Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.
The British pressings are simply not competitive with the best domestics. No import, from any country, can touch a good Columbia pressing from the states. The most common stampers for the Columbia pressings have never sounded very good to these ears, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some killer copies with different stampers sitting in the bins wearing the generic ’70s Red Columbia label. We’ve heard them. Wish we could find more of them but they are rare and only getting rarer.
Many years ago I wrote in my blog:
Lately there’s been a slough of top British bands sounding their best on records mastered across the pond (that is, our side): Sticky Fingers and Let It Bleed, Zep II, IV and Houses of the Holy, The Yes Album and Fragile, ELP’s first, Wish You Were Here, even some Cat Stevens! (Catch Bull at Four; that counts, doesn’t it?) The old rule of thumb about Brit bands sounding their best on Brit vinyl, like most rules in audio, turns out to be a crock.
The devil is in the details, as they say. I think it’s pretty safe to conclude that no domestic Dark Side of the Moon is going to beat our hot imports, and the same is true for Meddle, but the last thing in the world you should conclude from either of the two shootouts we conducted for them is that the Brit (or German) Wish You Were Here is bound to be crowned King of the Hot Stampers anytime soon. For the last shootout it wasn’t, and I doubt it ever will be. Records don’t work that way. And thinking that it ought to be the best won’t make it so. Thinking that will, instead, result in you proceeding to fill up your record collection with second rate pressings that you assume are the best because you never really bothered to find out.
Come to think of it, that’s a fairly apt description of what we do around here during the day: we bother to find out. About what? About anything that has to do with records and how to play them better.
We could add Thick As a Brick, Aqualung, A Space in Time and a slough of others to the above list. Watch for more entries like the above coming to this blog — and nowhere else as far as I know — down the road.