Genre – Rock – British Blues Rock

The Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones

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The Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones

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  • You’ll find outstanding Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on this vintage pressing of The Stones’ 1964 release
  • Both sides of this Red Label British Decca Mono are doing it right – they’re big, rich and spacious with a huge bottom end
  • This is the real, honest sound of the early, early Stones – it is what it is, and trying to fix it will almost surely ruin what’s good about it
  • “Set against the dependency on covers and the inexperienced vocalist, however, is a truly cooking and imaginative band. Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman provide a brawny frame for the intermeshing guitars of Richards and Brian Jones as the ensemble lovingly deliver some of their favourite shots of rhythm ‘n’ blues.” – BBC

The best word I could use to sum up both the sound and the music on this record is HONEST. If you want to hear how early Rolling Stones records sound when they sound right, this is the ticket. This is the real sound of the early, early Stones.

Probably what any modern engineer would want to do to the album would only end up making it worse. It is what it is and that’s good enough for us. Since the tapes are now more than 60 years old, no modern reissue will sound remotely as good as this one.

The Stones wanted their stuff to sound like the old Blues albums they grew up on and revered, and with that sound in mind you can’t argue that they didn’t succeed here.

This vintage Decca mono pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1964
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre  
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What do the best Hot Stamper pressings give you?

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Size

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Route 66 
I Just Want To Make Love To You 
Honest I Do 
Mona 
Now I’ve Got A Witness Little By Little

Side Two

I’m A King Bee 
Carol 
Tell Me 
Can I Get A Witness 
You Can Make It You Try 
Walking The Dog

BBC Review

Set against the dependency on covers and the inexperienced vocalist, however, is a truly cooking and imaginative band. Drummer Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman provide a brawny frame for the intermeshing guitars of Richards and Brian Jones as the ensemble lovingly deliver some of their favourite shots of rhythm ‘n’ blues.

Between the breakneck travelogue opener Route 66 and the madcap parting shot Walking the Dog, however, the Stones crucially sidestep the mistake committed by many others on the scene in thinking that high quality is enough. The shimmering surrealism of Mona, the sensuality of I’m a King Bee, the romanticism of Tell Me and the soulfulness of You Can Make It If You Try create a variety of moods and textures that obviates ‘blueswailing’ one-dimensionality.

The Rolling Stones – No. 2

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No. 2

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  • This vintage Decca pressing has outstanding sound – both sides did very well in our recent shootout, earning Double Plus (A++) grades and playing fairly quietly
  • This Mono pressing (made from the mono tapes) will show you the real, honest sound of the early, early Stones 
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “…[No. 2 includes] one of the group’s best blues covers, their version of Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” which wasn’t released in America until 1973 and features some killer slide playing by Brian Jones.”

This vintage UK Decca mono pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Deep Purple – The Book of Taliesyn

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The Book of Taliesyn

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  • An insanely good sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish and the first copy to ever hit the site!
  • Both sides here are big, full-bodied, Tubey Magical and present with plenty of extension on both ends
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “By the time 1972 came around, Deep Purple immersed themselves in dumb lyrics, unforgettable riffs, and a huge presence, much like Black Sabbath. The evolution from progressive to hard rock was complete, but a combination of what they did here — words that mattered matched by innovative musical passages — would have been a more pleasing combination.” – All Music

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Deep Purple – Fireball

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Fireball

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  • Outstanding sound throughout for this original Harvest import pressing, with each side earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades for sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This LP was simply bigger, richer and clearer, with more Tubey Magic, less smear and less congestion than most of the other vintage imports we played
  • One of Ian Gillian’s favorite albums, “… it was really the beginning of tremendous possibilities of expression.”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “One of Deep Purple’s four indispensable albums (the others being In Rock, Machine Head, and Burn), 1971’s Fireball saw the band broadening out from the no-holds-barred hard rock direction of the previous year’s cacophonous In Rock.”

