Demo Discs for Tubey Magic

Elton John – Self-Titled

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Reviews and Commentaries for Elton John’s Second Album

  • This is an original UK pressing with superb sound — it’s a Must Own album for all right thinking audiophile record lovers, not just Elton John fans
  • No modern record has ever sounded like this – these sides are HUGE, with sound that positively jumps out of the speakers
  • Some of the most remarkable string arrangements (and Tubey Magical string sound) ever recorded for a pop album
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Even with the strings and choirs that dominate the sound of the album, John manages to rock out on a fair share of the record. …Elton John remains one of his best records.”

Folks, if you’re looking for Classic Popular Music that still appeals to sophisticated adults fifty-plus years after it came out, this is the album for you. It’s one of the four Classic Elton John records (five if you count GYBR) that belong in every right-thinking audiophile’s collection.

(The others are, in order of quality: #1) Tumbleweed Connection, #2) Honky Chateau, #3) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road , and #4) Madman Across the Water.)

It’s full of analog Tubey Magic — the richness, sweetness, and warmth are nothing short of stunning. The transparency, clarity, texture, dynamics, energy, spaciousness, and three-dimensionality of this recording are really something to be heard.

The piano has real weight, the vocals are breathy and full, and the string tone is some of the best we have ever heard on a pop album.

Drop the needle on Border Song. When it hits the big “Holy Moses” chorus, you can pick out and follow all the different voices. What sounds like a harp on Sixty Years On is actually a Spanish Guitar. Whatever it is, it’s positively sublime on the best pressings.

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Carly Simon – Anticipation

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  • This outstanding early pressing boasts solid sound from start to finish
  • Produced by Mr. Paul Samwell-Smith and engineered by Mike Bobak, the same team that worked their magic on this classic, Anticipation blends Carly’s lilting vocals with lush, harmonically detailed acoustic guitars and BIG punchy drums
  • Brimming with favorites such as Anticipation, Legend In Your Own Time and I’ve Got To Have You, this is clearly one of her most consistent albums
  • “Carly Simon’s second album found her extending the gutsy persona she had established on her debut album… a frankly passionate person whose vulnerability was a source of strength, not weakness, a valuable feminist trait and one Simon would pursue in her later work.”

The acoustic guitars sound particularly good on this copy, with just the right balance of pluck and body. The vocals are breathy and full-bodied with extraordinary immediacy. The tonality from top to bottom is Right On The Money. I don’t think you could find a much better sounding copy of this album no matter how hard you tried. We went through plenty to find this one, I can tell you that.

The Big Sound We Love

Drop the needle on Legend In Your Own Time for some of the best sound and music on the album. The overall sound is open and transparent, with real depth to the soundfield and lots of separation between the instruments.

The one word that comes to mind is BIG — this record gives you The Big Sound that Carly was no doubt going for.

If Those Guitars Sound Familiar…

When you hear the incredibly lush, highly detailed acoustic guitars on this record, you won’t be surprised to find out that the album was produced by Mr. Paul Samwell-Smith, who handles the same duties on Tea For The Tillerman and Teaser And The Firecat. You’ll hear his signature sound all over this album, particularly on the track I’ve Got To Have You.

That’s not to say that we’d put this recording on the same level with those audiophile knockouts, but the richness and the sweetness of the midrange on the best copies is exactly what you’d expect from the team of Samwell-Smith and Carly Simon.

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Chet Atkins – Chet Atkins in Hollywood (1959)

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More Recordings in Living Stereo

  • An original RCA pressing of the original mix from 1959 with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Living Stereo sound or close to it from first note to last
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, with no marks that play or issues with the inner grooves
  • This TAS List recording will have you asking why so few Living Stereo pressings actually do what this one does. The more critical listeners among you will recognize that this is a very special copy indeed. Everyone else will just enjoy the hell out of it.
  • You won’t believe how natural, rich, tonally correct and Tubey Magical this copy is – until you play it, of course
  • The bass is exceptionally well recorded on this album – it’s so clear, deep and note-like, you may just want to use it as Bass Test Disc for your own system
  • 4 1/2 stars: “If the cover of At Home evokes the 1950s, the music on In Hollywood IS the 1950s: a warm, cozy, sophisticated album of mood music in the best sense.”
  • More Reviews and Commentaries for recordings engineered by Bill Porter

DEMO DISC SOUND! Fairly quiet and unusually clean for a record of its age. TAS List of course, and full of Living Stereo Magic. You can feel the cool air of the studio the minute the needle hits the groove.

