A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
This British Island Sunray LP has THE BEST SOUND WE’VE EVER HEARD for this album; it ranks right up there with the best sounding copies of the first album, a Top 100 Demo Disc! From The Beginning has the kind of analog magic that made it a staple in practically every stereo store I walked into throughout the ’70s. (Even if the crappy speakers they were demonstrating didn’t have much bass, this record had the kind of bottom end that would make you think they did.)
Side one was so incredible we gave it an extra plus. It is off the charts. Side two we awarded our usual AGAIG Triple Plus rating. No other copy in our shootout rated as high on either side as these did.
There is a problem however. Side two opens with a nasty scratch that plays for about two minutes while Keith Emerson is noodling around on the keyboards. We took $100 off the price we were going to charge for it. Side one has a mark that one might hear lightly from time to time but for all practical purposes it’s not there. A few ticks in places, nothing serious, at least on our cartridge. Of course your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.
We Like This Album and The First One
Some of the commentary below is borrowed from our Hot Stamper listing for the first album, which has much in common with this, their fourth. (The only two albums of theirs I can stand are this one and the first.)
The organ captured here by Eddie Offord (of Yes engineering fame, we’re his biggest fans) and then transferred so well onto our Hot Stamper pressings, will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. It’s big Bombastic Prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels it actually CAN rock your world.
Folks, This Is Why We Love Analog
This is ANALOG at its tubey magical finest. You ain’t never gonna play a CD that sounds like this as long as you live. I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but digital media are evidently incapable of reproducing this kind of sound. There are nice sounding CDs in the world but there aren’t any that sound like this, not in my experience anyway. If you are thinking that someday a better digital system is going to come along in order to save you the trouble and expense of having to find and acquire these expensive original pressings, think again. Not gonna happen.
This is the kind of record that shows you what’s wrong with your BEST sounding CDs. (Let’s not even talk about the average one in your collection, or mine; the less said the better.) This is the kind of record that somebody hears in a stereo store and realizes the digital road they’ve been going down for so many years is a sonic dead end. This is that kind of record.
Top Honors Go to the Brits for a Change
The best Brit copies take top honors for sound in our Trilogy shootout, with the kind of sweetness, openness, tubey magic, correct tonality, presence without aggressiveness, well-defined note-like bass, extended airy highs and all the rest that are the hallmarks of the Hottest of the Hot.
Unlike the Brit pressings of the first album, the Brits here really ROCK, with greater dynamic contrasts and seriously prodigious bass, some of the best ever committed to vinyl. This music needs real whomp down below and lots of jump factor to work its magic. These Brits are super-low distortion, with an open, sweet sound, especially up top, but they still manage to convey the awesome power of the music, no mean feat.
This is a true Demo Disc LP, one of the most dynamic and powerful rock recordings ever made. The organ on this album is wall to wall and floor to ceiling.