Genre – Rock – Glam Rock

Phil Manzanera – A Truly Awesome Feat of Engineering by Rhett Davies

More of the Music of Phil Manzanera

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Phil Manzanera

You may recall reading this bit about Rhett Daviesengineering on Dire Straits’ debut:

“…until something better comes along, this is his Masterpiece. It has to be one of the best sounding rock records ever made, with Tubey Magical mids, prodigious bass, transparency and freedom from hi-fi-ishness and distortion like few rock recordings you have ever heard.”

Well, something better has now come along, and it’s called Diamond Head.

It has some of the Biggest, Boldest Sound we have ever heard. Diamond Head isn’t known as an audiophile album but it should be — the sound is glorious — wall to wall, floor to ceiling, and as rich and dynamic as it gets.

It’s clearly a Big Speaker Demo Disc. Play this one as loud as you can. The louder you play it, the better it sounds.

The best copies have Room Shaking Deep Bass with the kind of Whomp that can drive this music to practically unexplored heights.

It’s also transparent, with a large, deep soundfield that really allows you to hear into the music and the studio space in which it was created. The clarity is superb with all the detail and texture one could hope for, but the real kicker is the amount of Energy and Musical Drive that these two sides have going for them.

This is what the Master Tape is really capable of — Mind Bogglingly Good Sound.

Looking for Tubey Magic? Rhett Davies is your man. Just think about the sound of the first Dire Straits album or Avalon. The best pressings of those albums — those with truly Hot Stampers — are swimming in it. (more…)

Lou Reed – Transformer

More of Our Favorite Artists’ Best Sounding Albums

Records We Only Sell on Import Vinyl

  • Excellent sound for Lou Reed’s Glam Rock Classic, Transformer, engineered to sound as Tubey Magical as Ziggy Stardust by none other than Ken Scott
  • Here is an import pressing with the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot BEGIN to reproduce
  • A side one this good means Walk on the Wild Side is a Demonstration Quality track that will have your audiophile friends turning green with envy
  • Transformer is an absolute tour de force of ’70s Glam Rock / Classic Rock / Alternative Rock
  • “… Bowie and Ronson gave their hero a new lease on life — and a solid album in the bargain.” 
  • Transformer is his Masterpiece, a Core Collection title, and possibly a case of One and Done since it’s the only Lou Reed album we sell. (You, of course, may feel differently.)

Transformer is an absolute tour de force of ’70s Glam Rock / Classic Rock / Alternative Rock. You’ve got Lou Reed teamed up with David Bowie (in the producer’s chair!), Mick Ronson, Herbie Flowers and Klaus Voorman, and on top of that the album was recorded at Trident and mixed by the great Ken Scott.

Throw in the fact that this is the best set of post-Velvets material Lou would ever write and it is a recipe for success. There are so many good songs on here I won’t bother to list them one by one. Satellite Of Love is especially good though, if you ask me. If you agree, and you’ve never heard the VU demo version, make sure to seek it out. It’s completely different and good fun.

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City Boy – Dispatches from the Front of the Digital Apocalypse

Records We Only Sell on Import Vinyl

More Albums from 1977

I like this band so much I made the mistake of buying the CD of their first two albums. Talk about No Noise! The CD had nothing on it over 8K. It sounded like someone had thrown a blanket over my speakers. It’s so irritatingly dull I can hardly stand to play it even as background music.

It seems that many of the CDs I come across fall into two categories: either mastered with little care and too bright, or No Noised with a heavy hand until they are way too dull.

Oh, and a third one: compressed to death.

That seems to cover about 80-90% of the stuff I come across. Thank god for a good turntable. For those of you without one, may I express my deepest sympathy for your unbearable — to me, anyway — loss.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

Good Sounding Digital Recordings on Vinyl – Really?

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New York Dolls – Too Much Too Soon

More New York Dolls

More 5 Star Albums

  • The New York Dolls ROCK onto the site for the first time with KILLER Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout, just shy of our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These sides have plenty going on down low, real meat on the bones, and tons of life and energy in the grooves – pretty much everything that the average copy was missing to some degree
  • Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • 5 stars: “After the clatter of their first album failed to bring them a wide audience, the New York Dolls hired producer Shadow Morton to work on the follow-up, Too Much Too Soon. The differences are apparent right from the start of the ferocious opener, “Babylon.” Not only are the guitars cleaner, but the mix is dominated by waves of studio sound effects and female backing vocals. Ironically, instead of making the Dolls sound safer, all the added frills emphasize their gleeful sleaziness and reckless sound.”