I suppose we owe a debt of gratitude to Harry Pearson for pointing out to us with his TAS List what a great record this is, although I’m pretty sure anybody playing this album would have no trouble telling after a minute or two that this copy is very special indeed.

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The Gerry Mulligan Quartet – What Is There To Say?

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More Recordings on Vintage Columbia Vinyl

  • With superb Double Plus (A++) grades from top to bottom, this early 6-Eye stereo LP is doing just about everything right
  • The sound here is tubier, more transparent, more dynamic, with more of that “jumpin’ out of the speakers” quality that only The Real Thing ever has
  • With explosive dynamics and rich, full-bodied, Tubey Magical sax sound, it’s hard to imagine any reissue, vintage or otherwise, can hold a candle to the sound of this amazing record
  • Recorded at Columbia’s famous 30th Street studios, here is a record that sounds like Kind of Blue, Ah Um and Time Out, for the simple reason that all were recorded in the same studio using the same equipment (and perhaps even the same engineers)
  • 5 stars: “The last of the pianoless quartet albums that Gerry Mulligan recorded in the 1950s is one of the best … every selection is memorable…”

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Esquivel – Infinity In Sound

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Living Stereo Titles Available Now

  • You’ll find INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Living Stereo All Tube Chain sound throughout this original RCA pressing from 1960
  • Both sides are incredibly clear and open, yet rich and and oh-so-Tubey Magical, with brass that has little to none of the “blarey” quality that plagues most copies
  • Folks, I can tell you right now most original Living Stereo Popular (LSP) pressings, of this or any other LSP title, do not begin to recreate the Studio Wizardry found on this album
  • The sound rivals the best Chet Atkins albums and Bob and Rays in all their delicious three-dimensional Cinerama staging
  • Problems in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • AMG raves that “Esquivel returns to his full glory on Infinity in Sound.”

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Martin Denny / Quiet Village – Our Shootout Winner from Way Back

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More Recordings Engineered by Ted Keep

This superb sounding Hot Stamper copy of Quiet Village has a lot in common with the other Bachelor Pad / Exotica titles we’ve listed over the years, albums by the likes of Esquivel, Dick Schory, Edmundo Ros, Arthur Lyman and others.

But c’mon, nobody really buys these records for the music (although the music is thoroughly enchanting). It’s all about the Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation, the wacky 3-D sound effects (of real birds and not-so-real ones) and the heavily percussive arrangements. In all of these areas and more this record does not disappoint.

If you’re an audiophile, both the sound and the music are crazy fun. If you want to demonstrate just how good 1959 All Tube Analog sound can be, this is the record that will do it.

This copy is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the sound here is PHENOMENAL. This is vintage analog at its best, so rich and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to “improve” it. If you like the sound of vibes and unusual percussion instruments, you will have a hard time finding a more magical recording of any of them.

Quick Notes

We were surprised that a number of copies were neither transparent nor spacious. For a while there we thought of giving up, but then we played this Black Label original copy and all was right with the world.

Unsurprisingly, we ran into plenty of noisy vinyl, too noisy to enjoy as the music is frequently quiet for extended periods.

There is a shocking amount of rich, deep bass in the recording. You could play fifty ’70s rock records and not hear this much richness and weight down low. Having played scores of Exotica titles over the years we were very pleasantly surprised to hear the bass  on this title surpass them all.

Side Two

Every bit as rich, sweet and tubey as side one, but this side is transparent, three-dimensional and spacious like no other side of any copy we played. The perfect music to demo your stereo with for anyone who thinks audio recording technology has improved in the last thirty years.

Side One

Super Hot Stamper sound, with a big stage, Tubey Magic and correct tonality from top to bottom. From top to bottom the tonality is Right On The Money. It’s very lively, with tight, clear bass.

Listen to how open the drum sound is. That sound is just not to be found on popular albums anymore.

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Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Tarkus

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other copy of Tarkus you’ve heard
  • This early British pressing with the Island Pink Rim label is guaranteed to rock like no other copy you’ve ever played
  • Eddie Offord’s trademark Tubey Magic, energy, resolution, whomp factor and dynamics are all over this phenomenal recording
  • “More accomplished than the trio’s first album, but not quite as polished as Brain Salad Surgery, Tarkus is nevertheless a must-have.”

