British Band, British Pressing… Right?
Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.
We had an original British pressing in our shootout, unbeknownst to me as it was playing of course. And guess where it finished: dead last. The most thick, congested, crude, distorted, compressed sound of ALL the copies we played. We love the work of Porky, Pecko, et al. in general, but once again this is a case where a British Band recorded in England sounds best on domestic vinyl. (McCartney’s first album on Apple is the same way.)
Just saw this today (11/29/2021)
On November 18, 2019, a fellow on Discogs who goes by the name of Dodgerman had this to say referencing the original UK pressing of Straight Up, SAPCOR 19:
So Happy, to have a first UK press, of this lost gem. Porky/Pecko
Like many record collectors, he is happy to have a mediocre-at-best, dubby-sounding original pressing, poorly mastered by a famous mastering engineer, George Peckham, a man we know from extensive experience is responsible for cutting some of the best sounding records we’ve ever played.
Is this fellow an audiophile? He could be! Many audiophiles employ this kind of bad audiophile thinking, believing that a British band’s albums must sound their best on British vinyl for some reason, possibly a cosmic one.
Those of us who actually play lots of records and listen to them critically know that that is simply not true and never has been.
How do we know that?
We don’t guess. We don’t assume.
We just play lots and lots of records and find out which ones sound better and which ones sound worse.
To be fair, we have played exactly one copy of the album with Porky/Pecko stampers. Did we get a bad one and the gentleman quoted above got a good one? Nobody knows, because nobody can know with a great deal more evidence to make the case one way or the other. Would we buy another Porky pressing? If we found one for cheap, sure. But that is not very likely to happen. Those kinds of records are not cheap these days.
If you have a great sounding UK copy, we would love to hear it. Until then we remain skeptical.
Not close minded to the possibility of course, that would be foolish.
But not in any hurry to throw good money after bad in the hopes that Dodgerman actually knows much, or cares in the least, about sound quality.
Assuming that Dodgerman does care about sound quality, he is engaging in another kind of magical thinking by assuming that the original is going to be the best sounding pressing of the album.
A public service from your friends at Better Records.
What to Listen For
For this music to work all the elements need to be in balance, with correct timbre for the relatively few instruments that make up the arrangements. Opacity, smear or grit instantly destroy the whole point of having a straightforward production, which is to be able to lay out all the parts cleanly and clearly. Get the production out of the way and just let the music speak for itself.
The truly Hot Stampers remind you of the kind of basic rock and roll record that really knows how to rock. Back in Black comes instantly to mind. Black Dog off Zep IV. This is the sound you want your Straight Up to have. The title of the album is the key to the sound. No fancy packaging, just the band, Straight Up.
This record sounds best this way: