Month: December 2021

Bonnie Raitt – Nick Of Time

  • These sides are rich and full-bodied with a nice extended top end and tight, note-like bass – Have A Heart is a Demo Quality track
  • Some of the sweetest, richest, most ANALOG sound we’ve heard from any record Don Was produced
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Producer Don Was used Raitt’s classic early-’70s records as a blueprint, choosing to update the sound with a smooth, professional production and a batch of excellent contemporary songs. In this context, Raitt flourishes; she never rocks too hard, but there is grit to her singing and playing, even when the surfaces are clean and inviting. A great comeback album that made for a great story.”

(more…)

Bill Evans – Trio ’64

More Bill Evans

More Jazz Piano Recordings

  • Bob Simpson engineered along with Val Valentin, two of the greats in our world – these guys are responsible for an awful lot of our favorite audiophile quality recordings
  • Both sides are Tubey Magical yet clear, with plenty of performance energy and a lovely musical quality that’s noticeably missing from many of the copies we’ve played over the years (and no doubt the Heavy Vinyl pressing)
  • The vinyl on these early Verve pressings is the problem – so hard to find them in audiophile playing condition
  • 4 stars: “Evans’ nimble and emphatic syncopation is not only ably supported, but framed by [bassist Gary] Peacock’s expressive runs and [drummer Paul] Motian’s acute sense of timing. “A Sleeping Bee” is one of the collection’s most endearing selections as the groove playfully scintillates surrounding some hauntingly poignant chord changes [while] “Always” captures a similar effervescence as the instrumentalists ebb and flow in synchronicity.
  • If you’re a fan of Bill Evans, this is a Must Own trio release from 1964. The complete list of titles from 1964 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

(more…)

Little Milton – We’re Gonna Make It

More Soul, R&B and Blues

Yet Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound

  • This pressing had the sound we were looking for – it’s clear, rich and natural, with not a trace of “modern mastering” (thank goodness)
  • The title track spent three weeks at Number One on the charts back in ’65 – it’s a True Soul Classic
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Towering above it all, though, is Milton’s powerful voice: a solid combination of gospel intensity and fluid phrasing that sprang from Roy Brown, moved through B.B. King, and found its way to both Bobby Bland and Milton, among others.” (more…)

Oscar Peterson + Harry Edison + Eddie Cleanhead Vinson – Not As Good As We Thought, Sorry!

Hot Stamper Pablo Recordings Available Now

More Reviews and Commentaries for Pablo Recordings

The last time I played this album in preparation for a new shootout, which was some time in early 2020, I was not thrilled with either the sound or the music.

I found the lack of ambience and overall artificiality of the recording not to my liking. In the old days — the review below was probably from the early 2000s — my system was not remotely as good as it is now. I can play the space in a recording much better than I could then, and the lack of natural space now bothers me no end, when before it usually did not.

Live and Learn we say!

Many of Allen Sides‘ recordings suffer from a lack of ambience. The musicians do not seem to have much air around them to breathe. Many audiophile recordings, especially direct to disc recordings from the ’70s, are insufferable in this respect, with too much multi-miking and not enough studio space.

A good example of how some audiophiles with modern high-tech recording equipment but little in the way of experience or understanding end up producing records that are not remotely the equal of those that were commonly made twenty years before is this Bach recording by Virgil Fox for Crystal Clear.

Other records that are good for testing Ambience, Size and Space can be found all over this blog.

Two of the Worst

Of course, some of the most ambience-challenged records available today are on Heavy Vinyl. I could link to a hundred of them, but here are two that should get the point across well enough.

This album on DCC, like much of their dubious output, has very little of the breathing space of the vintage pressings we sell.

And the disgraceful label that released this title can be relied upon to press records that no audiophile with a decent stereo and two working ears should want anything to do with.

Our Old Review

Take the following review from decades ago with a very large grain of salt and don’t pay too much for this album if you see one around.

This is a long out of print Pablo LP with AMAZING sound and music. It’s one of those superb Allan Sides engineered recordings at Ocean Way, like Basie 88 Street. Demo disc quality sound is the result! With players like these, the music is every bit as good as any jazz record I know of. In other words, I really like this album.

Dog and Butterfly – Listen for the Fat Snare on Straight On

More of the Music of Heart

More of the Music of Women Who Rock

Take five copies of the album, clean them well and then cue up Straight On. Now listen for how fat and solid the snare sounds. At least three will have a snare that doesn’t have the heft of the real thing. At most one will show you what it should really sound like.

Of course the copy with the right snare sound may have other problems, most assuredly does have other problems, which is why you need about ten to fifteen copies to really do a proper shootout.

