- An outstanding copy (only the second to hit the sit in two years) with solid Double Plus (A++ ) sound from start to finish
- These sides have the vintage analog sound we love – they’re full-bodied and smooth, with plenty of Tubey Magic, gobs of studio space, and the right balance of richness and the clarity that is the key to getting top quality sound for John Barleycorn
- Arguably the band’s best album, certainly their most groundbreaking, original and involving – Low Spark would rank a not-especially-close second
- “…the band sounds utterly grounded. As the grooves percolate effortlessly along, it becomes clear that unity, not any technical skill, is what makes the music levitate.”
- This is a Must Own title from 1970, a great year for rock and pop music
- An excellent UK import copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all FOUR sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Sides one and two were very close in sound to our Shootout Winner – you will be shocked at how big and powerful the sound is
- Guaranteed to be a huge improvement over anything you’ve heard, this Brit is big, punchy, and full-bodied with excellent presence
- A shockingly well-recorded album that comes to life with the combo of a great copy and a hi-res, full-range system
- 5 stars: “A stunning statement of purpose and one of the greatest rock & roll albums ever recorded.”
Audiophile sound for this punk rock classic?! You better believe it, baby! The sound here is superb for all four sides.
What really sets this album apart sonically is The Clash’s use of reggae and dub influences. You can really hear it when you tune in to the bottom end; your average late 70s punk record won’t have this kind of rich and meaty bass, that’s for sure. Drop the needle on “The Guns Of Brixton” (last track on side two) to hear exactly what I’m talking about. On a Hot Stamper copy played at the correct levels (read: quite loud!) the effect is positively HYPNOTIC.
Bill Price engineered and as we like to say, he knocked this one out of the park. The best sounding record from 1979? I have the feeling it just might be.
Nobody would have accused The Clash of being an audiophile-friendly band, but a copy like this might make you think twice about that! We had a blast doing this shootout and we hope whoever takes this home has just as much fun with it.
- An original UK Island import pressing of Eno’s Art Rock Masterpiece with an INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two mated to a solid Double Plus (A++) side one
- Side two of this copy resolves the subtle harmonics of Eno’s treated sounds better than all others we played – here is a truly immersive Art Rock experience like no other
- Only these British originals ever win shootouts – their superior sound comes as the result of their being transferred from fresh master tapes, using the highest resolution cutting equipment available, onto to the best storage medium to ever exist: the British vinyl LP
- This copy has been in my personal collection for the last twenty years or so, and I hope it goes to a good home, the kind of home where it will be played regularly and not just “collected”
- “The songs…are as inventive and appealing as their treatments, and make for Eno’s most solid–and experimental–pop album. This LP holds up magnificently, even years on in the artist’s brilliant career.”
This is Brian Eno’s Masterpiece, as well as a Personal Favorite of yours truly.
On the right pressing this is a Twisted Pop Demo Disc like nothing you have ever heard. If you have a big speaker and the kind of high quality playback that is capable of unraveling the most complicated musical creations, with all the weight and power of live music, this is the record that will make all your audio effort and expense worthwhile.
That’s the kind of stereo I’ve been working on for forty years and this album just plain kills over here.
That being said, it may not be the kind of thing most music loving audiophiles will be able to make much sense of if they have no history with this kind of Art Rock from the 70s. I grew up on Roxy Music, 10cc, Eno, The Talking Heads, Ambrosia, Supertramp, Yes and the like, bands that wanted to play rock music but felt shackled by the chains of the conventional pop song. This was and still is my favorite kind of music.
When it comes to the genre, I put this album right at the top of the heap along with several other landmark albums from the period: More Songs About Buildings and Food, Roxy Music’s first, Sheet Music, Crime of the Century, Ambrosia’s first two releases, The Yes Album, Fragile and perhaps a handful of others, no more than that.
Repeat As Necessary
Like Roxy Music’s first album, this is a powerhouse that not only rewards repeated listenings but requires them. Music like this simply cannot be digested at one sitting. Like the Beatles said, It’s All Too Much. But the more you hear it the more you will be able to understand it and appreciate it and, if you’re like me, really start to love it (I hope). I’ve been listening to this album since the mid-70s and have never tired of it. To me it’s the very definition of a Desert Island Disc: a record that knocks me out every time I play it and never wears out its welcome. It’s still fresh and “cutting edge” (if I can use that term) nearly fifty years after its release.
