Month: May 2021

Michael Jackson / Thriller – A Top 100 Title

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Reviews and Commentaries for Thriller

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades throughout, this pressing of Michael Jackson’s Masterpiece of Funky Rock Pop will be very hard to beat – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is huge – big, wide, deep, and open, with a punchy bottom end and rhythmic energy to spare, as well as cleaner, smoother, sweeter upper mids and a more extended top
  • Billie Jean and Beat It sound out of this world, but that’s not fair, since every track does
  • A Top 100 and 5 Stars on AMG: “This was a record that had something for everybody, building on the basic blueprint of Off the Wall by adding harder funk, hard rock, softer ballads, and smoother soul — expanding the approach to have something for every audience.”

This is some of the best High-Production-Value rock music of the ’80s. The amount of effort that went into the recording of Thriller is comparable to that expended by the engineers and producers of bands like Supertramp, The Who, Jethro Tull, Ambrosia, Pink Floyd and far too many of our favorites to list. It seems that no effort or cost was spared in making the home listening experience as compelling as the recording technology of the day permitted.

Sound that came Jumping-out-of-the-speakers coupled with driving rhythmic energy were the hallmarks of the best copies. These qualities really brought this complex music to life, gave it room to breathe, and made it possible for us to enjoy the hell out of it. This is yet another definition of a Hot Stamper — it’s the copy that lets the music work as music. (more…)

The Beatles – Revolver

More of The Beatles

More Revolver

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  • An outstanding British pressing with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – mostly quiet vinyl too
  • Here is the space, energy, presence clarity and massive bottom end you had no idea were even possible on Revolver
  • 14 amazing tracks including Taxman; Eleanor Rigby; Here, There and Everywhere; Yellow Submarine; Good Day Sunshine; Got To Get You Into My Life and Tomorrow Never Knows (!)
  • 5 stars: “Even after Sgt. Pepper, Revolver stands as the ultimate modern pop album and it’s still as emulated as it was upon its original release.”

Want to be blown away by Beatles sound you never imagined you would ever have the chance to experience for yourself? Drop the needle on Taxman on this very side one — that’s your ticket to ride, baby! We were knocked out by it and we guarantee you will be too. (more…)

The B-52’s / Self-Titled First Album – A Proud Member of Our Top 100

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides, this vintage pressing is overflowing with analog magic in its grooves – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Talk about sound that is positively jumpin’ out of the speakers – every instrument here is clear and present, laid out from wall to wall right in your listening room
  • Tubey Magic in 1979? Somehow they managed to pull it off. So dynamic too. What a recording!
  • A New Wave Classic, 5 stars in the All Music Guide: “These songs illustrated that the B-52’s’ adoration of camp culture… was a world view capable of turning out brilliant pop singles and, in turn, influencing mainstream pop culture… a hell of a good time.”

We think you will be surprised at just how good the sound can be. And you may or may not be surprised at just how FUN the music is.

Listen to the huge, spacious soundstage and amazingly rich, full-bodied and uncolored tonality that earned this recording a place in our Top 100.

Who knew that good sounding records were still being recorded in 1979? Candy-O comes to mind, but the B-52s’ first album has virtually none of the grit and Roy Thomas Baker heavy-processing of that one, and a lot more Tubey Magic to boot — when you get a pressing like this of course. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / The Nutcracker – Ansermet (Reviewed in the ’90s)

Hot Stamper Pressings of The Nutcracker Available Now

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893)

More Classical Music

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Sonic Grade: B?

Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

Superb! New records just don’t sound any better! This is the complete Nutcracker Ballet as conducted by Ansermet for Decca, a record that sets a standard of performance and sound that is unlikely ever to be equaled, and almost certainly not to be surpassed.


More Heavy Vinyl Reviews

Here are some of our reviews and commentaries concerning the many Heavy Vinyl pressings we’ve played over the years, well over 200 at this stage of the game. Feel free to pick your poison.

Heavy Vinyl Commentaries

Heavy Vinyl Disasters

Heavy Vinyl Mediocrities

Heavy Vinyl Winners

There are many kinds of audiophile pressings — Half-Speeds, Direct-to-Discs, Heavy Vinyl Remasters, Japanese Pressings, the list of records offered to the audiophile with supposedly superior sound quality is a long one indeed.

Having been in the audiophile record biz for more than thirty years, it has been our misfortune to have played them by the hundreds,

In order to help you avoid the worst of the worst, we put a great many of them in a section of their own, which we call:

Bad Sounding Audiophile Records – The Complete List

How did we find so many bad sounding records? The same way we find so many good sounding ones. We included them in our shootouts, comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stampers.

When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more inexcusable.

