So few copies we ran across in our shootout had that “jump out of the speakers” sound we knew was possible from our previous shootouts of the album. When finally one did, boy did it ever. What a knockout. Hot Stampers? The best copies are on fire!
If you have a big speaker system and have taken advantage of the audio revolutions we discuss throughout the site, this is the kind of record that shows just how much progress you’ve made.
When a record like this blows everything you’ve ever heard out of the water, you are definitely on the right track!
In-Depth Track Commentary
This copy is so transparent that it revealed a quality of the recording that we were never aware of before. The songs that Lindsey sings, which tend to be the rockers, have a certain gritty quality to the vocals which is not on any of the other songs, those sung by Stevie Nicks or Christine McVie. It’s not a pressing problem. It HAS to be the way they wanted his vocals to sound. There’s a certain rawness and bite that he seems to be going for, so don’t expect the smoothness and sweetness of the other tracks when playing his.
Folks, it doesn’t get any better than this. This song is PURE POP PERFECTION. This is our favorite test track for side one. Christine’s voice needs to be present and immediate, while at the same time completely free from grain or artificial EQ. On the best copies she is breathy and sweet. In case you haven’t noticed, these are not qualities you hear often in the songs Christine sings lead on. Most of her vocals are veiled and farther back in the mix. Stevie Nicks tends to get better sound for some reason, don’t ask me why. Just listen to the sound of the vocals on Landslide; McVie never gets that kind of presence and immediacy.
Beyond the sound of the vocals, there are tons of subtle production effects throughout the song which can only be heard on the most transparent copies. We played this song dozens and dozens of times over the course of our shootout and kept hearing more and more nuances in the production. Buckingham is a pop genius; his work on this album and Rumours cannot be faulted. The better the pressing the more you can appreciate all the elements he has built into these wonderful recordings.
On the best copies this track is silky sweet, airy, open and spacious, yet still present and immediate. It’s not bright; the tonal balance is Right On The Money. Here all the nuances really come to life.
You’ll quickly realize that this is more than a great pop album; it’s nothing short of a landmark in pop music production. With so much going on, you really need a copy that offers the kind of transparency that only the best LPs have in order to fully appreciate everything that went into these songs.
Over My Head
Say You Love Me
As rich and sweet and tubey magical as any Fleetwood Mac song ever recorded. This side starts out with a bang and only gets better. The first two tracks on this side really show this band firing on all cylinders.
There is unbelievable transparency to be found on the best copies, and this track is a great test for that quality. You can practically feel the cool air in the studio. Listen especially at the end of the song for the subtle guitar effects. This song is a masterpiece, a real high point for side two. Notice how the first two tracks on side two mirror those on the first side. This band likes to come out swingin’ as soon as you drop the needle.
I’m So Afraid
…along these lines can be found below.
We have a large number of entries in our new Listening in Depth series.
We have a section for Audio Advice of all kinds.
You can find your very own Hot Stamper pressings by using the techniques we lay out in Hot Stamper Shootouts — The Four Pillars of Success.
And finally we’ll throw in this old warhorse discussing How to Become an Expert Listener, subtitled Hard Work and Challenges Can Really Pay Off.
Because in audio, much like the rest of life, hard work and challenges really do pay off.