This vintage Harvest pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Humble Pie – Humble Pie

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

Both sides here are Super Hot – solid, big and fat with grungy guitars. Exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides, mostly Mint Minus. A classic Glyn Johns rock recording from 1970 – he was really on a roll at the time. If you like a big bottom end on your rock records, this is the album for you.

This, their third album and first for A&M (which probably explains the master tape sound on domestic vinyl), is one of the few Humble Pie titles we’ve found that can offer honest-to-goodness Hot Stamper sound. There is no mystery in this case; the sound comes courtesy of none other than Glyn Johns. He knows Heavy British Rock like nobody else on the planet, or did at the time anyway. If you want fat, meaty drums and guitars — think Who’s Next, Sticky Fingers or A Nod Is As Good As A Wink — Glyn is your man. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock N’ Roll

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It’s Only Rock N’ Roll

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

It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll is no slouch if you get hold of a good one. It can be a bit gritty and grainy at times, but you gotta believe that’s the sound the Stones heard in the booth and were totally cool with. Andy Johns engineered and he’s made as many super-tubey, super-rich and super-smooth recordings as anybody this side of Bill Porter. 

The Stones didn’t want that sound this time around. The Stones wanted this sound.

This album may have some of The Rolling Stones best music on it, but those looking for the best sounding Stones album should look in the direction of Beggars Banquet, Sticky Fingers or Let It Bleed. They’re simply better recordings. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – The Pious Bird Of Good Omen

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

If you’re a fan of Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac — and who in his right mind wouldn’t be — then you can’t go wrong with this record. Need Your Love So Bad, Albratross and Black Magic Woman are all featured here.

Speaking of Black Magic Woman, the best copies of Pious Bird reproduce the bass-heavy drumming on that track much better than the Greatest Hits album we also recommend. It’s very unlikely that you can find better sound for that classic than right here on this very copy.

Side One

White Hot shootout winning sound. Big and rich, with correct tonality, this is the way early Fleetwood Mac is supposed to sound. No smear at all, which is rare on these pressings.

Side Two

Nearly as good, with rich vocals and plenty of punchy energy to drive the music. Good space too. (more…)

Ten Years After – A Space In Time – A Thrill on Big Speakers at Loud Levels

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A Space In Time

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A Space in Time is just one of the recordings that made me pursue Big Stereo Systems driving Big Speakers, right from my earliest days in audio. You need large dynamic drivers with plenty of piston area – the kind that can move a lot of air – in order to bring the power of the music to life.  

If you have big speakers and a penchant for giving the old volume knob an extra click or two, it just doesn’t get any better than A Space in Time. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

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Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

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  • Dramatically more impressive than any other copy we played – Triple Plus (A+++) throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The size, clarity, presence and energy are off the charts – and talk about Tubey Magic, this pressing is overflowing with it
  • The Mac’s debut is an extraordinary collection of Guitar-Based British Blues and an album that’s rarely on the site with sound this good and surfaces this clean
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Fleetwood Mac’s debut LP was a highlight of the late-’60s British blues boom. Green’s always inspired playing, the capable (if erratic) songwriting, and the general panache of the band as a whole placed them leagues above the overcrowded field…”

This is the band back in the day when they were playing their unique brand of Blues Rock, with Peter Green leading the band, about as far from Rumours as you can get. If you like British Blues Rock, I don’t think any other band can hold a candle to the Mac back then. Clapton may have been considered a god but I think Green is the better guitar player. 

The pluck of the guitar transients aren’t smeary and dull for once. There’s real extension up top, a big help to the cymbals, and the vocals sound tonally correct with just the right presence, placing Green front and center but still keeping the band in the mix. Like a good vintage Brit record, the sound is smooth, rich and full.

This is ANALOG, baby. They don’t make ’em like this anymore because they don’t know how. (more…)

Jethro Tull – This Was

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This Was

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

Guaranteed to MURDER any Pink Label Island original you have ever heard – these are the Hot Stampers. 

Folks, this is the best copy we are going to have on the site for a very long time. It took years and hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to get this shootout going and this killer copy is the result. (more…)