, dynamic and HUGE
  • 4 stars: "One of Basie's final albums, the very appealing title cut seems to sum up his career, a lightly swinging groove with a strong melody. Two small-group performances with guest Joe Pass on guitar add variety to a particularly strong set."
See all of our Count Basie albums in stock


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Count Basie - 88 Basie Street

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: basie88bas_2011) 



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

A White Hot Stamper 2-pack giving you A+++ sound and quiet vinyl for both sides of this killer Basie album!

This is a Top Basie Big Band title in every way -- musically, sonically, you name it, this album has got it going on! With 18 pieces in the studio this album can be a real powerhouse -- if you have the right copy -- and this two-pack with White Hot Stamper sound for each side shows you just how lively and dynamic this music can be. It's got Demo Disc qualities, no doubt about it.

More Count Basie


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Super Hot Stamper

Count Basie
Chairman of the Board

  (Item #: basiechair_1904) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An outstanding copy of Chairman Of The Board, with superb Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget the honky, hard-sounding Roulette originals, and of course the second-rate Classic Records pressing - this reissue is the way to go
  • From first note to last, this copy is big, clear, rich and lively, with huge amounts of space around the band
  • 4 1/2 stars: "This 1958 date for Roulette was a rare chance for the orchestra to perform on its own, and listeners to hear how powerful the band could be when its concentration was undiverted... The record is admittedly heavy on the blues, but it's a brassy, powerful vision of the blues... A dynamic date, it shows the "new testament" edition of Basie's orchestra in top form."
More Count Basie


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Basie Big Band - Farmers Market Barbecue

First Among Equals, or The Best Pablo Ever?

  (Item #: basiefarme_first) 



Musically FMB is a Top Basie Big Band title in every way. This should not be surprising: many of his recordings for Pablo in the '70s and early '80s display the talents of The Count and his band of veterans at their best.

Sonically it's another story. Based on our recent shootout for this title, in comparison to the other Basie titles we've done lately we would have to say that FMB is the best Basie big band title we've ever played. Since so many Basie big band recordings are so good, we don't want to get ahead of ourselves; after all, we haven't done shootouts for all of his Pablo large group recordings. To be safe we'll just call this one First Among Equals.

More Count Basie


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Super Hot Stamper

Count Basie & Joe Williams
Memories Ad-Lib

  (Item #: basiememor_1812_1902) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A superb vintage stereo pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound from the first note to the last and fairly quiet vinyl
  • This is one of the few Joe Williams records we've been able to find with audiophile sound and surfaces - it's taken us years to get even one shootout going, but it produced this great copy, so we think it was worth it!
  • "Williams' vocals seem effortless throughout the date... highlights include the easygoing swinger "The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else)" and a foot-tapping "Honeysuckle Rose."
See all of our Count Basie albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

The Beach Boys
Pet Sounds

  (Item #: beachpetso_1805_1903) 

Our Price: $199.99
Sale Price: $149.00 (You save $50.99 / 25%)


  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from beginning to end - this pressing has the Pet Sounds you've been looking for - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Play this against any and all versions you have - this will be the last Pet Sounds you buy (unless you decide to upgrade to a Triple Plus copy)
  • The Beach Boys revolutionized the popular music of the day with their genius for harmony, and a killer copy like this has their voices sounding the way they should
  • 5 stars: "The group here reached a whole new level in terms of both composition and production, layering tracks upon tracks of vocals and instruments to create a richly symphonic sound."
See all of our Beach Boys albums in stock


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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 - A Hard Day’s Night

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlahard_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 A Hard Day's Night.

On If I Fell, the Beatles vocals should sound warm, sweet, and clear. If they do, at the very least you have a contender, and possibly a winner. Not many pressings are going to bring out all the subtle qualities of both Paul and John's leads, as well as the wonderful harmonies they created so effortlessly (or at least seemed to).

More A Hard Days Night


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The Fab Four on Parlophone

The Original Beatles Pressings Are the Best, Right?

  (Item #: beatles_myth) 



Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

Back in 2005 we compared the MFSL pressing of Help to a British Parlophone LP and were -- mistakenly, as you may have already surmised -- impressed by the MoFi.

More of The Beatles


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The Beatles - Beatles For Sale

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlforsa_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of For Sale. We note that Words of Love is a tough track to get right:

There are some lively, jangly guitars behind the smooth voices. Many copies seem to sacrifice one for the other, leaving you with either irritating guitars or dull voices. The better copies get them both right.

