Genre – Rock – Roots Rock

Bob Dylan and The Band – The Basement Tapes

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  • With seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all FOUR sides, this copy of The Basement Tapes is doing just about everything right
  • The recording may not be an audiophile dream come true, but this pressing is far better than most others we can ever recall playing, and lets the music come through in a way that we guarantee you have never heard before
  • 5 stars: “… the music here (including the Band’s) is astonishingly good. The party line on The Basement Tapes is that it is Americana, as Dylan and the Band pick up the weirdness inherent in old folk, country, and blues tunes, but it transcends mere historical arcana through its lively, humorous, full-bodied performances. Dylan never sounded as loose, nor was he ever as funny as he is here, and this positively revels in its weird, wild character… among the greatest American music ever made.”

This vintage Columbia Double LP pressing has some of the very best sound we’ve ever heard for this album.

Of course, given the nature of these recordings, you don’t get stunning sonics along the line of, say, Magical Mystery Tour or Dark Side Of The Moon, but at least you get to hear these great songs sound the way they were intended to, without the complications of bad mastering and pressing getting in the way.

Most of the copies we’ve heard wouldn’t be fit to list on the site at any price, but we felt strongly that this copy did justice to the music in a way that the typical pressing does not. While this may not be a Demo Disc, it’s MUCH better sounding than most copies we’ve come across. We’ve played a bunch of these over the years and most of them paled in comparison to this one.

This is of course a famous album, with The Band backing up Dylan (and adding some of their own material) in the famous Big Pink House which would later be the place where The Band’s 1st album was born. (more…)

Dr. John – Desitively Bannaroo

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  • This early Atco pressing was doing just about everything right, earning seriously good sonic grades on both sides
  • Richness and plenty of tight bass are key to bringing the rhythmically challenging music of New Orleans to life, and here there is plenty of both
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl they’re making – for Tubey Magic and energy, this is the only way to go
  • “As in In the Right Place, Mac has taken advantage of the specialized production talents of Allen Toussaint (at Toussaint’s own Sea-Saint Studios in New Orleans), and has again used the fabled New Orleans band The Meters as his studio group. Each of the 12 cuts on the LP has been well-conceived, clearly thought-out, and reveals a new level of musical depth for the doctor.”

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Pendulum

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  • This early Fantasy stereo pressing boast a KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two mated to an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one
  • Bigger and bolder, with more bass, more energy, and more of that “you-are-there-immediacy” of ANALOG that set the best vintage pressings apart from reissues, CDs, and whatever else you care to name
  • Those of you who are familiar with this record will not be surprised to learn that these shootouts are TOUGH – very few copies are any better than mediocre
  • 4 stars: “John Fogerty spent time polishing the production, bringing in keyboards, horns, even a vocal choir. His songs became self-consciously serious and tighter, working with the aesthetic of the rock underground — Pendulum was constructed as a proper album, contrasting dramatically with CCR’s previous records, all throwbacks to joyous early rock records where covers sat nicely next to hits and overlooked gems tucked away at the end of the second side.”

This copy will surely beat any pressing you put it up against. This will be especially true if you put it up against the Analogue Productions Heavy Vinyl from years back, which will sound thick, opaque, airless and congested next to a properly mastered Fantasy pressing (deep groove or otherwise) such as this one. (more…)

Little Feat – Waiting For Columbus

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Reviews and Commentaries for Waiting for Columbus

  • A killer copy of Waiting For Columbus with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on the first THREE sides, and excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on the fourth – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Some of the best sounding live rock and roll sound you will ever hear outside of a concert venue
  • If you want to understand the unique appeal of the band, there’s no better place to start than right here
  • 4 1/2 stars: “There’s much to savor on Waiting For Columbus, one of the great live albums of its era, thanks to rich performances that prove Little Feat were one of the great live bands of their time.”
  • We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. Waiting for Columbus is a good example of a record many audiophiles may not know well but should.

This is an amazingly well-recorded concert, and what’s more, the versions the band does of their earlier material are much better than the studio album versions of those same songs in every case.

Fat Man In A Bathtub on this album is out of this world, but you could easily say that about a dozen or more of the tracks on this double album. Which simply means that you will have a very hard time listening to any of the studio versions of these songs once you’ve heard them performed with the kind of energy, enthusiasm and technical virtuosity Little Feat brought to this live show. (I saw them twice with Lowell and they were amazing both times.) (more…)

The Band on MoFi – Bad Bass Like This Is Just Annoying

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Roots Rock LPs with Hot Stampers Available Now

Sonic Grade: D

In 2012 the “new” MoFi put out another remastered Big Pink. Since their track record at this point is, to be honest, abysmal, we have not felt the need to audition it.

It’s very possible, even likely, that they restored some of the bass that’s missing from so many of the originals.

But bad half-speed mastered bass — poorly defined, never deep and never punchy — is that the kind of bass that would even be desirable?

