Five Star Albums

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…)

Milt Jackson & John Coltrane on Killer ’70s Reissue Vinyl

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  • Stunning sound on this stereo pressing with both sides rating close to our Shootout Winner, just shy of Triple Plus (A++ to A+++)
  • One of Tom Dowd’s many outstanding recordings of John Coltrane at the height of his powers – the sound is to die for
  • Exceptionally quiet on both sides for a vintage jazz album such as this – it actually plays a true Mint Minus
  • 5 stars: “Vibraphonist Milt Jackson and tenor saxophonist John Coltrane make for a surprisingly complementary team on this 1959 studio session, their only joint recording.”

If all you have ever played is an original pressing or a modern reissue, you are in for a treat — this copy is going to murder them.

We found all of this out the hard way, by having some originals and some of the “wrong” reissues in our shootout. Of course, we didn’t know they were not going to be especially good sounding until we played them, but it didn’t take long to recognize there was one stamper and one stamper only that had the sonic goods. It was simply no contest. And it was not an original pressing.

Needless to say, this record has that stamper. (more…)

Al Dimeola – Elegant Gypsy – His Masterpiece

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  • One of the best copies of this phenomenal Fusion Guitar Jazz Classic to ever hit the site, Triple Plus (A+++) throughout 
  • Both sides are incredibly lively, full-bodied, open and present – the sound is HUGE and WEIGHTY and it rocks
  • There is a mark that plays during track one on side one so we’ve discounted this one accordingly
  • 5 stars: “Generally an explosive affair, although it does have a fair amount of variety. A near classic in the fusion vein.”

SHOCKINGLY GOOD SOUND for one of the all-time great guitar albums! We were positively BLOWN AWAY by how lively, dynamic and full-bodied this copy sounds. There’s real texture to all the instruments and the bottom end is tight and punchy beyond belief. They just don’t make records with this kind of Tubey Analog Magic anymore.

If you’ve enjoyed the sonics on one of our Hot Stamper pressings of Return To Forever, Weather Report or Santana, I think you’ll find a lot to like about this record.

This album still holds up today. The All Music Guide gives it five big stars, and on a copy like this one I bet you’ll rate the music just as highly. When you have a pressing with this kind of weight, power, clarity and transparency, you can easily appreciate just how amazing the musicianship is. (more…)

Talking Heads’ Masterpiece – More Songs About Buildings and Food

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  • Take Me to the River rocks like you won’t believe
  • Eno produced, Rhett Davies engineered, every track is (psycho) killer – a Must Own from 1978
  • 5 stars: “Brian Eno brought a musical unity that tied the album together, especially in terms of the rhythm section, the sequencing, the pacing, and the mixing.”

If you thought you’d never hear a truly great pressing of this album, here’s the copy that will prove you wrong and rock your world doing it! The top end is extended and sweet, the bottom end is big and punchy, and the overall sound is as rich and full-bodied as you could expect from this zany art-rock.

The vocals have the kind of presence that put David Byrne right there in your living room, and not under a blanket or behind the speakers as most of the pressings we played were wont to do.

Top Notch ’70s Art Rock

I don’t think these guys ever put together a better group of songs. The ultimate pressings of Little Creatures go a step further sonically, but the best copies of this one can sound incredible, if not quite Demo Disc worthy. (more…)

British Guy, British Pressing… Right?

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Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

The British pressings are simply not competitive with the best domestics. No import, from any country, can touch a good Columbia pressing from the states. The most common stampers for the Columbia pressings have never sounded very good to these ears, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some killer copies with different stampers sitting in the bins wearing the generic ’70s Red Columbia label. We’ve heard them. Wish we could find more of them but they are rare and only getting rarer.
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Shoot Out The Lights – Loud Versus Live

Shoot Out The Lights

 

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Here’s a thought: if 180 gram records are supposed to be an improvement over the original pressings, why is it that they NEVER sound Big and Bold like this pressing? And I do mean never; I’ve played hundreds of them over the years and have yet to hear this kind of sound on any of them. At this point I would have to conclude that it is simply not possible.

If you have big speakers, a large listening room and like to play your records loud, there is no modern reissue that will ever give you the thrill that a record like this can. (Of course, to fully appreciate the effect it obviously helps if you have a White Hot Stamper copy to play.)

Loud Versus Live

I’ve seen Richard Thompson on a number of occasions over the years, and as loud as my stereo will play, which is pretty darn loud, I could never make his guitar solos 20 dB louder than everything else, because it’s not on the record that way. That’s why live music can’t be duplicated properly in the home: the dynamic contrasts are much too great for the typical listener or his stereo.

Having said that, when you actually do turn this record up, way up, you get the feeling of hearing live music, and that’s not easy to do! Only the best recordings, in my experience, can begin to give you that feeling. We discuss this subject in a number of commentaries under the heading of Turn Up Your Volume.
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R.E.M. – Murmur – Our White Hot Shootout Winner


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • For the first time ever — a stunning sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and Double Plus (A++) on the second
  • Both sides here are big and full yet still clean, clear and open with a punchy bottom end
  • Pretty quiet throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • 5 Stars: “R.E.M. may have made albums as good as Murmur in the years following its release, but they never again made anything that sounded quite like it.”

See all of our R.E.M. albums in stock

This is certainly one of the best sounding copies of Murmur that we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. Fans of the band’s music will have a hard time finding better sound for the album than this very copy, that’s for sure. We guarantee it will murder anything you have ever heard. And if you own the ridiculously thick and opaque MoFi pressing from the ’90s then you are really in for a treat! (more…)

Fairport Convention – Unhalfbricking – Simply Vinyl Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Simply Vinyl recuts. We haven’t played a copy of it in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

“This 180 gram LP comes recommended, with very good English sound (smooth, rich) for this early Richard Thompson folk music, with the wonderful Sandy Denny on vocals. Happily, not your standard audiophile fare.” 

A 5 Star Rave Review in the All Music Guide! (more…)

Elvis Costello Arrayed His Armed Forces and Produced His Single Best Sounding Album

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We consider Armed Forces to be one of the best sounding rock records ever made, and a copy like this White Hot Shootout Winner is proof enough to back up our claim. The best copies are extremely transparent and silky sounding, but with unbelievably punchy, rock-solid bass and drums.

The sound of the rhythm section ranks with the best we’ve ever heard. Beyond that, the musical chops of this band at this time rank with the best in the history of rock. Steve, Bruce and Pete rarely get the credit they deserve for being one of the tightest, liveliest backing bands ever to walk into a studio or on to a stage.

The song Oliver’s Army on the first side is a perfect example of what we’re talking about. Rock music doesn’t get much livelier than that. Skip on down to Green Shirt for another track that’s as punchy as they come.

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Workingman’s Dead is Dead as a Doornail on Rhino Records

Workingman’s Dead

Rhino Records has made a mockery of the analog medium I tell you!

Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

The 2003 Rhino reissue on heavy vinyl of Workingman’s Dead is absolutely awful. It sounds like a bad cassette. The CD of the album that I own is superb, which means that the tapes are not the problem, bad mastering and pressing are. (more…)