Month: December 2020

Queen – The Game

More Queen

Hot Stamper Albums with Huge Choruses

  • 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

More Wes Montgomery

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Guitar

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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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Glenn Frey – The Allnighter

  • 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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Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Fiedler

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

More Reviews and Commentaries for Gaite Pareisienne

  • 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…)

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

diresbrothMore of the Music of Dire Straits

Reviews and Commentaries for Brothers in Arms

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…)

Hall and Oates – More Stone Age Audio EQ from MoFi

More of the Music of Hall and Oates

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Hall and Oates

Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another record perfectly suited to the Stone Age Stereos of the Past.

Those of you who have had the misfortune to play the MoFi LP know that they absolutely ruined this album. They boosted the hell out of the top end, the last thing in the world this recording needed. 

Actually, that’s probably not true. People who collect MoFi records probably like the kind of phony sound found on the MoFi of this title.

To the extent that a MoFi collector is not happy with the sound, my guess is he would more than likely place the blame on the recording, not the mastering.

Of course, since such a collector would never lower himself to buy a standard domestic copy of the record, he would have no way of knowing that it trounces his so-called audiophile pressing. If your stereo likes that MoFi sound in this day and age, you shouldn’t be buying records. You should be buying new equipment, which hopefully will allow you to recognize bad records when you play them.

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Jimmy Witherspoon – Blues For Easy Livers

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  • Blues for Easy Livers finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) stereo sound from start to finish
  • BIG and spacious with wonderful presence – the transparency of this vintage pressing is superb, and yet one more reminder of the sound modern records consistently fail to achieve
  • This is one of the better sounding Male Vocal LPs to hit our turntable in recent months and I bet the same will hold true for you if you take this copy home
  • “Witherspoon’s one of the masters of closing-time bluesy jazz, and he doesn’t let anyone down on that account on this relaxed (but not sleepy) session.”

You’ll find surprisingly natural sound on this great Jazz / Blues / Male Vocal album.

We’ve been picking these up when we find ’em clean — no mean feat, I assure you — and this copy had the sound we’ve been looking for. (more…)

Led Zeppelin – A Classic Records LP that Beats Most Pressings (!)

More of the Music of Led Zeppelin

More Classic Records Led Zeppelin Pressings Reviewed

Sonic Grade: B

Considering how bad (or at best mediocre) the average copy of the first Zep album sounds, let’s give credit where credit is due and say that Bernie’s remastered version on Heavy Vinyl is darn good (assuming you get a good one, something of course that neither I nor you should assume).

It’s without a doubt the best of all the Classic Zeppelin titles, most of which we found none too pleasing to the ear.

Our Thinking Circa 2010

We like the Classic, albeit with reservations. It’s without a doubt the best of all the Classic Heavy Vinyl reissues of the Zeppelin catalog, most of which are not very good and some of which are just awful.

Why is this one good? It’s tonally correct for one thing, and the importance of that cannot be stressed too strongly.

Two, it actually ROCKS, something a majority of pressings we’ve played over the years don’t.

Three, it’s shockingly dynamic. It may actually be more dynamic than any other pressing we have ever played.

If you aren’t willing to devote the time and resources necessary to acquire a dozen or more domestic and import copies, and you don’t want to spend the dough for one of our Hot Stamper copies, the Classic is probably your best bet.

We would agree now with almost none of what we had to say about this Classic title when it came out back in the day. We’ve reproduced it below so that you can read it here for yourself.

It’s yet another example of a record we was wrong about. Live and Learn, right? (more…)

Art Garfunkel – Breakaway

More Art Garfunkel

  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Top sound for some of the best tracks: My Little Town, I Only Have Eyes for You, 99 Miles from L.A. and more
  • Superb space and clarity, with the rich, tubey smoothness that’s missing from most copies
  • The keyboards are full and rich, the guitars ring sweetly
  • Richard Perry went for the Big Sound here and he got it 

The problem with this album is that, for whatever reason, practically every copy you find is to some degree grainy, harsh and shrill in the loudest passages of the music. When the music gets loud, the sound often becomes strained and unpleasant. A copy like this one that doesn’t do that is the exception, not the rule.

Listen to the song ‘Disney Girls’ on side one. If you own the average pressing – odds are your copy is in fact quite average unless you went through a pile of copies and played them in order to find a good one – parts of that song will sound painfully hard and shrill, assuming your playing the record at the kinds of levels we do.

Which is the main reason I’ve never understood what qualified this record to be on the TAS Super Disc list. Now, having heard the best of the best copies sounding so big, rich and tubey, I can certainly say I hear what impressed HP (he likes that sound, as do we). It may indeed be a very well recorded album, but it clearly falls short for our own Rock and Pop Top 100 List. As you know we play a lot of amazing albums around here. (more…)