Genre – Rock – Pure Pop

Astrud Gilberto – Beach Samba

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  • An outstanding copy of Beach Samba, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from top to bottom 
  • The soundstage is huge, and the overall quality of the recording is big and bold like you will not believe
  • Creed Taylor (the CTI man) produced, Don Sebesky and Deodato did the arrangements, and Val Valentin engineered – what’s not to like?
  • “This 1967 Verve LP has the breezy bossa novas and sambas Astrud was famed for, but also a Lovin’ Spoonful duet with her young son and some seriously impressive scatting, too.” – Amazon

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Bee Gees – Spirits Having Flown – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

We sat down with a big stack of pressings recently and only found a few that really had their mojo workin’. This copy was one of the best we heard, earning an A+++ grade on side one — where the best songs are found — and performing quite well on side two also (A+ to A++). The energy factor is off the charts on side one, and that’s exactly what this music needs to really come to life. You are going to be surprised how rich and full-bodied this album can sound when you have a great copy like this.

Variety is the spice of life, and since we can’t play Neil Young records every week we decided to take this disco classic for a spin. We were very impressed with the better pressings, but most copies we played bored us to tears. Most copies are just too thin and dry to take seriously, and even the richer and fuller ones usually lacked too much in the way of life or immediacy. (more…)

Blondie – Parallel Lines – MoFi Debunked

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Audiophile Versions of This Album Suck (The Life Right Out of the Music)  

As previously noted, the MoFi, one of those Jack Hunt turgid muckfests (check out City to City #058 for the ulitimate in murky MOFI sound), is incapable of conveying anything resembling the kind of clear, radio-friendly pop rock sound that Chris Thomas and the band were aiming for. The recording has copious amounts of Analog Richness and Fullness to start with. Adding more is not an improvement; in fact it’s positively ruinous. (more…)

Loggins & Messina’s Early Albums – Listening in Depth to Their Classic Yacht Rockers

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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 Loggins and Messina albums. (For those in need of some good sounding L&M vinyl, click on the link below to see what we have available and why we think at least some of their records belong in your collection.)

The elements that make up a good sounding Loggins and Messina album can be found, in varying degrees, on all the Hot Stamper pressings we offer. Permit us to break them down for you. (We’ve borrowed heavily from ourselves here so if this material looks familiar don’t be surprised, we’ve used it before.)

Top End Extension

Absolutely critical to this record. Most copies of this album have no extreme highs, which causes the percussion and guitar harmonics to be blunted and dull. Without extreme highs the percussion can’t extend up and away from the other elements in the mix. Consequently these elements end up fighting for space in the midrange and getting lost in the dense mixes that Jim Messina favors (and we audiophiles love). (more…)

The Hollies – Hollies Sing Hollies

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  • A stunning copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last 
  • Both sides here were doing everything right — clean, clear and full-bodied with a big punchy bottom end
  • “After delving into more “serious” music with the Dylan album, the Hollies return to their pop roots with this fine effort… as usual, there is inconsistency in the quality of songwriting. However, even the most inconsequential tunes boast a good melody and solid musicianship… this is a good effort that maintains a balance between lightweight and serious pop material.” – All Music

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Bread – Manna – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

Presented for your listening pleasure, an original pressing of Manna, Bread’s third album, with Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides. Side one rocks with the best of them — yes, Bread can rock; just play Let Your Love Go to see what I mean.

Side two boasts sweet and rich 1971 ANALOG sound, a credit to engineer ARMIN STEINER (who was also one of the engineers on Spirit’s first album, assisted on Ram and has more than a hundred other engineering credits).

That big rich bottom end and the volume of space that surrounds all the instruments and singers are the purest and most delightful form of Audiophile Candy of which we know.

The acoustic guitars? To die for. Talk about Tubey Magical Analog, this copy will show you just what’s missing from modern remastered records (and modern music generally). Whatever became of that sound?

This record put Bread’s heavily Beatles-inflected Pure Pop back on the charts after their the single from their previous album, On The Waters, made it to Number One, that song of course being Make It With You. “If”, the big hit off this album, went to number five, but we like it every bit as much as that earlier chart topper. Both represent the perfect melding of consummate songcraft and pure emotion.

We used to think that only the Best of Bread album could get those two songs to sound as luscious and Tubey Magical as they do when they’re playing in our heads, but it seems we were wrong — the latter sounds positively amazing on the best copies of Manna, and this is a VERY good copy indeed: A++ on both sides. (more…)

Astrud Gilberto – Windy

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  • A stunning sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout, making this one of the best copies to ever hit the site
  • Forget whatever Heavy Vinyl imposter is in print – this vintage Verve stereo pressing has the kind of High-Rez Tubey-Magical Midrange that will bring Astrud’s soft samba music to life in your very own listening room
  • “… Windy nevertheless proves one of Astrud Gilberto’s most consistent and sublime efforts, artfully straddling the division between Brazilian bossa nova and American sunshine pop.” 

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Duran Duran – Seven and the Ragged Tiger

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  • An incredible sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides – 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 for Duran Duran
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout, Mint Minus to Mint Minus to Minus – we had to go through about ten copies to find one this quiet
  • “Duran Duran put three of the album’s singles in the Top Ten, taking it to number one in the U.K… it’s bright, energetic, and effectual. Duran Duran’s new direction eventually gave Seven and the Ragged Tiger double platinum status.”

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The Everly Brothers – The Everly Brothers Best – Reviewed in 2015

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More The Everly Brothers Best

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

This is only the second Everly Brothers Hot Stamper to make it to the site, and I’m sure the reasons for that are not hard to fathom. I must look at fifty EB records for every one I buy, and even with a good scrubbing most of those are not going to pass muster. 

Side One

Present and breathy vocals are the key to this side’s high rating. Note how dynamic the boys’ voices are on the second track; maybe a little bright but it sounds like that’s the right sound for the music. The third track has much the same sound.

Side Two

Tonally fine in its way, which is to say rich on the first track, thinner on the second, and correct for the third; in other words, overall it’s right. (more…)

Bee Gees et al. – Saturday Night Fever

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  • Double Plus (A++) sound, or close to it, on all four of these outstanding sides
  • There’s real Bee Gees vocal magic here – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Stayin’ Alive, How Deep Is Your Love, More Than a Woman, Jive Talkin’, and even A Fifth of Beethoven all sound great
  • It’s no walk in the park to find a copy with sound this good and exceptionally quiet vinyl, but here it is
  • 5 stars: “Saturday Night Fever is virtually indispensable as a Bee Gees album, not just for the presence of an array of songs that were hits in their own right but because it offered the Gibb brothers as composers as well as artists…”

This copy of the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack has wonderful sound throughout, and that ain’t no jive talkin’! We collected a bunch of these and after putting them through the shootout process we were delighted to find out that some of the material on here can sound amazingly good on the best pressings.

Like any compilation, some songs are going to sound better than others. The good news here is that most of the tracks you’d hope to be impressive actually are: Stayin’ Alive, How Deep Is Your Love and Disco Inferno are among the better sounding songs on the album, and there are plenty more where those came from. (more…)