Paul McCartney / Unplugged – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the Music of Paul McCartney

More of the Music of The Beatles

WHITE HOT STAMPERS and QUIET VINYL on BOTH SIDES make this the best copy of McCartney’s Unplugged to ever hit the site! We just finished a huge shootout for this Better Records favorite and this pressing really blew us away, clearly the best sounding on both sides out of a big stack of copies. The sound is rich, full-bodied and amazingly present, with the kind of jumpin’-out-of-the-speakers sound that you only get on the best pressings.

This copy will put you front and center for the acoustic Paul McCartney concert of your dreams!

In the final round of shootouts on both sides, this copy showed itself as clearly superior in terms of transparency and three-dimensionality, as well as having the most rock solid bottom end. To sum it up, my notes read “so real”, which is exactly what makes this copy THE one to have. This is Paul and his mates LIVE in your listening room like you have never heard them before!

This copy, more so than any of the others, gave us the feeling that we were right there in the audience for the taping of this amazing performance. It made other copies sound like records — good records, but records nonetheless. This one has the IMMEDIACY of a live show, one which just happened to be fronted by one of the greatest performers in the history of popular music, Sir Paul McCartney.

What Hot Stampers Give You For This Album

On the best copies, the sound is warmer, richer, and sweeter, or in a word, more ANALOG sounding. You get more extension up top, more weight down low, and more transparency in the midrange. It’s surprising how veiled and two-dimensional so many copies are, considering this is a live recording with not a lot of processing after the fact.

This Copy, Sides One and Two

The guitars are full-bodied, the highs aren’t harsh or brittle, the vocals are breathy, and the immediacy is off the charts. When the band is playing uptempo, this copy ROCKS, and when they’re doing a mellow number, it’s delicate and sweet. We don’t have another copy to offer that so consistently sounds amazing. How about them apples?

What to Listen For

This isn’t your typical rock record that sounds crappy on eight out of ten copies. Most copies of Unplugged sound pretty good. We did hear quite a few that had a somewhat brittle quality to the top end, with no real extension to speak of. It wasn’t ever a dealbreaker, but the copies with a silky openness up there are much more enjoyable — and, unfortunately, fairly uncommon.

There are copies that lack warmth, copies that never fully come to life, and copies that are a bit dark. Some that we auditioned didn’t seem to get the breath in the vocals, and others lacked weight to the piano. Again — not one of the pressings we played sounded BAD, but many of them definitely sounded dry, boring and lifeless.

Just for fun, check out Linda’s percussion and tambourine work in the right channel of the first track on side one, Be-Bop-A-Lula. Since that’s one of our test tracks, we had the opportunity to hear her “contribution” to the song about twenty times or so, and it became a source of — to be charitable — “entertainment” in its own right as the shootout progressed.