A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
Even though I am not the world’s biggest ELO fan, I am a HUGE fan of this album, which is why I’m so happy to have finally found one with AMAZING SOUND, on both sides! The British originals are the only ones that can convey the sweet TUBEY MAGIC of the British Master Tapes. The string tone on the average domestic copy is shrill and smeary; too little of the critically important texture remains after the master tapes have been dubbed and the copies sent to America for mastering.
As a result of Jeff Lynne’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production approach, it will be the rare copy that provides enough transparency and resolution to bring out all the elements in these incredibly dense mixes, strings included.
But when you find a copy that does, what a THRILL it is. This is the band’s MASTERPIECE in my humble opinion. AMG calls it “… magnificent ear candy” and they are dead right. For audiophiles ELO on LP doesn’t get any better.
This Copy Sets A New World Record (sorry)
Let’s start with side two, which is As Good As It Gets, the best we have ever heard. So many great songs, with So Fine getting things off to a lively start, and Do Ya rockin’ out toward the end.
This copy has it all from top to bottom, with the punchy bass and fully weighted sound that this music demands. The energy level coming from these grooves is off the scale — we’ve never heard it sound like this!
Side one is almost as good, with A Double Plus (and maybe a little better); only one other copy in our shootout was better, and not by much. The sound is rich and full, yet super-transparent, the ideal combination in our experience. Love those female background singers — their voices are clear and individually separated, but even more importantly, on the best copies like this one they are ENTHUSIASTIC. This is the very definition of a Hot Stamper: ELO on this copy is full of life and energy. The average copy is just another ELO record, like most of them Dead On Arrival.
And I have never heard a CD in my life with this kind of tubey magical richness and sweetness. That medium never does justice to the sound of recordings like this one, in my experience anyway. People who exclusively play CDs have forgotten what that sound is; that’s why they can happily live without it. I sure can’t. At present this sound is exclusively the domain of analog and likely to remain so well into the future.
Quiet Vinyl? Not With These Dynamics
There are so many quiet passages on this record that there are frequently going to be surfaces laid bare for all to hear, at the beginning of songs (side one especially) and throughout each side. Mint Minus is the best we were able to manage on any copy, and the killer copies had Mint Minus Minus passages on both sides.
Two of the copies in our shootout were sealed; we cracked them open ourselves and still the vinyl was ticky in places. I seriously doubt if you can find quieter copies than these.