It is my contention that there is no audiophile pressing on the face of the Earth that can compete with the best sounding originals of Teaser and the Firecat. Of ANY music. The best copies of Teaser have a sound I have never experienced with any modern-mastered record. There is a magic in its grooves that may simply be impossible to capture with the cutting equipment currently in use. Perhaps one day I’ll be proven wrong, but that day is clearly not yet upon us.
Island 25th Anniversary LP
I remember fifteen years ago when Acoustic Sounds was selling the then in-print 25th Anniversary Island pressing (10U, as I recall) for $15, claiming that it was a TAS list record. If you’ve ever heard that pressing, you know it has no business going anywhere near a Super Disc List. It’s mediocre at best and has virtually none of the magic of the good original pressings. I refused to sell it back in those days, for no other reason than it’s far from a Better Record. I don’t like misrepresenting records and I don’t like ripping off my customers. That pressing was a fraud and I was having none of it.
In case you don’t already know, one of the worst sounding, if not THE WORST SOUNDING VERSION OF ALL TIME, is the Mobile Fidelity Anadisq pressing that came out in the ’90s. If you own that record, you really owe it to yourself to pull it out and play it. It’s just a mess and it should sound like a mess, whether you have anything else to compare it to or not.
It’s also on the TAS Super Disc list, which is sad. Really, really sad.
180g Universal Imports
Universal did the three most famous Cat Stevens titles, and they have to be three of the worst sounding records I have ever heard in my life. Many audiophile record dealers carry them. Have YOU been ripped off by one of these dealers? If so, we can help. We would never promote garbage like that.
Any record dealer who would actually charge money for these titles has to be either ignorant (having never taken the time to play the record — why bother when audiophiles will buy practically anything pressed on Heavy Vinyl?); auditorially challenged (deaf, to be blunt about it); or cynical and contemptuous of record lovers, music lovers and audiophiles in general. (“If they’re gullible enough to buy into the ‘180 gram vinyl equals better sound’, they deserve what they get.”)
Of course we all know it has to be one or both of the first two. There is absolutely not a whit of evidence to support the contention that they critically listen to any of the records they review, nor is there any evidence that makes me think they could do it if they wanted to. (We, on the other hand, have actually played and reviewed some of these pressings, with commentary that can be found in our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard section, now sortable by manufacturer!)
The recently remastered CDs are pretty awful as well. In fact I don’t know of any good CDs for Cat Stevens’ material. I think they all leave a lot to be desired and have very little of the midrange magic that makes his recordings so special.
A Work of Genius I Tell You
Before I get further 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.
When you hear The Wind, Changes IV, or If I Laugh on this copy, you will be convinced, as I am, that this is one of the greatest popular recordings in the history of the world. I don’t know of ANY other album that has more LIFE and MUSICAL ENERGY than this one.
Not Even the Same Recording
One of our good customers sent us these comments about the Hot Stamper copy we sold him a while back:
Wow! You definitely are right when you claim this to be one of the best pop recordings extant. When the drums in Changes IV come in I was amazed at how much they sound like a live drum kit. Cat’s voice is eerily present, guitars have both pluck and body, bass drums have that sock-in-the-gut impact, and the soundstage is huge and transparent.
Like a lot of other hot stampers, it almost seems as if it is another recording altogether, so much more alive and dynamic. At the end of Morning Has Broken you can hear the pianist step off the piano foot pedal–never heard this before outside of the piano in our living room.
Demo Quality Cat Stevens Magic
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 the kind of magic found on these originals, will be in your graves long before it ever comes to pass.