- One of the best sounding copies of Heart’s debut album to ever hit the site – Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
- Punchy and present, open and transparent, with real weight and power to the low end, not many copies can compare to this bad boy (girl?)
- There is so much more LIFE to this recording than most audiophiles realize, and only the best pressings let that energy come through
- A Better Records Top 100 album, 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic: “Aggressive yet melodic rockers like ‘Sing Child,’ ‘White Lightning & Wine,’ and the rock radio staples ‘Magic Man’ and ‘Crazy on You’ led to the tag ‘the female Led Zeppelin.'”
Not many records have this kind of big, rockin’ sound, that’s for sure! Punchy and present, open and transparent, with real weight and power to the low end. If you’re an audiophile who loves classic rock, you just haven’t lived until you’ve heard side one of this album on a Hot Stamper pressing.
We’re pretty fond of these ladies here at Better Records. Their second album, Little Queen, has been a favorite test disc around here for years. When Heart is at their best, the music is wonderful. If you’re lucky enough to own the right pressing, this band can ROCK with the best of them.
What A Hot Copy Gets You
For one thing, the music just JUMPS out of the speakers. There is so much more LIFE to this recording than I ever thought possible, and only the best pressings let that energy come through. In a nutshell, those are the ones that earn the name Hot Stamper.
What The Best Sides of Dreamboat Annie 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 1976
- 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.
Live Rock and Roll Sound
This is a true Demo Disc in the world of rock records. It’s also one of those recordings that demands to be played LOUD. If you’ve got the big room, big speakers, and the power to drive them, you can have a live rock and roll concert in your very own house! When the boys behind Heart (superb musicians all) let loose with some of those Zep-like monster power chords — which incidentally do get good and loud in the mix, unlike most rock records which suffer from compression and “safe” mixes — I like to say that there is no stereo system on the planet that can play loud enough for me. (Horns maybe, but I don’t like the sound of horns, so there you go.)
What We’re Listening For on Dreamboat Annie
- 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.
Finding The Best Sound
For Big Production Rock Albums such as this there are some obvious problem areas that are often heard on at least one or two sides of practically any copy of this album.
With so many heavily-produced instruments crammed into the soundfield, if the overall sound is at all veiled, recessed or smeared — problems common to 90+% of the records we play in our shootouts — the mix quickly becomes opaque, forcing the listener to work too hard to separate out the elements of interest. Exhaustion, especially on this album, soon follows.
Transparency, clarity and presence are key. Note that none of the British copies we played was thin and anemic. (The domestic copies are made from dubs and can’t begin to compete.) Almost all had plenty of Tubey Magic and bottom end, so thankfully that was almost never a problem. They did however tend to lack top-end extension and transparency, and many were overly compressed.
The sides that had sound that jumped out of the speakers, with driving rhythmic energy, worked the best for us. They really brought this complex music to life and allowed us to make sense of it. This is yet another definition of a Hot Stamper — it’s the copy that lets the music work as music.
Their Best Album
We consider Heart’s debut their Masterpiece. We love side one of Little Queen, but for overall consistency you have to give the tallest trophy to Dreamboat Album.
Dreamboat Annie (Fantasy Child)
Crazy On You
Soul of the Sea
White Lightning & Wine
Love Me Like Music
How Deep It Goes
Dreamboat Annie (Reprise)
AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review
In the 1980s and ’90s, numerous women recorded blistering rock, but things were quite different in 1976 — when female singers tended to be pigeonholed as soft rockers and singer/songwriters and were encouraged to take after Carly Simon, Melissa Manchester, or Joni Mitchell rather than Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath.
Greatly influenced by Zep, Heart did its part to help open doors for ladies of loudness with the excellent Dreamboat Annie. Aggressive yet melodic rockers like “Sing Child,” “White Lightning & Wine,” and the rock radio staples “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You” led to the tag “the female Led Zeppelin.” And in fact, Robert Plant did have a strong influence on Ann Wilson. But those numbers and caressing, folk-ish ballads like “How Deep It Goes” and the title song also make it clear that Nancy and Ann Wilson had their own identity and vision early on.