Breakthrough Pressing Discoveries

Bloomfield-Kooper-Stills – Super Session – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

Man’s Temptation, track 3 on side one, has got some seriously bright EQ happening (reminiscent of the first BS&T album), so if that song even sounds tolerable in the midrange you are doing better than expected.

Clean Cutting

What you get with this copy is some of the most transparent, lowest distortion, cleanest cutting we’ve ever heard. This copy is high-rez like you will not believe, with an unusually extended top end on both sides.

Turn It Up

Most copies are far too bright and phony sounding to turn up loud; the distortion and grit are just too much at higher volumes. On a copy like this, with more correct tonality and an overall freedom from distortion, you can TURN IT UP and LET IT ROCK.

Season of the Witch sounds amazing at loud levels on this copy, with its big build-ups and quiet breakdowns. It is nothing less than a thrill to just let it blast away at the levels we were listening at. The band is RIGHT THERE.

Side One

A++, big and clear with absolutely ZERO smear! The bass is solid and tight, and there’s more transparency here than on the typical pressing. So good!

Side Two

We awarded this side a rare A++++ grade, reserved for the kind of sound that makes us completely rethink the possibilities of a recording! Super spacious and three-dimensional with an amazingly extended top end, this absolutely blew away everything else in our shootout. Rich and Tubey Magical with incredible energy and no smear at all, this is doing everything we want it to. AMAZING! (more…)

Thelonious Monk – Misterioso

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  • Monk’s live 1958 release makes its Hot Stamper debut, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big, lively, open and clear with Tubey Magical richness – just the right sound for this masterful quartet
  • Recorded live at the Five Spot Cafe in New York City, the energy here is palpable – according to Orrin Keepnews, Monk “played more distinctly here than on his studio albums in response to the audience’s enthusiasm during the performance”
  • 5 stars: “[The quartet’s] overwhelming and instinctual capacities directly contribute to the powerful swingin’ and cohesive sound they could continually reinvent.”

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Dire Straits – Dire Straits – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2011

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Dire Straits – Dire Straits

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

The best side one we’ve ever heard, so freakishly impressive that we awarded it the rare A++++ (Four Plus) grade! On top of that, side two earned an A++ grade and the vinyl plays unusually quietly — solid Mint Minus throughout. This is probably the best Dire Straits album (certainly our favorite) and definitely their best sounding album; on a copy like this one it has the power to BLOW YOUR MIND. Water Of Love, Down To The Waterline and Six Blade Knife are all STUNNING on this pressing.  (more…)

Jethro Tull – This Was

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This Was

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

Guaranteed to MURDER any Pink Label Island original you have ever heard – these are the Hot Stampers. 

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…)

Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn

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  • An amazing Shootout Winning pressing with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from the first note to the last 
  • This shockingly well-recorded album is a big step up from many that followed and surely the best sounding Floyd until Meddle
  • We made a huge breakthrough during our shootout, discovering a very special label and stampers that took the sound to a whole new level
  • 5 stars: “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn successfully captures both sides of psychedelic experimentation — the pleasures of expanding one’s mind and perception, and an underlying threat of mental disorder and even lunacy; this duality makes Piper all the more compelling in light of Barrett’s subsequent breakdown, and ranks it as one of the best psychedelic albums of all time.”

Amazing sound for this classic early Floyd album featuring Syd Barrett! We did not expect to hear sound this good for the album. If you’ve played other versions of this one you’re going to be surprised — shocked even — at how big, rich and solid the sound is. Astronomy Domine and Interstellar Overdrive are especially impressive. We don’t think you’ll have much luck finding a copy with even one side this good, let alone two! (more…)

Our Favorite Tchaikovsky 1812 – The Alwyn Performance on Decca

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1812 / Marche Slave / Alwyn

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

A BEYOND White Hot Quadruple Plus side one – hear Tchaikovsky’s 1812 in Demo Disc sound. This is the most exciting and beautifully played 1812 we know of, with the best sound ever to boot on this copy. This is an exceptional Decca remastering of a superb Golden Age recording on very good vinyl.

The WHOMP FACTOR on this side one has to be heard to be believed. If you’ve got the woofers for it this record is going to rock your world!

