Advice – What to Listen For – Richness and Smoothness

The Pretenders – Get Close – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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

Get Close has long been a personal favorite of mine. Side one starts off with a bang with My Baby, one of the best tracks this band ever recorded. Of course at this point it’s hard to call The Pretenders a band as it is pretty much Chrissie Hynde’s show. She continues to mature as a songwriter, and the arrangements and production value are excellent as well, with heavy hitters such as Steve Lillywhite, Bob Clearmountain and Jimmy Iovine involved. 

We have a link to the left entitled Women Who Rock. It would look better with Chrissie Hynde’s picture instead of some Lillith Fair type in a granny dress, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact is that no other woman on earth can rock the way Chrissie Hynde can, and this album, along with Learning to Crawl, is all the proof anyone would ever need. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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

Clean copies of the album are rare enough as it is; good sounding clean copies are as rare for this title as for practically any we offer.

Fortunately we’ve made some strides of late finding the “right’ pressings for this band, and with better cleaning technologies we are finding that the better copies such as this one are sounding the way we want our Creedence records to sound.

Note that the Hoffman reissues and the MoFi pressing sound nothing like the Creedence records we all grew up with, and records that sound that enervated, small, lifeless and boring just can’t be what audiophiles want, can they?

Those of you who have been watching the site for a while have probably noticed that we hardly ever list Hot Stamper copies of Creedence records. That’s because it is DARN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE to find copies that sound any good, a fact that many of you have probably stumbled upon on your own.

The typical copy of this album is grainy, murky, and veiled — and that’s just for starters. It took us a HUGE stack of copies to find ANY that had bottom end weight, midrange presence, freedom from grain (mostly) and real energy. (more…)

War – Why Can’t We Be Friends?

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  • A stunning sounding copy and the best to hit the site in many years — Triple Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Both sides here are incredibly lush, big and spacious with a huge bottom end, no smear and tons of energy
  • Extremely quiet for this title — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “Cut from the same cloth as the band’s 1973 Deliver the Word LP, War’s 1975 Why Can’t We Be Friends? is a masterpiece in its scope and breadth.” – All Music, 4 Stars

Low Rider sounds AWESOME on this one. This is the kind of record you can take to any stereo store or audiophile friend’s house and bring their stereos to their knees. Audiophile systems are rarely designed to play this kind of music at the levels it demands, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be. Records like this are the challenge we audiophiles need to make our stereos even better. When the music is this good it’s worth the effort! (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This is the first White Hot Stamper copy of Bayou Country to ever hit the site. We were shocked at how good this one sounds — on both sides — compared to the copies we’ve heard over the years. It is TOUGH to find a pressing of this album that didn’t turn out bright and edgy, but here’s one that was worth the headache of playing a ton of mediocre copies. Seriously, we played a huge stack of these and most had us running for cover.

Man, the average copy of this album is an unmitigated disaster. Let’s start with the vocals. I’m not sure who’s idea it was to have John Fogerty’s vocals sound as if they were recorded via telephone, but every copy we played had an edgy quality to Fogerty’s voice. On some copies the edge is bad enough to render the copy completely worthless sonically. Who can sit and listen to a record that makes you cringe every time the singer says anything? Not us.

Furthermore, most copies are badly congested and far from transparent. After dropping the needle on the first few copies and hearing the muddy music and gritty vocals we nearly gave up, but I’m glad we stuck to it long enough to find a few copies that did a good job conveying this classic music. (more…)

Franck / Piano Quintette & Brahms / Heifetz, Piatigorsky et al. – Reviewed in 2013

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

A stellar reading of the Franck from this formidable group. Side one of this Shaded Dog is Super Hot: rich, smooth and sweet. The piano is exceptionally well-recorded, with real weight. The Brahms is very good if you can reverse your polarity.    (more…)

Little Feat – The Last Record Album – Leaner and Cleaner Just Won’t Cut It

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To our way of thinking, this is the kind of record one should bring to one’s favorite stereo store to properly judge their equipment. They can play Famous Blue Raincoat; they do it all day long. But can they play The Last Record Album and have it sound musical and involving? Can they get it to ROCK? Will they even turn it up loud enough to find out? My jaded money is on no, for all three. 

Rockin’ The Last Record Album is a much, much tougher test than what they are used to, one that their systems will struggle to pass. (That’s what makes it a good test, right?)

