I was reading an article on the web recently when I came across an old joke Red Skelton used to tell:
All men make mistakes, but married men find out about them sooner.
Now if you’re like me and you play, think and write (hopefully in that order) about records all day, everything sooner or later relates back to records, even a modestly amusing old joke such as this. Making mistakes is fundamental to learning about records, especially if you, like us, believe that most of the received wisdom handed down to record lovers of all kinds is more likely to be wrong than right.
If you don’t believe that to be true, then it’s high time you really started making mistakes.
And the faster you make them, the more you will learn the truths (uncountable in number) about records.
And those truths will set you free.
Think about it: perhaps as many as a third of the Hot Stamper pressings on our website are what would commonly be understood to be the “wrong” pressings — or, worse, records that are not supposed to sound good at all. German Dark Side? ’70s Red Seal Living Stereo pressings? Reissue Beatles records — in stereo no less! Can we be serious?
Yes, we are indeed quite serious. We believe by now we know most of the best pressings, the ones with potentially the best sound, for most of the records we regularly shootout. Over the course of decades we’ve tried bad sounding copy after bad sounding copy of practically every title we do. We know which ones to avoid, which betters the odds of finding good sounding pressings. It’s pretty much as simple as that.
We’ve played all the copies that are supposed to be the best, and we’ve also played the ones that aren’t supposed to be any good — late reissues, or records pressed in the “wrong” country; or cut by the “wrong” mastering engineer; or found on the second, third, or fourth labels, all wrong, don’t you even know that?! — and against all odds we’ve kept our minds and our ears open.
Whatever pressing sounds the best, sounds the best. Whether it’s the “right” pressing according to orthodox record collecting wisdom carries no weight whatsoever with us, and never will — because that way of thinking doesn’t produce good results.
All the Answers?
Please don’t think we’re trying to say we have all the answers. We most certainly do not. We find pressings that beat our old favorites on a regular basis — not every day, but often enough to make trying long shots an important part of our business.