Strings Are Key

The lower strings are rich and surrounded by lovely hall space. This is not a sound one hears on record often enough and it is glorious when a pressing as good as this one can make that sound clear to you. (more…)

Bee Gees – Trafalgar

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  • An outstanding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound form start to finish – the first to ever hit the site!
  • The code has finally been cracked – this specific early Atco domestic pressing showed us a huge, rich, Tubey Magical Trafalgar we had no idea could even exist, mostly because all the British LPs we had on hand for the shootout were a joke next to it
  • The lead single “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” was the first Bee Gees’ No. 1 single in the United States
  • 4 stars – “Trafalgar remains one of the Bee Gees’ most critically acclaimed albums and can be found within the pages of 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die.”

This vintage Atco pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Neil Young – After the Gold Rush – We Loved This Copy So Much in 2005 We Asked $200 for It

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

This is the story of how we discovered our very first killer copy of After the Gold Rush. What a thrill it was to finally hear the album sound so amazing, this after hearing so many mediocre copies over the years. It’s records like this that made us eventually put 100% of our resources into finding records that sound like this one — or better!  

This is the way we heard After the Gold Rush in 2005. Embarrassingly, we liked it so much we compared it to the best DCC records we were selling back then, ouch! (more…)

Jackson Browne – The Pretender – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner

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Amazing A++++ (Four Plus) sound, so good we rated it beyond our usual top grade of Triple Plus. Without a doubt it’s the best sounding Jackson Browne record ever made, and this copy backs up everything we say and more.

Side one was super transparent, with breathy, present vocals. What really blew us away on this one is the sheer size and openness of the soundfield. We were so impressed that we went beyond our usual top grade of A+++, something we rarely do. But when a copy like this comes along and sets a new standard for an album’s sonic potential, there’s nothing else we CAN do!

Side two was every bit as good! Absolutely As Good As It Gets! Big and open, solid and rich, this one is doing absolutely everything we could ask it to. The soundstage is HUGE, and the transparency and separation between parts are stunning. If you’re looking for Demo Disc Jackson Browne sound, this is it.

Demo Disc Sound

This is one of the all time great rock / pop Demo Discs — the sound of the best copies is so rich and full-bodied it makes most other rock records sound positvely anemic. As I’m sure you know by now, especially if you own a copy or two, pressings of The Pretender don’t usually sound like Demo Discs. In fact, most copies of this record are mediocre at best — thin, grainy, and flat sounding.

This copy is none of those things. And it positively MURDERS the famous MoFi pressing. Click on the Aural Excitement tab above to read more on that subject. (more…)

Cat Stevens – Catch Bull At Four Magic Stampers

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  • With two shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, this early UK pressing is As Good As It Gets!
  • Bigger, more dynamic, more lively, more present and just plain more EXCITING than anything we heard – that’s why it won our shootout  
  • This one can show you the sweeter, tubier Midrange Magic that we is the hallmark of all the best Cat Stevens’ recordings
  • Many of Cat’s best songs are here – Can’t Keep It In, Angelsea, 18th Avenue, Freezing Steel and more
  • “Celebrated and adored for his sanguine lyrics and irresistible hooks, Cat Stevens was one of the rare singer-songwriters capable of composing genuinely optimistic songs that didn’t leave a sappy residue in listeners’ ears.”

The Magic Stampers

As is sometimes the case, there is one and only one set of stamper numbers that consistently wins our Catch Bull At Four shootouts. We stumbled upon an out-of-this-world copy of the right pressing about two years ago, a copy took the recording to a level we had no idea could even be possible. (We were going to give it Four Pluses, and probably should have, but cooler heads prevailed.)

Since then we have had many copies come in, but none that could compete with the Magic Stamper pressings. And the best part of this story is that, no, the best stampers are not 1U, or 2U, or even 3U. In other words they are far from the stampers found on the earliest pressings. That’s one reason it took us so long to discover them, because they are much less commonly found than pressings with the earlier stampers. By the time these later pressings were mastered, pressed and released, the album’s biggest selling days were over. For all we know this cutting may have been done just to keep the record in print, possibly undertaken many years after its initial release. (more…)