Genre – Rock – Alternative Rock

Matthew Sweet / 100% Fun – Classic Records Debunked

90+ Reviews and Commentaries for Classic Records Heavy Vinyl LPs

More Bad Sounding Audiophile Records to Avoid

Sonic Grade: F

Our Zoo label original LP MURDERED the Classic heavy vinyl reissue. It’s not even close.

The Classic is a opaque, turgid, muffled piece of sh*t compared to the Zoo vinyl pressing we had on hand, and even the CD will kill this embarrassing audiophile reissue. 

This is not the easiest record to reproduce, but if you have a big dynamic system, one thing it can do is ROCK.  I happen to think it’s the best thing Matthew Sweet ever did, and you deserve to hear it sound right, which means stick with the thin, good sounding vinyl and not this heavy RTI trash from Classic.

This is yet another Disastrous Heavy Vinyl release with godawful sound.

What a murky mess. Dead as a doornail. Disgraceful in every way.

Is it the worst version of the album ever made?

It has to be. The CD is dramatically better. If you own this awful Classic record, buy the CD and find out for yourself if it isn’t better sounding.


Aimee Mann / Bachelor No. 2 – MoFi Reviewed

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An Audiophile Hall of Shame pressing and another Mobile Fidelity LP incompetently mastered for the benefit of those given to falling for easy answers and quick fixes.

I had not actually played the LP when I reviewed the MoFi CD, noting that the CD sounded great and that I expected the vinyl to be even better. In 2006 I should have known better but apparently I did not.

Mea culpa.

Boy, was I ever wrong. The vinyl has a bad case of sucked-out half-speed midsIt’s far too polite and lifeless to be taken seriously.

Is it the worst version of the album ever made? Since every CD I own sounds better, that would seem to be the case.

The comments about the music of course still apply — it’s brilliant — but I recommend the Gold or regular CD over this audiophile Heavy Vinyl pressing.

I used to consider this Mann’s One True Masterpiece. It’s actually her co-masterpiece, taking its place alongside the amazing I’m With Stupid, which is more of the rocker side of Mann. This is her Burt Bacharach side, prettier, sweeter and more melodic. Both are brilliant.

Aimee Mann is one of a handful of artists from the ’90s who actually makes music that can hold its own against the best popular recordings of the last forty years. There are few albums that I prize more highly or that have provided me with more musical satisfaction than those by Aimee Mann.

If you don’t know her music try one or both of the above-mentioned titles. Modern pop music just doesn’t get any better.   (more…)

Jules and the Polar Bears / Got No Breeding – A Forgotten Classic from 1978

Hot Stamper Pressings of Albums from 1978 Available Now

More of Our Favorite Titles from 1978

We dropped the needle on this one and heard EXCELLENT SOUND, which is not always what you hear when you play the average copy of this album.

And the music is GREAT. I’m a giant fan of this band, which never got the public acclaim they deserved, although they were critic’s darlings from day one. If you like adventurous pop, this should be right up your alley. If you’re the kind of person that was into the Talking Heads in the ’70s, this band is every bit as original and compelling. 

This album checks off a few of our favorite boxes:


U2 – The Joshua Tree

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  • An outstanding pressing with excellent sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big and rich, with correct tonality from top to bottom, strong bass and plenty of space – this copy sounded just right to us
  • Stunning sound for the album’s biggest hits, including With Or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and Where the Streets Have No Name
  • 5 stars: “With the uniformly excellent songs… the result is a powerful, uncompromising record that became a hit due to its vision and its melody. Never before have U2’s big messages sounded so direct and personal”
  • Based on the U2 albums we have played, we must consider this the band’s Magnum Opus, their single greatest achievement. We don’t know of any U2 album with better music or better sound.
  • Better music, absolutely. Better sound? We grade albums on a curve, so the most we can say for this album is that the best pressings strike us as being the truest to the intentions of the artists and engineers. Not Demo Discs by any means, but records that sound right for who made them and when they were made.
  • This is also the last U2 album we have found with much in the way of audiophile quality sound, since the dreadful Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop were the next three to be released, and we have never cared for any of them.

