Month: July 2018

Marty Robbins – Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs

More Marty Robbins


  • With Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides, this Six-Eye Columbia pressing was one of the better sounding from our most recent shootout
  • This copy is amazingly clear and open, superior to most in that regard, with fairly smooth and rich vocals to boot 
  • Is the original Six Eye stereo the only way to go on this record? We discuss the subject in detail below
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The single most influential album of Western songs in post-World War II American music. The longevity of the album’s appeal is a result of Marty Robbins’ love of the repertory at hand and the mix of his youthful dynamism and prodigious talent…”

Two excellent Double Plus (A++) sides, with the kind of ’50’s Tubey Magical Analog Sound that’s been lost to the world of recorded music for decades — decades I tell you! Nobody can manage to get a recording to sound like this anymore and it seems clear to us that no one can remaster a recording like this nowadays, if our direct experience with more than hundred such albums counts as evidence. (more…)

The Beatles / A Collection of Beatles Oldies – Sounds Great on the Original

More of The Beatles

  • Incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this collection of singles left off the the Beatles’ British albums.
  • Amazing sound for From Me to You, We Can Work It Out, Yesterday and I Feel Fine
  • Fairly quiet vinyl throughout with both sides playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus

As is usually the case with compilations like this, there is some variation between tracks — what works well for a track from 1963 may not quite suit a song from 1966 — but from start to finish on both sides this record strikes a MUCH better balance than others.

And the the choice of songs is outstanding, with just the right mix — almost as if you had compiled the thing yourself from all the best tunes from that era of The Beatles. They’re almost all favorites of mine, and I hope yours too.

This album is an excellent source for many of the Beatles’ greatest hits up to 1966. With 8 songs per side you get a lot for your money. 

This collection has a number of songs that are not on the original British LPs: the first three on side one for starters; also Can’t Buy Me Love, I Feel Fine; Bad Boy; Paperback Writer and I Want To Hold Your Hand. (more…)

Steve Miller Band / Fly Like An Eagle on Capitol Heavy Vinyl Debunked

Sonic Grade: F

This Capitol Records Limited Edition 180 gram LP from the series that Robert Ludwig mastered is the worst sounding version of the album I have ever heard, bar none. It was cut with the azimuth off, which makes all the high frequency transients sound smeared. How anybody could put up with that crappy sounding LP is beyond me, but I have never heard a single person complain about the bad sound.

The MoFi has a bit more going on up top but the blurry bass and compressed lifeless sound fail to bring the music to life the way a Hot Stamper does. 

The Who – Who By Numbers on Classic Records Heavy Vinyl

More of the Music of The Who

Sonic Grade: C

It’s not just bass that separates the Real Thing from the Classic Reissue. It’s WEIGHT, fullness, the part of the frequency range from the lower midrange to the upper bass, that area that spans roughly 150 to 600 cycles. It’s what makes Daltry’s voice sound full and rich, not thin and modern. It’s what makes the drums solid and fat the way Johns intended. The good copies of Who’s Next and Quadrophenia have plenty of muscle in this area, and so do the imports we played. (more…)

The Faces – Long Player

  • A killer copy with a stunning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one
  • Amazing live-in-the-studio sound that conveys completely the raw power of one of the hardest rockin’ bands of all time
  • 5 stars in Allmusic and probably the Faces’ Best Album, for sound and music – Maybe I’m Amazed? Hell yeah!
  • “…a ferocious rock & roll band who, on their best day, could wrestle the title of greatest rock & roll band away from the Stones.”

We knew this album could sound good, but back in the day we sure didn’t know it could sound like this. The best pressings of this album have amazing live-in-the-studio sound that conveys completely the raw power of one of the hardest rockin’ bands of all time. (more…)

Wes Montgomery / California Dreaming – Cisco Reviewed

More of the Music of Wes Montgomery

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Guitar

Sonic Grade: C

Beware any and all imitations, even this one, which I admit I used to like somewhat. They barely BEGIN to convey the qualities of the real master tape the way the best pressings do. Our Hot Stampers exhibit huge amounts of ambience and spaciousness, with far more energy and the kind of “see into the studio” quality that only the real thing seems to have.

Note especially how so much musical information is coming from the far sides of the soundfield on the best copies. The Cisco reissue makes a mockery of that wall to wall sound, sucking it into the middle and flattening it into a single plane. (more…)

The Doors – L.A. Woman Is a Disaster on German Heavy Vinyl

There is [was; it’s out of print now] a German 180 gram pressing of L.A. Woman which [was] so bad, I am calling this commentary The Audiophile Apocalypse. The fact that some audiophiles and audiophile reviewers appear to like this pressing is a sign that, to me at least, The End Is Near, or May Be. If this isn’t a good example of a Pass/Fail record, I don’t know what would be.

