Month: January 2016

The World of Exotica, According to Better Records

This original looking Liberty Black Label Stereo LP has White Hot Stamper WONDERFULLY EXOTIC SOUND. This copy is so super spacious and sweet it’s positively dripping with ambience. It’s EXACTLY the kind of sound you expect from Denny and his Island bandmates. It’s also quiet, about as quiet as these Liberty pressings ever get.

We played a big pile of Martin Denny records during our shootout, not having enough clean copies of any one of them to do it the way we would with rock or jazz records, and this pressing was CLEARLY the best of the bunch. Nothing else was even close. Picture yourself on a beautiful South Pacific island. Now imagine you’re in a jazz bar on the mainland. Combine the two moods into one glorious sound and you have the music of Martin Denny!

See more of our EXOTICA albums, which, as we all know, tend to be positively dripping with TUBEY MAGIC

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Christopher Cross – What to Listen For

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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.

There’s one test on side two that few copies do well on. The mostly instrumental section in the middle of Ride Like the Wind has a huge chorus singing in a wonderfully reverberant studio. Only the most transparent, most distortion-free copies let you clearly hear all their voices bouncing off the walls.

Take any two copies and listen for just this one effect and you will soon see that no two copies reproduce the reverberations identically, and many barely reproduce it at all.

Overall

The sound is full, rich, lively and even Tubey Magical in the best tradition of the glossy Pop Productions that were all the rage in the late-’70s. If you like Michael McDonald, Toto, The Doobies, Hall and Oates, The Bee Gees and countless other bands we have lovingly found a home for in our Hot Stamper sections you will no doubt find much to like here.

A guilty pleasure you say? When a record sounds this good there is nothing to feel guilty about!

Mega Mass Production — Not so Good for Sound

Let’s face it, this is one of those mega-mass-produced records that sits in every record bin in town for five bucks or less. It’s only when you get the average copy home that you realize you just flushed five bucks down the toilet. Veiled and smeary, stuck in the speakers, congested and compressed in the choruses — most copies make you wonder what you liked about the album in the first place. It’s the audiophile curse we all suffer from: bad sound has a tendency to ruin perfectly good music.

What to Listen For

Besides Michael McDonald’s amazing background vocals, listen for the contribution Michael Omartian (the producer) makes on the keyboards. The keyboards more than the guitars are really the driving force behind these songs. If you hear some Aja in his playing, that’s because he played on Aja too. He was also instrumental in many of the Direct to Discs Sheffield made, I’ve Got the Music in Me being probably the best known of the batch.

See all of our Christopher Cross albums in stock

 

 

Led Zeppelin II – None Rocks Harder

Yet another album we are clearly obsessed with

Click on the link below to pull up the many reviews and commentaries we’ve written, as well as Hot Stamper copies that are currently available on the site.

Led Zeppelin II

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It’s official: we’re inaugurating a Top Ten Best Sounding Rock / Pop Album List, and the first member to be inducted is none other than our old favorite, Led Zeppelin II.

It’s also yet another in a very long line of records that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume. We’re convinced Zep II has to be the hardest rocking album of all time. The best copies — often with the same stampers as the not-as-good copies by the way — have a LIFE and a POWER to them that simply cannot be found on other records.

Hence the Top Ten title designation.

And I certainly have never heard a CD or Heavy Vinyl pressing that sounded remotely as good as one of our Hot Stampers. I doubt that I ever will. As long as we have records like this, what difference does it make?

Turn It Up!

The best copies of Zep II have the kind of rock and roll firepower that’s guaranteed to bring any system to its knees. I can tell you with no sense of shame whatsoever that I do not have a system powerful enough to play this record at the levels I was listening to it at in one of our shootouts a while back. When the big bass comes in, hell yeah it distorts. It would have distorted worse at any concert the band ever played. Did people walk out, or ask the band to turn down the volume? No way. The volume IS the sound.

That’s what the album is trying to prove. This recording is a statement by the band that they can fuse so much sonic power into a piece of vinyl that no matter what stereo you own, no matter how big the speakers, no matter how many watts you think you have, it’s not enough. And never will be.

Distortion? What Distortion?
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