Genre – Rock – Psych Rock

Buffalo Springfield – Last Time Around

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

It’s really shocking how good this album can sound on the right pressings. When you get hold of one and know how to clean it right, some of these pressings are a damn sight better than the vast majority of audiophiles think! And the music, of course, is CLASSIC. The best side one and the best side two in our last shootout, unfortunately, were less than impressive on their flipsides. We’ve paired them up to give you the best sound we can find for the entire album! And if you want to hear exactly what you’re paying for, just turn either copy over and prepare to be underwhelmed.

(Alternatively, of course, you could leave the playing of bad-sounding pressings to the professionals.) (more…)

The Grateful Dead – Aoxomoxoa

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  • This original Green Label Warner Brothers LP has STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • These sides were doing everything right — big, full-bodied and present with tons of energy and a nice extended top end
  • “When the LP hit the racks in the early summer of 1969, Deadheads were greeted by some of the freshest and most innovative sounds to develop from the thriving Bay Area music scene.” – All Music 

NOTE: This is the later remixed version from 1971. We found it far better sounding than the original 1969 mix. If you’re interested in the original mix, we have some of those copies with lower grades but if you want the best sound, this copy is definitely the way to go.

This vintage Warner Brothers Green Label 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 amazing 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 1969
  • 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 We Listen For on Aoxomoxoa

  • 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

St. Stephen
Dupree’s Diamond Blues
Rosemary
Doin’ That Rag
Mountains Of The Moon

Side Two

China Cat Sunflower
What’s Become Of The Baby
Cosmic Charlie

AMG Review

When the LP hit the racks in the early summer of 1969, Deadheads were greeted by some of the freshest and most innovative sounds to develop from the thriving Bay Area music scene. The disc includes seminal psychedelic rockers such as “St. Stephen,” “China Cat Sunflower,” and “Cosmic Charlie,” as well as hints of the acoustic direction their music would take on the Baroque-influenced “Mountains of the Moon” and “Rosemary.” The folky “Dupree’s Diamond Blues” — which itself was loosely based on the traditional “Betty & Dupree” — would likewise foreshadow the sound of their next two studio long-players, Workingman’s Dead (1969) and American Beauty (1970).

David Crosby – 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…)

Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield

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  • Only the first copy to hit the site in years and boy was it worth the wait — superb Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Both sides here are big, full-bodied and present with plenty of extension on both ends
  • 4 stars on Allmusic: “… this debut sounds pretty great, featuring some of their most melodic and accomplished songwriting and harmonies, delivered with a hard-rocking punch… The entire album bursts with thrilling guitar and vocal interplay, with a bright exuberance that would tone down considerably by their second record.”

For whatever reason all the mastering engineers who cut this first album rarely managed to put any real top or bottom on the record. Why I can’t imagine. Highs and lows are on the tape; the best pressings prove it.

Listen for Tubey Magic, richness, bottom end, presence and freedom from distortion. The more copies you have tried in the past, the more astonishing the sound of this copy will be to you. (more…)

The Moody Blues – A Question of Balance

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  • Side one earned a Double Plus (A++) grade and side two was even better, nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++)!
  • This copy has some of the tubiest, richest, yet clearest Moody Blues sound we’ve heard
  • Huge and spacious with strong midrange presence – this is the way the band should sound, alive and kickin’!
  • Includes the big hit Question, one of the all time greats by the band, which sounds fantastic here of course

Note that the sound on side one seems to get better as it goes, a phenomenon we have noticed often in the past.

What to Listen for

Achieving just the right balance of “Moody Blues Sound” and transparency is no mean feat. You have to be using the real master tape for starters. Then you need top end extension, a very rare quality on these imports, and finally, good bass definition to keep the bottom end from blurring and bleeding into the midrange. No domestic copy in our experience has ever had these three qualities, and only the best of the British imports (no Dutch, German or Japanese need apply) manages to get all three on the same LP. (more…)

The Moody Blues – Every Good Boy Deserves Favour

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  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – this is one of the better sounding copies we played in our recent shootout
  • With a wonderful combination of Tubey Magical richness and clarity, this pressing will be very hard to beat
  • Full-bodied and lush, yet not veiled or distant, this is the sound that brings the Moodies magic to life
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The best-realized of their classic albums, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour was also the last of the group’s albums for almost a decade to be done under reasonably happy and satisfying circumstances — for the last time with this lineup, they went into the studio with a reasonably full song bag and a lot of ambition and brought both as far as time would allow…”

This copy had the BIG, RICH, LUSH British sound that can only be heard on the very best Moody Blues pressings. (more…)

The Doors Waiting For The Sun – Listening in Depth

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Waiting For The Sun. 

My favorite of the first three Doors album, this one is imbued with more mystery and lyricism than any previous effort. The album shows them maturing as a band, smoking large amounts of pot and preparing for the wild ride of their next opus, the ambitious Soft Parade. Actually, as I listen to this album it reminds me more and more of that one. Now that it sounds as good as The Soft Parade I find I’ve gained a new respect for Waiting for the Sun.

In-Depth Track Commentary (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland

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  • With 12 pluses out of a possible 12, this is one of the HIGHEST rated copies to EVER hit the site
  • All four sides have insanely good shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound
  • Probably the best-recorded of Hendrix’s studio albums – huge studio space and Tubey Magical richness are key to the shootout winners like this one
  • 5 stars in the AMG: “…not only one of the best rock albums of the era, but also Hendrix’s original musical vision at its absolute apex.”

Sides one and four are mated back to back on these British pressings. Side four is very difficult to find with top sound, the hardest of the four sides by far, but it gets a Triple Plus (A+++) grade here for the first time in a long time!

We’ve played a lot of copies of this sprawling, psychedelic masterpiece but we’ve practically never heard one that puts it all together better than this one does.

Some of Jimi’s best songs can be found here, including Crosstown Traffic, Voodoo Child (Slight Return) and his incendiary cover of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower. All four sides have truly killer sound, big and full-bodied with a MUCH better low end than you’ll find on most. You get enough energy and weight to make the rock songs really ROCK, and enough clarity and transparency to bring out the more spacey, psychedelic elements that Jimi and Eddie Kramer worked so hard on. (more…)

Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

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  • Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second; quiet vinyl too!
  • The title track is clean, open, rich and solid, and the vocals aren’t screechy (for once!)
  • Both sides are smooth, rich and Tubey Magical, which means the album is actually enjoyable
  • 4 1/2 stars Allmusic: “The epitome of heavy psychedelic excess… the group’s definitive album.” 

We’ve heard some awful, awful, just really awful sounding pressings of this album over the course of the last twenty years. If you own the album you know what I’m talking about.

Clean originals that we’d hoped would have the goods rarely lasted more than 30 seconds on our table, they were that bad. (more…)

The Byrds – Fifth Dimension – More Dead as a Doornail Sundazed Sound

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Sonic Grade: D

The best stereo copies are rich, sweet and Tubey Magical — three areas in which the Sundazed reissues are seriously lacking. (If anyone still cares; we can’t be bothered with mediocrities such as this.) 

And none of the Columbia monos we’ve played did much for us either. Congested and compressed, with no real top, who in his right mind could possibly prefer that sound? (more…)