Excellent sound for these tough-to-come-by early Willie Nelson songs! This is a compilation of material from some of Willie’s earlier albums, records that are very hard to find these days and almost impossible to find with great sound and clean surfaces. Fortunately, this record was cut very well, giving us a chance to hear just how good this music can sound.
This album features a bunch of Willie originals plus great covers of Help Me Make It Through The Night, Everybody’s Talkin’ and Both Sides Now. Tracking down the original albums these songs come from would be a tough task for anyone, and acquiring Hot Stamper copies would be prohibitively expensive for all but the most die-hard fans of the Red Headed Stranger.
RCA may have made this compilation to cash in on the success Willie found when he moved to Columbia, but the good news is they did it right in terms of sound with the benefit of more modern cutting equipment.
The sound here is BIG with serious presence and excellent clarity. It’s super open and transparent with tons of tubey richness and warmth. The piano sounds natural with good weight to the keys and the guitar sound is full-bodied with real texture.
Learning the Record
For our shootout for Sweet Memories we had at our disposal a variety of pressings we thought should have the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman’d it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for sides two, three and four.
If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the other pressings do not do as well, using a few carefully chosen passages of music, it quickly becomes obvious how well a given copy can reproduce those passages. You’ll hear what’s better and worse — right and wrong would be another way of putting it — about the sound.
This approach is simplicity itself. First you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle — or fail — to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
It may be a lot of work but it sure ain’t rocket science, and we never pretended it was. Just the opposite: from day one we’ve explained step by step precisely how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection.
Do It Again
As your stereo and room improve, as you take advantage of new cleaning technologies, as you find new and interesting pressings to evaluate, you may even be inclined to do the shootout all over again, to find the hidden gem, the killer copy that blows away what you thought was the best.
You can’t find it by looking at it. You have to clean it and play it, and always against other pressings of the same album. There is no other way to go about it if you want to be successful in your hunt for the Ultimate Pressing.
For the more popular records on the site such as the Beatles titles we have easily done more than twenty, maybe even as many as thirty to forty shootouts.
And very likely learned something new from every one.
Help Me Make It Through The Night
Both Sides Now
Wake Me When It’s Over
Will You Remember