More Beatles For Sale


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The Beatles - Help

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlhelp_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series, this time for The Beatles' amazing fifth album, released in 1965, Help.

Much like we said about the Please Please Me Hot Stampers, on the top copies the presence of the vocals and guitars is so real it's positively startling at times. Drop the needle on You've Got To Hide Your Love Away and turn up the volume -- on the best copies it will be as if John and Paul were right there in your living room!

More of The Beatles


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The Beatles - Let It Be

Listening In Depth

  (Item #: beatlletit_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you go about the business of critically evaluating copies of Let It Be.

This is the first time we've discussed individual tracks on the album. Our recent shootout, in which we discovered a mind-boggling, rule-breaking side one, motivated us to sit down and explain what the best copies should do on each side of the album for the tracks we test with. Better late than never I suppose.

More on Let It Be


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The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour

Listening In Depth

  (Item #: beatlmagic_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 Magical Mystery Tour.

We discuss in detail what we're listening for and what the best copies seem to do so well that the run-of-the-mill copies simply do not. If you own a copy of the German MMT plays yours and listen for what we're listening for. It's all laid out in the track commentary.

More Magical Mystery Tour


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The Beatles - Please Please Me

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlpleas_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series, this time for The Beatles' amazing debut from 1963, Please Please Me.

The first Beatles record is nothing short of amazing. It captures more of the live sound of these four guys playing together as a rock and roll band than any record they ever made afterwards. (Let It Be gets some of that live quality too and makes a great bookend for the group.)

More Please Please Me


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The Beatles - Rubber Soul

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlrubbe_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy (or our copy) of Rubber Soul. (If you have the MoFi pressing please click on the Track Listing tab below to read about its most glaring shortcoming.)
More Rubber Soul


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The Beatles Heavy Rubber Soul

Finally, MF and Better Records Can Agree on Something

  (Item #: beatlrubbe_heavy_vinyl) 



We are so excited to tell you about the first of the Heavy Vinyl Beatles remasters we've played! As we cycle through our regular Hot Stamper shootouts for The Beatles' albums we will be of course be reviewing more of them*. I specifically chose this one to start with, having spent a great deal of time over the last year testing the best vinyl pressings against three different CD versions of Rubber Soul.

The short version of our review of the new Rubber Soul vinyl would simply point out that it's awful, and, unsurprisingly, it's awful in most of the ways that practically all modern Heavy Vinyl records are: it's opaque, airless, energyless and just a drag.

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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."

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The Beatles - With the Beatles

MoFi Reviewed

  (Item #: beatlwitht_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: C+


Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

The Mobile Fidelity pressing of this album has so many problems it would take an hour to describe them all. Suffice it to say, it’s thinner and brighter, with voices that are grittier and grainier. The overall effect is the sinking feeling that you are listening to a cheap reissue and not the real thing. Don’t the Beatles sound better than this? To be fair, some tracks are okay, others a disaster.

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Super Hot Stamper

Beck
Mutations

  (Item #: beck_mutat_1904) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this superb copy of Beck's 1998 Grammy Award Winning release - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This shockingly well-recorded album sounds surprisingly analog for 1998 - there's real Tubey Magic here
  • This is one of our favorite albums from the 90s - if you don't already have a favorite Beck album, this one should fit the bill
  • 4 Stars: "Beck is not only a startling songwriter -- his best songs are simultaneously modern and timeless -- he is a sharp record-maker, crafting albums that sound distinct and original..."
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Super Hot Stamper

Bee Gees
2 Years On

  (Item #: beege2year_1902_1904) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • The Bee Gee's 1970 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Tubey Magical, with strong midrange presence, the sound here is worlds away from the dubby domestic pressings sitting in the bins at your local record store
  • This album marked the musical reunion of the Gibb brothers, and the band returned with this "surprisingly hard-edged... more progressive" sound
  • 4 stars: "...[with 2 Years On] the Bee Gees suddenly found themselves right back in the thick of popular music, and as close to the cutting edge of pop/rock as they'd ever been."
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Beethoven, Bach, Schubert / Trios / Heifetz, Primrose, Piatigorsky

On the Red Seal Label?

  (Item #: beethtrios_reissue) 



So often when we do these shootouts involving original pressings up against their reissue counterparts, it's the reissues that sound rich, warm and tubey, and the originals that sound dry and boxy. If you haven't noticed that in your own critical listening, play this record against any shaded dog that you own and see which one is more Tubey Magical.

If you have your VTA set right, you might be shocked to find it's this one. Don't get us wrong; lots of these later RCA pressings are awful: thin, often with no top end at all. Flat transfers perhaps? Who is to say?

