This 2-pack contains the best side one we’ve ever heard! The sound is bigger, richer, tubier and livelier than we even thought possible. Side one was so amazing, such an obvious step up over every side of every other copy, we felt it deserved to be awarded our “Four Plus” (A++++) grade. One of These Nights, Too Many Hands and Hollywood Waltz will blow your mind on this side one.
- Our lengthy commentary entitled Outliers & Out-of-This-World Sound talks about how rare these kinds of pressings are and how to go about finding them.
- We no longer give Four Pluses out as a matter of policy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t come across records that deserve them from time to time.
- Nowadays we most often place them under the general heading of Breakthrough Pressings. These are records that, out of the blue, revealed to us sound of such high quality that it dramatically changed our appreciation of the recording itself.
- We found ourselves asking “Who knew?” Perhaps a better question would have been “How high is up?”
A Side One Like No Other
My notes read: ‘hi-rez, super tubey, breathy vocals with much less honk.”
Here is the one comment which really gets to the point of the better pressings: “guitar solos rise above.” The big solo on the title track just soars on this copy like we’d never heard before.
This is the guitar sound that Bill Szymczyk achieved with the band that Glyn Johns had not. Of course, it’s only fair to point out that Johns had never tried. He saw them as a Country Rock band. The Eagles saw themselves as a Rock band, it’s as simple as that.
- Reviews and commentaries for albums with soaring guitars can be found here.
Also note on side one that the loud choruses and huge guitars on the second track, Too Many Hands, hold up on this side one amazingly well. It’s a great test track as well as the first, providing positive confirmation that what you will hear for the song One of These Nights — the size and the power — will carry all the way through this side one.
When you play side two of the first disc, the disc with the Four Plus side one, you may be rather shocked at how small and opaque it is, especially in comparison to the incredible sound of side one.
Side two in general tends to have worse sound than side one on this album by one half to one full grade, if our experience is any guide.
Of course, no one in the audiophile commentariat ever seems to notice side to side differences like these, mostly because no one else does the kind of large scale shootouts that we do. If you play enough copies of the same album, these differences become very clear.
The only solution to the bad sound of side two was to include another disc with a good side two, in this case earning our Double Plus (A++) grade.
This is one of the toughest Eagles album to find with good sound, which is why only a small handful have ever made it to the site. This album may never sound quite as good as Hotel California or the self-titled debut, but there are some wonderful songs here and these two discs bring them to life in a way that most pressings can’t begin to. There’s a level of presence and spaciousness here that is miles ahead of most we heard in our shootout.
Smooth and Clean
The best copies are exceptionally rich and sweet. When turned up they really come to life. The mix is smooth, which means that when you play these sides at Rock Music Volumes they really ROCK. The talk boxes played on the second track of side two would tear your head off if they were any brighter.
When a copy is cut really clean, as the best ones like this always are, the louder you play them the better they sound. They’re tonally correct at loud volumes and a bit dull at “audiophile” volumes. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.
Our Famous 2-packs
Our 2-pack sets combine two copies of the same album, with at least a Super Hot Stamper sonic grade on the better of each “good” side, which simply means you have before you a pair of records that offers superb sound for the entire album.
Audiophiles are often surprised when they hear that an LP can sound amazing on one side and mediocre on the other, but since each side is pressed from different metalwork which has been aligned independently, and perhaps even cut by different mastering engineers from tapes of wildly differently quality, in our experience it happens all the time. In fact it’s much more common for a record to earn different sonic grades for its two sides than it is to rate the same grade. That’s just the way it goes in analog, where there’s no way to know how a any given side of a record sounds until you play it, and, more importantly, in the world of sound everything is relative.
Since each of the copies in the 2-pack will have one good side and one noticeably weaker or at best more run-of-the-mill side, you’ll be able to compare them on your own to hear just what it is that the Hot Stamper sides give you. This has the added benefit of helping you to improve your critical listening skills. We’ll clearly mark which copy is Hot for each side, so if you don’t want to bother with the other sides you certainly won’t have to.