Genre – Rock – Hippie Folk Rock

Grateful Dead – Terrapin Station

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Terrapin Station

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  • This original pressing earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to it throughout – you’ll have a hard time finding a copy that sounds any better than this!
  • Produced by Keith Olsen of Fleetwood Mac fame, it’s no surprise that the recording quality is quite a bit better than most of the records they had been making at the time
  • Pretty darn quiet throughout, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, as quiet as we can find them
  • “Terrapin Station offers a few choice glimpses of the band doing what it does best. While the most prominent example is the album’s extended title suite, there are a few others such as the cover of the Rev. Gary Davis gospel-blues “Samson and Delilah” and a resurrection of the Martha & the Vandellas hit “Dancin’ in the Streets.” 

Most Dead studio albums after Workingman’s Dead are full of filler, but this one actually has some good songs: the extended title song suite, the hard-rockin’ Passenger (note the similarities to Fleetwood Mac’s Station Man), and the darkly funky Estimated Prophet. The cover of Dancin’ In The Streets may have earned this album the epithet of Disco Dead, but it’s actually a good bit of fun if you don’t take it too seriously. (more…)

Brewer & Shipley – Tarkio – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This White Hot Stamper side one of our beloved Tarkio, Brewer and Shipley’s Folk Rock Masterpiece, is without a doubt the BEST SOUND we have ever heard on any pressing bar none. This side sets a standard that no other copy on any side could touch. True, we awarded a Triple Plus grade to an amazing side two copy, but this side one is still the better of the two. We could easily have called it Four Pluses but chose to go with the simpler A+++ and this explanation.

However you frame it, this side is OFF THE CHARTS in a big way. It’s amazingly rich, yet clear and transparent as any we played — what a combination!

This, like Dark Side and so many other White Hot Stamper records we offer to the discriminating audiophile, is ANALOG at its finest. To our knowledge there hasn’t been a single record mastered in the last thirty years with this kind of sound, and we know whereof we speak: we’ve played them by the hundreds.

A Desert Island Disc for me with wonderfully NATURAL sound. This copy had the ULTIMATE Side One (A+++) and a very competitive Side Two (A++), making it the King of our Shootout. If you love this record as much as you should, this is the copy to own. I would love to keep it for my desert island, but we know there is surely a deserving soul out there who will treasure it as much as I do, and probably play it a lot more often, so if you know the album at all this is your chance at greatness. (And I still haven’t found a desert island I’m all that partial to anyway.)

Not Really One Toke Over the Line

Please don’t assume that this album has much in the way of uptempo country rockers like One Toke Over the Line, Flying Burrito Brothers style. Nothing could be further from the truth. Practically every other song on the album is better, almost all of them are taken at a slower pace, with none of them having the “poppy” arrangement of that carefully calculated Top Forty hit. The rest of the music on the album, the music you probably don’t know, is much better than the music that you do know if what you know is that song. (more…)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – 4 Way Street

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

If you want to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock out live in your listening room, this copy will let you do it. It’s not easy to find good sound on even one side of this album, let alone all four!

Three Shootout Winning White Hot Stamper sides out of four! These three sides handily blow other copies out of the water, with the size, space, presence and energy that only the finest pressings are capable of. If you want to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock out live in your listening room, this is the only copy that will let you do it. No other copy we’ve ever played rocked the way this one rocked! For three quarters of the “concert”, YOU ARE THERE. (more…)

Crosby / Nash – Whistling Down The Wire

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

TWO AMAZING SIDES RATING AT OR NEAR A+++! This is the pair’s third and best album, with better sound than Wind on the Water as well as their strongest songwriting. This is arguably a better CSN record than the album titled CSN from 1977. For one thing, the harmonies are superior, even without Stephen Stills. (Crosby and Nash were in big demand in the Rock and Pop world of the ’70s for their impressive background vocal skills.) For another it’s clearly a better recording. (more…)

David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name…

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If I Could Only Remember My Name

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

BEYOND TRIPLE TRIPLE! This Top Copy had a side one that blew us away enough to earn FOUR Pluses!

Here it is, folks… a TRUE ROCK DEMO DISC! A White Hot Stamper copy such as this will show you why we’ve long considered it one of the All Time Top Ten Rock Albums for Sound and Music. You will not believe how Tubey Magical and three-dimensional this album can be when you have a pressing with this kind of sound. The harmonic complexity and extension on the acoustic guitars are absolutely stunning!

