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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

David Lindley – The Last Days of Analog

More of the Music of David Lindley

More Personal Favorites

The sound on this record is so punchy and dynamic, the rest of your rock records should seem positively anemic in comparison. Most of it sounds live in the studio, and live in the studio is how you get a bunch of guys to play with this kind of enthusiasm and energy.

Engineered in 1981 by Greg Ladanyi, the very next year he would take home the Best Engineering Grammy for Toto IV (one helluva good sounding album and a former member of our Top 100).

Fortunately for us audiophiles, this album catches him before the overly-processed, digital drums and digital echo “sound of the ’80s” had gotten into his blood. (Just play any of the awful Don Henley records he made to hear what we mean.)

This record still sounds ANALOG, and even though it may be 1981 and mostly transistorized, the better copies display strong evidence of TUBES in the recording chain.

(more…)

Leon Russell – The Imports Are the Only Way to Go on Leon’s Debut

Records We Only Sell on Import Vinyl

More Albums that Sound Their Best on Import Vinyl

His first and best album, engineered by our man Glyn Johns, but it only sounds this brilliant on these UK original pressings – the domestic LPs are dead on arrival

Delta Lady, A Song for You and Roll Away the Stone are all here, which makes this a true Must Own for fans of the Classic Era.

The best copies of Russell’s debut album have excellent sound, as expected from a record engineered by Glyn Johns in 1970. Surprisingly, a number of copies suffered from somewhat dry sound, especially in the vocals. Our best copies are rich and Tubey Magical, which is the sound these songs need in order to sound their best.

Domestic Vs. Import

The domestic pressings of Leon Russell’s debut that we’d auditioned over the years always seemed flat, dry, and closed-in. We know that sound well; it’s the sound you hear on records that have been made from dubbed tapes (and it’s the hallmark of the modern Heavy Vinyl reissue, truth be told). That sound bores us to tears, and had us questioning what we could possibly have seen in the album in the first place. What happened to the glorious sound of early ’70s analog we were expecting to find?

It was only when we dropped the needle on a good British copy that the scales fell from our eyes. We found ourselves dumbfounded by the truly wonderful Tubey Magical richness, space and clarity of the real master tape. Finally, the key to the mystery had been found.

American artist, American pressing? A good rule of thumb but one that breaks down badly on this album, and for one obvious reason: the very British engineering of Glyn Johns.

(more…)

Kim Carnes – Mistaken Identity

More Kim Carnes

More Women Who Rock

  • Kim Carnes makes her site debut here with this superb copy of her 1981 release, Mistaken Identity
  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The immediacy of the vocals is striking, putting a living, breathing Kim Carnes right between your speakers
  • Bette Davis Eyes was the biggest selling single of 1981, but you can be sure no one until now has ever heard it sound as good as it does on this very LP
  • Allmusic 4 1/2 stars, Grammy Nomination for Album of the Year – the Big As Life Rock Sound Val Garay’s engineering and production achieved with this album surely deserve much of the credit

(more…)