DEMO DISC SOUND on this A+++ Hot Stamper Side One! This is one KILLER New Wave Pop Record. All the Blondie magic you could ever want is in these grooves! The truly POWERFUL sound of this Power Pop Band really comes through on this Bad Boy, or should we say Bad Girl? Whatever. This was the Hands Down Hot Stamper Winner of our latest shootout. Man, we had a ball with this one.
To be fair, consistency is the problem with this album, with some songs being absolute Pop Masterpieces (The Tide Is High on side one, Rapture on side two), but other tracks falling short of the standard set by Parallel Lines, where every track bar none was a gem of songcraft and High Gloss Pure Pop Production.
Still, what’s good is good, and the sound is STUNNING, with real Demo Disc qualities. The Right Pressing of the Right Stamper.
As expected, if you clean and play enough copies of a standard domestic major label album like this one, sooner or later you will stumble upon The One, and boy did we ever. One of our copies was OFF THE CHARTS with presence, breathy vocals, and punchy drums. It was positively swimming in studio ambience, with every instrument occupying its own space in the mix and surrounded by air. There was not a trace of grain, just the silky sweet highs we’ve come to expect from analog done right.
This is of course the premise behind Hot Stampers themselves. They are out there to be stumbled upon. You can’t tell what pressing from what era from what country is going to be The One (Keanu, are you listening?) until you actually sit down, clean and play a big pile of them. We found a source for this title sealed and managed to pick up over a dozen new copies, and those, along with some other used ones we had laying around, comprised our data pool.
On the best tracks here the band is ALIVE with enthusiasm for the catchy batch of tunes they’ve penned. This is the key. Permit me to steal a bit of commentary from our recent listing for Revolver about what we listen for first and foremost here at Better Records:
Life Is Great
The band is on fire here. Right off the bat the electric guitar transients were just jumping out of the speakers in a way that no other copy managed to achieve. It had the LIFE that we prize so highly here at Better Records.
At the risk of being definitive about things that are better left ill-defined, I would say that the Number One quality we look for in a pressing is that element of Life or Energy. We can put up with many shortcomings, including even some tonality problems, but when a record fails to convey the spirit and enthusiasm of the musicians, it’s pretty much over.
Sides One and Two
Side one has MASTER TAPE SOUND, earning a grade of A+++ from start to finish. Side two was nearly as good at A++ to A+++; there was just a touch of vocal presence missing. This side was still the best we heard on side two out of more than a dozen copies. Which means that both sides here were the best we heard. This is one KILLER COPY. Quiet too, at Mint Minus.
Eat to the Beat
Watch for Hot Stampers of the band’s fourth album coming to the site one of these days, later this year I would guess. The best copies have true Demo Disc sound. If you own the record, drop the needel on Die Young, Stay Pretty and turn the volume up as loud as your stereo will play. (Your own personal Turn Up the Volume Test.) If you have a good copy it will ROCK — the sound can be unbelievably dynamic and punchy. We love that Big Rock sound here at Better Records, and the very special Hot Stamper pressings that have it!
Live It Up
Here’s Looking at You
The Tide Is High
Angels on the Balcony
Go Through It
Do the Dark
Walk Like Me
The basic Blondie sextet was augmented, or replaced, by numerous session musicians (including lots of uncredited horn and string players) for the group’s fifth album, Autoamerican, on which they continued to expand their stylistic range, with greater success, at least on certain tracks, than they had on Eat to the Beat.