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Heavy Vinyl Rock and Jazz Scorecard

Audio Commentary  >  Start Here  >  Heavy Vinyl Rock and Jazz Scorecard


This section contains ratings and reviews of some of the Heavy Vinyl records that have come our way over the years. The most recent reviews are at the top.

We have another section specifically devoted to our favorite way to waste time here at Better Records, a little something we like to call
Debunking The Audiophile LP.

The Audiophile's Choice -- the record that will do the best job of communicating the music by means of its superior sound quality -- is almost never going to be the one marketed as an Audiophile Pressing. If you find this in any way hard to believe, we encourage you to read on.
 

 

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Paul Simon - Graceland

What to Think When the New Version Is Completely Unrecognizable?

  (Item #: simongrace_debunk) 
by Warner Brothers LP



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

Where did this thick, dull, bloated, opaque turd come from? Having played at least 50 copies of the album over the last ten years, I can honestly say I have never heard one that sounded very much like this new version (maybe some record club copy we picked up by accident did, can't say it never happened).

Can that possibly be a good thing?

More Graceland


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Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel

Debunked

  (Item #: gabrigabri1_debunk) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: D

Another addition to our Hall of Shame from one of our favorite whipping boys here at Better Records, the late but hardly lamented Classic Records.

Bernie Grundman's mastering approach for the first PG album is a disaster -- brighter and cleaner, which turns out to be precisely the wrong sound for the music.

The Direct Disk Labs half-speed is thick, compressed and lifeless, though fairly rich. You could do worse I suppose, but too much of the life of the music will be lost when playing their pressing.

More Peter Gabriel


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The Doors - Strange Days

Rhino and DCC Reviewed

  (Item #: doorsstran_debunk) 
by DCC



Sonic Grade: DCC: B / Rhino: C

It’s not easy for us to find copies of Strange Days that outperform the DCC, but our best Hot Stampers beat it handily. We also put our original copies up against the 180g version from the Doors Box Set and it was an absolute bloodbath. We understand that a well-known reviewer likes the sound of those Doors pressings (along with just about every heavy vinyl reissue that hits his table) but we here at Better Records prefer to set higher standards. We think you deserve better, and at these prices the record better deliver a world of sound that the heavy vinyl pressing only hints at. And it does.

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

More by The Doors


  more Info











The Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead

Rhino Heavy Vinyl Debunked

  (Item #: grateworki_rhino) 
by Rhino



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

The 2003 Rhino reissue on heavy vinyl of Workingman's Dead is absolutely awful. It sounds like a bad cassette. The CD of the album that I own is superb, which means that the tapes are not the problem, bad mastering and pressing are.

More Grateful Dead


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John Coltrane - Lush Life

DCC and OJC Reviewed

  (Item #: coltrlushl_dcc) 
by DCC



Sonic Grade: B or so (DCC)
Sonic Grade: C or so (OJC)

The DCC heavy vinyl pressing is a nice record; I remember liking it back in the day. I'm guessing it's a bit better than the '80s OJC, which is, like most OJC pressings, typically thin and hard. Neither one of them can hold a candle to the pressings we offer on the site. If for some reason we could not find copies of the album that substantially beat the sound of either of these two remastered LPs, we simply would not have anything to offer, since neither of these versions could be considered Hot Stampers. Nice records, sure, but Hot Stampers? Not a chance.

More John Coltrane


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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

Analogue Productions Debunked

  (Item #: cartejazzg_ap_debunk) 
by Analogue Productions



Sonic Grade: F

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

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

More Benny Carter


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Billie Holiday - Lady In Satin

Classic Records Repress Reviewed

  (Item #: holidladyi_classic) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: C-

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

It's been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as nothing special, tonally fine but low-rez and lacking both space and warmth. The C Minus means it's slightly worse than the average copy you might chance to play.

Records made for audiophiles are rarely any good, so rarely in fact that we are positively shocked when such a record is even halfway decent. After playing so many bad audiophile records for so many years it's practically a truism here at Better Records.

More Billie Holiday


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David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name...

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: crosbifico_debunk) 
by Atlantic LP



Sonic Grade: C-

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

What do you get with Hot Stampers compared to the Classic Heavy Vinyl reissue? Dramatically more warmth, sweetness, delicacy, transparency, space, energy, size, naturalness (no boost on the top end or the bottom, a notable failing of the Classic); in other words, the kind of difference you almost ALWAYS get comparing the best vintage pressings with their modern remastered counterparts, in our experience anyway. The Classic is a nice record, a Hot Stamper is a MAGICAL one.

More Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young


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Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland - Gypsy ’66

Heavy Vinyl Reviewed

  (Item #: szabogypsy_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B?

Probably -- we haven't played a copy in years -- one of the better Speakers Corner jazz albums.

They cut a very good version of this album on Heavy Vinyl back in 2002, which we recommended at the time.

Our Hot Stamper pressings will of course be dramatically more transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings fall short, with very few exceptions.

More Gabor Szabo


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Van Morrison - Moondance

Rhino / Warners Heavy Vinyl Debunked - Again

  (Item #: morrimoond_debunk_2016) 
by Rhino



Sonic Grade: F

The original grade I gave out in 2014 when last I played this remastered version as part of a shootout was "D." I explained at the time:

Just listen to how strange Van's voice sounds, so lean, hard and sour. That alone qualifies it for an "F", but considering how bad most pressings of this album are, let's be fair, if not downright generous, and call it a "D".

I just revisited the record in a current shootout, and after giving it some thought I have decided that the right grade is in fact "F." It cannot be any other, for reasons I discuss below.

