Genre – Rock – More Pop than Rock

Joe Jackson – Night and Day

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  • An amazing sounding pressing, with a shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) second side and a very good Double Plus (A++) side one
  • This copy will beat whatever you play against it — it’s sure to be bigger, punchier and livelier than you imagined; exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • From that opening big drum on ‘Another World’, you’ll know this pressing has the Night and Day magic
  • Joe Jackson’s masterpiece, Allmusic 4 1/2 stars: “…his blend of percolating Latin rhythms, jazzy horns and pianos, stylish synths, and splashy pop melodies uncannily feel like a bustling, glitzy evening in the big city.”

This copy is OUT OF THIS WORLD! It’s extremely clean, clear and open with a HUGE three-dimensional soundfield, excellent presence and deep punchy bass. Rich solid piano tone, lively drums, tight powerful bass and solid vocal presence make this one come ALIVE and sound just the way it should. You’ll want to turn it up to get the full effect because the music really swings on a copy that sounds as good as this one does. It not only swings, it ROCKS. (more…)

Loggins & Messina – Full Sail – Choruses that Really Get Up and Going

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

At about the two minute mark the big chorus in Watching the River Run is also a great test for weight, resolution, dynamic energy, and freedom from strain in the loudest parts. When the whole band is projecting, really belting it out, the shortcomings of practically any copy will be most evident. It was a key test every pressing had to pass.  

When the music gets loud you want it to get better, with more size, energy and, especially, emotional power, just they way it would be heard in concert. Any strain or congestion in the choruses results in the loss of serious points. (This is of course one of the biggest issues we have with Heavy Vinyl — it never gets up and it never gets going the way real records do. “Boring” is the adjective we most commonly use to critique the few we hear, and who wants to listen to boring records?)

Practically all copies have a midrange equalization problem, with a lack of lower mids and boosted upper mids, which often thins out the vocals and leads to hardness and honkiness.

The better copies manage to keep the EQ anomalies within bounds while giving us full-bodied pianos; rich, lively vocals, full of presence and brimming with enthusiasm; harmonically-rich guitars, and a three-dimensional soundstage that reveals the space around them all. (more…)

The Moody Blues – Seventh Sojourn – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This Super Hot Stamper side two was among THE BEST sounding side twos we’ve played. We did not find any copy with better sound on side two, and because no side of any copy really blew our minds, we did not award our Triple Plus grade to either side of any of them.

We had a bunch of British and Dutch imports to play, and we did hear some good sound, just not the kind of good sound we’ve heard on earlier albums. If you like this album we’re pretty sure you will have a hard time finding a copy that sounds even remotely this good. Most of them are much much worse. Dreadful in fact. (more…)

Cat Stevens – Izitso – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

TWO AMAZING SIDES, including THE BEST SIDE TWO WE’VE EVER HEARD! We just finished our first shootout for Izitso, and this was the overall champion with an A++ side one backed with an AGAIG A+++ side two. It’s no Teaser and the Firecat, but there’s enough Cat Stevens magic here to satisy casual fans and die-hards alike. 

It wouldn’t be unfair to call this Stevens’ disco album, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great songs on here. Old Schoolyard is a great uptempo rocker, while Life — on a good copy — is pure audiophle gold. Child For A Day, which closes out side two, is great as well — it sounds like many of the gems from Cat’s earlier albums. The instrumental track Was Dog A Doughnut? (featuring Chick Corea) certainly ain’t our cup of tea, but we imagine some of you will have fun with its synthesized dog barks and its goofy electronic vibe. If you were a fan of Herbie Hancock’s work in the ’80s, you’ll probably get a kick out of all those synths and sequencers. (more…)

Eddie Money – Eddie Money – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

TWO AMAZING SIDES, both clocking in at or just shy of our top grade of A+++! The typical pressing doesn’t sound anywhere near this good — which is a shame, because when you get a White Hot Stamper copy like this, the music is a lot of fun. 

Side One

A+++, absolutely As Good As It Gets! The bottom end is solid and punchy, the top is open and transparent, and there’s plenty of fullness and presence in the mids. Nothing else in our shootout could compare to this one!

