Genre – Rock – British Blues Rock

John Mayall with Eric Clapton – Blues Breakers

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  • Two outstanding sides for what gets our vote as John Mayall’s best album – with Double to Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout, just shy of our shootout winner
  • Richer, smooth and livelier than practically any copy we heard, with Tubey Magic and space you won’t believe
  • The British Decca vinyl on this amazing pressing is about as quiet as we ever expect to find for this album
  • 5 stars on Allmusic: “Bluesbreakers was Eric Clapton’s first fully realized album as a blues guitarist — more than that, it was a seminal blues album of the 1960s, perhaps the best British blues album ever cut, and the best LP ever recorded by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.”

This copy is guaranteed to be DRAMATICALLY superior to most British and all domestic pressings, the MoFi Gold CD and every other version that you’ve ever played. This is it folks! They cut this one right. It sounds the way you always wished it would sound. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – The Original Fleetwood Mac

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

We played this copy against a number of British Imports and this copy was clearly the undisputed champion. The sound here is OUT OF THIS WORLD. The music on this album was recorded when they were still a blues band — tracks left off their early albums for one reason or another. As is so often the case with unreleased material, these songs do not have that overproduced, too-many-generations-of-tape sound. This sounds like Fleetwood Mac live in the studio most of the time. In other words, awesome. If the drum sound on the first track isn’t enough to convince you this is an amazing sounding record, I don’t know what would.  (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Greatest Hits

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

TWO AMAZING SIDES, including an incredible A+++ side one! The transparency and lack of distortion are shocking, and the clarity and presence are out of this world. If you’re a fan of early Fleetwood Mac, this copy will blow you away. Nothing else in our shootout came close. 

Revolutions in Audio anyone?

How else would this record have come to sound so much better? This copy wasn’t the only one that sounded great; a number of them did. (more…)

Black Sabbath – Vol. 4

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  • This pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides here are really rockin’ — big and full-bodied with tight punchy bass and lots of energy 
  • We agree with Henry Rollins, who said, “Sabbath could be my favourite band… There’s something about their music that’s so painful and yet so powerful.”
  • 5 Stars: “… it does find Sabbath at their most musically varied, pushing to experiment amidst the drug-addled murk… Die-hard fans sick of the standards come here next, and some end up counting this as their favorite Sabbath record for its eccentricities and for its embodiment of the band’s excesses.”

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Free – Fire and Water

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  • A superb copy of the band’s third studio album with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound – reasonably quiet vinyl to this title too   
  • Stunning Live-in-the-Studio Rock Sound that must be heard to be believed – All Right Now sounds fantastic
  • The recording sounds more alive than 99 out of 100 rock records we’ve played, and we’ve played the best sounding rock records ever made
  • Top 100 and 4 1/2 stars: “From Paul Kossoff’s exquisite and tasteful guitar work, to Paul Rodgers’ soulful vocals, this was a group that was easily worthy of the mantle worn by Cream, Blind Faith, or Derek & the Dominos.”

To find a copy that plays this quietly and sounds this good is no mean feat, but here one is!

This is one of our favorite recordings and a member of our Top 100, but it only works when you get the right pressing. This one has the big, spacious soundstage and punchy bottom end to bring it to life! (more…)

Free – Free (Second Album)

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  • An insanely good sounding Island import pressing with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish and one of the few copies to hit the site in many years! 
  • These side were doing everything right — incredibly big, full-bodied and spacious with tons of big rock energy and a solid bottom end
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “… an album that stands alongside its predecessor as a benchmark of British blues at the turn of the 1960s.” – All Music, 4 Stars 

KILLER sound throughout! 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 Free 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…)

Black Sabbath – Our Shootout Winner from 2015


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Yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volum.

We played the album very loud, as loud as we could, and still we wanted more volume! That’s what a good record is all about — the louder you play it the better it sounds.

If you like the raw, rockin’ sound of early Zep, you should have a blast with this album. It’s a shockingly good recording, and the music is of course as heavy as it gets for 1970.

This Warner Brothers Green Label pressing DESTROYED the import copies we played it against with startling immediacy, tons of ambience, and loads of texture. The soundfield is HUGE — back wall to front wall, floor to ceiling, and WIDE. The bass is Right On The Money — deep, well-defined, and punchy.

If you want this effect:

“Sabbath’s slowed-down, murky guitar rock bludgeons the listener in an almost hallucinatory fashion, reveling in its own dazed, druggy state of consciousness.”

You need a copy that sounds the way this one does!  (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet on London

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  • A killer vintage copy of this exceptionally well-recorded Stones album from ’69, with superb Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Clear, rich and lively throughout – the Tubey Magic of the best pressings is what has them sounding the way they should
  • One of a select group of Rolling Stones Must Own records which we prize above all others – Sticky Fingers and Let It Bleed round out the trio
  • 5 stars: “Basic rock & roll was not forgotten, however: ‘Street Fighting Man’… was one of their most innovative singles, and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’… was an image-defining epic.”

Good pressings are certainly not easy to come by — this kind of rich, full-bodied, musical sound is the exception, not the rule. And there’s actual space and extension up top as well, something you certainly don’t hear on most pressings. This is a fantastic album, and excellent sides like these give it the kind of sound it deserves.

Raw Rock & Roll Sound

Of course, Hot Stamper Sound still only gets you what’s on the tape. In this case, it’s some rude, crude, dirty rock & roll. That’s clearly what the Stones were going for here. In terms of audiophile appeal, Tea For The Tillerman this ain’t. Nor does it want to be!

What sets the best copies apart from the pack is a fuller, richer tonal balance, which is achieved mostly by having plenty of bass and lower midrange energy. The copies that are bass shy — most of them, that is to say — tend to bring out more of that midrangy shortcoming. (more…)

Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells A Story – Test for Proper Tonal Balance

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

One note on how to tell if you have a tonally balanced copy, at least on side two. Maggie May has multi-overdubbed, close-miked mandolins that should have strong midrange presence and an especially extended, harmonically correct top end. As soon as that song ends, a very sweet, smooth guitar opens the next track, Mandolin Wind. The two songs lean towards opposite ends of the tonal balance spectrum, but on a good copy, both of them sound right. One’s a little darker, one’s a little brighter, but they should both be right if your system is tonally balanced.    (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – The Original Fleetwood Mac

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  • This CBS Orange Label Import LP is one of the BEST SOUNDING Fleetwood Mac albums ever 
  • With Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides, this was one of the better copies from our shootout
  • Original Fleetwood Mac (1971) is an undeniably strong collection culled primarily from the band’s first incarnation, featuring John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, and Jeremy Spencer.”

The music on this album was recorded when they were still a blues band — tracks left off their early albums for one reason or another.

As is so often the case with unreleased material, these songs do not have that overproduced, too-many-generations-of-tape sound. This sounds like Fleetwood Mac live in the studio most of the time. In other words, awesome. If the drum sound on the first track isn’t enough to convince you this is an amazing sounding record, I don’t know what would. (more…)