On this extraordinary copy the bottom end is big and punchy, the top is smooth and sweet, and the vocals are present and breathy. On a transparent copy such as this the drums really punch through the dense mixes clearly, giving the music more life and energy. The piano sounds correct, the sax is full and breathy — you’d be very hard-pressed to find better sound for this album than this. Very hard pressed indeed.
In 2005 we wrote:
This is actually one of the best Supertramp albums but it’s almost impossible to find a domestic copy that won’t tear your head off. The vast majority of them are unbelievably bright and grainy. I’ve been buying them lately because I found a copy or two that seemed to sound pretty good, but most of my money was wasted on aggressive, noisy vinyl.
Side one of this copy is no great shakes — it’s too bright — but side two is actually quite good. The highs are sweet and silky, there’s plenty of bass and the vocals are actually quite natural sounding. I can’t call this a Hot Stamper. The best way to look at it is to say it’s a Relatively Hot Stamper. The average copy is so bad that when a copy like this one sounds pretty good it really sticks out. We’re still in the hunt but haven’t got much to show for our efforts to date, I can tell you that.
The good news is that ten years later and more copies than we care to remember we think we’ve got EITQM’s ticket. We now know which stampers have the potential to sound good as well as the ones to avoid. Finding the right stampers (which are not the original ones for those of you who know what the original stampers for A&M records are) has been a positive boon.
Once we figured them out we were in a much better position to hear just how well recorded the album is. Now we know beyond all doubt that this recording — the first without Ken Scott producing and engineering for this iteration of the band — is of the highest quality, in league with the best. Until recently we would never have made such a bold statement. Now it’s nothing less than obvious.
This is the copy that backs it up all the way. Side two is a real KNOCKOUT. If you know that album at all well you will have your mind blown.
What to Listen For (WTLF)
The piano on Give a Little Bit can get buried in the dense mix. Side ones that are rich and tubey and smooth with a clear piano did very well in our shootout.
Lover Boy is a Demo Quality Track on the best copies. It can be huge, spacious and lively. Getting the strings to sound harmonically rich without sliding into shrillness is not easy but some copies manage it. The breakdown at about 2:20 is a lot of fun on the biggest, richest copies.
On side two the recording quality of the solo piano at the start of the second track is nothing short of breathtaking. No piano on any Supertramp album sounds as good, and only the White Hot Stamper pressing got it perfectly.