Many years ago, right around 2015 I believe, we played a copy with all the presence, all the richness, all the size and all the energy we ever hoped to hear from a top quality pressing of Dark Side of the Moon.
It did it ALL and then some.
The raging guitar solos (there are three of them) on Money seemed to somehow expand the system itself, making it bigger and more powerful than I had ever heard.
Even our best copies of Blood Sweat and Tears have never managed to create such a huge space with that kind of raw power. This copy broke through all the barriers, taking the system to an entirely new level of sound.
Take the clocks on Time. There are whirring mechanisms that can be heard deep in the soundstage on this copy that I’ve never heard as clearly before. On most copies you can’t even tell they are there. Talk about transparency — I bet you’ve NEVER heard so many chimes so clearly and cleanly, with such little distortion on this track.
One thing that separates the best copies from the merely good ones is super-low-distortion, extended high frequencies. How some copies manage to correctly capture the overtones of all the clocks, while others, often with the same stamper numbers, do no more than hint at them, is something no one can explain. But the records do not lie. Believe your own two ears. If you hear it, it’s there. When you don’t — the reason we do shootouts in a nutshell — it’s not.
The best sounding parts of this record are nothing less than ASTONISHING. Money is the best example I can think of for side two. When you hear the sax player rip into his solo as Money gets rockin’, it’s almost SCARY! He’s blowin’ his brains out in a way that has never, in my experience anyway, been captured on a piece of plastic. After hearing this copy, I remembered exactly why we felt this album must rank as one of the five best Rock Demo Discs to demonstrate the superiority of analog. There is no CD, and there will never be a CD, that sounds like this.
In fact, when you play the other “good sounding” copies, you realize that the sound you hear is what would naturally be considered as good as this album could get. But now we know better. This pressing takes Dark Side to places you have never imagined it could go.
To say this is a sonic and musical masterpiece practically without equal in the history of the world is no overstatement. But you have to have a top copy for that statement to be true.
Our Previous Hot Stamper Commentary
A+++ and should absolutely BLOW YOUR MIND with its HUGE, three-dimensional soundfield. It’s got big-time energy, amazing presence, and wonderful clarity. The bottom end sounds phenomenal, with real weight to the bass. The overall sound is rich, sweet and warm. Listen to how clean and clear the female background vocalists sound on Time. The guitars have a meaty texture that really adds to the life force of this copy — it’s positively ELECTRIC.
Side two is every bit as AMAZING! A+++ White Hot sound. The size of the stage on this side is beyond anything in our experience. Check out the incredible transparency and the silky highs, as well as the breathy vocals and tons of energy. Money on this copy will blow your mind. We had a copy with bigger bass than this one but it could not hold a candle to this one is any other way. This was an easy choice for Best Side Two Ever.
- With solid Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them from start to finish, you’ll have a hard time finding a copy that sounds remotely as good as this original UK Chrysalis import
- This side one is remarkably big and full with wonderfully breathy vocals and deep punchy bass, and side two is not far behind in all those areas
- Here is the rock energy and power this music needs that few other copies we played could compete with (particularly on side one)
- 4 stars: “Minstrel in the Gallery was Tull’s most artistically successful and elaborately produced album since Thick As a Brick…”
This original British copy gets BIG when it needs to (the proggy parts), and that makes it fun. Plenty of Tubey Magic is on offer as well, with rich, sweet acoustic guitars and a lovely freedom from hi-fi-ishness on the vocals.
As you probably know, Ian Anderson can get a little carried away with the processing on his voice, but the better copies make that processing sound right within the context of the overall sound. Most copies have added distortion and grit on the vocal effects, making them much less pleasing to the ear than the engineers envisioned.
Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings).
