Genre – Rock – Prog Rock

Gentle Giant – Octopus

xxxxx

This minty Vertigo Spaceship label British import original pressing has SUPERB SUPER HOT Stamper sound on side one. It’s BIG, open and Tubey Magical in the best tradition of British Prog Rock. If you’re a fan of ELP, Yes, Tull, Floyd and the like, this music might just be right up your alley. And unless you have some seriously expensive pressings, not many albums by the above-named bands will be competitive sonically with the sound of this side one. The album is VERY well-recorded.

Side one was tonally correct with an extended top end, the kind of top that many British pressings only hint at. We gave side one a grade of A++. It will be very hard to beat because it sounds AMAZING. It’s British analog at its richest and tubiest.

Side two was a step down sonically. Although rich and full-bodied, there is some smear on the transients and the stage is not as big as it is on this superb side one. (more…)

Yes – Fragile

xxxxx

  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides – Roundabout and Long Distance Runaround are guaranteed to blow your mind
  • Thanks to Eddie Offord’s superb engineering, this is some of the best High Production Value Rock Music ever recorded    
  • AMG 5 stars, a founding member of our Top 100, and the second of the band’s three Must Own Prog Rock Masterpieces*
  • “Fragile was Yes’ breakthrough album… it also marked the point where all of the elements of the music (and more) that would define their success for more than a decade fell into place fully formed.”

*The other two, of course, being The Yes Album (earlier in 1971) and Close to the Edge (1972).

We doubt you’ve heard too many (if any) rock records that sound as AMAZING as this one. It’s dynamic, punchy and powerful, with the kind of super-low distortion sound that lets you really crank the levels, the louder the better. How many Yes records will let you do that? This one will. That’s what you get for your money — the kind of sound that can blow your mind over and over again for as long as you live, or at least as long as your hearing holds out. (more…)

Yes – Fragile – An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

xxxxx

FRAGILE is an album we admit to being obsessed with — just look at the number of commentaries we’ve written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands — maybe a bit too much time on your hands — please feel free to check out our commentaries. Below you can find a letter one of our good customers wrote about his Hot Stamper pressing.

Our good customer Franklin wrote us a nice letter to let us us how much he loved his Fragile Hot Stamper. He’s so right: that was one AMAZING sounding record!

Just listened to the Yes album Fragile. FANTASTIC!!!!! I didn’t know Yes LPs could sound like this. Any Yes LPs I’ve ever heard were harsh sounding and after a couple of minutes my ears would start to hurt. Thanks!

Regards,
Franklin

Thanks, Franklin, for your enthusiastic letter. Is this the same famously “compromised” recording that MF complained about while extolling the virtues of the mediocre Analogue Productions LP? Now you and I both know two things: how wrong they are, and how amazing this record can really sound — when you’re lucky enough to have a truly Hot Stamper like the very one you played. (more…)

Today’s Half-Speed Mastered Mess Is Meddle on Mobile Fidelity

xxx

Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Same problems as the MoFi Thick As a Brick: The MoFi is TRANSPARENT and OPEN, and the top end will be lush and extended. If you prize clarity, this is the one!

But if you prize clarity at the expense of everything else, you are seriously missing the boat on Meddle (and of course Thick As A Brick too). The MoFi is all mids and highs with almost nothing going on below.

This is a rock record, but without bass and dynamics the MoFi pressing can’t rock, so what exactly is it good for?

Rush – 2112 – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

xxxxx

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

We just finished our first ever shootout for the classic 2112, and here’s a wonderful copy with two impressive sides! We’ve collected a bunch of these over the years — it took ages to find pressings that delivered the kind of sound our customers expect from a Better Records Hot Stamper. Most Rush records sound godawful, but this one actually has the potential to be amazing — as long as you’ve got the right copy! (more…)

Level 42 – World Machine – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

xxx

 

This White Hot Stamper British Polydor original pressing of Level 42’s BEST ALBUM makes a mockery of most of what’s out there — who knew the sound could be this good? Punchy bass, breathy vocals, snappy drums; it’s all here and it reallyl comes JUMPIN’ out of the speakers on this pressing.

World Machine has been a personal favorite of mine since I first played it way back in 1985. Of course in 1985 I had only a domestic pressing, and if you want to hear what happens when you use a dub of the British master tape and then brighten the hell out of it in the mastering process, I heartily recommend you find yourself a copy.

here’s one sitting in every record store in town. The grain and the grunge on the domestic LPs is hard to believe — yet somehow I actually used to put up with that sound! I could listen to it then but I sure couldn’t listen to it now. No doubt you have your share of records like that.

TRACK LISTING (more…)

Yes – Close To The Edge – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

The toughest nut to crack in the entire Yes catalog! We’ve been trying for years to bring you Hot Stamper copies of this one, but it is hasn’t been easy. Here’s the copy that proved to us just how much this album can cook if your stereo is up to it and you’ve got the right pressing.