More Van Morrison


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Roy Orbison - Crying

Reviewed in 2003

  (Item #: orbiscryin_classic) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records LP reviewed. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in 2003 when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

"This is actually a very good sounding record, unlike the first Orbison that Classic did. It's also a better album."

More Pop & Jazz Vocal LPs


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The Doors - The Doors

Rhino / Universal Heavy Vinyl Debunked

  (Item #: doorsdoors_rhino) 
by Rhino



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

What a mess. Imagine listening to this album with a two inch thick velvet curtain placed over your speakers -- that's the sound of this remastered record! How bad does a stereo have to be in order to disguise the fact that this is one of the worst Classic Rock reissues in the history of the world? I don't know and I sure don't want to find out.

More by The Doors


  more Info











Ben Webster - And ’Sweets’ Edison

Classic Records Repress - Reviewed in the '90s

  (Item #: webstandsw_classic) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: B?

Probably a fairly good Classic Records jazz album. Both the music and sound are excellent.

The right Columbia pressing will kill it, but it's probably a fairly good value if you can get one for the 30 bucks we used to charge.


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Frank Sinatra - Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim

Rhino Debunked

  (Item #: sinatjobim_debunk) 
by 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.

More Frank Sinatra


  more Info











Bola Sete - Tour De Force

Analogue Productions Debunked

  (Item #: sete_tourd_debunk) 
by Analogue Productions



Sonic Grade: F

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

Acoustic Sounds had Stan Ricker remaster this record a number of years ago, and of course they (he) ruined it. A twinkly top end and flabby bass were just two of the major shortcomings of their version. Nothing surprising there, as Stan Ricker is famous for his "smile" curve, boosting both ends of the audio spectrum whether they need boosting or not.

More Bola Sete


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Ella Fitzgerald & Count Basie - On the Sunny Side of the Street

Speakers Corner Debunked

  (Item #: fitzgonthe_debunk) 
by Verve LP



Sonic Grade: D

A weak outing from Speakers Corner and a Hall of Shame pressing.

Their 180 gram copy suffers from the standard reissue MO -- brighter is not necessarily better, and definitely not when you have a big band and a vocalist, as is the case here.

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Donald Fagen - Morph The Cat

Heavy Vinyl Debunked

  (Item #: fagenmorph_debunk) 
by Reprise LP



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

Truly awful sound. Can't make any sense of it. Pure sludge.

More Donald Fagen


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Gerry Rafferty - City To City

Simply Vinyl Debunked

  (Item #: raffecityt_svlp) 
by Simply Vinyl



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Simply Vinyl pressing debunked.

We had two copies of the Heavy Simply Vinyl pressing to audition as part of our last big shootout a few years back. We used to actually like it, but it now sounds worse than we remember, especially in the low end, which is a blurry mess. Better than any domestic copy I suppose, but that's not really saying much.

More Gerry Rafferty


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ZZ Top - Fandango

Warners Heavy Vinyl Debunked

  (Item #: zztopfanda_debunk) 
by Warner Brothers LP



Sonic Grade: C

Warner Brothers remastered Fandango in 2008, so we took some domestic pressings and put them up against their Heavy Vinyl LP. The results were mixed; most of our originals pressings were lackluster, many were noisy, and we just weren't hearing anything with the sound we thought deserved to be called a Hot Stamper.

We shelved the project for another day. In the interim we kept buying domestic pressings -- originals and reissues -- in the hopes that something good would come our way.

More ZZ Top


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The Doors - L.A. Woman

Rhino Heavy Vinyl Reviewed

  (Item #: doorslawom_180) 
by Elektra LP



Sonic Grade: B

The pressing we auditioned from the Doors Box Set was surprisingly good. It's rich and smooth with an extended top end -- tonally correct in other words -- and there's lots of bass. This is all to the good. For the thirty bucks you might pay for it you're getting a very good record, assuming yours sounds like ours, something we should really not be assuming, but we do it anyway as there is no other way to write about records other than to describe the sound of the ones we actually have on hand to play.

See all of our Doors albums in stock


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Frank Sinatra - The Voice

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: sinatthevo_debunk) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



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.

More Frank Sinatra


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Illinois Jacquet - Illinois Jacquet

Classic Records - Reviewed in the '90s

  (Item #: jacquillin_17033_classic) 
by Classic Records Heavy Vinyl



Sonic Grade: C or Better

My guess is this is still a fairly good Classic Records jazz album. Years ago we wrote the following:

"This is actually one of the best Classic Jazz albums they released back in the '90s. Both the music and sound are excellent. Jacquet is one of the creators of the big soulful tenor sax sound. I don't know of anyone who does it better."

We can't be sure that we would still feel the same way. My guess is that this is still a good record if you can get one for the 30 bucks we used to charge.

More Illinois Jacquet


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Cannonball Adderley - In the Land of Hi-Fi

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: adderinthe_speakers_corner) 
by Speakers Corner



Sonic Grade: B?

A fairly good Speakers Corner jazz album (we're guessing). Years ago we wrote the following: "Outstanding! Top recommendation! Rave reviews in the old catalog."

Hard to know what we think of this pressing today, but for the thirty bucks you might pay for it it's probably worth a listen.

See all of our Cannonball Adderley albums in stock


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Spirit - Clear

Sundazed Heavy Vinyl Debunked

  (Item #: spiriclear_sundazed_debunk) 
by Sundazed



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Sundazed record debunked.

Although it's been many years since I last played it, I'm fairly confidant that the Sundazed only hints at the real sound of the best copies. Most Sundazed records would end up in our Hall of Shame if we ever bothered to audition them.

Being in the "record business", such as it is, I played my share and more of awful sounding Heavy Vinyl.

More Spirit


  more Info




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