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Elvis Presley - From Elvis in Memphis

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: preslfrome_2017) 



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

Of the handful of Elvis albums to ever make it to the site this is clearly the critics' favorite, and one listen will tell you why. This is the album that single-handedly revived Elvis' fortunes, setting the stage for his record-breaking series of shows in Las Vegas doing pretty much the type of music he had recorded for it. The next year he would go on tour for the first time since 1957 (!).

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Elvis Presley - From Elvis in Memphis

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: preslfrome_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl remasters. (Probably. It's been a very long time since I played it.)

Speakers Corner did the album in 2003 and if memory serves I liked it and recommended it at the time. I rather doubt I could stand it now. I have much less tolerance now for the vague imaging, lack of ambience and overall lifeless quality their records invariably suffer from than I did then.

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Elvis Presley - Fun In Acapulco

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: preslfunin_2015) 



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

Finding clean real Elvis records -- not those crappy compilations and vault-leftovers, but real Elvis albums from his golden period when he was the true King of Pop (sorry Michael) -- has never been a walk in the park. We do the best we can.

Fortunately there are some reissues from the '60s and '70s that have the potential for excellent sound. This is clearly one of them. The originals we see are a lost cause; they're practically always scratched and full of groove damage. We'd be lucky to find a clean one every five or ten years nowadays.

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Elvis Presley - On Stage February 1970

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: preslonsta_2017) 



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

With two Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sides, this original RCA Orange Label copy simply could not be beat. This is Elvis doing songs made famous by others, proving that he can still out-rock and out-soul practically anybody alive. With ten million copies sold to date, this album's appeal has transcended its time and must be considered a true Elvis Classic.

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Elvis Presley - Pot Luck

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: preslpotlu_2017) 



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

If you want to know just how rich, spacious, natural and Tubey Magical Elvis' records can sound, look no further. Recorded in Nashville by the brilliant Bill Porter, and with the Jordanaires singing backup, what's not to like?

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Elvis Presley - Something For Everybody

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: preslsomet_2017) 



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

Most of the man's records don't sound good on most pressings, and more often than not the best sounding pressings are just too noisy to interest most audiophiles.

But we found this one, and it blew everything else out of the water. It's got the glorious sound of 1961 in its grooves.

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Frank Sinatra - All Alone

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: sinatallal_2015) 



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

The biggest issue with Reprise-era Sinatra is always grit and grain, and we're happy to report that this superb pressing has very little of either.

Also it's often the case that the strings may seem a bit shrill or smeary (or both; smear itself can actually make the strings sound shrill). The more harmonically correct and rosiny the string tone the better, obviously.

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Frank Sinatra - All The Way

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: sinatallth_2016) 



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

This vintage '60s Capitol pressing was our clear winner, with Triple Plus sound on both sides. It has the all the Tubey Magic one could ask for, allowing Sinatra's rich baritone to work its magic on every phrase. As you can well imagine, finding clean, scratch-free '60s Sinatra records like this one, in stereo no less, is no walk in the park.

This group of singles and B-sides was recorded from 1957 to 1960 - it contain some of Sinatra's better known songs arranged by Nelson Riddle.

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Frank Sinatra - Close To You

Sounds Great in Mono

  (Item #: sinatclose_2010) 



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

This nice looking Capitol Rainbow Label pressing has SUPERB SINATRA SOUND! His voice is PERFECTION. Rich, sweet, and completely free of phony EQ (Mobile Fidelity take note!), this record will put a living, breathing Sinatra between your speakers. Normally I'm not a big fan of these slower, ballady Sinatra records, but he's so good here, it's difficult to find fault with music and sound like this.

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Frank Sinatra - Come Dance With Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: sinatcomed_2015) 



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

Get ready to swing with the Chairman of the Board on this incredible White Hot Stamper pressing of this classic album from 1959! This is one of the more fun Sinatra albums we've had the pleasure of playing around here, and this is a copy that delivers BIG TIME. Billy May and his orchestra back Frank with wonderful arrangements here, and a copy like this lets you appreciate everyone's hard work. The brass blasts on side two are to die for!

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Frank Sinatra - Come Swing With Me!

Our Shootout Winner from 2005

  (Item #: sinatcomes_2005) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Hall of Fame.

I discovered that some of these later Capitol reissues can really sound good about ten years ago. They're cheap when you find them because collectors don't want them and audiophiles as a whole think that cheap reissues always sound bad. But here at Better Records we don't really deal too much with record collectors per se. We deal with that tiny minority of audiophiles who want real music that actually sounds good. (The majority of audiophiles want Patricia Barber records and they can have her.)

So we love finding great Sinatra albums from his prime recording days that actually sound the way we want them to -- lively and fun.

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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 - Look To Your Heart

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: sinatlookt_2016) 



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

Triple Plus (A+++) on side one, with a side two that is right up there with it - outstanding sound quality from first note to last. This copy was the fullest, richest and smoothest, with the best bass and most natural vocals of any we played. Recorded from 1953-1955, this mono collection of singles and such gives us Old Blue Eyes in his Capitol-period prime.