We went through Imports, Plain Ol’ Domestics, White Label Promos and what have you, and no other copy had two sides this strong.

Before I even get into the sound of this copy, I want to issue a word of caution. Even our Hottest Stamper copies can sound problematical unless your system is firing on all cylinders. Your electricity has got to be cooking, you’ve got to be using the right room treatments, and you should ideally be using a demagnetizer such as the Talisman on the record AND your cables. This is a record that’s going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you’re up to the challenge. If you don’t mind putting in a little hard work, here’s a record that will reward you many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process.

The Sound We’ve Been Searching For

We’ve started and abandoned this shootout multiple times in the last few years, because the typical sounding copy is just painful to listen to, and the better pressings weren’t what we had hoped for. Where was the tubey magical analog sound with the HUGE whomp factor that we’ve heard on the best copies of Fragile and The Yes Album?

Folks, when we played this copy in the evening, when the electricity around here is really cookin’, the sound of this copy was INCREDIBLE ON BOTH SIDES. Everything we had hoped for from this album was finally happening — three-dimensionality, tubey electric guitars, punchiness to the bottom, silkiness to the top, and amazing amounts of energy. It never quite reached the ultimate heights of the top copies of Fragile of The Yes Album, but it sure sounds good when you get it to sound right.

Let’s think about it. This is a COMPLEX recording, with HUGE organs, light-speed changes, lots of multitracking, and just an overload of information. Can you imagine how irritating that can sound on a third-rate copy with your stereo having any issues at all? We didn’t have to imagine it — we lived through it!

But that’s exactly what made playing this album last night so rewarding. We had finally gotten the sound we had been searching for from Close To The Edge, and it was anything but easy. The toughest peaks to climb are the ones you feel best about standing on top of once you’ve made it, and I have no doubt that many of you will be able to get there, just as we did, as long as you’re willing to work for it. Are you up to the task? (more…)

Rush – Permanent Waves – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

xxxxx

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

Just the third Triple Plus (A+++) copy to ever hit our site — these are TOUGH to find with this kind of sound.

The drums and cymbals sound right (although quite different on these two sides, compare and contrast for yourselves), which is essential on a Rush album. As everyone knows, Neil Peart’s drumming is a major highlight of anything the band does.

If you’re a fan of the band, you know what these guys are about — big-time technical prowess, dizzying effects, powerful solos and so forth. You’ve got to have a very good pressing with serious clarity and lots of energy if you want that magic to come through in the grooves. Many copies we played didn’t let you hear just how hard these guys are shredding… and then what’s the point? If the musicianship gets lost in the mastering, why bother with this band at all? We were looking for copies that didn’t let us forget who we were listening to. Put simply, we wanted copies that melted our faces off, just like this music would do live.

The drums and cymbals sound right (although quite different on these two sides, compare and contrast for yourselves), which is essential on a Rush album. As everyone knows, Neil Peart’s drumming is a major highlight of anything the band does. (more…)

Kansas – Reverse Your Polarity, My Wayward Son

kansalefto

This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.

About eight years ago (time flies!) we discovered that the first track on side one is in the wrong polarity, or out of absolute phase, whichever terminology you prefer (we ourselves use both). The full story can be found below.

Here’s what we wrote:

But last night (07/13/06) we made an AMAZING discovery. I was listening to another Sterling original, and the slightly aggressive, hi-fi-ish quality of the opening vocals made me think that maybe I had been putting up with a problem that I should have investigated further. What really sold me on the idea was listening to the vocals and noticing that the ambience was “disconnected” from the voices. It’s hard to explain exactly what that sound is, but it’s almost as if the ambience is added in on top of the voice instead of surrounding and resulting from the voice. I suspected reversed absolute phase.
(more…)

Which One’s Pink? – And What Do All Those Numbers Mean?

xxxxx

An erstwhile customer sent us an email a while back asking this question: “What is the FULL stamper matrix for this record… all the way around the dead wax?”

I replied that we never give out stamper numbers for the records we sell. The only way to find out the stampers for our records is to buy them.

He then countered with this bit of information:

Well, ok. I don’t understand the logic, but it’s your show.

Floyd stampers are probably the most uniquely well documented stampers on [a site that no longer exists] that they’re pretty much common knowledge. If I understand your logic, a first pressing may not be a “Hot Stamper” while a 3rd, 4th or 5th might be. Just a function of the stars aligning when that record is pressed. So what’s the diff?

I would think this would be pretty obvious. If we say pressing X is the best, this is information that you cannot get anywhere else, certainly not on the site you sent us a link to. The day that such a site tells you which stampers sound the best is the day that such a site will have any value to those who are not collecting for the sake of collecting, but actually want to find pressings with the best sound to play (more…)