Author: humorem

Peter Gabriel Names a Third Record After Himself

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  • An excellent pressing of Peter Gabriel’s third release, with strong Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • A Must Own for Gabriel fans, this album is widely considered his breakthrough work as a solo artist
  • Listen closely and you’ll recognize Phil Collins’ signature drum sound on several of the tracks, including “Intruder”
  • 5 stars: “Generally regarded as Peter Gabriel’s finest record, his third eponymous album finds him coming into his own, crafting an album that’s artier, stronger, more song oriented than before.”

If you’re a fan of Peter Gabriel, your collection just isn’t complete without this album. With this, his third release, Gabriel established himself as a true force in the rock world. (more…)

Analogue Productions Jazz Disasters

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Longstanding customers know that we have been relentlessly critical of most audiophile LPs for years, especially in the case of these Analogue Productions releases from back in the early ’90s. A well-known reviewer loved them, I hated them, and he and I haven’t seen eye to eye on much since.

Newflash!

Just dug up part of my old commentary discussing the faults with the orginal series that Doug Sax cut for Acoustic Sounds. Check it out!

In the listing for the OJC pressing of Way Out West we wrote:

Guaranteed better than any 33 rpm 180 gram version ever made, or your money back! (Of course I’m referring to a certain pressing from the early ’90s mastered by Doug Sax, which is a textbook example of murky, tubby, flabby sound. (Too many bad tubes in the chain? Who knows?)

This OJC version also has its problems, but at least the shortcomings of the OJC are tolerable. Who can sit through a pressing that’s so thick and lifeless it communicates none of the player’s love for the music? If you have midrangy bad transistor equipment, go with the 180 gram version (at twice the price). If you have good equipment, go with this one.

The following commentary comes from our catalog from the mid- to late-’90s, back when I could still find great jazz records like Alternate Takes. Note also that the AP records were in print at the time. (more…)

Linda Ronstadt – Rockin’ Out on Simple Dreams

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Clearly this is one of Linda’s best albums, and I would have to say, based on my fairly extensive experience with her recorded output, that it is in fact THE BEST SOUNDING record she ever made. I love Heart Like a Wheel, but it sure doesn’t sound like this, not even on the Triple Plus copies that win our shootouts. 

Kudos once again must go to VAL GARAY, the man behind so many of our favorite recordings: James Taylor’s JT (a Top 100 title), Andrew Gold, Prisoner In Disguise, etc. (more…)

Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti and an Overview of Squeeze

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  • This British original earned excellent sonic grades of Double Plus (A++) on both sides – the band sounds great here
  • This has long been a favorite album of mine, a Desert Island Disc if you will, with some of the most powerfully produced, intelligently written and passionately performed songs in the entire Squeeze canon
  • The domestic pressings are obviously made from dubs, and only the best of the Brits have sound even approaching this copy 
  • “”By Your Side,” “I Learnt How to Pray,” and “Last Time Forever” are all darker tunes than just about any Squeeze had done so far but they carry an emotional punch.” Boy, do they

If you’re a fan of Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Nick Lowe, Joe Jackson and even quite a few other lesser-knowns from this era, Squeeze is the band for you. I put them right up there with Elvis Costello and Peter Gabriel in the pantheon of Best British Pop Music of All Time.

The Sound

There’s plenty of Tubey Magical richness and smoothness on the best British pressings — such as this one — qualities the domestic pressings are sorely lacking. If you want to hear this music right, on vinyl it’s British or nothing, and with one of our Hot Stamper pressings it’s British and everything — everything that’s good about this recording is captured on these sides. (more…)

An Interview with Martin Barre

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(No, that’s not him pictured above.)

Martin Barre’s Guitar Wizardry

Clarity and resolution are the key to getting the most out of this album. The subtle harmonics of the gently strummed acoustic guitar at the opening of My God. The air in Anderson’s flute throughout the album. The snap to Dammond’s snare. And how about all the fuzz on Barre’s fuzzed out guitar on the song Aqualung? Sure, there’s guitar fuzz on the typical pressing but there’s SO MUCH MORE on the truly elite copies. When you hear it right, the sound of that guitar makes you really sit up and take notice of how amazing Barre’s solos are. (The guy is criminally underrated as both an innovator and technically accomplished guitarist.) The distortion is perfection and so is the playing.

Highlights from an Interview with Premiere Guitar  in 2011

Max Mobley

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The Rolling Stones – Out of Our Heads – Mono or Stereo?

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On this London LP, even though it says the record is electronically re-processed stereo, the songs we heard on side one were dead mono.

So much for believing what you read on album covers. (more…)

Brian Eno – Before And After Science

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  • A stunning sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides have that rare combination of silky highs and deep low end that make any record magical
  • 5 stars: “Ranks alongside the most essential Eno material.”

 Side one, the rock side, strongly relies on its deep punchy bass to make its material come to life and rock (or should we say art rock?). Eno’s vocals are clear and present with virtually no strain. Phil Collins’ drumming is energetic and transparent and perfectly complemented by Percy Jones’ simultaneously acrobatic and hard-driving bass work.

Common Problems

This album typically suffers from a severe case of rolled-off highs, compounding the problems in the midrange: veiled and smeary vocals. The average copy is thick, muddy and congested, lacking the kind of transparency and clarity that makes it possible for the listener to hear into Eno’s dense mixes and make musical sense of them.

Partly this is Eno’s fault. He overloads his recordings. Played The Joshua Tree lately? It has some of the same sonic shortcomings, (exacerbated by Direct Metal Mastering). (more…)

David Bowie – Heroes – Skip the Brit Originals

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  • The first copy to ever hit the site and boy is it KILLER — Triple Plus (A+++) on both sides 
  • “Repeating the formula of Low’s half-vocal/half-instrumental structure, Heroes develops and strengthens the sonic innovations David Bowie and Brian Eno explored on their first collaboration. The vocal songs are fuller, boasting harder rhythms and deeper layers of sound.” – All Music

It has taken us years to get this shootout going. The reason for the long delay is simple. The domestic pressings we had on hand to play were not exactly thrilling us and even the best of them are no better than acceptable, and not likely to win a shootout.

Even worse, our intuition that the British originals would sound the best also turned out to be incorrect. (In the audiophile record collecting world intuitions have a bad track record, but more than a few audiophiles — many of whom seem to be addicted to sharing their “record knowledge” on audiophile forums — seem to be unaware of this unassailably true fact.) The original UK Orange Label pressings did not sound especially good to us, so we kept looking. (more…)

Jethro Tull – Forget the Pink Island Originals

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    • Triple Plus (A+++) on side two and nearly as good on side one – this is one of the best copies to EVER hit the site
    • We haven’t had any copies of this album at all up since 2013, and no White Hot copies since 2008 – it’s that tough to find
    • Guaranteed to MURDER any Pink Label Island original you have ever heard – these are the Hot Stampers
    • Melody Maker thoroughly recommended the album in 1968 for being “full of excitement and emotion” and described the band as a blues ensemble “influenced by jazz music” capable of setting “the audience on fire”. Wikipedia

Folks, this is the best copy we are going to have on the site for a very long time. It took years and hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to get this shootout going and this killer copy is the result. (more…)