Advice – What to Listen For – Presence

The Awful Sound of the Heavy Vinyl Reissues Doug Sax Mastered in the ’90s

More Sonny Rollins

More Analogue Productions

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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…)

Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2 – MoFi Debunked

More Aimee Mann

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

I had never actually played the LP when I reviewed the MoFi CD (my bad, apologies to all), noting that the CD sounded great and that I expected the vinyl to be even better. Was I ever wrong, sorry! The vinyl has a bad case of sucked-out half-speed MoFi mids. It’s far too polite and lifeless to be taken seriously.

The comments about the music of course still apply — it’s brilliant — but I recommend the Gold or regular CD over this audiophile Heavy Vinyl pressing.

I used to consider this Mann’s Masterpiece. It’s actually her co-masterpiece, taking its place alongside the amazing I’m With Stupid, which is more the rocker side of Mann. This is her Burt Bacharach side, prettier, sweeter and more melodic. Both are brilliant.

Aimee Mann is one of a handful of artists in the last decade or two who actually makes music that can hold its own against the best popular recordings of the last forty years. There are few albums that I prize more highly or that have provided me with more musical satisfaction than those by Aimee Mann. If you don’t know her music try one or both of the above-mentioned titles. Modern pop music just doesn’t get any better.  


TRACK LISTING:

How Am I Different
Nothing Is Good Enough
Red Vines
The Fall of the World’s Own Optimist
Satellite
Deathly
Ghost World
Calling It Quits
Driving Sideways
Just Like Anyone
Susan
It Takes All Kinds
You Do

 

 

Listening in Depth to Rickie Lee Jones

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Listening in Depth

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with plenty of advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of RLJ.

On the best of the Hot Stamper copies it becomes abundantly clear just how well the string bass was recorded — assuming you like the close-miked, maximum-presence quality they were after. You hear all the fingering, the wood of the body resonating; all the stuff you could never hear live unless you were ten feet from the guy. Natural it’s not, but natural is not what most hit records are all about anyway.

Credit — or blame — belongs squarely with LEE HERSCHBERG

There’s no question that he knew exactly what he was doing, he’s the pro’s pro, so let’s give him credit for making the sound of the record really POP. (more…)

Bad Company – Straight Shooter – Our White Hot Shootout Winner


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • Incredible sound on both sides with each rating a Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it – size, clarity, balance, energy; it’s all here
  • If you’re playing this one good and loud you’ll feel like you’re in the room with the boys as they kick out the jams
  • This is the right sound for this album – take it from us, it is not easy to find a copy that’s this right
  • “Vocalist and songwriter Paul Rodgers wrote two acoustic-based rock ballads that would live on forever in the annals of great rock history: “Shooting Star” and the Grammy-winning “Feel Like Makin’ Love” 4 stars

See all of our Bad Company albums in stock

The sophomore jinx is nowhere to be found on this album. In fact, you could make a pretty good case that this is actually a better album than their debut. The best pressings of Straight Shooter have ROCK ENERGY that cannot be beat!

What You Want

It’s got exactly what you want from this brand of straight ahead rock and roll: presence in the vocals; solid, note-like bass; big punchy drums, and the kind of live-in-the-studio energetic, clean and clear sound that Bad Company (and Free before them) practically invented. (AC/DC is another band with that kind of live studio sound. With big speakers and the power to drive them YOU ARE THERE.) (more…)

Today’s Heavy Vinyl Mediocrity Is… Fandango

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More ZZ Top

Warner Brothers remastered Fandango in 2008, so we took some domestic pressings and put them up against their Heavy Vinyl LP. The results were mixed; most of our originals pressings were lackluster, many were noisy, and we just weren’t hearing anything with the sound we thought deserved to be called a Hot Stamper.

We shelved the project for another day. In the interim we kept buying domestic pressings — originals and reissues — in the hopes that something good would come our way.

Fast forward four years. It’s 2015. We drop the needle on a random pressing and finally — finally — hear a copy that rocks like we knew a ZZ Top album should. With that LP as a benchmark we got a shootout up and running and the result is the record you see here.

How did the WB remaster fare once we had some truly Hot Stamper pressings to play it against?

Not well. It’s tonally correct, with a real top and bottom, something that a substantial number of copies cannot claim to be. (more…)