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White Hot Stamper

Andre Previn & His Pals
Gigi

  (Item #: previgigi_1904_1907) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • A KILLER sounding original Black Label Stereo pressing with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • If you have never heard an All Tube Analog piano trio recording by Roy DuNann from the Golden Age of Tape, you are really in for a treat with this phenomenal sounding LP
  • Exceptionally (I'm tempted to write impossibly) quiet vinyl throughout - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • "André Previn's ten records for Contemporary during 1957-1960 were among the finest jazz recordings of his career... Best known among the songs are "I Remember It Well" and "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," but the trio also uplifts and swings the other lesser-known tunes."
See all of our Andre Previn albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Benny Carter
Jazz Giant

  (Item #: cartejazzg_1907_10) 

Our Price: $169.99

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


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Super Hot Stamper

Shelly Manne & His Friends
My Fair Lady

  (Item #: mannemyfai_1904_6_9) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • This early Black Label Stereo pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides and offers practically unheard of quiet vinyl for an original!
  • This Contemporary pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce
  • Recorded entirely in one session, this album was the first jazz recording comprised entirely of songs from a Broadway musical - the results are decidedly provocative
  • 5 stars: "This trio set by Shelly Manne & His Friends... was a surprise best-seller and is now considered a classic...The result is a very appealing set that is easily recommended."
More Shelly Manne / More Andre Previn


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Super Hot Stamper

Andre Previn & His Pals
Gigi

  (Item #: previgigi_1904_9) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • A superb sounding Contemporary Yellow Label Stereo pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from the first note to the last
  • If you have never heard an All Tube Analog piano trio recording by Roy DuNann from the Golden Age of Tape, you are really in for a treat with this phenomenal sounding LP
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • "André Previn's ten records for Contemporary during 1957-1960 were among the finest jazz recordings of his career... Best known among the songs are "I Remember It Well" and "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," but the trio also uplifts and swings the other lesser-known tunes."
See all of our Andre Previn albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Andre Previn & His Pals
Pal Joey

  (Item #: previpaljo_1902_1908) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides - this copy is truly a knockout Piano Trio record
  • Our best Hot Stamper copies will show you just how good Fifties All Tube Analog can sound
  • Yet another Demo Disc for Contemporary, the brilliant work of the engineering team of Dunann and Holzer
  • One of Andre Previn's better jazz performances on record - his pals Manne and Mitchell are no slouches either
More Andre Previn / More Shelly Manne


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Andre Previn & His Pals - Pal Joey

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: previpaljo_2016) 



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

The piano sounds uncannily lifelike right from the start, a beautiful instrument in a natural space, tonally correct from top to bottom. I can't think of many records off the top of my head that get a better piano sound than this one.

ROY DUNANN and HOWARD HOLZER in 1957 are hard to beat.

More Andre Previn


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Andre Previn & His Pals - West Side Story

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: previwests_2016) 



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

This superb sounding Black Label Stereo Contemporary pressing has close to Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side two. Side one earned a Double Plus, which makes this by far the best copy to ever hit the site and a great way to hear this classic piano trio swingin' in 1959. This is yet another Demo Disc for Contemporary, more brilliant work from house engineer Roy Dunann.

More Andre Previn / More Shelly Manne


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Andre Previn & His Pals - West Side Story

MoFi Reviewed

  (Item #: previwests_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: B-

Another MoFi LP reviewed.

I played this record a while back -- it's one of the Mobile Fidelity's I remember liking from the old days -- and sure enough it still sounds good. It does not have the phony boosted bottom and top that most MoFis do. Since it's such a well recorded album, the sound is very impressive. Also the music is great. This is one of Previn's best piano trio records. And Shelly Manne drums up a storm here.

More Andre Previn


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Barney Kessel - Barney Kessel Plays Carmen (Stereo)

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: kessebarne_stereo_2014) 



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

This original Black Label Contemporary stereo LP has a STUNNING side two! Barney Kessel Plays Carmen is one of our favorite jazz guitar recordings of all time, and on a copy like this the sound is absolutely KILLER.

As you can see from looking at the condition notes, this copy is quieter than any other we have listed to from our recent shootout. Fifties jazz doesn't play much better than this copy right here.

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Barney Kessel - Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: kessemusic_2008) 



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

This Minty Original Black Label Contemporary Stereo LP from 1957 has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND! No other copy we played was in a class with this bad boy -- it does it ALL. For those of you who appreciate the sound that Roy DuNann (and Howard Holzer on other sessions) were able to achieve in the '50s at Contemporary Records, this LP is a Must-Own (unless you already have it, which is doubtful considering how hard it is to find a copy in clean condition).

More Barney Kessel


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Barney Kessel - Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: kessemusic_2017) 



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

This Triple Triple (A+++) mono pressing blew everything else out of the water - nothing could touch it! How can you beat a Roy DuNann recording of five reeds, piano, guitar and a rhythm section that includes Shelly Manne and Red Mitchell? The timbre of the instruments is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you've put into your stereo more than pay off.

The Demo Disc sound on this copy is really something to hear - all tube, live-to-two-track direct from the Contemporary studio.

More Barney Kessel


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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

Analogue Productions Debunked

  (Item #: cartejazzg_ap_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

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

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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: cartejazzg_2011) 



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

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

More Benny Carter


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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

The Amazing Sounding Mono Copy We Played in 2005

  (Item #: cartejazzg_2005) 



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

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

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

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Gershwin / Concerto In F & Rhapsody In Blue / Kostelanetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: gershconce_8286_2015) 



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

This early Columbia 360 Label pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides. Exceptionally rich and Tubey Magical from start to finish. The sound on this vintage pressing is natural and above all musical. Both works are performed with consummate skill and attention to detail, the result magnificent.