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David Bowie / Aladdin Sane

More David Bowie

More Records with Exceptionally Tubey Magical Sound


  • Outstanding sound throughout this vintage UK pressing of Bowie’s 1973 post-Ziggy classic, earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Remarkable richness, smoothness and warmth, something that all the best Ken Scott Tube Recordings are renowned for
  • Plenty of Bowie Classics: “Watch That Man,” “Aladdin Sane,” “Panic in Detroit,” “Cracked Actor,” “The Jean Genie,” “Lady Grinning Soul,” and more
  • Here are more of our favorite Hot Stamper pressings of recordings with exceptionally Tubey Magical Sound
  • And some reviews and commentaries for the most Tubey Magical Recordings we have ever played
  • If you’re a David Bowie fan, this title of his from 1973 has to be considered a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

THE BIG BOWIE SOUND for this wonderful follow-up to Ziggy Stardust! We just finished shooting out a number of import pressings of the album, and this import was one of the better copies we heard. This one’s got the kind of Tubey Magical Richness that takes these Glam Rockers to a whole new level. (more…)

The Tubes – Self-Titled

More of The Tubes

More Glam Rock

  • The Tubes’ self-titled debut returns to the site with KILLER Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • This copy is simply bigger, richer, fuller, and livelier than practically all others we played
  • Their music is definitely not for everyone – I saw them live many years ago and they did put on one helluva show, but you have to be a fan of eccentric pop or none of it will make any sense
  • “Produced by Al Kooper, this debut by the notorious San Francisco group is best known for the blazing anthem ‘White Punks on Dope.’ Although the Tubes’ raison d’être was their shock-rock stage dynamic, Bill Spooner, Fee Waybill, and company could, on occasion, deliver some offbeat pop splendor.”

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David Bowie – Diamond Dogs

More David Bowie

  • This UK pressing will show you a Diamond Dogs you had no idea existed, yet here it is – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We shot out a number of other imports and the presence, bass, and dynamics on this incredible copy placed it head and shoulders above the competition
  • It’s ridiculously tough to find even passable sound for this album – we guarantee you have never heard better than these two killer sides
  • Great songs including the title track, “Rebel Rebel,” “1984,” “Sweet Thing,” “Big Brother,” “Rock & Roll With Me” and more

The sound on this UK pressing is Tubey Magical yet still clean, clear and spacious — you’ll need a lot of luck and a good-sized pile of records to find a copy that sounds like this one.

“1984” (a favorite of ours on David Live) sounds great here. In addition to singing, the man handles sax, Mellotron, and Moog duties on the album, and, most surprisingly, plays practically all of the electric guitar parts.

Bowie was one of the handful of artists to produce an immensely enjoyable and meaningful body of work throughout the ’70s and into the ’80s, music that holds up to this day. The music on his albums, often groundbreaking and always multi-layered, will surely reward the listener who takes the time to dive deep into the complex sounds he recorded.

Repeated plays are the order of the day. The more critically you listen, the more you will discover within the exceedingly dense mixes favored by the man, his producers (Tony Visconti among them) and engineers (our favorite being Ken Scott). And the better your stereo gets the more you can appreciate the care and effort that went into the production of his recordings.

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Queen – Self-Titled

More Queen

More Debut Albums of Interest


  • Queen’s debut returns to the site on this original UK pressing with KILLER Nearly Triple Plus Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Both sides here are big, full-bodied, clear and spacious with a huge bottom end and tons of rock energy
  • “Almost every one of Queen’s signatures are already present, from Freddie Mercury’s operatic harmonies to Brian May’s rich, orchestral guitar overdubs and the suite-like structures of ‘Great King Rat’… It showcases the band in all their ornate splendor yet it’s strangely lean and hard, revealing just how good the band was in their early days as a hard rock band.” 

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Queen – A Day At the Races

More Queen

Hot Stamper Albums with Huge Choruses


  • This UK import copy of the band’s fifth studio album has outstanding sound from start to finish
  • Forget the domestic pressings — they may be cut at Sterling, but they never sound like these shockingly good British LPs
  • 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 made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • Problems in the vinyl is sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around it if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • “A Day at the Races is a bit tighter than its predecessor… its sleek, streamlined finish is the biggest indication that Queen has entered a new phase, where they’re globe-conquering titans instead of underdogs on the make.”

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Roxy Music – For Your Pleasure

More Roxy Music 

More Brian Eno

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) or BETTER sides, this UK copy was one of the best we played in our recent shootout
  • Roxy and their engineers and producers manage to capture a keyboard sound on their first two albums few bands in the history of the world can lay claim to
  • We’ve been working on this shootout for over ten years – here is one of the better copies we have to show for our effort
  • 5 Stars: “… another extraordinary record from Roxy Music, one that demonstrates even more clearly than the debut how avant-garde ideas can flourish in a pop setting.”
  • If you’re a Roxy fan, For Your Pleasure has to be considered a Must Own Title of theirs from 1973.
  • The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Spacious, dynamic, present, with HUGE MEATY BASS and tons of energy, the sound is every bit as good as the music. (At least on this copy it is. That’s precisely what Hot Stampers are all about.)

Strictly in terms of recording quality, For Your Pleasure is on the same plane as the other best sounding record the band ever made, their self-titled debut.

Siren, Avalon and Country Life are all musically sublime, but the first album and this one are the only two with the kind of dynamic, energetic, powerful sound that Roxy’s other records simply cannot show us (with the exception of Country Life, was is powerful but a bit too aggressive).

The super-tubey keyboards that anchor practically every song on the first two albums are only found there. If you want to know what Tubey Magic sounds like in 1972-73, play one of our better Hot Stamper Roxy albums.

Roxy and their engineers and producers manage to capture a keyboard sound on their first two albums that few bands in the history of the world can lay claim to. I love the band’s later albums, but none of them sound like these two. The closest one can get is Stranded, their third, but it’s still a bit of a step down. (more…)