- Outstanding sound throughout with both sides rating a strong Double Plus (A++) for their big, bold sound
- Balanced, musical and full throughout – this pressing is a big step up from many of the other originals that we played
- Exceptionally quiet vinyl, with each side playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- “… when U2 marry the message, melody, and sound together, as on “Gloria,” “I Threw a Brick Through a Window,” and “I Fall Down,” the results are thoroughly impressive.”
Recordings from the ’80s are always a bit tricky in terms of their sound quality, and U2 is not a band we have ever associated with the highest audiophile-quality sonics. We’ve been through a number of their albums now, including War, The Unforgettable Fire, and The Joshua Tree, and while Demo Quality Sound may never be in the cards for these guys, we’ve at least found a handful of pressings that do a much better job of communicating their music than others, and certainly a great deal better than any Heavy Vinyl reissue or digital source.
It’s not often that we come across audiophile-quality sound for U2’s early titles. The average copy of this record sounds as dry and flat as a cassette. Not this one, or to be more precise, not this pressing.
What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1981
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments (and effects!) having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more — there always is — but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We Listen For
For Big Production Rock Albums like October there are some obvious problem areas that are often noticeable on at least one side of practically every copy we played.
With so many heavily-produced instruments crammed into the soundfield, if the overall sound is at all veiled, recessed or smeared — problems common to 90+% of the records we play in our shootouts — the mix quickly becomes opaque, forcing the listener to work too hard to separate out the elements of interest. Exhaustion, especially on this album, soon follows.
Transparency, clarity and presence are key. The sides that had sound that jumped out of the speakers, with driving rhythmic energy, worked the best for us. They really brought this complex music to life and allowed us to make sense of it. This is yet another definition of a Hot Stamper — it’s the copy that lets the music work as music.
I Fall Down
I Threw A Brick Through A Window
With A Shout (Jerusalem)
Stranger In A Strange Land
Is That All?
Dave McCullough of Sounds praised the album and said: “A kind of zenith pop then, no half measures. It all breathes fire, recovering too from the pair of standouts appearing at the start of each side – ‘Gloria’ being possibly Their Finest Moment and ‘Tomorrow’, low and muted, gently oozing emotion”. McCullough concluded, “This October will last forever”.
Adam Sweeting of Melody Maker also wrote a favorable review, saying: “Their whole musical sensibility is shaped by a strong emotional bond to their homeland and its traditions. It gives them a completely different frame of reference from most groups, and on ‘October’ it’s given them the strength to assimilate a barrage of disorientation and to turn that into a cohesive body of music.”