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Tony Bennett - Alone Together

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: bennealone_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame from 1960.

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES for this Six-Eye pressing, including a near-White Hot A++ to A+++ side two! This album has Bennett singing a collection of ballads, and when you hear it with this kind of transparency and immediacy it REALLY works. He's one of our favorite singers, so it's a real treat to find a copy with this kind of sound.

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Super Hot Stamper

Tony Bennett
For Once In My Life

  (Item #: benneforon_1804_1812) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • This vintage pressing gives Tony the sound he deserves, with excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on both of these early stereo sides
  • Amazing vocal reproduction courtesy of the brilliant engineering of Frank Laico at his favorite studio (and ours), Columbia 30th Street studios
  • We are not big soundstage guys here at Better Records, but we can't deny the appeal of the space to be found on a record as good as this
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Super Hot Stamper

Tony Bennett
I Left My Heart In San Francisco

  (Item #: benneileft_1903_1) 

Our Price: $179.99

  • This copy of Tony Bennett's 1962 classic has outstanding sound with a rating of Double Plus (A++) or BETTER on both sides
  • Tubey Magical like you will not believe - this killer copy is as about as huge and as real as it gets
  • Brilliant engineering by Frank Laico at his favorite recording digs (and ours), Columbia 30th Street studios
  • Allmusic 5 Stars and the winner of two Grammy Awards in 1962 including Record of the Year
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Super Hot Stamper

Tony Bennett
The Many Moods Of Tony

  (Item #: bennemanym_1805_1902) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • Both sides of this vintage Black Print 360 pressing earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades for their superb sound - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Everything that's good about All Tube Vocal Recordings from the '50s and '60s is precisely what's good about the sound of this record
  • "The moods vary from a wild Caravan, introduced with a drum solo by Chico Hamilton joined by flute and bass and seemingly held together by Tony's voice alone, to Don Costa's almost cinematic big orchestra styling of Spring in Manhattan as well as the lightly melancholy moods of When Joanna Loved Me and Don't Wait Too Long. Throughout the album, Tony's effortlessly soaring voice gives meaning to every number."
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Super Hot Stamper

Tony Bennett
The Movie Song Album

  (Item #: bennemovie_1903) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • Tony Bennett's 1966 album of movie songs arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound on this superb pressing is full-bodied and lively, with the kind of Tubey Magic Columbia still knew how to get on analog tape
  • Musical Director Johnny Mandel partnered with Neal Hefti and Quincy Jones, arranging and conducting their own compositions, including "Girl Talk," from Harlow, and "Emily," from The Americanization of Emily
  • Some of the songs that Bennett could hardly have sung any better are "Days Of Wine And Roses," "The Shadow Of Your Smile" and "The Second Time Around," the last two previously recorded by Frank Sinatra, and we leave it to you to judge who comes off better
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Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Bernstein

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: berlisymfa_col_2011) 



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

Super Hot Stamper sound or BETTER for side two of this mid-'60s Columbia 360 (white arrows) pressing, and both sides offer up masterful performances by Bernstein and the New York Phil. This is a very difficult record to find in playable condition on the early label; most pressings are just beat whenever you are fortunate enough to find them.

More of the music written or performed by Leonard Bernstein


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Super Hot Stamper

Black Sabbath
Vol. 4

  (Item #: blackvol4_1904) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • This pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides here are really rockin' -- big and full-bodied with tight punchy bass and lots of energy
  • We agree with Henry Rollins, who said, "Sabbath could be my favourite band... There's something about their music that's so painful and yet so powerful."
  • 5 Stars: "... it does find Sabbath at their most musically varied, pushing to experiment amidst the drug-addled murk... Die-hard fans sick of the standards come here next, and some end up counting this as their favorite Sabbath record for its eccentricities and for its embodiment of the band's excesses."
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Super Hot Stamper

Blood, Sweat & Tears
Blood, Sweat & Tears

  (Item #: bloodblood_1812_1904) 

Our Price: $199.99
Sale Price: $179.00 (You save $20.99 / 10%)


  • Both sides of this outstanding original 360 pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades for sound
  • This is surely Roy Halee's engineering masterpiece, and here's the kind of pressing that makes our case
  • The sound is HUGE, rich, dynamic and POWERFUL - a permanent member of our Top 100 and a Demo Disc par excellence
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Their finest moment and a testimony to the best of the jazz/rock movement ... The album is bold, brassy and adventurous."
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Blood, Sweat and Tears

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: bloodblood_2009) 



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

In my opinion this is the BEST SOUNDING rock record ever made. I may be biased by the fact that I like the music so much; nevertheless, on a big stereo a Hot Stamper pressing like the one is nothing less than ASTOUNDING. It has the power of LIVE MUSIC. You don’t find that on a record too often, practically never in fact. I put this record at the top of The Best Sounding Rock Records of All Time List for good reason -- it’s in a class of its own.

