- STUNNING Demo Quality sound on both sides, and relatively quiet to boot — copies like this are TOUGH to come by
- This British pressing knocked us out with a Triple Plus (A+++) side two and a Double to Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one
- One of the absolute dynamos of the whole Hot Stamper world — a record that will BLOW YOU AWAY
- Allmusic 5 Stars: “Musically more interesting than ever…”
A Work of Genius I Tell You
Let me preface my remarks by saying this is a work of GENIUS. Cat Stevens made two records which belong in the Pantheon of greatest popular recordings of all time. In the world of folky pop, Teaser and the Firecat and Tea for the Tillerman have few peers. There may be other recordings that are as good but there are no other recordings that are better.
When you hear The Wind, Changes IV, or If I Laugh on this copy, you will be convinced, as I am, that this is one of the greatest popular recordings in the history of the world. I don’t know of ANY other album that has more LIFE and MUSICAL ENERGY than this one.
During the shootout for this record a while back we made a very important discovery, a seemingly obvious one but one that nevertheless had eluded us for the past twenty plus years (so how obvious could it have been?). It became clear, for the first time, what accounts for the wide disparity in ENERGY and DRIVE from one copy to the next. We can sum it up for you in one word, and that word is Conga.
The congas are what drive the high-energy songs, songs like Tuesday’s Dead and Changes IV. Here is how we stumbled upon their critically important contribution.
We were listening to one of the better copies. The first track on side one, The Wind, was especially gorgeous; Cat and his acoustic guitar were right there in the room with us. The transparency, tonal neutrality, presence and all the rest were just superb. Then came time to move to the other test track on side one, which is Changes IV, one of the higher energy songs we like to play.
But the energy we expected to hear was nowhere to be found. The powerful rhythmic drive of the best copies of the album just wasn’t happening. The more we listened the more it became clear that the congas were not doing what they normally do. The midbass to lower midrange area of the LP lacked energy, weight and power, and this prevented the song from coming to LIFE the way the truly Hot Stampers can and do.
Not Even the Same Recording
One of our good customers sent us these comments about the Hot Stamper copy we sold him a while back:
Wow! You definitely are right when you claim this to be one of the best pop recordings extant. When the drums in Changes IV come in I was amazed at how much they sound like a live drum kit. Cat’s voice is eerily present, guitars have both pluck and body, bass drums have that sock-in-the-gut impact, and the soundstage is huge and transparent.
Like a lot of other hot stampers, it almost seems as if it is another recording altogether, so much more alive and dynamic. At the end of Morning Has Broken you can hear the pianist step off the piano foot pedal–never heard this before outside of the piano in our living room.
Demo Quality Cat Stevens Magic
So if you’re looking for an amazing demo quality recording, you’ve come to the right place. If you want a timeless Classic Rock recording, it’s here too. They just don’t make them like this anymore. Those of you waiting for audiophile vinyl reissues with the kind of magic found on these originals will be in their graves long before it ever comes to pass.