To us, it is very much a problem. Bad bass is just plain annoying. Fortunately for us it is a problem we have to deal with much less often now that we’ve all but stopped playing half-speed mastered records.

(Here are some other records with exceptionally sloppy bass. If the bass on these records does not sound sloppy to you, you have your work cut out for you. Some of our favorite records for testing bass definition can be found here.)

Sucked Out Mids

The Doors first album was yet another obvious example of MoFi’s predilection for sucked-out mids. Scooping out the middle of the midrange has the effect of creating an artificial sense of depth where none belongs. Play any original Bruce Botnick engineered album by Love or The Doors and you will notice immediately that the vocals are front and center. 

The midrange suckout effect is easily reproducible in your very own listening room. Pull your speakers farther out into the room and farther apart and you can get that MoFi sound on every record you own. I’ve been hearing it in the various audiophile systems I’ve been exposed to for more than 40 years.

Nowadays I would place it under the general heading of My-Fi, not Hi-Fi. Our one goal for every tweak and upgrade we make is to increase the latter and reduce the former.

And note also that when you play your records too quietly, it results in an exaggerated, artificial sense of depth. That’s one of the main reasons we play them loud; we want to hear the pressings that have real presence and immediacy, because they’re the ones that are most likely to win our shootouts.

If you have any of our White Hot stampers you surely know what I’m talking about.


FURTHER READING

Records that Are Good for Testing Bass and Whomp

Records that Are Good for Testing Midrange Presence

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Self-Titled

  • An incredible copy of the band’s debut album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish, and impossibly quiet vinyl for a vintage Fantasy pressing
  • These sides are exceptionally low-distortion, solid, dynamic, with the neutral tonality completely missing from the current spate of reissues
  • Featuring classics such as I Put a Spell on You, the extended-length jam Susie Q (8:37, perfect for Underground Radio), The Working Man, Porterville and more
  • 4 stars: “CCR’s self-titled debut album was gloriously out-of-step with the times, teeming with John Fogerty’s Americana fascinations. … the band’s sound is vibrant, with gutsy arrangements that borrow equally from Sun, Stax, and the swamp.”

It’s unlikely you will be demonstrating your system with this record, but you may find yourself enjoying the hell out of it for what it is — an early example of Roots Rock that still holds up today.

This is an album that’s nearly impossible to find with excellent sound and clean surfaces. This is one of the best copies we’ve managed to come across. (more…)

The Band / Northern Lights – Southern Cross

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More Roots Rock

  • These sides are bigger, more natural, more warm and more solid than those of any other copy you’ve heard or your money back
  • This is The Band’s undiscovered gem, containing the most powerful tearjerker they ever wrote: “It Makes No Difference”
  • 4 stars: “…the Band’s finest since their self-titled sophomore effort … “Acadian Driftwood” stands out as one of Robertson’s finest compositions, the equal to anything else the Band ever recorded.”
  • We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. This album by The Band is a good example of a record many audiophiles may not know well but should.

Thankfully both sides here are rich and full-bodied. This pressing is not nearly as dry and flat as the vast majority of pressings we run across. Both sides have a nicely extended top end to go along with the weighty bottom. The guitars and keyboards are Tubey Magical as well, a quality we we focused on, and one that we believe is essential if the album is to sound its best. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River

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  • An essential, Must Own for every Classic Rock collection, this LP includes some of the band’s biggest hits: Green River and Bad Moon Rising, Lodi, Wrote a Song for Everyone and plenty more
  • 5 stars “If anything, CCR’s third album Green River represents the full flower of their classic sound initially essayed on its predecessor, Bayou Country. One of the differences between the two albums is that Green River is tighter, with none of the five-minute-plus jams that filled out both their debut and Bayou Country, but the true key to its success is a peak in John Fogerty’s creativity.”

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country

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Bayou Country

  • This outstanding pressing boasts Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • “Proud Mary” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” are two of the better sounding tracks found on the album, and you can be sure this seriously good side two has them swamp rockin’ like crazy
  • Our pick for the best sounding CCR record – but only if you have a copy with sonics like these
  • 4 1/2 stars: “All the songs add up to a superb statement of purpose, a record that captures Creedence Clearwater Revival’s muscular, spare, deceptively simple sound as an evocative portrait of America.”

The sound is big and open with real weight to the bottom. The top end has a much more natural extension than most, and much less of the harshly brightened-up upper midrange you might be familiar with. On side two you can even pick out the piano in “Good Golly Miss Molly,” which is barely audible on most pressings.

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John Fogerty – Eye Of The Zombie

More of the Music of John Fogerty

More Roots Rock LPs

  • Insanely good sound throughout with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them
  • Don’t waste your money on 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 Fogerty’s second solo album, a vintage ’80s pressing like this one is the only way to go
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl with both sides playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • John’s last album for over a decade and while not quite as good as Centerfield, there’s still some excellent tracks here, such as “Change in the Weather” and “Knockin on Your Door”

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