Genre – Country & Country Rock

Kenny Loggins – Celebrate Me Home

More Loggins and Messina

xxxxx

  • One of the best copies to ever hit the site and boy is it killer — Triple Plus (A+++) sound, or close to it, from start to finish
  • Both sides here are rich, full and Tubey Magical with a massive bottom end and lots of space around the instruments
  • It’s also one of the only Loggins solo albums I’ve ever liked; it’s a favorite of mine from back in the day
  • Allmusic 4 Stars: “Loggins is in good form throughout the record, and if even only the title track entered his readily-acknowledged canon, this has a fine, sustained mood: a soft late ’70s vibe that makes it a nice artifact of its time, as well as one of his stronger records, as illustrated by its platinum status — something it achieved without any blockbuster singles.”

This killer copy shows you just how good this record can sound, which is surprisingly good, considering how many copies of the album are just plain awful. Finally, most of the grit, grain, and transitory opacity have fallen away, leaving in its place the rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical ’70s sound one would expect.

As obvious as it may sound (especially to anyone on this site), the master tape is a whole lot better than the average copy of the record would have you believe. This copy is proof positive. Without a doubt this is one of the best pressings of the album we have ever heard.

Two Amazing Sides

The best copies take top honors for rhythmic energy and real frequency extension both high and low. Most copies have no real top end; if you own one give it a listen and we think you’ll agree with us.

Great bass, plenty of Tubey Magic, clarity and richness — no other copy in our shootout could do what this one was doing. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Sings Kristofferson

More Willie Nelson

More Country and Country Rock

xxxxx

  • A stunning copy of Willie Nelson’s wonderful 1979 release with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one on this original Columbia pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This is yet another amazing recording of one of the most recognizable and enjoyable voices in the history of popular song
  • A superb collection of Kris Kristofferson favorites, including Me and Bobby McGee and For The Good Times
  • 4 stars: “A return to country-rock after the smash success of Stardust the year before, this is one of Willie Nelson’s best albums. . . As he demonstrated from the beginning, Nelson had one of the best interpretive gifts of any singer, and this album only strengthened that reputation.”

We’ve heard great copies of this one in the past, but after throwing one on just for fun last year and hearing pretty mediocre sound, we decided that we’d collect a bunch of them to find out just how good the best pressings could sound — and how mind-numbingly average the typical copy can be. It’s not easy to find a copy that gets EVERYTHING right, but this one does it all.

This is one of the better Willie Nelson records, not quite in the same league as Stardust (musically or sonically, I’m afraid), but certainly one of his strongest efforts from the period. Some songs are recorded better than others (when ain’t that the case?) but just about everything sounds great and the best stuff is out of this world.

What do the best pressings give you on a record like this? More space around all the instruments, more strength to the bottom end, wonderful immediacy and breath to the vocals (though at times Willie’s vocals are a bit low in the mix — an odd choice), weight to the piano, superb clarity, and lovely analog warmth. (more…)

The Real Eagles Sound Comes From the Real Eagles Master Tape

Reviews and Commentaries for The First Eagles Album

More Eagles

eagles

[This commentary is roughly twenty years old. Still true though.]

At one time this was my single favorite Demo Disc. A customer who bought one of these once told me it was the best sounding record he had ever heard in his life. I don’t doubt it for a minute. It’s certainly as good as any rock record I have ever heard, and I’ve heard some awful good ones.

The Real Sound Comes from the Real Master Tape

There’s an interesting story behind this album, which I won’t belabor here. One listen to a later reissue or Heavy Vinyl pressing or Greatest Hits and you’ll know I speak the truth when I say that the tape used to cut this pressing was never used again to cut any other. It is GONE. LOST FOREVER. Most copies of this album are mediocre at best, and positively painful to listen to once you’ve heard the right pressing, the one cut from the real tape.
(more…)

The Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead

More Grateful Dead

More Hippie Folk Rock

xxxxx

  • A KILLER original Warner Brothers pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • A Top 100 album, and a truly superb recording of the Dead at the peak of their creativity (along with American Beauty)
  • We love the amazingly big, rich, weighty bottom end found on the better pressings such as this one
  • 5 stars: “The lilting Uncle John’s Band, their first radio hit, opens the record and perfectly summarizes its subtle, spare beauty; complete with a new focus on more concise songs and tighter arrangements, the approach works brilliantly.”

This original Warner Brothers pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. (more…)

The Eagles – The Typical Domestic Pressing of On The Border Sucks, and Here’s Why

More Eagles

More Records that Are Good for Testing Grit and Grain

eagleonthe_polarity_1187294511

This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity on some songs.

The domestic copies of On The Border have many tracks in reversed absolute phase, including and especially Midnight Flyer, a lifelong favorite of mine. The front and center banjo will positively tear your head off; it’s bright, sour, shrill, aggressive and full of distortion. Don’t look at me — that’s what reverse polarity sounds like!

I’ve known for some time that domestic pressings of On The Border have their phase reversed — just hadn’t gotten around to discussing the issue because I wasn’t ready to list the record and describe the phenomenon.

