Month: March 2019

Bee Gees – 2 Years On

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  • The Bee Gee’s 1970 release makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Tubey Magical, with strong midrange presence, the sound here is worlds away from the dubby domestic pressings sitting in the bins at your local record store
  • This album marked the musical reunion of the Gibb brothers, and the band returned with this “surprisingly hard-edged… more progressive” sound
  • 4 stars: “…[with 2 Years On] the Bee Gees suddenly found themselves right back in the thick of popular music, and as close to the cutting edge of pop/rock as they’d ever been.”

Why does no one ever mention that the song Lonely Days that starts off side two, which is surely one of the best tracks these boys ever recorded, had its arrangement, structure and harmonies stolen and reworked by Jeff Lynne throughout the entire time he was fronting ELO? That’s his sound, but the BeeGees had it first! (more…)

David Bowie / Scary Monsters – Bigger and Clearer, Yet Still Rich and Smooth

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One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

It’s No Game (Part 1) 
Up The Hill Backwards 
Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) 
Ashes To Ashes 
Fashion

Side Two

Teenage Wildlife 
Scream Like A Baby 
Kingdom Come 
Because You’re Young 
It’s No Game (Part 2)

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

David Bowie returned to relatively conventional rock & roll with Scary Monsters, an album that effectively acts as an encapsulation of all his ’70s experiments. Reworking glam rock themes with avant-garde synth flourishes, and reversing the process as well, Bowie creates dense but accessible music throughout Scary Monsters.

Though it doesn’t have the vision of his other classic records, it wasn’t designed to break new ground — it was created as the culmination of Bowie’s experimental genre-shifting of the ’70s. As a result, Scary Monsters is Bowie’s last great album. While the music isn’t far removed from the post-punk of the early ’80s, it does sound fresh, hip, and contemporary, which is something Bowie lost over the course of the ’80s.

George Harrison – Living In The Material World

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  • An excellent sounding early British Apple pressing with solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout and reasonably quiet vinyl
  • If you want to hear the rich, Tubey Magical sound that was all over the Master Tape in 1973, these vintage imports are the only way to go
  • What Living in the Material World does show off far better than the earlier record, however, is Harrison’s guitar work… it does represent his solo playing and songwriting at something of a peak. Most notable are his blues stylings and slide playing, glimpsed on some of the later Beatles sessions but often overlooked by fans.” – All Music

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Frank Zappa – Apostrophe (‘)

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Frank Zappa

  • An outstanding copy, earning seriously good grades of Double Plus (A++) or BETTER on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is super big and full-bodied with super present vocals, a big bottom end, and lots of energy/li>
  • Guaranteed to beat your old copy and the recent reissue or your money back (of course)
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic and Zappa’s only album to crack the Top Ten

An excellent copy of Zappa’s legendary Apostrophe, one of his most commercially successful albums and, more importantly to folks like us, one of his best sounding. We’ve been picking up this album for years in the hope that we could find one with the kind of sound we’ve been hearing on the best copies of Waka/Jawaka and Hot Rats, but it took us until 2015 to get one up on the site.

Why is that? Well for starters, this is the only Zappa album to ever hit the Top Ten. More copies pressed equals more mediocre copies pressed, and most of them we’ve picked up over the years certainly have qualified for that designation.

The best copies really delivered, with superb clarity and transparency that were missing from most of the pressings we’ve played. The sound is bigger, richer and smoother than we’ve come to expect for this album. The bottom end is strong and there’s lots of space and separation between the various parts.

One of Zappa’s last good studio albums in our opinion, with great songs like Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, Uncle Remus and the title track. (more…)

Townes Van Zandt – Delta Momma Blues

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  • Excellent sound throughout for this original Tomato LP with both sides earning Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER
  • The overall sound here is rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with plenty of energy and bottom end weight
  • No one does beautifully spare and gut-wrenching country music quite like TVZ – this set contains two of his best songs — Tower Song and Nothin’

This vintage Tomato pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Eric Clapton – Another Ticket

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout
  • Both sides here are clean, clear and super spacious with a punchy bottom end and lots of big rock energy
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout with both sides playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “The first and last Clapton studio album to feature his all-British band of the early ’80s, it gave considerable prominence to second guitarist Albert Lee and especially to keyboard player/singer Gary Brooker (formerly leader of Procol Harum), and they gave it more of a blues-rock feel than the country-funk brewed up by the Tulsa shuffle crew Clapton had used throughout the 1970s.”

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Miles Davis – Nefertiti

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This Columbia 360 Label pressing has excellent sound on both sides and unusually quiet vinyl throughout. The music is wonderful too — Miles and his late ’60s quintet featuring Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams are all in top form here, slowly working their way towards the electric fusion sounds that would be coming shortly. Many copies lack the kind of transparency and clarity you need to make sense of what each player is doing, but this Super Hot pressing gives you those qualities on both sides. (more…)

T.Rex – The Slider

  • Insanely good sound throughout this early UK pressing with each side rating a Triple Plus (A+++) or very close to it – quiet vinyl too
  • These sides were bigger, richer and livelier, with more bass, energy and Tubey Magic than the other copies we played (which is why this copy won the shootout)
  • Even the best domestic pressings always sounded dubby to us – we gave up playing them years ago
  • 5 stars: “The Slider essentially replicates all the virtues of Electric Warrior, crammed with effortless hooks and trashy fun. All of Bolan’s signatures are here – mystical folk-tinged ballads, overt sexual come-ons crooned over sleazy, bopping boogies, loopy nonsense poetry, and a mastery of the three-minute pop song form.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good a 1972 All Tube Analog recording can sound, this killer copy will do the trick. To be honest, since I do not know what equipment was being used in the many studios this album was recorded in, better to say that this is what, to our ears, sounds like all tube analog sound.

With Tony Visconti in the studio the sound has much in common with another Glam Rock Masterpiece from the same year, Ziggy Stardust.

One of the many highlights of the album is the wonderful background vocals performed by Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman — better known as The Turtles, or Flo & Eddie for you Zappa fans out there.

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Oscar Peterson & Nelson Riddle

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  • Peterson and Riddle’s 1963 collaboration finally arrives on the site with stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • With a lively and present piano, and a smooth, full sounding orchestra, this is just the right sound for this music
  • “From the opening flutes to the last flush of piano and orchestra, this is smooth-swinging jazz par excellence.”
  • 4 stars: “… a quietly strong, rich, fully evocative set of great tracks that emphasize the undercurrent rather than the overflow of emotions.”

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These vintage Verve pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here. (more…)