Hot Stampers for one of our favorite Classic Rock records have finally made it to the site! This British original is the very definition of TUBEY MAGIC. The sound is so rich and sweet it will make you want to take all your CDs and dump them in the trash (if you haven’t done so already).
This is the sound WE LOVE here at Better Records, assuming the pressing in question still maintains its dynamics and some degree of presence, immediacy and transparency. Records like this can easily get thick and muddy; think of the typically dull Who’s Next or Sticky Fingers and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
But there can be too much of a good thing, even tubey magic, and this I’m sorry to report is exactly the problem here. That richness and fullness that makes British recordings from the era so good — think early Jethro Tull — can easily go over the edge, turning into a thick mucky stew in which the individual sonic components become difficult to separate out.
None of our Brit copies avoided the problem entirely; to one degree or another it’s on the tape. The best copies keep what’s good about the sound — leaner and cleaner they are not — while letting us hear into the soundfield with the most transparency and the least amount of smear.
Extension up top is also key to the best copies, as well as the least amount of compression. There is plenty of compression on some of these tracks — it is after all where some of the tubey magic comes from: tube compressors as opposed to the solid state kind. The best copies balance of all these elements in a way that allows the energy and power of this music to come through wonderfully.
Sides One and Two
Side one was neck and neck with the best sound we heard. In the end we had to call it A++ to A+++ because our Triple Plus side one had a touch more tubey magic.
Side two had solid A Double Plus sound, rich and sweet with big bass and smooth vocals (which got a bit grainy on some copies). With a bit less compression this one would have been competitive with the very best we played. As it is it will murder any copy other than the best British originals, and those, as I’m sure you know, do not grow on trees.
Glorious Big Speaker Sound
A while back we discussed the kind of sound that Glyn Johns managed to get for the likes of Humble Pie and The Who: “But oh what a glorious sound it is when it’s working. There’s not a trace of anything phony up top, down low or anywhere in-between. This means it has a quality sorely at odds with the vast majority of audiophile pressiings, new and old, as well as practically anything recorded in the last twenty years, and it is simply this: The louder you play it the better it gets.“
This is without a doubt a big speaker record, one that requires the highest-resolution, lowest-distortion components to bring out its best qualities. If you have a system like that you should find much to like here.
I bought my first copy in 1972 when I was still in high school and it quickly became one of my favorite records. All these years later it still is. It’s records like this that shaped my audio purchases and pursuits. It takes a monster system to even begin to play this record right and that’s the kind of stereo I’ve always been drawn to. A stereo that can’t play this record, or The Beatles, or Ambrosia, or Yes, or the hundreds of other amazing recordings we put up on the site every year, is not one I would be very likely to own.
What qualifies a record to be a Masterpiece needs no explanation. We will make every effort to limit the list to one entry per artist or group, although some exceptions have already occurred to me, so that rule will no doubt be broken from time to time. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so memorably wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”
For a record to come to my Desert Island Disc, said record: 1) must have at some time during my fifty years as a music lover and audio enthusiast been played enthusiastically, fanatically even, causing me to feel what Leonard Bernstein called “the joy of music”; 2) my sixty year old self must currently respect the album, and; 3) I must think I will want to listen to the music fairly often and well into the future (not knowing how long I may be stranded there).
How many records meet the Desert Island Disc criteria? Certainly many more than you can see when you click on the link, but new titles will be added as time permits.
Fig Tree Bay
Wind of Change
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
It’s a Plain Shame
Oh for Another Day
All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side)
AMG 4 Star Rave Review
Peter Frampton’s solo debut after leaving Humble Pie (as they stood on the brink of stardom) spotlights Frampton’s well-crafted, though lyrically lightweight, songwriting and his fine guitar playing… The sound is crisp, the melodies catchy, and Frampton’s distinctive, elliptical Gibson Les Paul guitar leads soar throughout… With its mix of ballads and upbeat numbers with just enough of a rock edge, Wind of Change showed Frampton at his creative peak.