More of the music of George Gershwin


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Helen Humes - Songs I Like to Sing

Our Black Label Shootout Winner

  (Item #: humessongs_blk_2007) 



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

This Contemporary Black Label Original LP has AMAZING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It has that classic tube-mastered sound -- warmer, smoother, and sweeter than the later pressings with more breath of life.

More Helen Humes


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Helen Humes - Songs I Like to Sing

Our Yellow Label Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: humessongs_2008) 



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

Side one has OFF THE CHARTS, A+++ Master Tape Sound. It's amazingly tubey magical, yet incredibly clean and clear -- something you can't get from the tube-mastered originals. Helen's voice is PERFECTION -- breathy, full, and sweet. The orchestra sounds JUST RIGHT -- just listen to the nice bite of the brass. The overall sound is super full-bodied and rich and very transparent.

More Helen Humes


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Holst / The Planets / Previn / LSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: holstplane_emi_2013) 



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

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

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

More of the music of Gustav Holst


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Holst / The Planets/ Previn (2 45 RPM LPs)

Just Awful

  (Item #: holstplane_45) 



This Minty looking EMI 45 RPM Japanese Import 2 LP set with the OBI strip and Little Sign Of Play (LSOP) is widely considered one of the great Planets, but it's not, based on our playing of a copy we had years ago, which means it belongs in our Hall of Shame.

The best copies on British or Dutch EMI vinyl are clearly better than this "audiophile" pressing.

More of the music of Gustav Holst


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Prokofiev / Peter and the Wolf / Young Person’s Guide / Previn

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: prokopeter_2935) 



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

ASD 2935. Excellent sound.

See more of the music of Sergei Prokofiev


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Prokofiev / Symphonies No. 1 & 7

Seventies EMI Classical LPs and Vintage Tube Playback

  (Item #: prokosym1_emi) 



What to listen for on this album? That's easy: The all-too-common '70s EMI harshness and shrillness. We could never understand why audiophiles revered EMI as a label the way they did back the day. I chalk it up -- as I do most of the mistaken judgments audiophiles tend to make about the sound of records, my own included -- to the limitations of the equipment, bad rooms and poor record cleaning.

If you had vintage tube equipment back in the '70s -- McIntosh, Marantz, etc. (I myself had an Audio Research SP3-A1 and a D-75a, later a D-76a) -- the flaws heard on most copies of this record wouldn't be nearly as offensive as they are to those of us playing them on the much more revealing systems that are possible today.

See all pressings of Prokofiev's music in stock


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Rachmaninov / The Bells / Previn

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: rachmbells_3284_2008) 



This is a Minty EMI original looking pressing of the famous TAS List title. You will have a very hard time finding a nicer one than this!

Since it is such a famously well-regarded recording we decided to clean it up and gave it a spin. Side one has sweet string tone and a super-extended top end, and it plays very quiet.

Side two is not quite as good; it's fuller but lacks the extension on the top that side one has in spades. It's also quiet at mostly Mint Minus. (EMIs from this period are almost never quieter than that.)

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)


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Schumann & Grieg / Piano Concertos / Lupu / Previn / LSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: schumpiano_6840_2008) 



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

This is an EXCELLENT SOUNDING London pressing of the famous TAS list LP. I've never heard a quieter copy. Usually these are noisy as hell and this one plays dead quiet most of the time, and Mint Minus the rest. HP was right: the Grieg here has the best sound. The piano is amazingly well recorded; the sound is rich and powerful. The orchestra sound better on the Grieg as well; it's slightly more compressed and leaner on the Schumann side.


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Shelly Manne & His Friends - Bells Are Ringing

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: mannebells_2016) 



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

Side One

Rich and Tubey Magical in the best way, because it's still clear and spacious.

Side Two

Tight, deep bass and an extended top, with a solid piano in between, this side is hard to fault.

Better Than a Dream, the second track on this side, has one of the best sounding jazz pianos I have ever heard. My notes say "you cannot record a piano any better" and I stand behind that statement one hundred percent.

More Shelly Manne / More Andre Previn


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Shelly Manne & His Friends - Bells Are Ringing

What to Listen For

  (Item #: mannebells_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

I have a very long history with this album, dating back close to twenty years. My friend Robert Pincus first turned me on to the CD, which, happily for all concerned was mastered beautifully. We used it to test and tweak my stereo and many of those that were owned by friends.

More Shelly Manne / More Andre Previn


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Shelly Manne and Friends - My Fair Lady

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: mannemyfai_2012) 



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

This Contemporary Black Label LP is FULL OF TUBEY MAGIC! The sound is lively and dynamic with tighter bass than the typical old Contemporary pressing. Five big stars in the All Music Guide!

More Shelly Manne


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Walton - Violin Concerto -- Chung / Previn

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: waltovioli_6601_2011) 



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

A Near Mint 1973 Decca British Import LP. This album also contains the Stravinsky Concerto on side two.

The Walton sounds quite good; the Stravinsky is a bit Hi-Fi-ish for my taste. Love that cover!

More Andre Previn


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What We Listen For

Timbre, Richness, Tubey Magic and Freedom from Artificiality

  (Item #: kessebarne_listen) 



This Home Audio Exercise entry was inspired by the wonderful qualities of the Contemporary recording you see pictured, qualities brought to our attention while doing a shootout of various pressings of the album in early 2009.

We addressed a number of issues in our commentary: first and foremost what we were listening for on the album (and what we were hearing). A bit of mono versus stereo (in this case both can be good). This is followed by some Audiophile Equipment bashing.

More Contemporary jazz


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