Teaser and the Firecat – Our First Hot Stamper Listings (2005-6)

More of the Music of Cat Stevens

More Reviews and Commentaries for Teaser and the Firecat

This Hot Stamper listing from 2006 is a Time Capsule of Commentaries of sorts; it contains write-ups from 2006, 2005 and 2002 all rolled into one. Out of sheer laziness we used to leave the old commentary in the listings, sort of like building the new city on the ruins of the old. For those who don’t mind excavating through the Hot Stamper thoughts of the past, please read on. 

We give out some stamper information down below for those of you who might have some Island reissues.

Notes from August 2006


(For pop music anyway.) Before I get into the sound of this record, let me preface my remarks by saying this is a work of GENIUS. Cat Stevens made two records which belong in the Pantheon of greatest popular recordings of all time. In the world of folky pop, Teaser and the Firecat and Tea for the Tillerman have few peers. There may be other recordings that are as good but there are no other recordings that are better.

For years I have been telling people that one day I would put up on the Web site some Hot Stamper copies of Cat Stevens’ greatest albums. Today is that day.

Last night I listened to at least fifteen of the best pressings of this album that I had available to me — we’re talking some heavy hitters here, all top quality British and American original pressings — and even though this pressing didn’t take top honors (that distinction belongs to the $500 copy we put up) — it was clearly at the top of the pack.

This is an Original Island Sunray pressing. As good as the best domestic originals are, none of them could compete with the amazing British copies that I played. I can’t explain it, but that’s the way it worked out.

Notes from Sometime in 2005

Some of the above comments were written for the last Hot Stamper which went up early in 2005, and of course, my sentiments have not changed. Not only do I think this record can’t be bettered, I have now found copies that are superior to even the best pressing I had heard back then.

Of course, I own a much better stereo than I did in 2005. I’m now using the DynaVector 17D cartridge, which is more correct than the 20X I had before. Also, I’ve improved phono stages quite a bit, incorporating the EAR 834P (and a very special vintage tube complement which makes ALL the difference in the world) into the system, balancing tubey magic with the speed and dynamics of the best transistor systems.

I’ve been acquiring and evaluating superb copies of this album for a couple of years now, waiting for just the right time and the right stereo to shoot them out with each other. The changes I mention above gave me the confidence to tackle this project. I can tell you in all honesty that I have NEVER heard better sound than I heard last night while doing these comparisons. It is my contention that there is no audiophile pressing on the face of the Earth that can compete with the best sounding original Teaser and the Firecats. Of ANY music. This is a sound I simply don’t experience when playing modern mastered records. There is a magic in these grooves that seems to be impossible to recapture. Perhaps one day I’ll be proven wrong, but that day is not upon us yet. Until then, this is the king.

Speaking of stereo improvements, a record like this is the reward for for the endless hours of effort and huge expense an audiophile must invest over the course of years — if not decades — to achieve the kind of reproduction a recording like this demands.

This record, on the right system, is a thrill that can not be experienced any other way.

Notes from January 2005

As you may have read elsewhere on the site, Lee Hulko cut all the original Cat Stevens records at Sterling for both the domestic and British Import versions. Some of that metalwork went to England to be pressed on Pink and Sunray Labels and some stayed in America and were pressed with A&M Brown labels.

Interestingly enough, on this title anyway, the Brown labels are all over the map sonically. They vary like crazy. Conversely, I have never heard a British 3U/3U Sunray label pressing that did not sound amazing, so the British must have much better quality control than the Americans. I have no other way to explain it.

But there are amazingly good Brown label pressings. They are not common and they are hard to find quiet, but they are 99% as good as my best British copy and better than almost all the later British copies, which often do not sound very good at all. I should know. I’ve made the mistake of buying many 4U, 5U, 6U, 7U, etc. pressings only to find the sound left much to be desired.

[We have since learned that 4U and 5U can be both be very good. Not shootout-winning good, more in the range of Super Hot good.] 

So if you’re looking for an amazing demo quality recording, you’ve come to the right place. If you want a timeless Classic Rock recording, it’s here too. They just don’t make them like this anymore and those of you who are waiting for audiophile vinyl reissues of records like this, with all the magic of the originals intact, will be in your graves long before it ever comes to pass.

Further Reading