The soundstage is huge, and the overall quality of the recording is big and bold. Most copies of this album are either thin, shrill and aggressive — like most U2 albums — or thick and veiled. This one is smooth and natural sounding, with the added benefit of some deep punchy bass. (more…)

R.E.M. – Document

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  • This original I.R.S. pressing has insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • You will not believe how punchy, lively, dynamic, and exciting these sides are
  • Clean and clear and open are nice qualities to have, but rich and smooth are harder to come by on this record – yet here they are!
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Document is a fiery statement, and its memorable melodies and riffs are made all the more indelible by its righteous anger. In other words, it’s not only a commercial breakthrough, but a creative breakthrough as well, offering evidence of R.E.M.’s growing depth and maturity…”


R.E.M. – Reckoning

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  • An outstanding pressing of Reckoning, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are big, rich and analog sounding, yet uncongested, clear and open – a combination not heard on many ’80s recordings
  • 5 stars: “Reckoning runs through a set of ten jangle pop songs that are different not only in sound but in style from the debut. Where Murmur was enigmatic in its sound, Reckoning is clear, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the songs themselves are straightforward. Michael Stipe continues to sing powerful melodies without enunciating, but the band has a propulsive kick that makes the music vital and alive… the songwriting is more direct and memorable than before…”

Most of the copies we played were somewhat veiled and stuck in the speakers. The music is dramatically better on a copy like this one where there is real depth to the soundfield and lots of space separating the instruments. (more…)

Nirvana / Nevermind – A Perfect Record? But Was It Really?

Reviews and Commentaries for Nirvana

DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND on side two! It’s got the big, uber-punchy, hard rockin’ attitude we demand from a Nevermind Hot Stamper. Side one is no slouch either folks, with A++ sound! Only one other copy had better sound for side one — THIS ONE ROCKS!

Side two on this Nevermind has MASTER TAPE SOUND. We found the most amazing clarity and transparency on this copy. You will find the sound so rich and full-bodied that at times you’d swear it was tube mastered! Check out the presence of the vocals on side one. The WHOMP factor is out of control all over this pressing. 

Now don’t get me wrong: the average copy is still a pretty darn good sounding record. I might even go so far as to say it’s better than practically anything recorded during the entire decade of the ’90s.

But man, when you’ve heard this record at its best, there is NOTHING like it. For the true Rock and Roll Audiophile Connoisseur, the man who will settle for nothing but the very best, we humbly offer this Nevermind Verified Hot Stamper, the ultimate head-banging experience.

This is our old commentary, which obviously now applies to only the best copies.

A PERFECT recording, the best of its kind, ever. The drums are perfect. The bass is perfect. The guitars are perfect. The vocals are perfect. Now how in the world could that be, you ask?!

Allow me to explain. (more…)

R.E.M. – Fables of the Reconstruction


  • This insanely good pressing of the band’s third studio album earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades for sound on both sides
  • This vintage pressing is well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs as well as deep punchy bass and a big open and spacious soundfield
  • 4 stars: “… the group does demonstrate considerable musical growth, particularly in how perfectly it evokes the strange rural legends of the South. And many of the songs on the record — including “Feeling Gravity’s Pull,” “Maps and Legends,” “Green Grow the Rushes,” “Auctioneer (Another Engine),” and the previously mentioned pair — rank among the group’s best.”


Pixies – Come On Pilgrim


  • For only the second time ever, here are Hot Stampers for The Pixies blistering debut, earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them – quiet vinyl too  
  • Big, full-bodied, tonally correct, this copy impressed us with its grungy post-punk power trio ENERGY, the sound that rocked the world in 1987
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Gary Smith’s less-is-more production allows the full, primal impact of the band’s combustive sound to blast through, offering what may be the purest version of their perverse punk-pop. An electrifying debut, Come on Pilgrim remains as raw, vibrant, and engaging as the day it was recorded.”

Not your standard audiophile fare, but for those of you who love The Pixies, we are confident you have never heard this album sound remotely as good as it does on the killer Shootout Winning Hot Stamper pressing (from 1987, the same year Better Records went into business(!). (more…)

U2 – Boy

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this wonderful pressing of Boy – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is big, open, rich, full-bodied and spacious, with the performers front and center (as well as left and right)
  • “From the outset, U2 went for the big message — every song on their debut album Boy sounds huge, with oceans of processed guitars cascading around Bono’s impassioned wail. It was an inspired combination of large, stadium-rock beats and post-punk textures.”

Recordings from the ’80s are always a bit tricky in terms of sound quality, and U2 is not a band we have ever associated with the highest audiophile-quality sonics. We’ve been through quite a number of their albums now, including War, The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree.

While Demo Quality Sound may never be in the cards for these guys, over the years we’ve stumbled upon (stumbling being the only way to go about it) pressings that are much better at communicating their music than others, and certainly a great deal better than any Heavy Vinyl reissue or digital source. (more…)