Sonic Grade: F
This pressing has to be one of the worst audiophile remastering jobs in the history of the world. There is NOT ONE aspect of the sound that isn’t wrong. Not one! The highs are boosted, the upper midrange is boosted, the mid-bass is boosted, the low bass is missing — what part of the frequency spectrum is even close to correct on this pressing? The answer: none.
If you’re in the market for a Hot Stamper pressing of Led Zeppelin II, there is very little chance that we can help you; the good copies are all but impossible to find. However, if you would like another Led Zeppelin title with Hot Stampers, we might have something of interest.
Our Hot Stamper Commentary
This copy is a completely different story. Everything you need for an amazing Zep II experience is right here: natural, full-bodied vocals; stunning presence and immediacy; amazing clarity and transparency; BIG well-defined bass with serious WHOMP; tubey magical guitars, HUGE punchy drums and more. Both sides are lively, dynamic, and full of Led Zep magic.
Turn It Up!
This is an AMAZING SOUNDING ZEP II, with the kind of rock and roll firepower that is guaranteed to bring any system to its knees. I can tell you with no sense of shame whatsoever that I do not have a system powerful enough to play this record at the levels I was listening to it at today. When the big bass came in, hell yeah it distorts. It would have distorted worse at any concert the band ever played. Did people walk out, or ask them to turn down the volume? No way. The volume IS the sound.
That’s what the album is trying to prove. This recording is a statement by the band that they can fuse so much sonic power into a piece of vinyl that no matter what stereo you own, no matter how big the speakers, no matter how many watts you think you have, IT’S NOT ENOUGH.
The music will be so good you be unable to restrain yourself from turning it up louder, and louder, and still louder, making the distortion you hear an intoxicating part of the music. Resistance, as well all know, is futile.
The louder you play this record the better it sounds. Turn up Moby Dick as loud as you can. Now it’s starting to sound like the real thing. But drum kits play FAR LOUDER than any stereo can, so even as loud as you can play it isn’t as loud as the real thing. This is in itself a form of distortion, a change from the original sound.
If at the end of a side you don’t feel like you’ve just been run over by a freight train, you missed out on one of the greatest musical experiences known to man: Led Zeppelin at ear spltting levels. If you missed them in concert, and I did, this is the only way to get some sense of what it might have been like. (Assuming you have the room, the speakers and all the other stuff needed to reproduce this album of course. Maybe one out of fifty systems I’ve ever run into fits that bill. But we all try, and it’s good to have goals, don’t you think?)
Zep II: None Rocks Harder
This has to be the hardest rocking rock album of all time. As you will read below, the best copies — often with the same stampers as the not-as-good copies by the way — have a LIFE and a POWER to them that you just don’t find on many records. Almost none in fact. And certainly I have never heard a CD that sounded remotely like this. I doubt that day will ever come. As long as we have records like this, what difference does it make?
Few clean copies of Zeps Classic First Five Albums can be found in stores these days, and the prices keep going up with no end in sight. The bins full of minty LPs by Pink Floyd, The Stones, Zep, The Beatles, The Who and Classic Rock Artists in general are a thing of the past. Minty pressings like this one are fewer and farther between, plus more expensive, with each passing day. The cost of picking up a minty looking copy that sounds like crap or is full of groove damage is considerable to us. Lucky for you, we buy those records so you don’t have to.
Here’s the old story of how I discovered these Hot Stampers:
I had a friend who had come into possession of a White Label Demo pressing of the second album and wanted to trade it in to me for the Mobile Fidelity pressing that I had played for him once or twice over the years, and which we both thought was The King on that album.
To my shock and dismay, his stupid American copy KILLED the MOFI. It TROUNCED it in every way. The bass was deeper and punchier. Everything was more dynamic. The vocals were more natural and correct sounding. The highs were sweeter and more extended. The whole pressing was just full of life in a way that the Mobile Fidelity wasn’t.
The Mobile Fidelity didn’t sound Bad. It sounded Not As Good. More importantly, in comparison with the good domestic copy, in many ways it now sounded Wrong.
Let me tell you, it was a milestone event in my growth as a record collector. I had long ago discovered that many MOFI’s weren’t all they were cracked up to be. But this was a MOFI I liked. And it had killed the other copies I had heard in the past.
So I learned something very important that day. I started to appreciate how different domestic copies that appear to be identical can sound.
Needless to say, the trade didn’t go through: he kept his copy and I was stuck with mine. But I knew what to look for. I knew what the numbers were in the dead wax. And I started hunting them down.