Month: July 2018

Marty Robbins – Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs on Six Eye in Stereo

More Marty Robbins

More Country and Country Rock

  • With killer grades on both sides, this Six Eye Columbia pressing was one of the best 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? It may not be the only way, but it is the best way
  • 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…)

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

More of the Music of Steve Miller

Reviews and Commentaries of the Music of Steve Miller

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 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 – Live in the Studio Sound

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.

Both musically and sonically I don’t think the group ever recorded a better album than this one.

Take the wonderful song Bad ‘N’ Ruin (the opening track on side one) for example. It’s the sound of open mics in a big studio space — nothing more, nothing less. It’s totally free from any phony mastering or bad EQ, and on a Hot Stamper copy like this one, it’s absolute magic.

Martin Birch was the engineer for the first two tracks on side one. You may know him from his work with Fleetwood Mac (1969-1973) and Deep Purple (1969-1977), which include the amazingly well-recorded albums Machine Head and Made In Japan.

It’s a rare record indeed that can rock with the best of them while keeping its audiophile credentials intact. Like we said about our Hot Stampers for Never A Dull Moment, we sure wish more Rolling Stones records sounded like this.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

A bigger presentation – more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record, the better.

More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a pure rock record. It needs weight down low to rock the way the band wanted it to.

Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception. We take a lot of points off for that.

Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.

Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven’t played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to come by. Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Bad ‘N’ Ruin
Tell Everyone
Sweet Lady Mary
Richmond
Maybe I’m Amazed [Live]

Side Two

Had Me a Real Good Time
On the Beach 
I Feel So Good [Live]
Jerusalem

AMG Review

On their second album Long Player, the Faces truly gel… [I]f the album seems pieced together from a few different sources, the band itself all seems to be coming from the same place, turning into a ferocious rock & roll band who, on their best day, could wrestle the title of greatest rock & roll band away from the Stones.

The key is that Stewart, Lane and Ron Wood are all coming from the same place, all celebrating a rock & roll that’s ordinary in subject but not in sound.

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 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) 

Derek and the Dominos – 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…)

Richard & Linda Thompson – Shoot Out The Lights – A Four Men with Beards Heavy Vinyl Winner

More of the Music of Richard Thompson

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Richard (and Linda) Thompson

Sonic Grade: B

Hey, this is a surprisingly good sounding pressing! Our Hot Stampers are clearly bigger and more lively, but for a Heavy Vinyl reissue this pressing is quite respectable.

You won’t get the effect we describe below on the Heavy Vinyl pressing that we heard on our best Hot Stamper original pressings, but you will get a very good sounding record.

With constant improvements to the system Shoot Out is now so powerful a recording that we had no choice but to add it to our Top 100 list in 2014, but we would go even further than that and say that it would belong on a list of the Top Ten Best Sounding Rock Records of All Time.

The guitars are HUGE — they positively leap out of the speakers on the title cut, freeing themselves from a studio that seems already to be the size of a house. (more…)

Santana Records to Avoid – 180 Gram Imports!

More of the Music of Santana

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Santana

There are some 180 gram reissues from Germany that are just plain awful. They can’t begin to hold a candle to good American copies.

The Original Orange Label CBS pressings always have that veiled, opaque, smeary quality that we dislike so much. They are obviously made from sub-generation tapes. The transients suffer badly when dub tapes are used.

Peggy Lee / Latin ala Lee! on S&P (Reviewed in the 2000s)

More of the Music of Miss Peggy Lee

More Pop and Jazz Vocals

Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in 2003 when this record came out, probably not, but here it is anyway.

As for the difficult remix, the more remixes I hear, the less I like remixes. The ones Hoffmann did for Nat King Cole drive me up a wall.

The Record of the Year for 2003.

I know how crazy that sounds, but it’s true! If you don’t have a smile on your face fifteen seconds after playing track one, you better check your pulse, cuz, as the famous song has it: Jack, You Dead. Amazingly good sound, courtesy of a fabulous and painstakingly difficult remix by the mastering guru himself, Steve Hoffman. This is popular music for the previous generation — but why should we be denied these long forgotten treasures?

(more…)