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.
Fast forward four years. It’s 2015. We drop the needle on a random pressing and finally — finally — hear a copy that rocks like we knew a ZZ Top album should. With that LP as a benchmark we got a shootout up and running and the result is the record you see here.
How did the WB remaster fare once we had some truly Hot Stamper pressings to play it against?
Not well. It’s tonally correct, with a real top and bottom, something that a substantial number of copies cannot claim to be.
But the sound is stuck behind the speakers, veiled, and sorely lacking in energy and excitement. The transparency is of course compromised on all these new reissues, and without transparency and resolution much of the audience participation on the first side is lost. I won’t say the new pressing is boring. Let’s just say it’s a lot more boring than it should be.
Check out our Heavy Vinyl Rock and Jazz Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.
NOTES FROM A RECENT HOT STAMPER
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, lacking presence and immediacy.
Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.