Genre – Country & Country Rock

Johnny Cash – The Sound of Johnny Cash

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  • KILLER sound from start to finish with both sides earning Nearly Triple Plus (A+++) grades, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • Big, rich, tubey and open, this is some of the best sound Columbia achieved for its country records in the ’60s
  • The vocal presence and freedom from coloration will put a very real sounding Johnny Cash front and center in your listening room
  • “What is interesting about this album, though, is that it doesn’t just remind us of the sound of Johnny’s past, instead it points the way forward to the future, even serving as a template for his ultimate Man in Black persona.”

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Lynyrd Skynyrd – Street Survivors

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  • An outstanding copy of the band’ fifth studio album with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Forget whatever dead-on-arrival Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and Southern Rock Energy of this surprisingly well recorded album from 1977, this is only the way to go
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… it’s a hell of an album. The band springs back to life with the addition of guitarist Steve Gaines, and Van Zant used the time off the road to write a strong set of songs… If the original band was fated to leave after this record, at least they left with a record that serves as a testament to Skynyrd’s unique greatness.”

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Willie Nelson – Phases And Stages

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

The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to ever hit the site and it’s one for the ages. It’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble. The presence and immediacy here are outstanding. Turn it up and Willie is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. He’s clearly one of our favorite male vocalists, and this superb copy will show you why.  (more…)

Rick Nelson – Garden Party – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

UNBELIEVABLE TUBEY ANALOG MAGIC on this very fun Rick Nelson album. Who woulda thunk it? We went through a big stack of these and couldn’t believe the wonderful DEMO QUALITY sound we heard on the best copies. It’s PURE AUDIOPHILE GOLD!

If you like the sound of albums engineered by Stephen Barncard (think Deja Vu, American Beauty and Tarkio for starters) then you are going to find much to like about the sound of this one. The country-tinged opening track, complete with pedal steel guitar, sounds amazing on a copy like this.

But, of course, not all copies sound have this kind of magic in the grooves. Many of them are overly tubey to the point of thickness, others get stuck in the speakers, and a good number of them are bright and spitty. (more…)

Listening in Depth to Heart Like a Wheel

 

Click on the link below to pull up the many reviews and commentaries we’ve written, as well as Hot Stamper copies that are currently available on the site.

Heart Like a Wheel

and click on this link to the

Classic Tracks

entry for the album to read about it in real  depth

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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 Heart Like a Wheel.

A key test on either side was to listen to all the multi-tracked guitars and see how easy it was to separate each of them out in the mix. Most of the time they are just one big jangly blur. The best copies let you hear how many guitars there are and what each of them is doing.

Pay special attention to Andrew Gold’s Abbey Road-ish guitars heard throughout the album. He is all over this record, playing piano, guitar, percussion and singing in the background. If anybody deserves credit besides Linda for the success of HLAW, it’s Andrew Gold. (more…)

Sons of the Pioneers – Cool Water

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  • A stunning sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • These sides have a richness and sweetness that’s disappeared entirely from modern recordings yet they’re still incredibly clean, clear and spacious
  • If you want to know why people love Living Stereo records, playing either side of this record should be more than sufficient
  • “The original release, issued at the height of the stereophile boom of the late 1950s, was a vivid display of close, intimate presence and discreet channel separation.” – All Music

This original RCA Black Label Living Stereo LP has two AMAZING sides, making this without a doubt the best sounding pressing we have ever had the distinct pleasure to play! We were as shocked to hear this copy as you will no doubt be (if you end up with it of course; there’s only one like this to go around.) (more…)

J.J. Cale – Okie

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Plenty of top notch songs that were later covered by other artists — I Got The Same Old Blues (which Bryan Ferry covered so well on The Bride Stripped Bare), Anyway The Wind Blows and Cajun Moon, to name a few.

If you’re a fan of the low-key bluesy vibe of Troubadour and Naturally, you’ll find much to like here. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Yesterday’s Wine

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  • A KILLER sounding copy with both sides earning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades, just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Incredibly rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with a big bottom end and wonderfully present vocals
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout with both sides playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus 
  • “Yesterday’s Wine should also take its rightful place among his best-loved works… “Family Bible,” “Me and Paul,” and the title track are all particularly fine examples of Nelson’s songcraft. As a whole, Yesterday’s Wine provides further insight into the development of his art during this prolific period.” – All Music

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Tammy Wynette – We Sure Can Love Each Other

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  • Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout and the first copy to ever make it to the site – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • This superb pressing is full-bodied and lively, with solid, present vocals, and plenty of vintage Tubey Magic
  • We’ve played plenty of Tammy’s albums over the years, but this is one of the most impressive, sonically and musically
  • “In many ways, Tammy Wynette deserves the title of “the First Lady of Country Music.” During the late ’60s and early ’70s, she dominated the country charts, scoring 17 number one hits. Along with Loretta Lynn, she defined the role of female country vocalists in the ’70s.” – AMG Biography

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J.J. Cale – Troubadour

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  • Outstanding sound for this classic JJ Cale album – both sides earned sonic grades of Double Plus (A++)
  • Cale fans take note: this early Shelter pressing was doing almost everything right — rich, full and musical with great bass
  • Eric Clapton described the man as “one of the most important artists in the history of rock.”
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “J.J. Cale’s albums are so steeped in his introspective style that they become interchangeable. If you like one of them, chances are you’ll want to have them all.”

If you’re hankerin’ to hear Cocaine on the authentic original, you will really have to work hard to hear it sound any better than it does on this very pressing.

Wikipedia lists his many styles as “Americana, Cajun, blues, swamp rock, country rock, Red Dirt, Tulsa Sound” but we think Americana is probably all you really need. (more…)