Machine Head Live? That would not be far off, and the fact they brought Martin Birch along with them all the way to Japan in order to engineer a live album that was only supposed to sell to the Japanese market (!) could not have been more fortuitous for us audiophiles.
Machine Head is clearly one of the best sounding hard rock records ever made, and Made In Japan, its successor, sounds more like a top quality studio production than any live album I’ve ever heard. It’s shocking how clean and undistorted the sound is. Equally shocking is the fact that it’s every bit as big and lively as a Hard Rockin’ Live Album should be.
This is a combination the likes of which we hear far too rarely.
We’ve raved about a number of live albums over the years. Some of the better sounding ones that come readily to mind (in alphabetical order) are listed below. Fans of any of these bands can be proud to have a Hot Stamper pressing of any of these albums in their collection.
The albums I would want in my personal collection are noted with an asterisk [*].
- The Band / Rock of Ages*
- Harry Belafonte / At Carnegie Hall*
- David Bowie / David Live*
- Johnny Cash / At San Quentin
- Cheap Trick / At Budokan
- Eric Clapton / Just One Night*
- Deep Purple / Made in Japan
- Donny Hathaway / Live*
- Jimi Hendrix / The Jimi Hendrix Concerts
- Humble Pie / Performance – Rockin’ The Fillmore
- Albert King / Live Wire – Blues Power
- Little Feat / Waiting For Columbus*
- Lou Rawls / Live!*
- The Rolling Stones / Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out*
- The Who / Live at Leeds*
Having just played a stack of copies of Made In Japan, I’d put it right up there with the best of the best.
In terms of Tubey Magic, richness and naturalness — qualities that are usually in very short supply on live albums — I would have to say that the shootout winning copies of Made In Japan might just take Top Honors for Best Sounding Live Rock Album of All Time. Yes, the sound is that good.
Want to find your own top quality copy?
Consider taking our Moderately Helpful Advice about the pressings that have tended to win shootouts over the years.
In our experience, this record sounds best this way:
Watch out for this UK pressing, it sounds as dubby as the domestic pressings do.