Month: December 2020

Queen – The Game

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from the first note to last
  • Some of the best sound Queen achieved in the studio, thanks to talented engineer Rienhold Mack
  • Plenty of hits here, including Another One Bites The Dust and Crazy Little Thing Called Love, which both sound amazing on this Super Hot Stamper
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… the striking difference with this album is that it finds Queen turning decidedly, decisively pop, and it’s a grand, state-of-the-art circa 1980 pop album that still stands as one of the band’s most enjoyable records.”

Throughout this copy, you get solid bass, Tubey Magic, breathy vocals and BIG BOLD sound.

Compared to most of the copies we played, these sides have more energy, bigger bass and even more present and breathy vocals. This is without a doubt some of the best sound we have ever heard for Queen, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

The quality of bass on this record is often superb. The best copies were Demo Discs in that regard.) You have probably never heard Queen sound this good. 

Take it from us, the guys who play nothing but vintage vinyl all day: not many Queen records sound as good as The Game. (more…)

Wynton Kelly Trio and Wes Montgomery – Smokin’ at the Half Note

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish, a tough record to find these days
  • These sides are doing pretty much everything right – they’re surprisingly rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical yet still clean, clear and spacious
  • 5 stars: “Smokin’ at the Half Note is essential listening for anyone who wants to hear why Montgomery’s dynamic live shows were considered the pinnacle of his brilliant and incredibly influential guitar playing. Pat Metheny calls this “the absolute greatest jazz guitar album ever made…”

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Stevie Nicks – Speculate Shmeculate

Albums with Stevie Nicks Performing

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The sound of the typical copy can best be summed up in three words: thin, hard and bright. When the sound is thin or hard or bright the fun factor of this mainstream drops to zero. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around and Leather And Lace both sound great on the radio, why not on Warners vinyl? We can’t blame Sheffield Labs, the original cutting house: all the copies we played — good, bad and otherwise — were originals and mastered by them.

Could it be the vinyl? It could. It could be a lot of things, but speculating about them doesn’t really get us or you anywhere, so I’m going to stop doing it and just say we played a big pile of records and heard a lot of unpleasant sound. If you have the record you probably know what I mean. (more…)

The Moody Blues / In Search Of The Lost Chord

More of The Moody Blues

Reviews and Commentaries for The Moody Blues

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  • This early UK pressing has a stunning Triple Plus (A+++) side two backed with an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one
  • Just full of that Moodies Magic: warm, full-bodied, rich and smooth with excellent size and energy
  • The first Moody Blues album to feature their trademark mellotron arrangements
  • “…the album on which the Moody Blues discovered drugs and mysticism as a basis for songwriting and came up with a compelling psychedelic creation, filled with songs about Timothy Leary and the astral plane and other psychedelic-era concerns.”

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Carly Simon – Anticipation

More Carly Simon

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  • This outstanding early pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Produced by Mr. Paul Samwell-Smith, this album blends Carly’s lilting vocals with lush, harmonically detailed acoustic guitars and BIG punchy drums
  • Brimming with favorites, like Anticipation, Legend In Your Own Time and I’ve Got To Have You, this is clearly one of her most consistent albums
  • “Carly Simon’s second album found her extending the gutsy persona she had established on her debut album… a frankly passionate person whose vulnerability was a source of strength, not weakness, a valuable feminist trait and one Simon would pursue in her later work.”

The acoustic guitars sound particularly good on this copy, with just the right balance of pluck and body. The vocals are breathy and full-bodied with extraordinary immediacy. The tonality from top to bottom is Right On The Money. I don’t think you could find a much better sounding copy of this album no matter how hard you tried. We went through plenty to find this one, I can tell you that.

What the Best Sides of Anticipation 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 in 1971
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more 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.

If Those Guitars Sound Familiar…

When you hear the incredibly lush, highly detailed acoustic guitars on this record, you won’t be surprised to find out that the album was produced by Mr. Paul Samwell-Smith, who handles the same duties on Tea For The Tillerman and Teaser And The Firecat. You’ll hear his signature sound all over this album, particularly on the track I’ve Got To Have You.

That’s not to say that we’d put this recording on the same level with those audiophile knockouts, but the richness and the sweetness of the midrange on the best copies is exactly what you’d expect from the team of Samwell-Smith and Carly Simon.

What We’re Listening For on Anticipation

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Big Sound We Love

Drop the needle on Legend In Your Mind for some of the best sound and music on here. The overall sound is open and transparent, with real depth to the soundfield and lots of separation between the instruments.