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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.

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Borodin / Symphony No. 2 - Martinon

  (Item #: borodsym2_rca) 



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

This Minty looking RCA Living Stereo LP has AMAZING SOUND. It''s everything a Living Stereo record should be -- warm and rich with lots of depth and silky highs. The lower strings on this record are hands down some of the best I've ever heard. They're so rich and textured. Out of all the Decca recorded RCAs I've had the pleasure (or misfortune as the case may be!) of listening to, this is definitely one of the top dogs.

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White Hot Stamper

David Bowie
Aladdin Sane

  (Item #: bowiealadd_1901) 

Our Price: $399.99

  • An insanely good copy of this Bowie classic, with shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • The Tubey Magical midrange of a classic Ken Scott recording is really something to hear on this vintage UK pressing
  • Plenty of Bowie Classics: Watch That Man; Aladdin Sane; Panic in Detroit; Cracked Actor; The Jean Genie; Lady Grinning Soul and more (!)
  • This UK import copy - forget the dubby domestic LPs - is exceptionally quiet as well
  • Bowie encyclopedist Nicholas Pegg describes it as "one of the most urgent, compelling and essential" of his releases."
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David Bowie - Aladdin Sane

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: bowiealadd_2008) 



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

THE BIG BOWIE SOUND for this wonderful follow-up to Ziggy Stardust! We just finished shooting out a number of imports and domestic pressings of this album, and this British Orange Label pressing was THE KING -- on both sides! This one’s got the kind of "meat on the bones" sound that takes these great glam-rock songs to a whole new level! You won't believe how dynamic the sound is!

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Super Hot Stamper

David Bowie
David Live

  (Item #: bowiedavid_1812_1904) 

Our Price: $169.99
Sale Price: $129.00 (You save $40.99 / 24%)


  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades, or close to them, on all four sides of this Bowie classic -fairly quiet vinyl too
  • One of our favorite live recordings - a great overview of Bowie's career through 1974
  • 1984, Rebel Rebel, Sweet Thing and Rock & Roll With Me come ALIVE in performance like you have never heard before
  • A-List players of the day deliver sonic treats, including multiple horn players, multiple percussionists, all-male chorus background vocals, the searing fuzzed-out guitar leads of Earl Slick, piano and Mellotron by Mike Garson, and the amazing Herbie Flowers on bass
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David Bowie - Let’s Dance

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: bowieletsd_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

With Let's Dance the name of the game is ENERGY, and boy does this copy have it! Both sides have the deep, punchy bass and sweet, extended highs that Bowie's music needs to come ALIVE. With that big bass and smooth top end this is one record you can turn up GOOD and LOUD without fear of fatique. On a big pair of dynamic speakers you will really get your money's worth from the best Hot Stamper pressings.

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Super Hot Stamper

David Bowie
Scary Monsters

  (Item #: bowiescary_1903) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • An outstanding copy of what some have called Bowie's last great album, with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or better - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The best British pressings like this one are big and clear yet rich and smooth, the best of all possible worlds
  • This UK LP plays about as quietly as any we have heard - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • 5 Stars: "David Bowie returned to relatively conventional rock & roll with Scary Monsters, an album that effectively acts as an encapsulation of all his '70s experiments. Reworking glam rock themes with avant-garde synth flourishes, and reversing the process as well, Bowie creates dense but accessible music throughout Scary Monsters."
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Super Hot Stamper

David Bowie
Space Oddity

  (Item #: bowiespace_1811_1903) 

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


  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides, this is the right sound for Bowie's 1969 classic
  • This killer pressing is full-bodied and lively, with solid and present vocals, as well as excellent clarity all around
  • Ken Scott engineered at Trident, and Rick Wakeman plays a mean mellotron on some tracks - what's not to like?
  • "Abandoning both the mod and Anthony Newley fascinations that marked his earlier recordings, Bowie delves into a lightly psychedelic folk-rock, exemplified by the album's soaring title track..."
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David Bowie - Young Americans

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: bowieyoung_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

This is one of my favorite Bowie albums. Nobody seems to care about it anymore. They dismiss it as disco junk, but it actually has some of his best music on it. I especially like the song Win. David Sanborn's saxophone sounds like it's coming from 60 feet behind Bowie, a nice effect.