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Frank Sinatra - Moonlight Sinatra

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: sinatmoonl_2017) 



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

Out of this world Triple Triple (A+++) sound - this is sure to be one of the best Sinatra records you'll ever hear. Both of these Shootout Winning stereo sides are unbelievably rich and Tubey Magical - this is some killer Frank Sinatra sound. We've been working on this shootout for years - this is the first - and best - copy we have to show for our efforts.

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Frank Sinatra - My Kind of Broadway

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: sinatmykin_2016) 



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

Sinatra set very high standards for his repertoire, his musicians, his arrangements and most of all, his performances. I find no evidence to support the contention that any of the above are lackluster or second-rate on My Kind of Broadway.

If you have any doubts, go to youtube, pull up the album and take a listen to some of the tracks. We can't find a bad one and we would be surprised if you could either. There are lots of great ones in fact.

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Frank Sinatra - Nice and Easy

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: sinatnicea_2013) 



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

It's been a long time coming but we're pretty sure whoever takes this bad boy home will agree that it's been worth the wait. Here's the first White Hot Stamper of The Chairman's classic Nice 'n' Easy to ever hit the site! This killer pressing has an A+++ side one, an A++ side two, and unusually quiet vinyl throughout. Take this one home and play it against the MoFi pressing for a good laugh -- this thing will positively SMOKE whatever other version you might have in your collection, guaranteed.

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Frank Sinatra - Nice and Easy

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: sinatnicea_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: F

AHall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

A piece of garbage that gets Frank's voice completely wrong, thinning it out and boosting at it the top of his range. No one else besides MoFi ever managed to make Frank Sinatra's voice sound this way, so what are the chances that they're right and everybody else is wrong? Slim? None? Put us down for "none."

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Frank Sinatra - No One Cares

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: sinatnoone_2015) 



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

Those of you looking for vintage, quiet, great sounding Sinatra albums may be waiting a very long time for a copy of this title. Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit worse is going to be about the best we can do. After more than twenty years of searching we know what to expect, and to expect a quiet early pressing at this late stage of the game is surely a recipe for disappointment. We do the best we can with what we have to work with. The sound here is not perfect but it is quite a bit better than most of the copies you may find in the bins, and certainly a lot quieter.

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Frank Sinatra - Only The Lonely

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: sinatonlyt_2015) 



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

It is TOUGH to find a good sounding Only The Lonely, but this pressing really delivers. Frank's vocals sound present, breathy, and full -- just the way they need to.

We get asked about Sinatra records all the time, but we hardly ever find stuff good enough to list on the site. And when we manage to, this stuff tends to get snapped up QUICKLY. Everyone needs a good Sinatra record or two in their collection, maybe this is the one for you?

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Frank Sinatra - Point of No Return

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: sinatpoint_2012) 



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

This Capitol Rainbow Label pressing defeated most of the copies we threw up against it in a recent shootout. The overall sound is clean, clear and transparent with correct tonal balance.

We enjoyed the music on this one quite a bit, especially when we heard it on a good sounding copy like this one. Check out the AMG review linked above for the story behind the album, which teams Frank up with his former collaborator Axel Stordahl, who arranged and conducted. The results are wonderful.

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Frank Sinatra - September of My Years

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: sinatsepte_2010) 



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

Have you been wondering when some amazing sounding Hot Stamper vinyl from The Chairman Of The Board was going to hit the site? Folks, TODAY IS THAT DAY! It is beyond tough to find amazing sounding (and quiet) copies of any of Sinatra's albums, but we managed to find some STUNNING copies of this lovely album, one that earned Five Big Stars in the venerable All Music Guide.

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Frank Sinatra - September of My Years

Rhino Debunked

  (Item #: sinatsepte_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C-

Not recommended. The originals are better and not that hard to find. The sound on good originals is quite respectable for a Reprise-era Sinatra recording. (His Capitol stuff sounds the best but quiet good sounding pressings of those are tough to come by!)

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

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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra '65

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: sinatsinat65_2015) 



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

Is the title a play off of Capitol's gazillion selling Beatles '65? Only Frank really knows.

This original Green and Blue Reprise stereo pressing has the sound we look for -- big, rich and tubey. It does vary a bit from track to track but overall we found this copy to be quite enjoyable.

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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra and Swingin' Brass

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: sinatswingin_brass_2012) 



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

This nearly White Hot side two showed us just how good sounding this original Tri-Color Reprise original pressing could sound. Don't get me wrong; they have their share of problems, but the better copies are as musical and enjoyable as many of the best Capitol releases from Sinatra's prime period. (Most of which sound dreadful by the way, due to Capitol's awful mastering. Just play an early Beatles album to hear what I'm talking about.)

