Genre – Rock – British Blues Rock

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…)

The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed

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Let It Bleed

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  • With two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy ROCKS from start to finish; fairly quiet vinyl too! 
  • Love In Vain on a copy like this is one of the best sounding Rolling Stones songs of all time
  • The acoustic guitar sound and the rich whomp of the snare proves that Glyn Johns is one of the Greatest Engineers who ever lived
  • Top 100, 5 stars on Allmusic – Jason McNeil of PopMatters wrote that Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed are, “the two greatest albums the band’s (or anyone’s) ever made.” 

This is, IMHO, the second or third best record the Stones ever made. (Sticky Fingers is Number One, and either this or Beggar’s Banquet comes in a strong second.) With this pressing we can now hear the power and the beauty of this superb recording.

Love In Vain on a copy like this is one of the best sounding Rolling Stones songs of all time. In previous listings I’ve mentioned how good this song sounds — thanks to Glyn Johns, of course — but on these amazing Hot Stamper copies it is OUT OF THIS WORLD. (more…)

The Faces – A Nod Is As Good As A Wink

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  • Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one backed with excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on side two, this copy is a MONSTER!
  • Rich and solid, yet open, spacious, and transparent — nothing like the muddy, congested sound we heard all day
  • 5 stars: it “doesn’t feel cobbled together and it serves up tremendous song after tremendous song.”

This Warner Bros. Green Label LP has MASTER TAPE sound on the first side and not far from it on the second! 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 live-in-the-studio vocals. We played a ton of copies and none of them could hold a candle to this one. 

You won’t be a minute into this record before you’re blown away by all the ambience and echo. You can really hear the sound of the big room around these guys as they rock out. The vocals sound Right On The Money — smooth, but with all of the raspiness that Rod Stewart is famous for.

The drums are big and punchy and the guitars sound grungy and  right. (more…)

The Faces – Long Player

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  • A killer copy with a stunning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one
  • Amazing live-in-the-studio sound that conveys completely the raw power of one of the hardest rockin’ bands of all time
  • 5 stars in Allmusic and probably the Faces’ Best Album, for sound and music – Maybe I’m Amazed? Hell yeah!
  • “…a ferocious rock & roll band who, on their best day, could wrestle the title of greatest rock & roll band away from the Stones.”

We knew this album could sound good, but back in the day we sure didn’t know it could sound like this. The best pressings of this album have amazing live-in-the-studio sound that conveys completely the raw power of one of the hardest rockin’ bands of all time. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Greatest Hits

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  • Stunning sound from start to finish with side two earning our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++) and side one earning a solid Double Plus (A++)
  • Big, rich, energetic, with tons of Analog Tubey Magic, this original Orange Label British pressing has exactly the sound you want
  • Oh Well, Parts One and Two, Black Magic Woman and Albatross are all KILLER here
  • Peter Green is hands down our favorite British Blues Guitarist of All Time – this record single-handedly will show you why

If you’re a fan of early Fleetwood Mac, this copy will blow you away. Like any good vintage British pressing, 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 to. (more…)