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Brewer & Shipley - Down In L.A.

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: brewedowni_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

This has long been one of our favorite Hippie Folk Rock albums here at Better Records. If you like Crosby, Stills and Nash's first album or Rubber Soul -- and who doesn't love those two albums -- you should much to like on Down in L.A.

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Brewer & Shipley - Tarkio

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: brewetarki_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Tarkio.

This Bay Area Hippie Folk Rock has a lot in common with The Grateful Dead circa Workingman's Dead and American Beauty (the latter recorded by the same engineer, Stephen Barncard), and like those superbly well-recorded albums, it lives or dies by the reproduction of its acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies.

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Super Hot Stamper

Buffalo Springfield
Again

  (Item #: buffaagain_1902) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • You'll find Double Plus (A++) Tubey Magical Analog sound from start to finish for Buffalo Springfield's sophomore release
  • Consistently brilliant songwriting and production: Mr. Soul; A Child's Claim To Fame; Expecting To Fly; Bluebird; Hung Upside Down; Sad Memory; Rock & Roll Woman; Broken Arrow and more!
  • The vinyl plays exceptionally quietly, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus - this is as quiet as they pressed them
  • A Desert Island Disc for yours truly - 5 Stars:"...this record stands as their greatest triumph... its classic status cannot be denied"
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White Hot Stamper (With Issues)

Buffalo Springfield
Again

  (Item #: buffaagain_1902_1) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • You'll find insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) Tubey Magical Analog sound from start to finish for Buffalo Springfield's sophomore release
  • Consistently brilliant songwriting and production: Mr. Soul; A Child's Claim To Fame; Expecting To Fly; Bluebird; Hung Upside Down; Sad Memory; Rock & Roll Woman; Broken Arrow and more!
  • A Desert Island Disc for yours truly - 5 Stars:"...this record stands as their greatest triumph... its classic status cannot be denied"
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Super Hot Stamper

Gary Burton
Who Is Gary Burton?

  (Item #: burtowhois_1904_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Burton's sophomore release finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This is vintage 1963 Living Stereo sound at its best - big, rich, relaxed, tonally correct and full of Tubey Magic - thanks Ray Hall!
  • In this stellar septet, Burton includes veteran musicians Clark Terry, Phil Woods, and Joe Morello, as well as Tommy Flanagan
  • 4 stars: "The playlist is anything but predictable... Although Burton is obviously a very confident soloist, he feels no need to hog the spotlight (a common mistake by young jazz musicians in later decades), as he is happy to step back and let the veterans take center stage."
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Super Hot Stamper

Kate Bush
Hounds Of Love

  (Item #: bush_hound_1811_1901) 

Our Price: $199.99
Sale Price: $169.00 (You save $30.99 / 15%)


  • You'll find outstanding audiophile sound throughout, with each side rating a solid Double Plus (A++) - quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides of this original UK pressing are wonderful: full-bodied, energetic, spacious, and above all, musically involving
  • Hounds Of Love is widely considered Bush's best album and listed among the Top 100 albums of all time by NME Magazine
  • 4 1/2 stars: "...wonderfully overpowering as a piece of pop music. Indeed, this reviewer hadn't had so much fun and such a challenge listening to a new album from the U.K. since Abbey Road, and it's pretty plain that Bush listened to (and learned from) a lot of the Beatles' output in her youth."
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White Hot Stamper

Kate Bush
Hounds Of Love

  (Item #: bush_hound_1901_1903) 

Our Price: $399.99

  • A stunning sounding original UK pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Full-bodied, energetic, spacious, and above all, musically involving, this copy was Hard To Fault (HTF)
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Hounds of Love was more carefully crafted as a pop record, and it abounded in memorable melodies and arrangements, the latter reflecting idioms ranging from orchestrated progressive pop to high-wattage traditional folk; and at the center of it all was Bush in the best album-length vocal performance of her career, extending her range and also drawing expressiveness from deep inside of herself, so much so that one almost feels as though he's eavesdropping at moments during "Running Up That Hill.""
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White Hot Stamper

Kate Bush
The Kick Inside

  (Item #: bush_kicki_1812_1904) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • A stunning sounding early British pressing of Kate Bush's debut album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them on both sides
  • Forget the dubby domestic pressings - here is the rich, Tubey Magical sound of the real Master Tape
  • Includes Bush's hit "Wuthering Heights," and a number of tracks written by this precocious artist at only 15
  • 4 stars: "... the sound of an impressionable and highly precocious teenager spreading her wings for the first time... a mightily impressive debut."
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Super Hot Stamper