Shelly Manne / Bill Evans – Empathy

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More Shelly Manne

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  • With two Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sides, there is nothing that could touch this original stereo copy
  • This outstanding Jazz Piano Trio album is truly a Forgotten Classic with DEMO DISC audiophile quality sound – on this copy anyway
  • So big, so rich, so transparent, so open, so musical – this copy showed us that this album can compete with any recording by Bill or Shelly
  • Allmusic 4 Stars: “Evans was freed from the musical parameters he had set for his then-current trio. The result is that his playing seemed lighter, freer, and more relaxed than it had for a while. “

There is practically nothing to fault in the sound of either side of this pressing – what a record!

Both sides are Tubey Magical, rich, open, spacious and tonally correct. We’ve never heard the record sound better, and that’s coming from someone who’s been playing the album for at least ten years. (more…)

Cannonball Adderley – Know What I Mean?

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More Bill Evans

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • 1961 recording technology coupled with the mastering chops of the very gifted George Horn results in the top quality sound found here
  • These guys are playing live in the studio and you can really feel their presence on every track — assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one
  • 4 stars: “It’s hard to imagine any fan of mainstream jazz not finding much to love on this very fine recording.”

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Leonard Cohen – Songs Of Leonard Cohen

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More Five Star Albums Available Now

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  • A KILLER sounding original 360 copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – reasonably quiet vinyl too  
  • Bigger, richer and clearer than any other copy we played – the wonderfully intimate, breathy vocals are the key to these amazing sounding pressings
  • Sometimes the conventional wisdom is true, and this record makes the case as well as any we play – the right original Columbia pressings are in a league of their own
  • 5 stars: “A breathtaking and perfect debut, Songs of Leonard Cohen marked the emergence of one of the most enduring, unique, and brilliant voices in popular music… A masterpiece of perversity and pain.”

Get ready for some serious goosebumps! If this copy of Songs Of Leonard Cohen doesn’t give you chills, I don’t know what will.

We’ve played a ton of 360s and Red Labels, and copies that sound as good as this one are clearly the exception and not the rule.

The Red Label pressings from the ’70s can be quite good if you know which are the good stampers and which to avoid, information that the average audiophile record lover would have a hard time coming by on his own.

For those who wish to find their own Hot Stamper pressings of the album, we say more power to you. Our helpful advice can be found here.

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Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run

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  • A KILLER pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • The title track here really sounds the way you want to hear it – BIG and BOLD
  • A 5 Star album in the AMG, and the Boss’ first masterpiece – who can argue with the power of this music?
  • “Layers of guitar, layers of echo on the vocals, lots of keyboards, thunderous drums — Born to Run had a big sound, and Springsteen wrote big songs to match it.” (Did he ever!)

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Love – Four Sail

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More Psych Rock

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  • An incredible sounding copy off this Love album from 1969 with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Surprisingly well recorded – maybe that’s not quite fair, since practically every record from Love’s Golden Age is exceptionally well recorded
  • 4 Stars; “Lee’s lyrics and performances have been compared to Jimi Hendrix, certainly a compliment. This album is such a good example of these strengths that it rises above the garage band sound to communicate a sense of time and place as well as some truly sincere feelings.”

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Varese / Arcana / Mehta – Speed Is Key

More of the music of Edgar Varese (1883-1965)

Decca and London Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

More Recordings conducted by Zubin Mehta

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  • Incredible sound throughout with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades  
  • DEMO DISC QUALITY form start to finish — amazing depth, soundstaging, dynamics, three-dimensionality and absolutely dead-on tonality
  • A recording that allows your speakers to disappear completely like no other
  • A powerful Test Disc as well – use this one to check your speed and staging, subtle changes in your equipment can have a big effect on recordings like this

Incredible sound for this CRAZY 20th Century music, featuring wild and wacky works which rely almost exclusively on percussion (not one, not two, but three bass drums!). My favorite piece here may be Ionisation, which uses real sirens (the Old School ones cranked by hand) as part of Varese’s uniquely specialized instrumental array.

But the main reason audiophiles will LOVE this album is not the music, but the SOUND. Ionisation has amazing depth, soundstaging, dynamics, three-dimensionality and absolutely dead-on tonality — it’s hard to imagine a recording that allows your speakers to disappear more completely than this one.

It also makes a superb test disc. Subtle changes in your equipment can have a big effect on recordings like this. The instrumental palette is large and colorful, giving the critical listener plenty to work with.

And this copy is perfect for testing because is is nearly FLAWLESS in its sound. No other copy could touch it. Many copies are not especially transparent, spacious or three-dimensional, and lack extension on both ends of the frequency spectrum.

The SPEED of the percussion is also critical to its proper reproduction. No two pieces of electronics will get this record to sound the same, and some will fail miserably. If vintage tube gear is your idea of good sound, this record may help you to better understand where its shortcomings lie.

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