Leaner and cleaner — the kind of audiophile sound I hear everywhere I go — is simply not going to work on this album, or Zuma, or Houses of the Holy, or the hundreds of other Classic Rock  records we put up on the site every year. There has to be meat on those bones. To switch metaphors in the middle of a stream, this album is all about the cake, not the frosting.

Bear that in mind when they tell you at your local salon that the record you brought with you is at fault, not their expensive and supposedly “correct” equipment. I’ve been in enough of these places to know better. If you’ve put your audio time in, their excuses should fall on deaf ears. 

Whose Fault Is It?

Most copies of this album are ridiculously dull and compressed. The band itself sounds bored, as if they lack faith in their own songs. But it’s not their fault. Whose fault it is is never easy to fathom; bad mastering, bad tapes, bad vinyl, bad something else — whatever it is, that thick, lifeless sound turns this powerfully emotional music into a major snooze-fest. It’s positively criminal but it happens all the time. It’s the reason we have to go through a dozen copies to find one that sounds like this. (more…)

Heart – Dog and Butterfly – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

White Hot Stamper sound on side one, which means you get a Straight On that really ROCKS! Like the best copies of Dreamboat Annie and Little Queen, this is classic ’70s ANALOG at its best. The sound is RICH and WARM without sacrificing clarity and punch. This very copy really made the case for just how good the album can sound, with wonderful grungy texture to the guitars and a big fat snare keeping the beat. (Heart in the old days had a great band behind them. When they left so did much of the reason to play Heart’s records.)  (more…)

Andrew Gold – All This and Heaven Too Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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All This and Heaven Too

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

Superb engineering by Greg Ladanyi (Toto 4, The Pretender, El Rayo-X, demo discs one and all). Contains the monster hit Thank You for Being a Friend. AllMusic gives this one 4 1/2 Stars. It’s also the last good album our fab friend made.  

Andrew Gold is another talented popster who got little respect from the critics, or the public for that matter. His music has a lot of the same qualities as Buddy Holly’s: simple catchy tunes about love, with clever lyrics and tons of hooks.

If you know the “Asylum Sound” — think of the Tubey Magical Analog of The Eagles first album and you won’t be far off — you can be sure the best copies of All This and Heaven Too have plenty of it. Rarely do we run into recordings from the mid- to late-’70s with richer, fuller sound. The bass on the best copies is always huge and note-like. In the ’80s the very engineer for this record, Greg Ladanyi, would produce solo albums for the likes of Don Henley with nobass. How this came to be I cannot begin to understand, but record after record that we play from that decade are bright and thin like a transistor radio. This accounts for why you see so few of them on the site.

But Andrew Gold’s albums from the later ’70s are amazingly rich and tubey. That sound never went out of style with us. In fact albums with those sonic qualities make up the bulk of our sales, from The Beatles to The Eagles, Pink Floyd to Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel to Graham Nash. In our world the more “modern” something sounds the lower the grade. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Creedence Clearwater…

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Creedence Clearwater…

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  • An insanely good copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish  
  • These sides are exceptionally low-distortion, lively, solid and dynamic – just what this music needs
  • Probably the most difficult CCR studio album to find with great sound – and here it is!
  • 4 stars: “… the band’s sound is vibrant, with gutsy arrangements that borrow equally from Sun, Stax, and the swamp.”
  • Featuring classics such as I Put a Spell on You, the extended-length jam Susie Q (8:37, perfect for Underground Radio), The Working Man, Porterville and more

It’s unlikely you will be demonstrating your system with this record, but you may find yourself enjoying the hell out of it for what it is — an early example of Roots Rock that still holds up today.

This is an album that’s nearly impossible to find with excellent sound and clean surfaces. This is one of the best copies we’ve managed to get on the site in the last year by a HUGE margin. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country

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Bayou Country

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  • A KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) copy – you won’t find better sound for this band on vinyl 
  • Proud Mary and Good Golly Miss Molly are absolute MONSTERS on this early pressing – you will be floored
  • Our pick for the best sounding CCR recording – when you have a copy that sounds like this one, and, trust me, a copy as good sounding as this one is tough to find
  • 4 1/2 stars: “All the songs add up to a superb statement of purpose, a record that captures Creedence Clearwater Revival’s muscular, spare, deceptively simple sound as an evocative portrait of America.”

It’s beyond tough to find copies that aren’t bright, gritty, grainy or edgy — that’s how most Creedence records sound I’m afraid — but here’s a Bayou Country that’s fairly smooth, exceptionally lively, mostly transparent and just plain rockin’ enough to make your day. (more…)