Kate Bush
The Kick Inside

  (Item #: bush_kicki_1901) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two, this vintage British pressing will be very hard to beat
  • Both sides here are rich, smooth and full-bodied with a nice bottom end and a lovely musical quality that's missing from most of the copies we played
  • Includes Bush's hit "Wuthering Heights," and a number of tracks written by this precocious artist at only 15
  • 4 stars: "... the sound of an impressionable and highly precocious teenager spreading her wings for the first time... a mightily impressive debut."
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Super Hot Stamper

Donald Byrd
The Cat Walk

  (Item #: byrd_catwa_1904) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • Donald Byrd's brilliant 1962 release finally arrives with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Credit must go to Rudy Van Gelder once again for capturing the jazz energy of this superbly sympathetic ensemble
  • These sides are lively and fun, with the kind of sound the man consistently managed to get on tape, and other engineers struggled to find
  • 4 stars: "Donald Byrd and baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams worked together on several recordings between 1958 and 1961, and The Cat Walk (released on LP in 1962) is among the best. Byrd's playing throughout is typically sleek and lyrical, and Adams' sturdy, husky baritone sound is the perfect counterbalance, making The Cat Walk an essential Byrd purchase."
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Super Hot Stamper

Donald Byrd
House of Byrd

  (Item #: byrd_house_1903) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • Two rare Donald Byrd albums in one, both with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The Tubey Magic is fully intact, making these two albums sound just the way 1956 RVG jazz should
  • Composed of two superb LPs, 2 Trumpets and The Young Bloods, these wonderful pressings capture some of Byrd's best sound
  • "Art and Donald are in fine form, and if there is any competition it serves only to increase the musical yield."
  • "... These blowing sessions (typical of Prestige's albums of the 1950s) have their enjoyable moments with Farmer and Woods taking overall solo honors.
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Super Hot Stamper

The Byrds
Younger Than Yesterday

  (Item #: byrdsyoung_1807_1811) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER for this early Byrds gem from 1967 - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • It's clear, undistorted, rich and tubey - this sound lets the Byrds jangly folk-pop work
  • So You Want to Be a Rock 'N' Roll Star, My Back Pages and Have You Seen Her Face are all here, and sounding wonderful
  • 5 stars: "Time has shown it to be the most durable of the Byrds' albums, with the exception of Mr. Tambourine Man. David Crosby, Roger McGuinn, and especially Chris Hillman come into their own as songwriters on an eclectic but focused set blending folk-rock, psychedelia, and early country-rock."
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Super Hot Stamper

The Byrds
Younger Than Yesterday

  (Item #: byrdsyoung_1807_1904) 

Our Price: $149.99
Sale Price: $129.00 (You save $20.99 / 14%)


  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER for this early Byrds gem from 1967 - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • It's clear, undistorted, rich and tubey - this sound lets the Byrds jangly folk-pop work
  • So You Want to Be a Rock 'N' Roll Star, My Back Pages and Have You Seen Her Face are all here, and sounding wonderful
  • 5 stars: "Time has shown it to be the most durable of the Byrds' albums, with the exception of Mr. Tambourine Man. David Crosby, Roger McGuinn, and especially Chris Hillman come into their own as songwriters on an eclectic but focused set blending folk-rock, psychedelia, and early country-rock."
More Byrds / More Hippie Folk Rock


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Super Hot Stamper

Captain Beefheart
Clear Spot

  (Item #: captaclear_1811_1904) 

Our Price: $119.99
Sale Price: $99.00 (You save $20.99 / 17%)


  • This outstanding pressing of Clear Spot boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • One of the better copies of Clear Spot to hit the site in recent years - no question about it, this is his Masterpiece!
  • Produced by Ted Templeman, Clear Spot is one of Beefheart's most accessible albums and, IMHO, his best
  • 4 stars: "The sound is great throughout, and the feeling is of the coolest bar-band in town, not to mention one that could eat all the patrons for breakfast if it felt like it."
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Super Hot Stamper

The Cars
Candy-O

  (Item #: cars_candy_1810_1901) 

Our Price: $129.99
Sale Price: $89.00 (You save $40.99 / 32%)


  • A killer copy of The Cars' New Wave Classic, boasting outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Some of the best sound you'll ever hear on Candy-O -- big, punchy, dynamic, clear and lively
  • A great lineup of songs with Demo Disc sound quality, thanks to Roy Thomas Baker's production and engineering chops
  • AMG raves it's "... the rare follow-up to a classic debut... it may be one of the best second albums ever made, full of great songs, inspired performances, and sporting a still-perfect sound."
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The Cars - Candy-O

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: cars_candy_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 Cars' second album.