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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra and Swingin' Brass

Skip the Mono

  (Item #: sinatswingin_brass_mono) 



Sonic Grade: F

A great sounding record in stereo, potentially anyway, but in mono the bad sound puts it firmly in our Hall of Shame.

Stick with stereo; the mono pressings aren't worth anybody's time (scratch that: any audiophile's time).

A public service from the record loving audiophiles here at Better Records.

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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra Sings... of Love and Things

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: sinatsinatra_sings_2015) 



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

The music is excellent as one can see from the track listing. It's hard to go wrong with these later Capitol Sinatra records. They're almost always a fun listen.

This album comprises the last group of singles Capitol released of Sinatra's music. Reprise had started in 1960 and the rest of Sinatra's music would come out on his own label. Somehow he managed to record and release six studio albums in 1962, with this compilation making a total of seven for the year. Even more remarkable, all seven of them made the Top Ten of the pop charts.

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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra's Sinatra

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: sinatsinatras_2016) 



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

This Sinatra release from 1963 has out of this world Triple Plus (A+++) sound practically from start to finish. Forget the reissues - the stereo original we are offering here is the only way to go for rich, tubey, dynamic, musical sound. Frank rerecorded some of his biggest hits in stereo for this album - the record is one Sinatra Classic after another.

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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra's Sinatra

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: sinatsinat_2016) 



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

This Sinatra release from 1963 has out of this world Triple Plus (A+++) sound practically from start to finish. Forget the reissues - the stereo original we are offering here is the only way to go for rich, tubey, dynamic, musical sound. Frank rerecorded some of his biggest hits in stereo for this album - the record is one Sinatra Classic after another.

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Frank Sinatra - Sings Days of Wine and Roses & more

Judging Books and Covers

  (Item #: sinatdayso_2016) 



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

Presented with the less-than-captivating cover and title of Days of Wine and Roses, we were put off by our first impression; that of a budget thrown-together compilation, brought even lower by the fairly generic shot of Old Blue Eyes on the cover. We didn't think an album that looked like this could possibly contain the swinging (or deeply emotional, both are fine with us) Sinatra music we've grown to love from his best Capitol- and Reprise-era releases.

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Frank Sinatra - Songs for Swingin’ Lovers

Our Shootout Winner from 2006

  (Item #: sinatsongs_2006) 



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

This is a Minty Capitol Black Label original LP with No Bar Code. They don’t come any better than this! It is amazingly quiet for an old Capitol, with excellent sound throughout.

Many of the Sinatra Capitol Black Label releases do not sound good. They're full of harmonic distortion like The Beatles' records from that era. This copy is the exception -- not the rule! The recordings are full of life and clearly made from a good tape.

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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 - Swing Aong with Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: sinatswing_along_2014) 



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

Of the five records Sinatra released in 1961 (Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!!; Come Swing with Me!; Ring-a-Ding-Ding!; Swing Along with Me; and I Remember Tommy), this is clearly one of our favorites. (And by the way, what's with all the exclamation marks?)

BILLY MAY deserves much of the credit for the "swing" that's all over the album. His band is jumpin', and on the best pressings -- such as this one -- the sound manages to convey that energy with virtually none of the grit and hardness you hear on so many of Sinatra's other albums.

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Frank Sinatra - That's Life

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: sinatthats_2018) 



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

This original Reprise LP has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues. It gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in front of you.

He's no longer a recording -- he's a living, breathing person. We call that "the breath of life," and this record has it in spades. His voice is rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality. You immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there's no "sound" to distract you.

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Frank Sinatra - The Concert Sinatra

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: sinatconce_2010) 



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

This stereo pressing has SUPER HOT stamper sound on both sides, which means it was one of the best copies in our recent shootout, the first we've done since 2006 (!).

Folks, when we say that clean, good sounding Sinatra records are hard to come by, we are not kidding. It took us five years to find enough copies of this title to do a proper shootout. In that time an awful lot of bad LPs passed passed through our hands: the monos (never heard a good one), the reissues (ditto), imports, and, most commonly, original stereo pressings in beat-to-death condition. People loved Sinatra and played his records until the grooves were gone.

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Frank Sinatra - The Voice

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: sinatthevo_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

There is a boatload of TUBEY MAGIC to be heard on the original pressings, due no doubt to the fact that they are mastered with tube equipment, but not much on this Classic repress.

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Frank Sinatra - The Voice

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: sinatthevo_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame from 1955.

This is a Six Eye Mono Original Columbia pressing. These originals have the midrange magic that is missing from the Classic Records heavy vinyl pressing.

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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.

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Frank Sinatra and Count Basie - Sinatra At The Sands

Mobile Fidelity Reviewed

  (Item #: sinatatthe_mobile_fidelity) 



Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed.

It's pretty good. Compressed and veiled, but the tonality is correct. I give it a B. It will beat the vast majority of reissues, which tend to be thin, gritty, and woefully lacking in Tubey Magic. And the vinyl will be quiet, which is something not many of the best pressings can offer.

