Genre – Rock – American Blues Rock

The Doors – Strange Days

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  • This excellent copy of Strange Days boasts Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • An outstanding-sounding pressing of one of the most difficult-to-find records in the world of Hot Stampers
  • Demo Quality sound for so many classics: “When The Music’s Over,” “Moonlight Drive,” “Love Me Two Times,” and more
  • “… if The Beatles had Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club and The Beach Boys had Pet Sounds, then The Doors’ answer was Strange Days. This experimentation can be heard in the very first notes of the title track, as Ray Manzarek’s spacey keyboards set the tone for Morrison’s eerie, distorted warning, ‘Strange days have found us.’ It’s the perfect introduction to a perfectly strange album.”
  • If you’re a fan of The Doors, this early pressing from 1967 surely belong in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1967 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1967 All Tube Analog sound can be, this copy will can do just that.

It’s spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it. (more…)

Janis Joplin – I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!

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  • This outstanding 360 Stereo pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • This copy has the ideal combination of openness and transparency, coupled 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

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 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’ 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. (more…)

The Allman Brothers – Brothers and Sisters

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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides of this classic Allman Brothers album
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you own whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • Not the best recording quality the band ever got — for better sound you have to go with the first four albums, and we would be happy to find them for you, eventually…
  • 4 stars on Allmusic and the band’s commercial peak
  • “The Allman Brothers Band’s first new studio album in two years shows off a leaner brand of musicianship, which, coupled with a pair of serious crowd-pleasers, ‘Ramblin’ Man’ and ‘Jessica,’ helped drive it to the top of the charts for a month and a half and to platinum record sales.”

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ZZ Top – El Loco

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  • El Loco makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • “El Loco follows through on the streamlined, jet-engine boogie rock of Degüello, but kicking all the ingredients up a notch.”
  • If you’re a ZZ Top fan, a killer copy of their album from 1981 belongs in your collection

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Bonnie Raitt – Nick Of Time

  • These sides are rich and full-bodied with a nice extended top end and tight, note-like bass – Have A Heart is a Demo Quality track
  • Some of the sweetest, richest, most ANALOG sound we’ve heard from any record Don Was produced
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Producer Don Was used Raitt’s classic early-’70s records as a blueprint, choosing to update the sound with a smooth, professional production and a batch of excellent contemporary songs. In this context, Raitt flourishes; she never rocks too hard, but there is grit to her singing and playing, even when the surfaces are clean and inviting. A great comeback album that made for a great story.”

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J.J. Cale – 5

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  • Stunning sound from start to finish and the first copy to ever hit the site — Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout; exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The overall sound here is rich, full-bodied and musical with lots of Tubey Magic and a solid bottom end; the perfect sound for this laid-back blues-rock
  • “While Cale remains the ultimate laid-back Blues artist, he still manages to conjure up the spirit of Country, Soul and subdued Funk in each of the tracks on 5, making this album one of the best loved in his catalog.”

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The Allman Brothers – Eat a Peach

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  • One of the best copies of Eat a Peach to ever hit the site – Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on ALL FOUR SIDES!
  • These superb sides have the immediacy that will put these wild and crazy southern rockers right in your living room
  • Includes phenomenal hits Melissa, One Way Out, Blue Sky, Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More and more
  • 5 stars: “The record showcases the Allmans at their peak .. proof of Duane Allman’s immense talents and contribution to the band.”

What do such high grades give you for this album? Unbelievably Tubey Magical guitars, huge whomp factor on the bottom end, incredible dynamics and life, shocking transparency and clarity, and the kind of immediacy that puts these crazy southern rockers right in your very own living room. The overall sound is impressively BIG, BOLD, and POWERFUL! (more…)

The Allman Brothers – … At Fillmore East

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  • With four STUNNING sides, all boasting Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it, this Pink Label original is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other copy you’ve heard
  • This is one of the all-time great live albums, and with a copy like this one YOU ARE THERE at the Fillmore
  • The WHOMP factor here kicks up the excitement – here is the low end foundation that lets the extended guitar jams work their magic
  • This early label Capricorn pressing plays as quietly as they ever do – even better, it has no audible marks, which makes it a very special copy indeed
  • 5 stars: “At Fillmore East is like a great live jazz session, where the pleasure comes from the musicians’ interaction and playing… The pinnacle of the Allmans and Southern rock at its most elastic, bluesy, and jazzy.”

When the music sounds this good, with this kind of rich, musical tonality and big, open soundstage, it just WORKS.

We’ve been looking for great copies of this one forever, but most of them are trashed and don’t sound all that good. A transparent, lively copy like this one really lets everything that’s great about this music come through. You can easily pick out each of the musicians and follow their contributions over the course of the songs.

The huge WHOMP factor throughout kicks up the excitement and sets the necessary foundation for the crazy guitar jams to sound correct. The top end has the kind of extension that brings out the ambience and spaciousness of the recording.

You can really hear the extension on the top end when you listen to the drumming. The cymbals are clear and silky sweet. In fact, the drums on this album are some of the most well-recorded drums I have EVER heard on a live rock record. (more…)

Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper – The Live Adventures Of…

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  • All FOUR sides here were doing everything right — clean, clear, spacious and present with a big bottom end, just the right sound for this raw live blues-rock music
  • Great material to be found here, including covers of well-known tracks by Paul Simon, The Band, and Traffic
  • 4 stars: “One of the seminal live albums of the late ’60s… The idea of musical spontaneity both in live performance and in the recording studio had reached a certain apex in 1968… But it was the union of Bloomfield and Kooper that can truly claim an origination of the phenomenon, and this album takes it to another level entirely.”

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them have quite a bit of ringwear, some seam wear and some edge wear. If you are picky about your covers, we probably cannot supply you with a nice cover for this album, they are just too rare.

Outstanding sound for this double LP of superb live blues-rock! We rarely have a copy of this title on the site, so if you’re a fan of Super Session, you should jump on this one right away. There’s some great material to be found here, including covers of well-known tracks by Paul Simon, The Band, and Traffic. Some of the tracks here (recorded on the second night) feature none other than Carlos Santana! (more…)

ZZ Top / Fandango – Another Warners Heavy Vinyl Mediocrity

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Sonic Grade: C

Warner Brothers remastered Fandango in 2008, so we took some domestic pressings and put them up against their Heavy Vinyl LP. The results were mixed; most of our originals pressings were lackluster, many were noisy, and we just weren’t hearing anything with the sound we thought deserved to be called a Hot Stamper.

We shelved the project for another day. In the interim we kept buying domestic pressings — originals and reissues — in the hopes that something good would come our way.

Fast forward four years. It’s 2015. We drop the needle on a random pressing and finally — finally — hear a copy that rocks like we knew a ZZ Top album should. With that LP as a benchmark we got a shootout up and running and the result is the record you see here.

How did the WB remaster fare once we had some truly Hot Stamper pressings to play it against?

Not well. It’s tonally correct, with a real top and bottom, something that a substantial number of copies cannot claim to be.

But the sound is stuck behind the speakers, veiled, and sorely lacking in energy and excitement. The transparency is of course compromised on all these new reissues, and without transparency and resolution much of the audience participation on the first side is lost.

I won’t say the new pressing is boring. Let’s just say it’s a lot more boring than it should be. (more…)