This is one of our favorite recordings -- a former member of our Top 100 -- for one very simple reason: it's got Big Rock Sound in spades! Drop the needle on Let's Go and check out the sound of the big floor tom. When the drummer bangs on that thing, you will FEEL it! It's similar to the effect of being in the room with live musicians -- the difference between just hearing music and also feeling it. That's what you get from a Hot Stamper copy.

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Johnny Cash - Johnny Cash at San Quentin

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: cash_atsan_2010) 



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

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

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Super Hot Stamper

Johnny Cash
The Fabulous Johnny Cash

  (Item #: cash_fabul_1812_1902) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • An excellent sounding copy with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish for Johnny Cash's first album for Columbia - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are Tubey and clear, with plenty of energy and a lovely musical quality that's noticeably (and sadly) missing from most copies
  • Fabulous is very well recorded for a country album from 1958, and the material is consistently engaging
  • 4 1/2: "What makes it so entertaining are the songs themselves. From "Don't Take Your Guns to Town" and "Frankie's Man, Johnny" to "Pickin' Time" and "The Troubador," the album is filled with first-rate songs."
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White Hot Stamper

Ray Charles
The Genius of Ray Charles

  (Item #: charlgenius_of_1904) 


  • This KILLER 2-pack boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • It's incredibly rich, full and tubey throughout, as Ray tackles both big band classics and string-backed ballads from the Great American Songbook, all with truly magical results
  • Robert Christgau noted that "Charles tried many times, but except for Modern Sounds, he never again assembled such a consistent album in this mode."
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Charles' voice is heard throughout in peak form, giving soul to even the veteran standards."
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Ray Charles
Ingredients In A Recipe For Soul

  (Item #: charlingre_1807_1811) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Outstanding sound throughout with both sides rating a Double Plus (A++) or BETTER
  • These sides are super big and full-bodied with lots of energy and a nice extended top end
  • "The high points are very high -- "Busted," his hit reworking of a composition by country songwriter Harlan Howard, is jazzy and tough, and one of his best early-'60s singles..." - All Music
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Ray Charles
Ingredients In A Recipe For Soul

  (Item #: charlingre_1809_1902) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • Insanely good sound throughout with both sides earning shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • These sides are doing it all right -- richer, fuller, better bass, more Tubey Magic, and the list goes on!
  • "The high points are very high -- "Busted," his hit reworking of a composition by country songwriter Harlan Howard, is jazzy and tough, and one of his best early-'60s singles..."
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Ray Charles
Modern Sounds In Country & Western...V. 2

  (Item #: charlmoder_2_1810_1901) 

Our Price: $349.99

  • You'll find incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this stereo copy of Charles' 1962 follow up to Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music
  • Features Ray's Big Band with the Raelettes on one side and the legendary Jack Halloran Singers on the other
  • Finally, here is the right sound for these acclaimed songs you know well, classics such as You Are My Sunshine; Your Cheating Heart; Oh, Lonesome Me, and nine more
  • 5 stars: "Vol. 2 defied the curse of the sequel and was just as much of an artistic triumph as its predecessor … the miracle is that Charles' hurt, tortured, soulfully twisting voice transforms the backgrounds as well as the material; you believe what he's singing."
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Ray Charles
Modern Sounds In Country & Western...V. 2

  (Item #: charlmoder_2_1811_1901) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this stereo copy of Charles' 1962 follow up to Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music
  • Features Ray's Big Band with the Raelettes on one side and the legendary Jack Halloran Singers on the other
  • Both sides are big, open, and lively - just the right sound for this acclaimed album full of songs you know well
  • 5 stars: "Vol. 2 defied the curse of the sequel and was just as much of an artistic triumph as its predecessor, if not as immediately startling."
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Ray Charles & Betty Carter
Ray Charles & Betty Carter

  (Item #: charlraych_1902_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound for this hard-to-find vintage stereo pressing
  • Ray's 1961 release here showcases two of the most soulful singers to ever share a microphone, both at the height of their powers
  • Includes the now "controversial" Baby It's Cold Outside (no one has ever recorded it quite like these two), People Will Say We're In Love, Side By Side, and many more
  • 4 stars: "There is certainly a powerful, often sexy rapport between the two -- Charles in his sweet balladeering mode, Carter with her uniquely keening, drifting high register -- and they definitely create sparks in the justly famous rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside.""
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Ray Charles
Sweet & Sour Tears