But who wants to listen to a B grade record when we you can buy A and A+ pressings from us?

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Frank Sinatra and Count Basie - Sinatra At The Sands

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: sinatatthe_2013) 



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

This double album presents Sinatra and Basie at the height of their powers, in a setting especially conducive to both men's music, the big room at the Sands Hotel in Vegas. If you missed it -- and I'm sure most all of us did -- here's your chance to go back in time and be seated with the beautiful people, front row center. This two disc all tube-mastered analog set is practically the only way you'll ever be able to hear the greatest vocalist of his generation -- in his prime no less -- performing with one of the swingingest big bands of the time.

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Frank Sinatra and Count Basie - Sinatra At The Sands

What to Listen For

  (Item #: sinatatthe_wtlf) 



There is some edge on Sinatra's voice on every side of every copy; it's so common it's got to be on the tape. Those copies with less edge and grit on the vocals which are not overly smooth or dull tend to do very well in our shootouts.

Also, richness is very important. We look for a combination of rich, Tubey Magical sound that still maintains a fair amount of space, clarity, transparency and freedom from smear.

The original label pressings (always in stereo; the monos are really a joke) are richer and thicker as a rule.

The pressings with the orange two-tone labels tend to be thinner and clearer. A high percentage of them are much too modern sounding, bright and gritty, and when they are we throw them right in the trade-in pile.

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Harry Belafonte - Belafonte at Carnegie Hall

Our Shootout Winner from 2006

  (Item #: belafbelaf_2006) 



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

Harry Pearson brought this record to the attention of audiophiles with his TAS list a long time ago, and rightfully so: it's an amazing recording.

We happen to love the music too, which makes it one of the most recommendable records we have ever offered. If you can find a better combination of demo disc sound, with music worth the hassle and expense of reproducing it properly, more power to you. We sure can't.

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Harry Belafonte - Belafonte at Carnegie Hall

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: belafbelaf_2019) 



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

From an audiophile point of view, you get to hear live musicians and all the energy they bring to this music, all on the stage at the same time: strings, brass, percussionists and Harry Belafonte front and center. Tube mics (and not too many of them), a tube tape recorder, RCA's superb engineering and all-tube mastering chain ensure that the "breath of life" is captured intact. I know of no better live popular vocal recording on the planet.

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Harry Belafonte - Belafonte... Live!

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: belafbelaf_live_2011) 



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

White Hot Stampers on sides one and three! This copy also has an A++ side two and an A+ side four, so there's a ton of good sound on this fun concert LP. This album features Harry performing on all four sides, but also includes music from some of the guests he brought along to perform with him at the early '70s shows in Toronto from which these performances are taken. The first three sides are all KILLER -- you get real-life immediacy, excellent clarity, breathtaking transparency and boatloads of tubey magic!

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Harry Belafonte - Jump Up Calypso

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: belafjumpu_2012) 



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

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES on this Living Stereo pressing that should easily beat your DCC version -- or your money back! We played a big stack of these recently and are happy to report that the best copies deliver that old-school RCA tubey magic that brings out the best in Belafonte's music. The sound here is big, lively, rich and full. Only the better copies like this one really brought out the FUN in the music, an essential quality for this material.

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Harry Belafonte - Sings The Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: belafsings_2016) 



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

If you're looking to demonstrate just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you.

Naturally the vocals have to be the main focus on a Harry Belafonte record. He should sound rich and tubey, yet clear, breathy and transparent. To qualify as a Hot Stamper the pressings we offer must be highly resolving, not crude and ambience-challenged the way so many modern LPs seem to be. You should be able to hear every element of the recording, with the voice and instruments surrounded by the natural space of the studios in which the recording was made.

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Harry Nilsson - A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: nilssalitt_2011) 



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

AMAZING SOUND AND WONDERFUL MUSIC! We just finished our first huge shootout for this great album and this one was a BIG step up over most of the pressings we played. This is one of the better sounding orchestral-backed male vocal albums that we know of, and on a copy like this the sound can be MINDBLOWINGLY GOOD. Side one is rich, lush and warm; more importantly, the vocals are PERFECTION.

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

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: humestaint_2013) 



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

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

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

More Contemporary jazz


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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.

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Helen Humes - Swingin’ With Humes

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: humesswing_2008) 



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

SUPERB SOUND AND MUSIC! We’ve been finding great copies of Helen’s Songs I Like To Sing! for some time, but this is the first knockout copy we’ve ever found of this great title from 1961. Both sides have A+++ sound, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG).

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Helen Humes

Getting the Balance Right on Mean to Me

  (Item #: humessongs_exercise) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Mean to Me is a favorite test track for side one, with real Demo Disc quality sound. Roy DuNann at Contemporary was able to get all his brass players together in one room, sounding right as a group as well as individual voices. The piano, bass, and drums that accompany them are perfectly woven into the fabric of the arrangement. What makes this song so good is that when the brass really starts to let loose later in the song, with the right equipment and the right room you can get the kind of sound that is so powerful you would almost swear it's live.