The one word that comes to mind is BIG — this record gives you The Big Sound that Carly was no doubt going for.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Anticipation
Legend in Your Own Time
Our First Day Together
The Girl You Think You See
Summer’s Coming Around Again

Side Two

Share the End
The Garden
Three Days
Julie Through the Glass
I’ve Got to Have You

AMG  Review

Carly Simon’s second album found her extending the gutsy persona she had established on her debut album, notably on the title track and “Legend in Your Own Time” (both of them hit singles), and “I’ve Got to Have You.” The latter especially suggested a frankly passionate person whose vulnerability was a source of strength, not weakness, a valuable feminist trait and one Simon would pursue in her later work.

Glenn Frey – The Allnighter

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  • This superb pressing boasts nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last, right up there with our Shootout Winner – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Big, lively and rich, with present breathy vocals, this pressing will show you an Allnighter that sounds a whole lot better than most audiophiles might suspect, especially those who have played any of the solo albums by Don Henley from the Eighties
  • 4 1/2 star: “Frey breaks with the old Eagles sound on his second solo album, much of which has a bluesy, rocking feel. Includes the hits “Smuggler’s Blues” and “Sexy Girl.””

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The Band – Music From Big Pink

More of The Band

More Roots Rock LPs

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Forget all those veiled, lifeless, ambience-free, vague sounding Heavy Vinyl pressings – THIS is the sound of the album
  • This copy resolves the intricacies of the recording that make repeated plays the order of the day for us audiophiles
  • 5 stars: “…as soon as “The Weight” became a singles chart entry, the album and the group made their own impact, influencing a movement toward roots styles and country elements in rock. Over time, [the album] came to be regarded as a watershed work in the history of rock, one that introduced new tones and approaches to the constantly evolving genre.”

We guarantee you have never heard Music from Big Pink sound as good as it does on this very copy. There’s plenty of the all-important Tubey Magic and real weight to the bottom. You’ll have a VERY hard time finding one that sounds this good, if our experience is any guide.

This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top quality Band record: immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant); natural tonal balance (most copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule); good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful); spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space); and last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sophisticated recording. (more…)

Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Fiedler

More of the Music of Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)

More Reviews and Commentaries for Gaite Pareisienne

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  • Stunning sound on both sides of this Shaded Dog pressing from 1954 with each earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This is a true Demo Disc quality recording – both sides are big, full-bodied, clean and clear, with huge amounts of energy and tons of space around all of the players
  • This 2-track recording is RCA’s first stereo recording of the work from all the way back in 1954 – can you believe it?
  • Two mics and two channels and it blows away most of the classical recordings that followed it
  • Some old record collectors (like me) say classical recording quality ain’t what it used to be – this record proves it
  • In the ’90s I was regularly selling this title for $1000+ and people were happy to pay it!

NOTE: *There is a mark about 1″ from the end of the side that plays 10 times at a light to moderate level.

In a listing from a while back we wrote:

I love Fiedler’s performance and the 1954 two track RCA Living Stereo sound but finding an original Shaded Dog pressing in clean condition under $500 with the right stampers (something above 10 as I recall) is all but impossible nowadays. If you want to go that way more power to you.

Well we found one! With the right stampers! There are other good stampers for this album, but none that sounded as good as these in the shootout. And the vinyl is exceptionally quiet for a pressing from circa 1958 (the first year that stereo pressings were available; before that you had to buy the music on reel to reel to hear it in stereo). (more…)

Brothers in Arms – Half-Speed Mastered, But Why?

More Dire Straits

Reviews and Commentaries for Brothers in Arms

diresbroth

Sonic Grade: D

The Warner Brothers 180g Double LP pictured above was mastered by Stan Ricker at half-speed.

Most of the time Stan Ricker’s approach to half-speed mastering results in a record that is too bright, with sloppy bass.

And what do you know, it IS too bright and the bass IS sloppy. Imagine that!

We often discuss the unpredictability of records, but when it comes to Half-Speed Mastered pressings their faults are fairly consistent and easy to spot, once you know what to listen for.    (more…)

John Lee Hooker – House of the Blues

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • This early ’50s material has shockingly natural sound, no doubt the result of having been recorded, like most of John Lee Hooker’s albums, live in the studio
  • A masterful collection of songs recorded between 1951 and 1954, this album showcases the “King of the Boogie” in top form
  • 4 stars: “Some important titles here: an ominous ‘Leave My Wife Alone,’ and the stark ‘Sugar Mama’ and ‘Ramblin’ by Myself,’ and with Eddie Kirkland on second guitar, ‘Louise’ and ‘High Priced Woman.'”

*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 4 moderate pops at the beginning of in Track 1, Sugar Mama.

My notes for the sound of the third track read “very real.” You get the feeling that whatever John Lee Hooker played and sang on that day in 1959 ended up on this record sounding just the way he performed it, live to one-track. (more…)