Eagles / Hotel California – DCC Reviewed

Sonic Grade: B+/B-

The DCC — Not Bad, But…

The DCC for this album is not a total disaster. In fact, the first side of the DCC is one of the better DCC sides we’ve played in recent memory. We dropped the needle on a few copies we had in the back (pressing variations exist for audiophile records too, don’t you know) and they averaged about a B+ for sound on side one. Side two was quite a bit too clean for our tastes — no real ambience or meaty texture to the guitars, about a B- for sound. To flip something we say often: you can do worse, but you can do a LOT better.  

(Note that the grading scale for Hot Stampers is slightly different than the grading scale we all grew up with in school. The best Hot Stampers receive a grade of A Triple Plus. This DCC record for side one is three steps down from that. Three step down from an A+ grade in school, the highest grade one could earn, would be a B+, hence the B+ grade you see above.)

Our Recent Hot Stamper Commentary

ANOTHER DCC DESTROYED — Hot Stampers for Hotel California discovered at long last! Until yesterday, we had no idea that this album could have DEMO QUALITY SOUND, but here’s the copy that proves it can! Both sides have stunning, A+++ Master Tape Sound. You are not going to believe how amazing the title track sounds — it’s going to blow your mind!

The Search For Hotel California

Even though we’re HUGE Eagles fans at Better Records, we had never tried to do a shootout for this album until this week. That’s because the typical copy doesn’t even hint at the magic found on a Hot Stamper pressing. We always pick up clean copies when we see them, but almost every time we dropped the needle on one we were disappointed.

After countless gritty, grainy, compressed, lifeless copies, we had almost given up, until we played one over the summer and heard some serious potential. We checked the dead wax, and with new stamper information to go by, we hit the local stores. Let me tell you — finding any clean copy of this album is not easy. Of the dozens of copies we’ve picked up, maybe one in four turned out to be quiet enough to sell. Asylum vinyl leaves much to be desired, and the average copy of this album has been played to death.

The Real Eagles Magic

We knew that if we cleaned and played enough copies of this album we’d find at least one with the real Eagles Magic, but we couldn’t really expect to find a copy that sounded like this!

Both sides here have superb, mind-blowing, A+++ Demo Disc Quality Sound. Drop the needle on any track on either side to hear what we’re talking about. The highs are silky and delicate, the bottom end is tight and punchy, and the vocals sound AMAZING. The bass is PERFECTION, which really brings out the reggae feel of the title song. It’s so deep and loping, the effect is practically narcotic.

Life In The Fast Lane is possibly the toughest song on the album to get right — it tends to have that transistory, compressed sound that we’ve come to expect from Bill Szymczyk. On this copy, it REALLY ROCKS — super punchy with amazing presence and lots of meaty texture to the guitars.

On side two, the best sounding track is Try And Love Again. On a Hot Stamper copy like this one, it’s off the charts. The wonderful clarity and punchy bass here take this track to a whole new level.

Listen closely to Victim Of Love — it’s the sound of the five piece tearing it up live in the studio. This is the track where the DCC just falls apart for us — where’s the energy? It sounds like the band playing on that record just doesn’t care, which was certainly not the experience with our Hot Stampers.

Quiet Vinyl? No Dice

Surfaces are a HUGE issue for this album. Noisy edges are a chronic issue, especially for side two. There were moderate repeating noises under the orchestral track on virtually every copy we played. It sounds like stitches, but since it so epidemic, we think it may have been a problem with the acetates. Truth be told, we think the orchestral track can sound good but not stunning, so if one song has to have such a chronic problem we are glad it’s that one.

Such A Lovely Place

Here’s another example of an album that we couldn’t fully appreciate until we heard a great copy. You’ve heard these songs a million times, but you’ve sure never heard them sound like this. We played copy after copy this week and never grew tired of the music. In fact, we like it better than ever. If you take home one of our Hot Stamper copies, we’re sure you’ll feel the same.