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Jesse Belvin - Mr. Easy

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: belvimreas_2016) 



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

Zero distortion. zero smear, huge amounts of space and breathy rich vocals - what's not to like? Marty Paich and Art Pepper lend a hand, and with Al Schmitt behind the board the sound is 1960 Living Stereo Tubey Magic at its finest.

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Jim Reeves - The Intimate Jim Reeves

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: reeveintim_2013) 



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

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music found here are enchanting. If you're looking to demonstrate just how good 1963 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you.

All the copies we played were stereo. We've had very poor luck with mono pressings of Living Stereo recordings and tend to avoid them.

Produced by Chet Atkins in Nashville, 1960, with Bill Porter engineering. This is superb countrypolitan pop by the man who practically invented it.

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Jimmy Dean - Everybody's Favorite

with Plenty of '60s Tubey Magic

  (Item #: dean_every_tubey_magic) 



Here is the kind of Tubey Magical richness records routinely offered in 1963. Don Law produced Everybody's Favorite down in Nashville so it's the real deal all right. If you liked our killer Marty Robbins' Hot Stampers you most likely will get a big kick out of this one too. A forgotten sound? Not at Better Records it isn't.

If you need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings, we have just the ticket. The records linked HERE are positively dripping with it.


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Jimmy Witherspoon - Blues For Easy Livers

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: witheblues_2012) 



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

Stunningly natural sound on this great Jazz / Blues / Male Vocal album! We've been picking these up when we find 'em clean -- no mean feat, I assure you -- and this copy did just what we were hoping for! This is one of the better sounding Male Vocal LPs to hit our turntable in recent months and I bet the same will hold true for you if you take this copy home. Side one rated A++, side two was even better at A+++ and both sides were even relatively quiet for an old Prestige LP.

See some of our best sounding Vocal records


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Joan Baez - Joan

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: baez_joan_2014) 



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

In 1967 Vanguard still knew how to record pure, rich, sweet, Tubey Magical analog. Some of these tracks are amazing sounding. Once a year we run across a clean stereo copy of this album. (With such complex arrangements we don't feel the mono could do the album justice. You may feel otherwise.)

This pressing appears to be the original stereo label, although with so many Vanguard labels -- dozens by my count -- this could easily be an early reissue. The paste-on rough cardboard back is a good sign of its age.

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John Coltrane - John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coltrjohnc_2016) 



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

An outstanding copy of this classic Jazz Vocal album, with superb sound throughout. The sound is huge and spacious with richness and Tubey Magic like nothing you've heard. I defy you to find a Male Vocal record produced in the last thirty years that can hold a candle to this one sonically or musically. A wonderful collaboration between a horn player and a singer, perhaps the greatest of all time.

More John Coltrane / More Johnny Hartman


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John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Heavy Vinyl Debunked

  (Item #: coltrjohnc_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C (at best)

We were only slightly impressed with both the Speakers Corner pressing of this album and the earlier Impulse Heavy Vinyl edition from the '90s. Neither one in our opinion is worth pursuing.

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Johnny Hartman - I Just Dropped By To Say Hello

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: hartmijust_2013) 



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

Folks, the best Stereo Impulse pressings are so Tubey Magical, RICH yet CLEAR, and above all shockingly natural, I defy you to find a Male Vocal record produced in the last thirty years that can hold a candle to it (outside of the Coltrane-Hartman record from the year before of course).

The Bennett-Evans record we love so much here at Better Records would qualify as a contender, but that album was recorded in 1975. And it doesn't have half the Tubey Magic this Hartman album from 1963 does.

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Johnny Hartman - I Just Dropped By To Say Hello

What to Listen For

  (Item #: hartmijust_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of I Just Dropped By To Say Hello.

What to listen for you ask? Simple -- smooth, sweet, relaxed vocals. Many pressings -- especially the early ones, as counterintuitive as that may be -- tend to have spitty vocals. The best pressings are easy to spot. When Johnny sounds full, rich, tubey and grit-free, you have yourself a Hot Stamper.

See all of our Johnny Hartman albums in stock


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Johnny Mathis - Heavenly

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: mathiheave_2017) 



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

This copy had all the Tubey Magical richness of the best coupled with the hardest thing to find on an old Columbia record: top end extension. Natural vocal reproduction is the sine qua non of a Johnny Mathis album - this pressing showed us just how good Columbia was back in 1959.

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Johnny Mathis - Warm

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: mathiwarm_2014) 



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

Side one is killer sounding, with the All Tube Analog sound that Columbia was famous for. The vinyl is fairly quiet as well for a '50s Columbia 6 Eye pressing. I don't know how many unscratched, lightly-played Mathis records you've ever seen, but in our experience they are few and far between -- hence the fact that this is the first one to make it to the site.

