[This review was written more than ten years ago, so take it for what it is worth and with more than a grain of salt.]
We’ve combined our two best half-speed mastered Super Disk pressings to give you Super Hot sound for both sides. Of all the half-speed versions we had here, two of them each had one amazing side.
“But Tom,” you might say, “I thought you hated audiophile versions of rock records!” Well, we sure don’t hate ’em when they sound like this! The best Green Label copies are going to be a step up in class, but you’re going to have a hard time finding sound this good for Moondance no matter what kind of pressings you’re playing.
It took us a long time to build up enough copies to get this shootout rockin’, a fact that anyone who has ever sought out a copy of this album will certainly understand. Clean originals just aren’t hanging around in the bins, and when you do find one it usually costs a pretty penny. Add on the fact that most copies just don’t sound all that hot and you can forgive us for thinking that we might never list a Hot Stamper copy again.
We played a serious stack of copies last week and MAN, was it ever a struggle! We’re talking about YEARS worth of copies that we’ve picked up — most of them just didn’t deliver or were too noisy to sell. We even threw a good number of the half-speed mastered Super Disk pressings in the mix for good measure. Most of them were pretty bad, but these two copies each boasted a side that could safely be called competitive with the best.
What are the biggest problems with pressings of this album? Hardness, edge, and grit to the mids; lack of extension up top; veiled mids; tubby bass (practically epidemic); lack of energy; thin vocals and pinched brass. Sounds fun, right? You should have seen us halfway through side one. We were ready to run out of here screaming!
More Pluses, Less Dollars. What?
This SuperDisk 2-Pack gives you A++ sound for both sides at a price lower than our A+ / A++ Green Label copy. Come again you say? It’s simple. All things considered, we’d rather play an A++ side on a standard copy because the sound is just a little bit more natural and tubey magical, which is the sound we love. We’re pretty sure most of you feel the same way (which means we must be doing our job well). But there’s a whole lot to like about these half-speed mastered sides, which get many things right that NO Green Label copy is probably ever going to do so well.
Most importantly, the best of these SuperDisk pressings have less honk and hardness to the vocals, more extension and sweetness up top, and an incredibly airy and open quality that is M.I.A. on virtually every original that’s ever hit our table.
Of course, not all of these half-speed copies sound good, and you can fact-check us on that by playing the less-than-hot sides included in this set. Each A++ side is backed with an A- side, which will allow you to hear (and demonstrate for others) just how differently two copies of the same audiophile record can sound. Hot Stampers are not just for standard rock pressings, even though that’s certainly our focus.
What An Album
Musically, the record this album most reminds me of is After The Gold Rush. Neil Young set out to make a commercial album that had nothing but strong songs built around catchy melodies, with the highest quality production values. What better describes Moondance? Every song is good, you can sing every one of them, and in fact you’ll probably feel like singing every one of them as they are playing. And the whole album is produced with the best sound that was available at the time.
Van Morrison never made another album as good as this one, and neither did Neil Young. If there are two records on the planet that belong in everybody’s collection, it’s those two. Finding good sounding LPs of both of them is a tricky proposition — unless of course you are a customer of Better Records, where superb sounding pressings of these Classic Rock Albums can sometimes be found. (Sadly, not as often as I would like.)
And It Stoned Me
Into The Mystic
These Dreams Of You
Brand New Day
The yang to Astral Weeks’ yin, the brilliant Moondance is every bit as much a classic as its predecessor. Van Morrison’s first commercially successful solo effort, it retains the previous album’s deeply spiritual thrust but transcends its bleak, cathartic intensity to instead explore themes of renewal and redemption.
FURTHER READING on Half-Speeds
Here’s a good question:
To learn more about records that sound dramatically better than any Half-Speed ever made (with one rare exception, John Klemmer’s Touch), please consult our FAQs:
Below you will find our breakdown of the best and worst Half-Speed mastered records we have auditioned over the years.
New to the site? Start here.