This killer copy features some of the more intense prog rock sound to hit our table in quite some time. This is a true Demo Disc LP, one of the most dynamic and powerful rock recordings ever made.

The organ captured here by Eddie Offord (of Yes engineering fame, we’re his biggest fans) and then transferred so well onto our Hot Stamper pressings will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. It’s big Bombastic Prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels it actually does rock your world.

Unlike most British pressings of the first album, the Brits here really ROCK, with greater dynamic contrasts and seriously prodigious bass, some of the best ever committed to vinyl. This music needs real whomp down below and lots of jump factor to work its magic. These Brits are super-low distortion, with an open, sweet sound, especially up top, but they still manage to convey the awesome power of the music, no mean feat.

Folks, This Is Why We Love Analog

This is ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest. You ain’t never gonna play a CD that sounds like this as long as you live. I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but digital media are evidently incapable of reproducing this kind of sound. There are nice sounding CDs in the world but there aren’t any that sound like this, not in my experience anyway. If you are thinking that someday a better digital system is going to come along in order to save you the trouble and expense of having to find and acquire these expensive original pressings, think again.

This is the kind of record that shows you what’s wrong with your BEST sounding CDs. (Let’s not even talk about the average one in your collection, or mine; the less said the better.) This is the kind of record that somebody might hear in a stereo store and realize that the digital road he’s been going down for so many years is nothing but a sonic dead end.

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Dean Martin – Dream With Dean

  • This hard-to-find Dean Martin Classic of relaxed, intimate vocals returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • One of our all-time favorite male vocal LPs – the sound on both sides is both warm and natural, with excellent presence and transparency
  • The early stereo tri-color label pressings are almost impossible to find in audiophile condition these days, but here’s one, and it is a knockout
  • “It sounds as if they tracked the album in one afternoon, and it is not only a very pleasant listening experience, it shows what a tremendous vocalist Dean Martin truly was.”
  • One of Our Favorite Titles from 1964
  • Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Dean Martin

An outstanding copy of the classic Dream With Dean!

This is my favorite Dean Martin record of all time; just Dean and a jazz guitar quartet (including no less than Contemporary favorites Barney Kessel and Red Mitchell) behind him doing standards. On the best copies the immediacy is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s a shame that there aren’t more Frank Sinatra records that sound like this.

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Peter Gabriel – Self-Titled No. 1

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  • Peter Gabriel’s debut solo album returns to the site on this excellent British pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality – everything that we listen for in a great record is here
  • Features his autobiographical lead single, “Solsbury Hill”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…much of the record teems with invigorating energy (as on ‘Slowburn,’ or the orchestral-disco pulse of ‘Down the Dolce Vita’), and the closer ‘Here Comes the Flood’ burns with an anthemic intensity that would later become his signature in the ’80s.”

Tubey Magical Richness and breathy vocals are the hallmarks of a good British PG 1.

Unlike any that follow, the sound varies greatly from track to track on the first PG album, as does the music. You know you have a good copy when the best sounding tracks sound their best. That may seem like a tautology but it is, in fact, the only way to judge a side when the songs sound this different from one another.

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The Who – Tommy

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Reviews and Commentaries for Tommy

  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl – they don’t come our way with audiophile quality surfaces like these very often, almost never in fact
  • Our early Black Label British Track pressing here has the rich, spacious, Tubey Magical sound that has the power to immerse you in the story of a deaf, dumb and blind boy named Tommy
  • Top 100, and clearly our pick for the best sounding album The Who ever made – when you play a copy that sounds as good as this one we think you’ll have no problem seeing our point
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…Townshend’s ability to construct a lengthy conceptual narrative brought new possibilities to rock music.”

I know of no other Who album with such consistently good sound — song to song, not copy to copy, of course. Just about every song on here can sound wonderful on the right pressing. If you’re lucky enough to get a Hot Stamper copy, you’re going to be blown away by the Tubey Magical Guitars, the rock-solid bottom end, the jumpin’-out-of-the-speakers presence and dynamics, and the silky vocals and top end.

Usually the best we can give you for The Who is “Big and Rockin,” but on Tommy, we can give you ’60s analog magic that will all but disappear in the decades to follow.

Acoustic guitar reproduction is key to this recording, and on the best copies the harmonic coherency, the richness, the body and the phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard in every strum.

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