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Julie London - About The Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: londoabout_2018) 



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

Julie's lilting vocals are clear, breathy, Tubey Magical, and sweet, like practically nothing you've ever heard. This copy is about as quiet as we can find these 1957 Turquoise original mono pressings, Mint Minus Minus* throughout.

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Julie London - Calendar Girl

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: londocalen_2019) 



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

This Julie London 1956 Classic makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too. Both of these mono sides have plenty of Tubey Magic - they're fuller, more musical and more natural than most any other copy we played. Julie's voice sounds particularly nice on this copy - intimate, rich and warm, just as the way we like her to sound.

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Julie London - Julie

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: londojulie_2016) 



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

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

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Julie London - Julie Is Her Name, Vol. 2

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: londojulie_is_2_2017) 



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

The notes I took during this shootout lay out just how impressed I was with the sound of this remarkable copy:

Wide stereo. Big Bass. Swingin'. Just the right amount of reverb. Tonal perfection. The stereo kills the mono (on this album, on the copies we played anyway).

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Julie London - Julie Is Her Name

A Boxstar Bomb

  (Item #: londojulie_is_boxstar) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex / Boxstar.

One question: Where's the Tubey Magic?

We would never have pointed you in the direction of this awful Boxstar 45 of Julie Is Her Name, cut by Bernie Grundman, supposedly on tube equipment. I regret to say that we actually sold some copies, but in my defense I can honestly and truthfully claim that we never wrote a single nice thing about the sound of the record. That has to count for something, right?

See all of our Julie London albums in stock


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Julie London - Julie Is Her Name

What a Record!

  (Item #: londojulie_is_2016) 



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

We award this copy's side one our very special Four Plus A++++ grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a given recording to a level we've never experienced before and had no idea could even exist. We estimate that about one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. You can't get much more rare than that.

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Julie London - Julie Is Her Name

What to Listen For

  (Item #: londojulie_is_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

On side one listen to how rich the bottom end is on Barney Kessel's guitar. The Tubey Magic on this side is off the charts. Some copies can be dry, but that is clearly not a problem on this one. The naturalness of the presentation puts this album right at the top of best sounding female vocal albums of all time.

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Julie London - Julie... At Home

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: londojulie_at_home_2018) 



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

If you're a fan of intimate female vocals - the kind without a trace of digital reverb - you should get quite a kick out of Julie... At Home. And unless I miss my guess you'll be the first and only person on your block to own it! (That's not a bad thing considering the average person's taste in music.)

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Julie London - Lonely Girl

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: londolonel_2017) 



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

A Knockout recording of female vocal with guitar: Triple Plus (A+++) on the first side, seriously good Double Plus (A++) on the second. Julie is in the room with you - intimate, breathy and Tubey Magical like practically nothing you've ever heard. For late night listening this is surely one of the best Sultry Female Vocal recordings ever made - you won't believe how real the sound is.

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Julie London - Make Love To Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: londomakel_2018) 



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

This outstanding original Liberty Turquoise mono pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) grades, or close to them, on both sides. Thanks to superb engineering and vintage All Tube mastering, this 1957 LP is wonderfully rich and sweet, with a breathy, intimate Julie London performing live in your listening room. It's also pressed on unusually quiet vinyl - Mint Minus Minus, with no issues to speak of - they don't come quieter.

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June Christy - Gone For The Day

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: chrisgonef_2010) 



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

Side two of this White Hot Stamper June Christy record on the original Capitol Turquoise label is AMAZING, both musically and sonically. It has all the TUBEY MAGIC we know these old records are famous for, but this copy gives you something you may never have heard on a vintage pressing before: real frequency EXTENSION, both high and low. Who knew an old record could have extended highs like these and such deep bass?

I can honestly say I have never heard any June Christy record sound as good as this copy does.

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June Christy - Something Cool

Cisco Reviewed

  (Item #: chrissomet_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: C-

This is a decent Cisco LP, which has now long out of print. Audiophiles who love female vocal albums and pass on this one are missing the boat, because finding a better sounding original in clean enough condition to play is practically impossible these days. Of course if you already have a clean original you sure don't need to waste your money on this LP.

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June Christy - Something Cool

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: chrissomet_2016) 



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

We are HUGE fans of this album at Better Records, but it's taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble!

The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Get the volume just right and June will be standing between your speakers and putting on the performance of a lifetime. This is one of our three or four favorite female vocal albums (along with Clap Hands, Julie Is her Name and not many others!) and this amazingly good copy will show you why -- the sound and music are As Good As It Gets.

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June Christy - The Intimate Miss Christy

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: chrisintim_2017) 



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

Both sides of this 1962 All Tube Recorded and Mastered record are just as rich and relaxed as you would expect. The balance is correct, which means the top is there as well as the bottom, with good vocal presence throughout.

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June Christy - The Misty Miss Christy

Our Shootout Winner from 2006

  (Item #: chrismisty_2006) 



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

This very nice looking Capitol LP has SUPERB SOUND. It’s RICH, SWEET and full of TUBEY MAGIC. It could use a bit more top end but other than that it’s hard to imagine June sounding much better than she does here.

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June Christy - This Is June Christy

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: christhisi_2016) 



This wonderful recording from 1958 is a distinguished member of the Better Records Popular Hall of Fame.

It's very rare that a Shootout Winning copy of a June Christy album from the late '50s would have vinyl this quiet. Can't recall the last time that happened, or if it ever has.

Both sides of this '50s All Tube Recorded and Mastered record are just as rich and relaxed as you would expect. The balance is correct, which means the top is there as well as the bottom, with good vocal presence throughout.

More June Christy


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Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo - Lena & Gabor

Now That's a Good Sounding Drum Kit!

  (Item #: hornelenaa_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.

This is the most realistic drum kit I have heard on a non-jazz album in my life. The drum sound on the first track is exactly the sound we all know from hanging around small clubs and our friends' garage bands. There is simply no audible processing on any part of the kit. The drums are centered behind the vocals and lead instruments, with what sounds like to me the barest of miking, surrounded by just the right amount of unbaffled studio space.

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Lena Horne & Harry Belafonte - Porgy and Bess

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: horneporgy_2014) 



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

A Living Stereo knockout! We often forget to spend time with records like this when there are Zeppelin and Floyd records to play. We've always enjoyed Belafonte At Carnegie Hall, but when we've dug further into his catalog we've been left cold more often than not. However, when we finally got around to dropping the needle on a few of these we were very impressed by the music and BLOWN AWAY by the sound on the better pressings.

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Leonard Bernstein - West Side Story (Broadway Cast)

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: bernswests_broadway_2015) 



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

SUPERB sound can be found on these two Columbia stereo pressings of the Broadway Cast recording. This is a huge, spacious, natural, exciting All-Tube Golden Age recording that impressed us no end here at Better Records.

We heard an amazing sounding copy many years ago, and the only reason we haven't done the shootout since then is that we just couldn't find enough clean copies with which to do it. To be clear, we're not talking quiet vinyl, we're talking about not beat-to-death, not all-scractched-up vinyl. People loved this music and they played the hell out of it.

More of the music of (or music conducted or performed by) Leonard Bernstein


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Leonard Bernstein - West Side Story Soundtrack

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: bernswests_2014) 



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

This minty CBS Masterworks reissue LP may have been pressed in the '70s but it sure doesn't sound like it. In fact it sounds about as TUBEY MAGICAL as a record from the '60s would.

If you prize richness, sweetness and correct tonality you will no doubt find this record satisfying. It's got that beautiful Columbia sound that we love here at Better Records.

More of the music of (or music conducted or performed by) Leonard Bernstein


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Linda Ronstadt - What’s New

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: ronstwhats_2015) 



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

The sound is EXTRAORDINARILY rich, smooth, full-bodied and natural on both sides. We have never heard What's New sound like this.

With two White Hot sides this pressing gets two critically important elements of the recording more right than any copies we have ever heard: the strings in the orchestra, and, even more importantly for obvious reasons, Linda's voice. Both sides give you a much more natural sounding Linda than you have ever heard. She's fuller, sweeter, breathier, less spitty (some tracks more than others) and just plain less artificial than any others we played.

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Linda Ronstadt - What’s New

Wait, How Exactly Is This an Audiophile Record?

  (Item #: ronstwhats_debunked) 



Not having played this record in more than a decade, it’s interesting to hear this Mobile Fidelity pressing with much better equipment than was previous available to me. The first thing I noticed was the amazing transparency of the recording, no doubt the reason audiophiles have always liked it.

Next on the list, and a bit of a surprise, is the correct tonality -- this record is tonally right on the money, something Mobile Fidelity rarely achieves. This MOFI was mastered by Jack Hunt, not Stan Ricker, which may explain why the top end is more correct than usual.

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Lou Rawls - Live!

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: rawlslive_2014) 



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

This is one of the best live vocal recordings we know of, but only a great copy like this will bring that sound to your stereo. Lou is live, singing his heart out in a small club that exists between, behind and maybe even around your speakers. If you can reproduce the three-dimensional space of this club well you are in for a real treat.

The songs are great, the musicians are brilliant, the sound is amazing -- what else could you ask for?

This album was a late addition to our 2014 update of our Rock and Pop Top 100 list. or live soul-infused vocals we know of none better.

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Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington - The Great Reunion (1963)

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.

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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.

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

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: armstivego_2018) 



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

You may have seen Russell Garcia's name on one of the landmark recordings of the '50s: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong's recording of Porgy and Bess for Verve in the previous year, 1959. Watch for copies coming to the site one of these days.