A while back [January 2005, time flies] I happened to play a copy of One Of These Nights and was appalled by the dismal quality of the sound. Last night I put two and two together. I pulled out both Eagles records and listened to them with the phase reversed. Voila! (On The Border is a favorite record of mine, dismissed by everyone else, but loved by yours truly.)

[I don’t think One of These Nights has its polarity reversed anymore, although some copies may.]

I’m of the opinion that a very small percentage of records have their absolute phase reversed. Once you’ve learned to recognize the kind of distortion reversed polarity causes, you will hear recordings that may make you suspicious, and the only way to know for sure is to switch the positive and negative, wherever you choose to do so. 

With the help of our EAR 324 Phono Stage the phase is reversible with the mere touch of a button, a wonderful convenience that we have grown to love, along with the amazingly transparent sound of course. (Hard to imagine living without either at this point.) (more…)

Loggins & Messina – Self-Titled

More Loggins and Messina

More Country and Country Rock

xxxxx

  • A STUNNING copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • This pressing allows the music to be totally involving, with breathy voices; clear, natural picking on the strings of the guitars and mandolins; choruses that get good and loud – everything you want from this band is here and more
  • L & M are famous for putting plenty of bass on their recordings, but the trick is to find the pressing that actually keeps that bass tightly under control, like this one
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The first full-fledged L&M album found the duo in good form as songwriters, with Messina turning in the sparkling ‘Thinking Of You,’ and the two collaborating on the hit single ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’ and ‘Angry Eyes.'”

We’re big fans of this band, not only for their music but also because their recordings are so good. We know this album about as well as anyone can, having done countless shootouts for it over the years. When it’s good, it’s really good, and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it.

What we have here is the perfect example of a top quality analog studio pop recording. It’s rich, sweet, and dynamic, with the kind of sound that has practically disappeared from the face of the earth. Not to worry though; it can still be found on certain pressings from the ’70s, the ones that we put so much time and effort into auditioning. Why shouldn’t we? It’s where the BEST SOUND is. (more…)

Buffalo Springfield – Retrospective – The Best Of…

More Buffalo Springfield

  • STUNNING throughout with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides of this original Atco pressing
  • Big, full-bodied, clear and present, the Tubey Magical richness of the best pressings is a joy to hear on modern highly resolving equipment
  • Kind Woman and I Am A Child are just two of the best sounding songs – listen to all that space around the voices and instruments
  • And the Pysch stuff – On the Way Home, Broken Arrow and Expecting to Fly – is even more three-dimensional
  • 5 stars on Allmusic – this is Must Own Music from one of the most groundbreaking and accomplished groups of the late-’60s (even though they never cracked the Top 40 Album chart)

(more…)

Townes Van Zandt – Flyin’ Shoes

More Folk Rock

More Country and Country Rock

xxxxx

  • Flyin’ Shoes makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this original Tomato pressing
  • Exceptionally present, real and resolving, this pressing is guaranteed to murder any remastering undertaken by anyone, past, present and future
  • The LIFE of the man’s music is captured on this pressing, and you can be pretty sure that that is simply not going to be the case with whatever they’re peddling to record buyers these days
  • 4 stars: “The melodies here are strong, the lyrics full of Van Zandt’s razor sharp insight, and the production is sparse and to the point, bringing to mind the inconspicuous polish of High, Low and in Between. The feel here is a balance between folk and country, with Van Zandt’s voice and guitar up front, letting the songs speak for themselves.”

(more…)

Linda Ronstadt / Heart Like A Wheel – Does Bernie Ever Get Bored?

More Linda Ronstadt

Reviews and Commentaries for the Recordings of Linda Ronstadt

xxx

Years ago we wrote:

One thing we noted with interest while doing this shootout was how compressed the first track is. When the chorus comes in, and Linda seems to be singing louder — should be singing louder, with a substantial coterie of vocalists backing her up — the volume is actually lower. In the verse immediately following you can hear that not only is she singing louder, but the amount of dynamic contrast in her voice is greater. Go figure.

The compression also means that that song will never sound the way we would wish it to. But that doesn’t mean it won’t sound good. It means it will sound good in more of a radio-friendly way. On a good copy, one with relatively little grain and plenty of bass, the music can still be very enjoyable, and that includes a Number One Pop Hit like “You’re No Good.”

Do we still see things this way? Well, yes and no. It’s not exactly that we were wrong, but that better cleaning and better playback (all that revolutions in audio stuff) have now allowed us to hear that some copies are actually much more dynamic on this track than others. Quite dynamic in fact.

Think about it. Bernie Grundman is going to cut this record many, many times, maybe more times than he wants to. Is he always going to apply exactly the same amount of compression to each cutting, or is he going to experiment a bit and see what works better over time? Or maybe he just learned a thing or two as he went along.

Which is pretty much what we do when playing copy after copy. The best pressings show us precisely what it is they are doing when they actually work. We can’t know that in advance; we’re learning on the job so to speak. (more…)

Willie Nelson – The Sound In Your Mind

More Willie Nelson

More Country and Country Rock

xxxxx

  • The Sound In Your Mind finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • This Columbia Lone Star pressing is full-bodied and natural, with a nicely extended top end, plenty of space around the instruments and vocals, and few of the problems that plagued many pressings we played
  • “. . . an underrated gem! Great songs…his voice is in top form.”

(more…)