Genre – Rock – More Rock than Pop

Alice Cooper – School’s Out – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This White Hot / Super Hot 2-pack is going to rock your world! School’s Out on this A+++ side has never sounded better.

Yet another impossible-to-find record in clean condition with good sound has made it to the site, and those of you who are fans should scoop it up because it takes us about five years to find enough copies to do this shootout. Check back with us in 2019 if this one is sold by the time you get to the end of this sentence.

We had poor luck with the second and third label copies on this AC title. It seems — unlike so many records we play — that the originals are the only way to go on School’s Out.

Side One – Record One

A+++. It rocks! Never aggressive or edgy, it’s big, it’s jumpin’, and it’s full of 1972 Tubey Magic. What’s not to like?

Side Two – Record Two

A++, big, clear and energetic – close to side one but not quite.

Notice how “real” the drum kit sounds on track two. The drums as a whole are punchy and solid throughout. (more…)

Neil Young – Hawks and Doves

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  • An exceptional pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and a solid Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The trick on this album is to find rich, smooth, edge-free sound, and this copy delivers those qualities like nothing else we played all day
  • “Hawks and Doves has a homey feel. “Little Wing,” bare and haltingly lyrical with its miked harp and unaccompanied acoustic, is simpler than anything on the folky Comes a Time, and the rest of the music is defined by Ben Keith’s laconic dobro and steel and Rufus Thobodeaux’s sawing fiddle.” Robert Christgau (A-)

On side one the second track has an especially intimate vocal, worth checking out. Flip the record over and listen to how full-bodied the piano is on the first track on side two. This is the sound of ANALOG. So many copies are dry and edgy, as is the CD I would guess, but here the sound is smooth, natural and enjoyable. (more…)

Joe Walsh – The Best of…

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  • An outstanding copy of Walsh’s first compilation album, with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side one matched to a Hot Stamper side two 
  • With sound close to our Shootout Winner on side one, Turn To Stone and Rocky Mountain Way are amazing here
  • We expected to hear dubby, sub-generation tape copy sound, but instead we discovered that these tracks – on the right pressings, natch – sound pretty darn close to the ones on the albums they originally came from
  • The perfect sampler for a casual Joe Walsh fan, featuring songs from his tenure with the James Gang along with some of his best known solo tracks

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Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet

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  • A KILLER copy of this Hard Rock classic from 1986 with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • 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 mediocre pressing is currently on the market
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Slippery When Wet wasn’t just a breakthrough album for Bon Jovi; it was a breakthrough for hair metal in general, marking the point where the genre officially entered the mainstream… the best-selling album of 1987, beating out contenders like Appetite for Destruction, The Joshua Tree, and Michael Jackson’s Bad.”

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Joe Walsh – The Smoker You Drink…

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  • Walsh’s sophomore release finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • This copy has rich, warm guitars and tight, punchy bass, there’s real weight to the bottom end, and Joe’s vocals sound exactly right to our ears
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get features some of the most remembered Joe Walsh tracks, but it’s not just these that make the album a success. Each of the nine tracks is a song to be proud of. This is a superb album by anyone’s standards.”

We grew quite fond of this music once we heard it sound this good. If you’re already a fan of the album, I bet you’ll get a real thrill out of hearing this copy. (more…)

Bob Seger – Against The Wind

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  • A KILLER sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout; exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • Both of these sides were out of this world — clean, clear, open and spacious yet still pretty rich and Tubey Magical with a solid bottom end
  • “Against the Wind finds Bob Seger turning toward craft. Perhaps he had to, since Against the Wind arrived after three blockbuster albums and never-ending tours… compared with its peers, it’s a strong, varied heartland rock album that finds Seger at a near peak.” – All Music, 4 Stars

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ZZ Top – Afterburner

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  • Afterburner finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Bass and body are key to the best pressings, along with Rock and Roll energy, and here you will find plenty of all three
  • A syth-rock followup to Eliminator featuring hits including “Sleeping Bag,” “Stages,” and “Rough Boy”
  • “Afterburner presented ZZ Top as dystopian blade runners, ascending to the sterile environs of their space compound instead of running around the desert killin’ varmints.”

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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…)

Aerosmith – Aerosmith

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  • A stunning copy of Aerosmith’s debut — Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • With plenty of energy, killer rock bass, and clear, present vocals, this pressing has all the key qualities we look for in an Aerosmith record
  • Dream On sounds incredible on this one – worth the price of admission alone
  • “In retrospect, it’s a bit shocking how fully formed the signature Aerosmith sound was on their self-titled 1973 debut… Aerosmith clearly showcases all the attributes of the band that would become the defining American hard rock band of the ’70s… “

KILLER sound for this copy of Aerosmith’s debut album! Mama Kin, a perennial staple of the band’s live performances and arguably the best rocker on the album, sounds fantastic here, huge and open with some serious presence. As you might expect from a debut, the sound here is a bit rougher and rawer than later albums like Toys in the Attic, but that’s not altogether a bad thing for this kind of loose, greasy hard rock! (more…)

Crazy Horse – Crazy Horse

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  • A MONSTER Shootout Winning early pressing with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too  
  • Bruce Botnick engineered at Wally Heiders, with Henry Lewy in charge of the mix, so this album’s bona fides are hard to fault
  • Fans of Neil Young (and the album Zuma in particular) will find plenty to like here
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Since Crazy Horse first came to public attention as the backing band for Neil Young it makes sense to expect that the band on its own would play something similar to the hard guitar rock and country-rock heard on those albums… But there is more going on than that. Also joining in are veteran arranger/producer Jack Nitzsche and guitarist Nils Lofgren, while Ry Cooder adds slide guitar to a number of tracks.”

Drop the needle on ‘Gone Dead Train’ and tell me it doesn’t remind you of ‘Waiting for the End of the World’ by Elvis Costello. (more…)