Side Two

The vocals were breathy and clear on this side two, and the overall sound was punchy and energetic. The main areas we took points off for were a lack of warmth and a bit of smear on the acoustic guitars. Most copies have trouble getting all the transient information to resolve properly. The acoustic guitars are the place where this is most easily heard.

Side one earned the full Three Pluses for sound, with some of the breathiest background vocals we heard on any copy. That is a key sign of transparency — the background vocals are clear and breathy behind the lead singers. Most of the time they will be audible but the texture of the voices will be compromised.

(more…)

Bob Weir – Heaven Help The Fool

More Bob Weir

More Grateful Dead

  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • A surprisingly well recorded album, this pressing is simply bigger, bolder and richer than most of the other copies we played
  • ” … showcases the special flavor that Weir added to Jerry [Garcia]’s genius, where 2 identities blend effortlessly. “
  • “Jazzy in places, soft and smooth in others. Out of the ordinary for the Grateful Dead’s co-founder, but easier for the uninitiated to absorb without losing the trademark oddity that Weir has always displayed. Top-notch stuff.”

What separated the best copies from the also-rans was more than just rich, sweet, full-bodied sound. The better copies make Bob’s voice more palpable — he’s simply more of a solid, three dimensional, real presence between the speakers. You can hear the nuances of his delivery much, MUCH more clearly on a copy that sounds as good as this one does.

Keith Olsen produced and co-engineered here, which should go a long way toward explaining why the sound is so good. He is of course the man helped make Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 album such a sonic blockbuster. (more…)

Herrmann – The Fantasy Film World of…

More Bernard Herrmann

Bernard Herrmann Records We’ve Reviewed

  • This early British London pressing offers superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, giving you plenty of blockbuster sound for those who can play a record like this good and loud
  • On the best copies, such as this one, you will hear the power of the orchestra come to life right in your very own listening room
  • The soundfield is big, open and transparent, with the kind of wall to wall and floor to ceiling spaciousness that may just leave you in awe
  • A superb Phase 4 recording by Arthur Lilley, taking advantage of the legendary acoustics of Kingsway Hall
  • If like us you’re a fan of Blockbuster Orchestral Recordings, this is a killer album from 1974 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1974 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

The soundfield is big, open and transparent, with the kind of three-dimensionality most orchestral recordings simply fail to reproduce. The brass here is weighty and powerful, and you can really hear the pluck of the strings on the harp.

Harry Pearson put the Decca pressing of this title on his TAS List of Super Discs. (We take issue with that choice below.) (more…)

Roy Halee Is One of Our Favorite Engineers

Roy Halee is one of our favorite producers and recording / mixing engineers.

Check out our supply of Roy Halee engineered or produced albums. Many can be found in our Rock and Pop Top 100 List of Best Sounding Albums with the Best Music (limited to titles that we can actually find sufficient copies of with which to do our Hot Stamper shootouts).

Some of the better Roy Halee recordings we’ve reviewed on the blog can be found here. He made what is, in our opinion, the best sounding rock record of all time, Blood Sweat and Tears Self-Titled second album, which blows our mind to this very day.

More of Our Favorite Engineers

New to the Blog? Start Here

(more…)

Procol Harum – Broken Barricades

More Robin Trower

Reviews and Commentaries for Robin Trower and Procol Harum

  • Excellent sound throughout and the first copy to hit the site in many years, earning Double Plus (A++) sonic grades or BETTER on both sides
  • Looking for some proggy music that falls somewhere between Jethro Tull and Supertramp, with sonic credentials to match the recordings of those very well-recorded bands? Well, look no further 
  • This early UK press is full of the Tubey Magic and studio space that makes the band’s recordings the joy they are to play on a heavily-tweaked audiophile rig
  • “Simple Sister… is truly glorious, with Robin Trower’s frightening lead guitar work juxtaposed nicely against a wonderful string arrangement.”
  • If you’re a Prog Rock or Art Rock fan, this is a classic from 1971 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1971 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
  • This is best sounding recording by the band we have ever heard. Others can be found here.

We LOVED playing this album, both for the music and the sound. These guys don’t get the respect they deserve among audiophiles, but we’re doing our best to try to change that.

Side one kicks off with the hit track Simple Sister, and you won’t believe how hard it rocks. Some copies are overly clean — they have the kind of clarity you might hope to find, but lacked the richness and fullness that makes ’70s analog so involving. Those “clean” copies simply do not earn very high grades from us. We leave that sound to the Heavy Vinyl and CD crowd; they seem to like it. (more…)

Billy Joel – Glass Houses

More Billy Joel

  • 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 superb copy of one of Billy Joel’s best-loved albums! (more…)