ZZ Top – Fandango

More ZZ Top

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  • A superb pressing with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from top to bottom – just shy of our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • From first note to last, the sound works for this music — tonally right, lively and plenty of top end extension
  • This is some of the grungiest guitar rock we’ve heard in a while and we were lovin’ every minute of it
  • “… they were a kick-ass live band… these are really good live cuts — and “Backdoor Medley” and “Jailhouse Rock” were fine interpretations, making familiar songs sound utterly comfortable in their signature sound — and Fandango! remains one of their better albums…”

Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top-quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.

This London 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 the Best Sides of Fandango! 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 1975
  • 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.

Heavy Vinyl

Rhino remastered Fandango in 2011, so we took the opportunity to play some of our domestic pressings up against their Heavy Vinyl LP. The results were mixed; most of our originals pressings were lackluster, many were noisy, and we just weren’t hearing anything with the sound we thought deserved to be called a Hot Stamper.

We shelved the project for another day. In the interim, we kept buying domestic pressings — originals and reissues — in the hopes that something good would come our way.

Fast forward four years to 2015. We drop the needle on a random pressing and finally — finally — hear a copy that rocks like we knew a ZZ Top album should. With that LP as a benchmark, we got a shootout up and running and the result set the new standard.

How did the Rhino remaster fare once we had some truly Hot Stamper pressings to play it against?

Not well. It’s tonally correct, with a real top and bottom, something that a substantial number of copies cannot lay claim to.

But the sound is stuck behind the speakers, veiled, and sorely lacking in energy and excitement. The transparency is of course compromised on all these new reissues, and without transparency and resolution, much of the audience participation on the first side is lost.

I won’t say the new pressing is boring. Let’s just say it’s a lot more boring than it should be.

What We’re Listening For on Fandango!

  • 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Thunderbird
Jailhouse Rock
Backdoor Medley:
– a. Backdoor Love Affair
– b. Mellow Down Easy
– c. Backdoor Love Affair No. 2
– d. Long Distance Boogie

Side Two

Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings
Blue Jean Blues
Balinese
Mexican Blackbird
Heard It on the X
Tush

AMG Review

Blessed with their first full-fledged hit album, ZZ Top followed it up with Fandango!, a record split between a side of live tracks and a side of new studio cuts.

… they were a kick-ass live band, and they do sound good here… these are really good live cuts — and “Backdoor Medley” and “Jailhouse Rock” were fine interpretations, making familiar songs sound utterly comfortable in their signature sound — and Fandango! remains one of their better albums…