- Both sides of this vintage copy (only the second to hit the site in three years) were giving us the sound we were looking for, earning superb Double Plus (A++) grades
- Recorded LIVE to 2-track by audio legend Bones Howe in 1976, no wonder the sound is so big, full-bodied, clean and clear
- A tough record to find in the bins these days – Tom Waits still has plenty of die-hard fans here in L.A. and nobody wants to part with their copy
- 4 1/2 stars: “Small Change proves to be the archetypal album of his 70s work. A jazz trio comprising tenor sax player Lew Tabackin, bassist Jim Hughart and drummer Shelly Manne, plus an occasional string section, back Waits and his piano on songs steeped in whiskey and atmosphere…”
- You’ll find superb Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all FOUR sides of these vintage pressings
- Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of Floyd’s Magnum Opus from 1979, this is the way to go
- The Wall demands big, bold, explosively dynamic ANALOG sound, and here is a copy that delivers on that promise (particularly on sides one, three and four)
- Sides one, three and four boast grungy electric guitars, breathy vocals, huge punchy drums, earth-shaking bass and room-filling ambience like you’ve never heard before, and side two is not far behind in all those areas
- One of the best sounding rock recordings of all time – here is a copy that will make our case
- If you’re a Pink Floyd fan, or maybe just somebody looking for a killer Demo Disc to play, this title from 1979 surely deserves a place in your collection
We spend a ridiculous amount of time cleaning, playing, and comparing copies of this classic double album for our shootouts and let me tell you, there are a lot of weak copies out there.
What do these kinds of top grades give you for The Wall? Top-notch clarity and transparency, mind-blowing immediacy, weight to the bottom, extension up top, HUGE open soundfields, real texture to all the instruments, TONS of energy with serious dynamics, BIG punchy drums and loads of natural ambience.
Pink Floyd tends to be an amazingly well-recorded band, and this album is certainly no exception. If you’ve taken home one of our Hot Stampers for Dark Side of the Moon, Meddle, or Wish You Were Here, then you certainly know what we’re talking about. (more…)
- An original pressing with superb Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them from top to bottom – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- From first note to last, the sound works for this music — tonally right, lively and plenty of top end extension (particularly on side two)
- This is some of the grungiest guitar rock we’ve heard in a while and we were lovin’ every minute of it
- “… they were a kick-ass live band… these are really good live cuts — and ‘Backdoor Medley’ and ‘Jailhouse Rock’ were fine interpretations, making familiar songs sound utterly comfortable in their signature sound — and Fandango! remains one of their better albums…”
- Boasting superb Double Plus (A++) grades from top to bottom, you’ll have a hard time finding a copy that sounds remotely as good as this original 360 Stereo pressing
- This copy has the ideal combination of openness and transparency balanced with the richness and solidity of vintage analog
- When Janis starts singing, watch out – her voice positively jumps out of the speakers, something we didn’t hear her do on many of the other copies in our shootout
- Features “Try,” one of Janis’s All Time Classics – and with these grades you can be sure it sounds positively amazing here
- Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these vintage LPs – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
This Columbia 360 Stereo pressing is the cure for Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues!
Drop the needle on the great song “Try” and just listen to how crisp, punchy, and big the drums sound. The bottom end has real weight and the top end is silky and extended. The overall sound is rich, full, and smooth.
Energy is the key element missing from the average copy, but not on this bad boy (or girl, if you prefer). The electric guitars are super Tubey Magical and the bass is solid and punchy.
On many copies — too many copies — the vocals are pinched and edgy. Here they’re breathy and full — a much better way for Janis to sound. There’s a slight amount of grit to the vocals at times and the brass as well, but the life force on these sides is so strong that we much preferred it to the smoother, duller, deader copies we heard that didn’t have that issue.
On copy after copy we heard pinched, squawky horns and harsh vocals; not a good sound for this album. Janis’s voice needs lots of space up top to get good and loud, and both of these sides have it in spades.
Few other copies had this combination of openness and transparency on the one hand, and full, rich tonality on the other.
- An original UK Island pressing with a STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated to a solid Double Plus (A++) side two
- There’s real Tubey Magic on this album, along with breathy vocals and in-your-listening-room midrange presence
- Exceptionally present, real and resolving, this pressing is guaranteed to murder any remastering undertaken by anyone – past, present and future
- 4 1/2 stars: “…those brave enough to look past its dark surface will find a startlingly beautiful album; it’s not an easy album to listen to, but it greatly rewards the effort.”