[This commentary was written a long time ago and much of our thinking about the recordings of The Doors has evolved since then, having played scores of their records in shootouts and learned something from every one. Click here to read more.]

Dateline: January, 2005

[Note that some of this commentary from the dawn of time (2005 qualifies when it comes to Hot Stampers) falls under the heading of We Was Wrong, especially the part about there not being a good vinyl version of the album. We heard some killer pressings starting around 2011-2012, but boy are they few and far between.]

There is a new 180 gram German pressing of The Doors LA Woman album which is so bad, I am calling this commentary Audiophile Apocalypse. The fact that some audiophiles and audiophile reviewers appear to like this pressing to me is a sign that The End Is Near. There is no hope for audiophiles if they can’t tell a good record from a bad one, and this is clearly a bad one.

When I first played it I thought there must be something wrong with my stereo. There was no deep bass. (This recording has amazing deep bass.) The sound was upper midrangey and distorted. There was no extreme top at all. This surprised me, as I had heard that this was supposed to be a good record. What I heard coming off the copy that I was playing was pure garbage. I was confused. (more…)

Crowded House – Woodface

Reviews and Commentaries for Crowded House

  • This killer original British import copy of Woodface boasts nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A++) sound from start to finish
  • Thankfully the care and effort that went into every aspect of the production of Woodface more than justifies the effort we put into finding this copy
  • Some of the most original, melodic, hook-laden, sophisticated popular music recorded in the last twenty seven years 
  • “The songs are easily their finest to date, combining flawless melodies and the outstanding harmonies of the brothers’ perfectly matched voices.” – All Music

This excellent copy of Woodface fulfills the promise of this extraordinarily well-recorded album beyond all expectations. The effect so totally immerses you in the musical experience that you forget you’re listening to a record at all. In your mind, you have the sense that you’re hearing the music exactly the way the musicians, producers, and engineers intended it to sound. The sound is everything you want it to be as you experience every element of the music without limitation. (more…)

The Moody Blues / How Good Are the Domestic Pressings?

More of the Music of The Moody Blues

Reviews and Commentaries for The Moody Blues

If you’ve ever done a shootout between domestic pressings of the Moody Blues and good imports you know that the imports just kill the American LPs. Domestic pressings are cut from sub-generation tapes, tend to sound more smeary, yet they’re thinner, brighter and more transistory, and overall have a fraction of the Tubey Magic the good imports have.

Moody Blues albums on import are typically murky, congested and dull. Listening to the typical copy you’d be forgiven for blaming the band or the recording engineer for the problem.

Of course the album is never going to have the kind of super clean, high-rez sound some audiophiles prize, but that’s clearly not what the Moody Blues were aiming for. It isn’t about picking out individual parts or deciphering the machinery of the music with this band.

It’s all about lush, massive soundscapes, and for that this is the kind of sound that works the best.

DISCOGRAPHY

Days of Future Passed (1967) 
In Search of the Lost Chord (1968) 
On the Threshold of a Dream (1969) 
To Our Children’s Children’s Children (1969)
A Question of Balance (1970) 
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971)
Seventh Sojourn (1972) 

Mobile Fidelity Anadisq Moody Blues LPs

The muddiest, tubbiest, most worthless records in the world.

Well…

Worthless to those of us who play records and want to hear them sound good. But, worth money to those who collect that sort of audiophile trash. Folks, seriously, you really would have to work at it to find worse sounding pressings of the Moody Blues albums than the ones MoFi did in the ’90s

Derek and the Dominos – Layla (2 LPs) – Remastering the Remaster (and Keeping It a Secret)

More of the Music of Eric Clapton

More Reviews and Commentaries for Eric Clapton

NEWSFLASH! [circa 2010]

Noticing that this title had recently come back into print, and remembering that we used to like the SVLP of Layla, we decided to order a current copy of the album from Simply Vinyl.

Soon enough it came in, we played it, and we were pretty shocked to hear that the damn thing sounded just plain AWFUL.

Was I wrong about it before? Only one way to know. I pulled out my old Review Copy from way back when it first came out and sure enough that early pressing sounded dramatically BETTER than the new one. The stampers were completely different of course; someone had remastered it recently and ruined it.

The earlier SVLP pressing, though no award winner by any means, was at least a good record. This new pressing was nothing but a piece of crap.  (more…)