The best copies must have one key ingredient that we’ve discovered is absolutely essential if this groundbreaking New Wave album is to come to life — a huge, spacious soundstage.
Some copies are huge; others, not so much. The effect of these size differentials is ENORMOUS. The power of the music ramps up like crazy — how could this recording possibly be this BIG and POWERFUL? How did it achieve this kind of scale? You may need twenty copies to find one like this, which begs the question: why don’t the other 19 sound the way this one does? The sound we heard has to be on the master tape in some sense, doesn’t it? Mastering clearly contributes to the sound, but can it really be a factor of this magnitude?
My intuition says no. More likely it’s the mastering of the other copies that is one of the many factors holding them back, along with worn stampers, bad stampers, bad metal mothers, bad plating, bad vinyl, bad needles and all the rest — all of the above and more contributing to the fact that the average copy of this album is just plain average.
The hottest of the Hot Stampers did one easily recognizable thing better than the Also-Rans, and it was apparent pretty much from the get-go. The multi-multi-multi-tracked choruses on the best copies don’t strain (a very common problem), they are bigger and more powerful, they stretch from wall to wall, and the voices that make them up are separated much more than on other copies.
I won’t say you can make out all the players — there are dozens of tracks overdubbed together don’t you know — but you can surely make out some of the voices. At least you can if you have the kind of high resolution front end that we do. Big speakers help a lot too, creating more space for each voice to occupy.
If you have dynamic speakers and like to rock, you can’t go wrong here. Neil Young albums have the Big Rock sound, and if you’re more of a Classic Rock kind of listener, that’s a good way to go. We’re behind you all the way, just check out the majority of the Hot Stampers on the site: CSN, Zep, Tull, The Stones — we can’t get enough of the stuff.
Still, variety is the spice of life, and the Cars really deliver the goods on this new wave classic. If you love big, meaty guitar chords, wild synth sounds, and HUGE punchy drums, this record may be just what you needed… so let the good times roll!