Genre – Rock – Big Rock Sound

Foreigner – Head Games

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Head Games

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  • This outstanding copy of the band’s third album earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • One of the better copies from our recent shootout – big, bold and lively with a punchy bottom end 
  • With plenty of energy, killer rock bass, and clear, present vocals, this pressing has all the key qualities we look for in a Foreigner record
  • 4 stars: “Foreigner continued its platinum winning streak on Head Games, the band’s third album… and the supergroup’s successes would continue well into the ’80s.”

This copy showed us just how good this album can sound — BIG, rich and ENERGETIC.

As I’m sure you know, there is a Mobile Fidelity Half-Speed Mastered version of this album currently in print and I can only imagine how terrible it sounds. If any of our Hot Stamper customers have purchased the current release, I would be interested in hearing how you think it stacks up against this copy.

What’s key to the sound of Foreigner’s records? Obviously, the big one would have to be ENERGY, a subject we have discussed at length here on the site.

Next would be punchy ROCK BASS, followed by clear, present vocals. Those would be the big three. (more…)

INXS – Listen Like Thieves

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Listen Like Thieves

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  • Superb sound throughout with each side earning a sonic grade of Double Plus (A++) – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The Big Rock sound is courtesy of Chris Thomas’ production – if you know his work, you know this sound
  • AMG: “INXS completes its transition into an excellent rock & roll singles band with this album.”
  • “…with Thomas they “forge an unlikely union between the sonic extremism of Led Zeppelin-style crunch rock and the step-lively beat of disco” such that the album “rocks with passion and seals the deal with a backbeat that’ll blackmail your feet.”

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David Bowie – Let’s Dance

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Let’s Dance

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  • With STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides, this copy is one of the best we have ever heard
  • It’s all here: huge amounts of rock solid bass, clear guitar transients, breathy, natural vocals, and jump out of the speakers presence and energy
  • A real Demo Disc at high volumes on the right system – Modern Love, China Girl and the title track are knockouts when you play them good and loud
  • Top 100 of course – Let’s Dance is one of the best sounding Bowie albums ever recorded – this superb pressing is proof!

Bowie is without question one of the all-time great frontmen and producers. This is his last good album and a Must Own for audiophiles, especially if you have big dynamic speakers. Like we say, with this one you are in for a treat.

Hearing a top copy of Let’s Dance is truly a special experience; the damn thing is amazingly well recorded, especially considering it came along well after the Golden Age of Rock Recording (the ’60s and ’70s, don’t you know). The sound is analog at its best; rich, full and super-punchy. (more…)

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…)

Bloomfield / Kooper / Stills – Super Session – A MoFi Winner

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Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed.

Super Session is one of the best-sounding MoFi pressings. The midrange sounds wonderful — silky sweet and transparent. Not having been cut by Stan Ricker, the top end doesn’t have that SR/2 boost. Overall it’s a very nice sounding record, and the music just can’t be beat. 

Eagles – The Long Run – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

This copy had sound we never would have expected to hear on this record. Believe me, not too many sound like this one! Most copies have a smeary, veiled, stuck-in-the-speaker quality that makes for some painful listening. Cardboard drums. Non-existent ambience. No energy. The average copy of this album just sits on the turntable with nothing to say.

What’s Szymczyk’s problem anyway? Can’t the guy record an album any better than this after being in the studio for all these years?

Yes he can! Don’t make the mistake of judging his work by the typical bad pressing of it, the kind that Elektra was churning out by the millions back in the day. Believe me, the master tape must be AWESOME if the sound of some of the records we played is any indication. And of course that’s exactly how we know it is — by the pressings we heard. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Black and Blue

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Black and Blue

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  • Incredible sound throughout with each side earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to it
  • Hand Of Fate on side one sounds particularly good – it has the meaty Glyn Johns sound we love
  • A full-bodied, solid copy like this lets you appreciate Billy Preston’s contributions on the keys – he’s all over the album, a very good thing indeed
  • “Melody ought to be a tentative experiment with Billy Preston’s jazzy keyboard sound. Instead, it’s a triumph, Jagger’s voice swooping and snaking around Preston’s piano and harmonies.”

This is in fact one of the better sounding “later period” (1976) Stones records we’ve played, that’s if we’re talking about the better copies of course, like this one. The best pressings are big, open, dynamic and full-bodied, with exceptionally lively percussion. As always, credit goes to the recording engineers, Glyn Johns et al., as well as Lee Hulko at Sterling, the original mastering engineer (who’s cut about as many good sounding records as anyone we can think of). (more…)

The Faces – A Nod Is As Good As A Wink – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This Warner Bros. Green Label LP has a STUNNING SIDE ONE backed with MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE TWO! If you like your hard rock dirty and bluesy, you can’t do much better than this record. You’re going to freak out over the meaty guitars, the HUGE bass, and the ROTM (Right On The Money) vocals. We played a ton of copies and most of them couldn’t hold a candle to this one. 

  • This album was produced by one of our very favorite engineers around here, Mr. Glyn Johns. He’s the man behind tons of Better Records faves — Sticky Fingers, Eagles 1st, Joan Armatrading’s self-titled, Who’s Next, and many more.

But no Faces album — Glyn Johns-produced or not — will ever have Demo Disc Sound. It’s just not what the band was going for. The proper sound for a band like this is RAW AND ROCKIN’. Any phony EQ or overproduction would really make a mess of what the band does here, which put simply is kickin’ out the jams. It would be fair to call these guys a bar band, but they’re the best darn bar band I’ve ever heard!

The best Faces pressings have amazing live-in-the-studio sound that completely conveys the power of one of the hardest rockin’ bands of all time. What more can you ask for? (more…)

Foreigner – Agent Provocateur

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Agent Provocateur

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this copy of Foreigner’s fifth studio album – quiet vinyl too
  • Exceptionally open, clear, and resolving, this pressing presents the music as it was meant to be heard
  • With the band’s biggest hit single, “I Want To Know What Love Is,” this is a vital addition to any Foreigner fan’s collection
  • “It would be difficult to find a band that had more success from 1977 to 1981 than Foreigner, as all four albums released during that time frame would chart Top 5, with the album 4 becoming the band’s first Number One album… Even now, more than 30 years after [Agent Provocateur] was released, I think there are several tracks that stand up pretty well with the rest of the band’s best material… “

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Smoother and sweeter sound with less of the grit and congestion that plagues the average copy. (more…)

Deep Purple – Machine Head

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Machine Head

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  • Two killer sides clocking in at Double Plus (A++) – the sound is HUGE, with real energy, presence and whomp – exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • Amazingly spacious and three-dimensional, no doubt the result of the album being recorded practically live in the studio
  • Their superbly talented engineer, Martin Barre, recorded the big, bold, rich, smooth sound of British Rock about as well as anyone ever did
  • 5 stars: “Machine Head was anything but a one-trick pony, introducing the bona fide classic opener “Highway Star,” which epitomized all of Deep Purple’s intensity and versatility while featuring perhaps the greatest soloing duel ever between guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and organist Jon Lord.”

When you get a Hot Stamper pressing like this one, Machine Head is a True Rock and Roll Demo Disc. Since our stereo is all about playing these kinds of records, and playing them at good loud levels as nature — and the artists — intended, we had a helluva time with Machine Head.

It had the kind of presence and energy that puts most copies of this album to shame. It’s also amazingly spacious, the result no doubt of it being recorded practically live in the studio. On the best copies, you can really hear the sound bouncing off the studio walls, just as you can on the best Zep, AC/DC and Bad Co. albums. You can just tell they are all playing this one live: it’s so relaxed and natural and REAL sounding. (more…)