Billy Squier – Don’t Say No


  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side two and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side one, this copy will be very hard to beat – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • HUGE Rock Sound — the guitars and drums are positively jumping out of the speakers with dynamic energy, presented on a stage that’s exceptionally wide and tall — which means the two monster hits In The Dark and The Stroke both rock like crazy, with more bottom and top end extension than practically any of the other copies we played
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Billy Squier truly arrived with 1981’s Don’t Say No… The album is a near-perfect example of early-’80s melodic hard rock… as far as studio albums are concerned, Don’t Say No is undoubtedly his best.”

There’s a reason this album sounds big and lively. It was produced by Reinhold Mack (“& Billy” according to the liner notes), Mack being the man who produced a truly amazing sounding Queen album, The Game. If you’ve ever heard a serious Hot Stamper of that album, you know what we’re talking about when we say it delivers the Big Rock Sound we love here at Better Records. Turn it up and rock out!

This vintage Capitol 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 1981
  • 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 Half-Speed

Yes, Capitol mastered this record at half speed during the height of that silly craze (which is still with us!). Although it’s been years since I played it, I remember it as being pretty much like the other half-speeds we’ve played over the last twenty years: not very good.

What We Listen For on Don’t Say No

  • 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.


Side One

In the Dark
The Stroke
My Kinda Lover
You Know What I Like
Too Daze Gone

Side Two

Lonely Is the Night
Whadda You Want From Me
Nobody Knows
I Need You
Don’t Say No

AMG  Review

After turning some heads with his debut, Billy Squier truly arrived with 1981’s Don’t Say No, which kicks off in spectacular fashion with the triple opening salvo of In the Dark, The Stroke, and My Kinda Lover — all of which become staples at rock radio… as far as studio albums are concerned, Don’t Say No is undoubtedly his best.