Please note that the grading scale pictured above only goes up to three pluses, as that is our standard top grade. Every now and then we’ll hear a side of an album we know well that goes beyond our expectations and our ref copies to earn a fourth plus. This side one did just that! (more…)

Grateful Dead – Wake Of The Flood

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  • Stunning sound throughout with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides and vinyl that is about as quiet as we can find
  • This original pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce
  • A difficult album to find audiophile quality sound for, this is one of the best copies to ever hit the site
  • “Wake of the Flood was certainly as good – if not arguably better than – most of their previous non-live efforts.”

This is the album that comes after American Beauty on the Grateful Dead timeline, and while it’s certainly not in the same league as that masterpiece, there’s still a lot of good music on here. The All Music Guide gives it four stars out of five and calls it “certainly as good — if not arguably better than — most of their previous non-live efforts”. (more…)

Grateful Dead – Grateful Dead

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  • KILLER sound throughout for this original WB Gold Label pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Both sides here are super rich and full-bodied yet still clean, clear and open with tons of energy and a great bottom end
  • A copy like this lets you hear what the band was going for without the grit and congestion (not to mention godawful surfaces) that you find on the typical pressing
  • “… a valiant attempt to corral the group’s hydra-headed psychedelic jug-band music on vinyl…” – All Music

We just finished a big shootout for this title and it was pretty difficult. The best Gold Label originals and Green Label pressings can be superb, but most of them are noisy and many of them don’t sound any good. Those of you who are familiar with this music are sure to be surprised at how good these songs sound here.

Unfortunately, Viola Lee Blues, the last track on side two, never sounds all that good. It’s pretty easy to imagine that high-fidelity audiophile-quality sonics were not what these guys were going for in 1966. (more…)

Grateful Dead – Blues For Allah

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Blues For Allah

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  • A stunning sounding copy of this Grateful Dead classic with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • Probably the last essential Dead album – this pressing has especially silky, sweet vocals, good presence and energy, punchy bass and a spacious soundfield
  • “The Dead went into a state of latent activity that lasted until the spring of [1975] when the band reconvened to record Blues for Allah… Obviously, the time off had done the band worlds of good, as Blues for Allah — more than any past or future studio album — captures the Dead at their most natural and inspired.”

This fun and funky mid-’70s Grateful Dead LP has two excellent sides. This album features the extended workout of “Help On The Way” into “Slipknot” into “Franklin’s Tower” — a fan favorite which remained a staple of Dead shows into the ’90s. On an energetic and tubey magical copy like this one, it’s a trip!

Shakedown Street and Terrapin Station have their moments but are certainly not as consistent as this album. (more…)

Grateful Dead – Europe ’72

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  • Stunning sound throughout with all six sides of this epic live collection earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • “No record album can replace a live appearance by the Dead — but those who can’t get enough of this exceptional band will be kept busy for a good little while with this one.” – Rolling Stone
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The band mixes a bevy of new material with revisitations of back-catalog favorites. Sadly, this European jaunt would be the last of its kind to include the formidable talents and soul of founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, who was in increasingly fragile health. Although few in number, his contributions to Europe ’72 are among the most commanding not only of this release, but of his career.”

*NOTE: A mark makes three light ticks near the end of track one, Truckin’.

All six sides of this White Hot Europe ’72 have the best sound we have ever heard for the album!

A bunch of classic Dead songs that never appeared on a studio album are here in their definitive versions, including He’s Gone, Jack Straw, Brown-Eyed Woman, Ramble On Rose and Tennessee Jed. (more…)

Helplessly Hoping to Get the VTA Right

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This listing from 2005 (!) contains commentary about VTA adjustment using the track Helplessly Hoping from a Hot Stamper pressing of CSN’s So Far. 

Helplessly Hoping is a wonderful song that has a lot of energy in the midrange and upper midrange which is difficult to get right. Just today (4/25/05) I was playing around with VTA, having recently installed a new Dynavector DV-20x on my playgrading table (a real sweetheart, by the way), and this song showed me EXACTLY how to get the VTA right.

VTA is all about balance. The reason this song is so good for adjusting VTA is that the guitar at the opening is a little smooth and the harmony vocals that come in after the intro can be a little bright. Finding the balance between these two elements is key to getting the VTA adjusted properly. (more…)