  (Item #: charlsweet_1804_1904) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • You'll find stunning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this Shootout Winning 1964 pressing - exceptionally QUIET vinyl for a vintage Ray Charles record (!)
  • This stereo pressing is the only way to hear these classic songs sound rich, powerful and free from coloration
  • A concept album filled with an eclectic collection of themed music, this release showcases Charles' innovative approach to recording
  • "...One is almost tempted to think that Charles was toying with audience expectations by mixing unabashedly sentimental slow tunes with the far more bluesy, satisfying, and upbeat numbers, such as his surprisingly brassy, punchy treatment of "Cry Me a River.""
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Cheap Trick
At Budokan

  (Item #: cheapatbud_1903) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • You'll find outstanding sound on this true classic from Cheap Trick, with each side earning Double Plus (A++) or better sonic grades - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This one is doing pretty much everything right, with deeper bass, less distortion, grungier guitars, and the kind of LIVE ROCK and ROLL ENERGY that Cheap Trick is known for
  • This is one of only two Cheap Trick albums that cuts it for us sonically and musically (the other being Dream Police)
  • "With their ear-shatteringly loud guitars and sweet melodies, Cheap Trick unwittingly paved the way for much of the hard rock of the next decade, as well as a surprising amount of alternative rock of the 1990s, and it was At Budokan that captured the band in all of its power."
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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.)

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Chicago
Chicago VII

  (Item #: chicachica7_1805_1903) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With 10 pluses out of a possible 12, this is one of the better copies of Chicago VII to hit the site in quite a while
  • All four sides are exceptionally big, open and lively, just the right sound for this album
  • Happy Man, (I've Been) Searchin' So Long and Wishing You Were Here (with Beach Boys backing vox) are the big hits here
  • "It was Peter Cetera who made the biggest strides on Chicago VII, composing his two most impressive songs thus far, Happy Man and "Wishing You Were Here," a lush ballad (signs of the future) that features three of The Beach Boys on backing vocals and which became a big hit in late 1974."
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Chicago
Chicago VII

  (Item #: chicachica7_1904) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • With 8 pluses out of a possible 12, this is one of the better copies of Chicago VII from our most recent shootout
  • All four sides are super big and solid with great bass and lots of energy, just the right sound for this album
  • Happy Man, (I've Been) Searchin' So Long and Wishing You Were Here (with Beach Boys backing vox) are the big hits here
  • "It was Peter Cetera who made the biggest strides on Chicago VII, composing his two most impressive songs thus far, Happy Man and "Wishing You Were Here" (#11), a lush ballad (signs of the future) that features three of The Beach Boys on backing vocals and which became a big hit in late 1974."
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June Christy
Gone For The Day

  (Item #: chrisgonef_1805_1901) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two, this Capitol Turquoise label original will be very hard to beat
  • This 1957 mono has all the TUBEY MAGIC these vintage Capitol pressings are famous for - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • It's balanced and natural, with the kind of rich, full-bodied sound that no one seems to know how to record anymore
  • Allmusic reviewers give it Four Stars and we would give it at least that many - we love the unique sound of June Christy's breathy, sweet voice
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Eric Clapton
Backless

  (Item #: claptbackl_1709_1904) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • This outstanding British original earned Double Plus (A++) sonic grades on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Rich, smooth, clear sound throughout - listen to the grungy guitars on Walk Out In The Rain - that's the way they should sound all right
  • Clapton comes to life on the traditional blues Early In The Morning - it also has the best sound on the album
  • "Backless is a seductive record, if you're attracted to the interplay of Clapton's dolorous voice and Marcy Levy's raspy backup vocals, George Terry's slide guitar and Glyn Johns' pristine production." Rolling Stone
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Eric Clapton
Just One Night

  (Item #: claptjusto_1802_1904) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A superb early RSO pressing boasting Double Plus (A++) sound on ALL FOUR sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This one is doing pretty much everything right-- it's bigger, bolder, richer and more clean, clear and open than most of what we played
  • Sure to be the best live Clapton sound you'll hear on vinyl -- and the music is wonderful as well
  • 4 1/2 stars: "The most notable difference between Just One Night and Clapton's other live albums is his backing band. Led by guitarist Albert Lee, the group is a collective of accomplished professionals who have managed to keep some grit in their playing. They help push Clapton along, forcing him to spit out crackling solos throughout the album."
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