[One of these days has arrived -- click here to see the results.]

We've discovered some exceptional original and reissue pressings (as well as some that really do a disservice to the music and the engineers who recorded it. What else is new in the world of records?).

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Louis Armstrong - The Essential Louis Armstrong

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: armstessen_2017) 



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

We're always on the lookout for Louis Armstrong records with good sound. In our experience finding them is not nearly as easy as one might think. Far too many of his recordings are poorly recorded, with sound that simply can't be taken seriously -- fine for old consoles but not so good on modern audiophile equipment.

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Marty Robbins - Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: robbigunfi_2014) 



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

TWO SUPERB TRIPLE PLUS SIDES, with the kind of '50's Tubey Magical Analog Sound that's been lost to the world of recorded music for decades -- decades I tell you! Nobody can manage to get a recording to sound like this anymore and it seems as if no one can even remaster a recording like this anymore, if our direct experience with scores of such albums counts as any sort of evidence.

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Marty Robbins - Hawaii's Calling Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: robbihawai_2015) 



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

Hearing this kind of Tubey Magical, tonally correct, rich, sweet, spacious sound is nothing less than a THRILL. The Analog sound of this pressing makes a mockery of even the most advanced digital playback systems, including the ones that haven't been invented yet. I'd love to play this for Neil Young so he can see what he's up against. Good Luck, Neil, you're going to need it.

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Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, et al. - Greatest C&W Hits Vol 4

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: variogreat_2012) 



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

WOW! (Or should that be OMG?) This Columbia 360 original pressing has AMAZING DEMO DISC sound on many of its twelve tracks, tracks by some of the biggest names in country at the time. To hear Jimmy Dean sing Big Bad John or Marty Robbins' do Devil Woman with this kind of Tubey Magical, tonally correct, rich, sweet, spacious sound is nothing less than a THRILL. The Analog sound of this pressing makes a mockery of even the most advanced digital playback systems, including the ones that haven't been invented yet. I'd love to play this for Neil Young so he can see what he's up against! Good Luck, Neil, you're going to need it.

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Mastering I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Tubes, Sure, But Are They Any Good?

  (Item #: benneileft_reissues) 



We played a few decent sounding reissues from the '70s that may eventually make it to the site. Again and again my notes made it clear that those pressings could have used more tubes in the mastering chain.

On this record, like so many others you may have read about on the site, the right amount of TUBEY MAGIC -- and by that we mean a very healthy amount -- makes all the difference. Now keep in mind that we are talking about 1962 tubes, not the stuff that engineers are using today to make "tube-mastered" records. Modern pressings barely hint at the Tubey Magical sound of a record like this, if our experience with hundreds of them serves as a guide.

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Mel Torme & Buddy Rich - Together Again For The First Time

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: tormetoget) 



This is a Century Direct-to-Disc featuring Mel Torme fronting the Buddy Rich Big Band. And it’s a pretty big band with four trumpets, three trombones, five saxes and a tuba! One of the best tracks is "Here’s That Rainy Day", with guest soloist Phil Woods. The beginning is just Mel and Phil, a duet of sorts, with a lovely sense of melancholy.

However, both these men seem tired and the session doesn't swing much. Or could it be that they're playing it safe, afraid to make a mistake and then have to start the live-to-disc session over from the top? Hard to know, but that's the problem with direct to disc recordings -- avoiding mistakes, even engineering ones, can suck the life out of the music.

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Mel Torme - Live at Marty's

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: tormelivea_2012) 



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

We just finished a shootout for this album and had a blast with the ol’ Velvet Fog. Many copies of this album are transistory, gritty and dry, but this one has got enough richness and warmth to smooth out those unpleasant qualities. The immediacy and presence throughout are going to KNOCK YOU OUT. Mel is gonna be in the room with you when you play this one good and loud.

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Mel Torme - Swings Shubert Alley

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: tormeswing_2012) 



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

The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to hit the site in many, many years! We are HUGE fans of this album at Better Records, but it's taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble!

The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Turn it up and Mel is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime! One of our very favorite male vocal albums, and this copy will show you why -- the sound and music are the tops.

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Mel Torme - Swings Shubert Alley

The Original Pressings Are the Best, Right?

  (Item #: tormeswing_original) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing on the original. Don't buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals have better sound.

The original Verve stereo pressing -- true, we only had the one, so take it for what it's worth -- was dry, lean and evinced very little of the Tubey Magic that VAL VALENTIN managed to get on the master tape.

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Nat "King" Cole - Love Is The Thing

The Breatkthrough We Were Waiting For

  (Item #: cole_lovei_2016) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

Love Is The Thing has long been one of the best sounding Nat "King" Cole recordings we had auditioned over the years. With a large variety of copies to play, including some interesting "finds" among them, we now know it actually is The Best. We have never heard the man sound better than he does on the hottest copies of this very album.

More Nat "King" Cole


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