Side Two

A++ to A+++, very nearly as good as side one! The life and energy here are off-the-charts. Pay particular attention to the drums — it’s a rare copy that reproduces them with this kind of snap and punch!

The average copy is way too compressed, which kills the highs (by making the cymbals aggressive) and the vocals too midrangy. When you’ve got a copy of Eddie Money’s debut album that’s doing what it’s supposed to, you know it quickly. The highs are sweet and extended, the vocals are present, but without any spit or strain, and there is solid bass and low end propelling everything else forward.

Eddie Money don’t get no respect, and for the most part he doesn’t deserve any. He’s only made one good record: this one. Fortunately, it’s a GREAT one and we don’t have to play his other crappy ones. Thank God. This guy had so much promise, based soley on his debut here, and he turned into just another mainstream rock hack.

He lost his brilliant guitarist and arranger, Jimmy Lyon, soon after this first album was made, and that may account for his slide into mediocrity. But this record is outstanding from first note to last. If at the end of the second track — a cover of You Really Got A Hold On Me — you are not rockin’ out, then Eddie Money is not for you. I love this album and I have played it scores of times. (more…)

John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Double Fantasy

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  • A KILLER sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • This vintage pressing has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s surely missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the 40+ year old tapes (or, to be clear, a modern digital master copied from those tapes)
  • “John returned in the last days of 1980 with Yoko Ono at his side and a deeper understanding of life and all its complexities… The music of Double Fantasy is a testament to a man who’d conquered his demons and had the love of a good woman to carry him through, and some of it is beyond words and cannot be explained.” – All Music

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John Lennon – Mind Games

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  • An excellent sounding UK copy which solid Double Plus (A++) sound from beginning to end – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Forget the dubby domestic pressings and whatever crappy Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – the UK LPs are the only way to fly on Mind Games
  • “… the best numbers are among Lennon’s finest…” – All Music

This vintage UK 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. (more…)

Elvis Presley – On Stage February 1970 – Our Shootout Winner from 2017

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

With two Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sides, this original RCA Orange Label copy simply could not be beat. This is Elvis doing songs made famous by others, proving that he can still out-rock and out-soul practically anybody alive. With ten million copies sold to date, this album’s appeal has transcended its time and must be considered a true Elvis Classic.

finding these later pressings with such good sound, so Tubey Magical, rich and smooth despite their reissue labels, has been a bit of a godsend. (more…)

Outliers & Out-of-This-World Sound

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A while back we did a monster-sized shootout for Blood, Sweat and Tears’ second release, an album we consider THE Best Sounding Rock Record of All Time. In the midst of the discussion of a particular pressing that completely blew our minds — a copy we gave a Hot Stamper grade of A with Four Pluses , the highest honor we can bestow upon it — various issues arose, issues such as: How did this copy get to be so good? and What does it take to find such a copy? and, to paraphrase David Byrne, How did it get here?

Which brings us to this commentary, which centers around the concept of outliers.

Wikipedia defines an outlier this way: “In statistics, an outlier is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data.” In other words, it’s something that is very far from normal. In the standard bell curve distribution pictured below, the outliers are at the far left and far right, far from the vast majority of the data which is in the middle.

In the world of records, most copies of any title you care to name would be average sounding. The vertical line in the center of the graph shows probability; the highest probability is that any single copy of a record will be at the top of the curve near the middle, which means it will simply be average. The closer to the vertical line it is, the more average it will be. As you move away from the vertical line, the data point — the record — becomes less and less average. As you move away from the center, to the left or the right, the record is either better sounding or worse sounding than average. (more…)

The Police – Reggatta de Blanc

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

This A&M LP has PUNCHY LOW-END that really drives this rhythmically charged music! Sting’s pulsing bass lines and the massive assault of Stewart Copeland’s kick drum really come to life on this White Hot Stamper domestic pressing.

This and Ghost In The Machine are my two favorite Police albums. Reggatta, like Ghost, is consistently good from start to finish. (Their other albums are much less consistent, the first especially so.) It also has the distinction of being the only Police album that has a real Guitar Solo, heard on the song “It’s Alright For You”. With a seriously blistering guitar break that really kicks the song into high gear, you have to wonder why Andy Summers chose to play that way so rarely.  (more…)