This is a Classic Rock Demo Disc to beat practically anything you could throw at it. Love Alive and Barracuda on this copy will deliver the full Rock and Roll Power of your system. If you’ve got The Big Sound, this is the record that will truly show it off.
Even though our graphic scale only goes to three pluses, you’ll know the Four Plus sound on this side one the moment you hear it.
You get HUGE meaty guitars, BIG bass, a smooth top end, full-bodied vocals, incredible rock energy and dynamics, loads of richness and incredible transparency.
There are plenty of commentaries that discuss the sound of this recording and what it can really do when you get hold of a good pressing… and have the system that can play it… and turn up the volume good and loud. We proudly present here a copy with the kind of Big Sound that we think backs up every claim we make.
We’re huge Heart fans here at Better Records, and we’re not ashamed to say so. These ladies can really rock, and on the right pressing their music can and will sound absolutely amazing. Here’s a copy that will allow you to hear that magic at home — the sound is super punchy with incredible energy and wonderful clarity. You’ll have a very hard time finding another copy that rocks any harder than this one.
Wide and Tall
A key quality we look for in Hot Stamper copies of Little Queen is Wide and Tall Presentation. What exactly does that mean you ask? The best copies, the ones that really jump out of the speakers, tend to present some (usually high frequency) information higher and more forward than others. This is not hard to miss.
When you’re playing ten or fifteen copies of the same side of the same album and suddenly a cymbal crashes higher and more clearly than all the others did in the part of the track you are testing, you can’t help but notice it. Wow! How did that get there? Once you hear it you start to listen for it, and sure enough the next copy won’t do it, nor will the next. Maybe the one after that one gets about halfway there, the cymbal crashes higher than normal but not as far as the one that really showed you how high was up.
And of course it all ties in with our Revolutionary Changes in Audio commentary. If you’ve been making steady improvements to your system, or have better cleaning technologies, or better room treatments, or cleaner electricity, maybe ALL the Little Queen pressings do it now. They might ALL do something they never did before, and in fact they SHOULD be doing things better now.
Our last shootout was a while back; many, many parts of the chain have undergone improvement. During this shootout we heard things in the recording we never heard before. This is the point of all this audio fooling around. It pays off, if you do it right. You have musical information waiting to be unlocked in your favorite recordings. It isn’t going to free itself. You have to do the work to set it free. Do it our way or do it some other way, but do it. You, more than anyone else, will be the one to get the benefit.
One of the little tricks I used toward the end of my marathon Little Queen tweaking session from a few years back (which lasted more than six hours one Saturday evening, leaving me euphoric but exhausted) was to listen to the ending of Barracuda. Some of the big guitar chords at the end of the song are louder than others, and the more the differences in level among them can be heard, the better the stereo and the room must be doing.
You can’t make the guitarist play some of the notes at the end louder than others, you can only reveal the fact that he indeed must have. This is what is meant by FIDELITY, the higher the better.
This is as good as it gets for Heart. They really rock on this track –the sound of the drums and the guitars are perfection! This may sound heretical, but I would put Love Alive right up there with some of my favorite Led Zeppelin tunes. It ROCKS. The band is on fire; give them their due. The rhythm section on the early Heart albums is Top Notch and then some. Maybe not Bonham and Jones Quality but pretty darn good in their own right.
The beginning section has so many subtle details (such as the autoharp and tabla) that simply disappear on a run-of-the-mill system. On the best copies the autoharp sounds rich and chimey and the tabla has a fair amount of low end extension. All this gets lost in the sauce if you’re listening to an average copy, or an average stereo.
Dream of the Archer
Kick it Out
Treat Me Well
Cry to Me
Go On Cry
After acquiring a substantial following with Dreamboat Annie, Heart solidified its niche in the hard rock and arena rock worlds with the equally impressive Little Queen. Once again, loud-and-proud, Led Zeppelin-influenced hard rock was the thing that brought Heart the most attention.
But while ‘Barracuda’ and ‘Kick It Out’ are the type of sweaty rockers one thought of first when Heart’s name was mentioned, hard rock by no means dominates this album. In fact, much of Little Queen consists of such folk-influenced, acoustic-oriented fare as ‘Treat Me Well’ and ‘Cry to Me.’
Anyone doubting just how much Heart’s ballads have changed over the years need only play ‘Dream of the Archer’ next to a high-volume power ballad like ‘Waiting for an Answer’ from 1990’s Brigade.
Biggest Problems Noted Recently
With continual improvements to the stereo in the year or so since we last did this shootout, the goal of which is to get the stereo out of the way of the sound of the record, we noted that many copies suffer from a degree of dryness and hardness. This lack of richness is most easily recognized by the lack of studio ambience in what seems to be a pretty dead studio. Play any good All Tube recording from the ’50s or ’60s and you will hear exactly what a record like this doesn’t do. But those other records don’t rock like this one either.
You Might Ask
“Tom, Little Queen, really?”
Absolutely. If you wanna check to make sure your stereo is doing what it should, this is the album to get the job done. Just listen to the song Love Alive. The beginning section has so many subtle details (such as the autoharp and tabla) that simply disappear on a run-of-the-mill system. On the best copies the autoharp sounds rich and chimey and the tabla has a fair amount of low end extension. All this gets lost in the sauce if you’re listening to an average copy, or an average stereo.
Next listen for the intensity of the toms as they break into the rock section. The sound is ENORMOUS and POWERFUL! I hope your woofers are in shape ’cause they’re about to get the workout of their life.
To restate the obvious, I have nothing but good things to say about this album, especially on Side One. Heart was really at the top of their game for this recording; their musicianship shines throughout side one and most of side two. As good as Dreamboat Annie is, I personally feel this is their best work. When you combine material of this caliber, these talented, good-looking women, and the sound quality of our Hot Stampers, you’ve got the recipe for audiophile success, my friend!