A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
Finally, SUPERB SOUNDING STAMPERS have been discovered for this wonderful Fleetwood Mac album, a personal favorite from 1971! We can GUARANTEE you have never heard one that sounds like this, because practically every copy we’ve ever played sounded like an old cassette. Unless you have a very special copy — domestic, not Brit, more about that later — and know how to clean it right, the pressing you own of Future Games will have virtually no top end, no real ambience, and no presence to speak of.
The band will sound like it’s playing somewhere near the back wall of your listening room, maybe even behind it. In other words dead as a doornail. This is exactly how the album sounded for the first thirty years or so that I was listening to it.
Not long ago I ran across a copy that blew my mind and I’ve been digging them up in preparation for this shootout ever since. Of course the stereo has gotten quite a bit better of late, which helped the album immensely; check out our Revolutionary Changes in Audio commentary for the latest improvements.
Not Quite a Demo Disc
Now, don’t expect Demo Disc Sound along the lines of the self-titled album and Rumours, because those are Top 100 Killer Recordings, (especially the self-titled album which is out of this world). Having said that, the Hot Stamper copies show you a Future Games that the band and its engineer (credited on the label; what’s that about?) can be very proud of.
Side one is rich, sweet, open, full-bodied and BIG TIME TUBEY MAGICAL. The best copies are incredibly spacious and that is exactly the sound you hear on this one right from the get-go: the opening track is the lovely Woman of 1,000 Years. The next song, Sands of Time, is a real rocker, and here again this side comes on strong, with plenty of energy and meaty keyboards and bass, Side two has better clarity by a few degrees — you can hear it on the transients of the percussion — but this side leaves little to be desired. We gave it an A++, it’s hard to do much better.
Side two has got it all — a rich, meaty bottom end; master tape clarity and transparency; nice whomp to the bottom end; uncommon energy and more. The vocals are Right On The Money; you can clearly pick out each background and harmony voice. The overall sound is airy, open, and spacious, with real depth to the 3-D soundfield. It’s an A+++ side from start to finish — As Good As It Gets!
A Round Of Applause For Danny Kirwan
Danny Kirwan is the guy who really takes control on Future Games. Some of the best songs this band ever did are here, many of them written by Kirwan. The opening track on side one, Woman Of A Thousand Years, and the opening track on side two, Sands Of Time, are both his and set the tone for the whole side, which is folky, ethereal and extended. The best of these pop songs don’t seem to follow any of the standard pop conventions of verse verse chorus. They seem to wander on a journey of discovery. They remind me a little bit of 20th century French classical music, or some of the longer tracks from Neil Young’s Zuma, in that way.
Any Fleetwood Mac greatest hits collection would be a joke without those tracks. They are of course missing from most of the compilations I am familiar with. Sadly, few people miss them because few people have ever even heard them!
And Let’s Not Forget Christine McVie
She officially joins the band here with some of the best songs on the album. Morning Rain is one of her best and a true Fleetwood Mac classic.
Before The Mac Was Huge
This period Fleetwood Mac, from Kiln House through Mystery to Me (both are records I would take to my Desert Island) has always been my favorite of the band. I grew up on this stuff, and I can tell you from personal experience, having played a dozen (or more, I lose track there are so many) copies of Future Games practically all day at some pretty serious levels that it is a positive THRILL to hear it sound this good!
We have a number of entries in our new Import Versus Domestic series, in which we debunk the conventional wisdom as to which country’s records are the best sounding for specific artists and titles.
Here are some commentaries on a subject near and dear to all of us, namely Record Collecting.
The entries linked here may help you gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding Hot Stampers.
And finally we’ll throw in this old warhorse discussing How to Become an Expert Listener, subtitled Hard Work and Challenges Can Really Pay Off.
Because in audio, much like the rest of life, hard work and challenges really do pay off.