- An incredible pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
- The sound is just right for this album full of rockers — big, rich and punchy with great space and dynamics
- This title has some of his biggest hits: You May Be Right, Don’t Ask Me Why and It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me
- 4 1/2 stars: “Instead of turning out to be a fiery rebuttal to his detractors, the album is a remarkable catalog of contemporary pop styles … That’s not a detriment; that’s the album’s strength.”
A truly stunning copy of one of Billy Joel’s best-loved albums! We recently finished a massive shootout for Billy Joel’s hard-rockin’ 1980 release and most copies were pretty dreadful. Thankfully for us (and the Billy Joel fans out there) we managed to find a few copies that really work! This one absolutely nails it — they just don’t get much better than this, folks.
This vintage Columbia pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What Amazing 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 in 1980
- 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.
The Midrange Is Key (As Usual)
Most of the copies we’re played were pinched in the midrange, which gave a hard, unpleasant copy to the vocals. Many pressings lack the kind of top end extension that helps the music come out of the speakers and gives it the energy it needs to rock. And make no mistake — this album NEEDS to rock for these songs to work. This is probably the most pure rock and roll album Billy Joel ever put out, and it’s a shame to hear these songs fall flat when they run into the problems of the typical pressing. The copies that keep you engaged are Hot Stampers, plain and simple. Unfortunately, most copies won’t get you there.
If you’ve enjoyed a 52nd Street Hot Stamper from us, or just happen to be a huge fan of this album (and I certainly know there are more than a few of you out there) I imagine you will be very happy with the sound here! Leave the grueling work of huge shootouts to your friends at Better Records, and spend your free time enjoying great sound… not searching for it.
What We’re Listening For on Glass Houses
- 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.
You May Be Right
Sometimes a Fantasy
Don’t Ask Me Why
It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me
All for Leyna
I Don’t Want to Be Alone
Sleeping With the Television On
C’Etait Toi (You Were the One)
Close to the Borderline
Through the Long Night
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
The back-to-back success of The Stranger and 52nd Street may have brought Billy Joel fame and fortune, even a certain amount of self-satisfaction, but it didn’t bring him critical respect, and it didn’t dull his anger. If anything, being classified as a mainstream rocker — a soft rocker — infuriated him, especially since a generation of punks and new wave kids were getting the praise that eluded him.
He didn’t take this lying down — he recorded Glass Houses. Comparatively a harder-rocking album than either of its predecessors, with a distinctly bitter edge, Glass Houses still displays the hallmarks of Billy Joel the pop craftsman and Phil Ramone the world-class hitmaker.
Even its hardest songs — the terrifically paranoid “Sometimes a Fantasy,” “Sleepin’ With the Television On,” “Close to the Borderline,” the hit “You May Be Right” — have bold, direct melodies and clean arrangements, ideal for radio play. Instead of turning out to be a fiery rebuttal to his detractors, the album is a remarkable catalog of contemporary pop styles, from McCartney-esque whimsy (“Don’t Ask Me Why”) and arena rock (“All for Leyna”) to soft rock (“C’etait Toi [You Were the One]”) and stylish new wave pop (“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” which ironically is closer to new wave pop than rock). That’s not a detriment; that’s the album’s strength.
The Stranger and 52nd Street were fine albums in their own right, but it’s nice to hear Joel scale back his showman tendencies and deliver a solid pop/rock record. It may not be punk — then again, it may be his concept of punk — but Glass Houses is the closest Joel ever got to a pure rock album.