Genre – Rock – Prog Rock

Today’s Heavy Vinyl Mediocrity Is… Fragile

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The Analogue Productions 180g reissue shown here is mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Grey, two guys I respect, but the results of their latest collaboration leave much to be desired. The overall sound is lean. This is especially noticeable on the too thin-sounding guitars and vocals. Believe me, it’s no fun to play a Yes album with thin guitars and vocals.

Also, there’s a noticeable lack of ambience throughout the record. What comes to mind when I hear a record that sounds like this is the dreaded R word: Reissue. I find it hard to believe they had the actual two-track original master tape to work with. The sound is just too anemic to have come from the real tape. If they did have the real tape, then they really botched the job.
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Rush – Fly By Night

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  • The first copy of Rush’s sophomore release to hit the site in years, this STUNNING pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Bass and body are key to the best pressings, along with Rock and Roll energy, and here you will find plenty of all three
  • This is the vinyl embodiment of the Classic Analog Rock sound we love – rich, warm, punchy, dynamic and clear
  • “… it showed that the young band was leaving their Zep-isms behind in favor of a more challenging and original direction.”

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

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  • This vintage Island Pink Rim import pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too
  • Spacious, rich and dynamic, with especially smooth, present vocals – this is what we love about Eddie Offord’s work here
  • ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest – you’ll never play a CD that sounds this good as long as you live
  • Lucky Man and Take A Pebble on this copy have Demo Disc Quality Sound like you won’t believe
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Lively, ambitious, almost entirely successful debut album… [which] showcased the group at its least pretentious and most musicianly …there isn’t much excess, and there is a lot of impressive musicianship here.”

If you’ve got the system to play this one loud enough, with the low end weight and energy it requires, you are in for a treat. The organ that opens side two will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. This is bombastic prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels, it actually will rock your world.

This UK Island pink rim import pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Kansas – Point of Know Return

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  • An outstanding pression of Point of No Return, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from top to bottom – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big and solid guitars and keyboards, with great bass, full vocals, and tons of Tubey Magic – this the way to hear the band
  • Our Hot Stamper here manages to combine this kind of high-rez, extended top with natural, balanced tonality – this one really gets it right
  • 4 Stars: “This is the definitive Kansas recording … their interplay and superior musicianship make this both an essential classic rock and progressive rock recording.”

Drop the needle on Dust in the Wind — here the guitars and vocals are full-bodied and natural, qualities unfortunately in short supply on the typical pressing. (more…)

Be-Bop Deluxe – Futurama

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  • The band’s sophomore release, Futurama, makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Balanced, musical, present and full-bodied throughout – this early UK pressing was a big step up from every other copy we played
  • “… where other bands lose their musical impetus in fussy artsiness, Be-Bop Deluxe is redeemed by the brilliance of its playing, and particularly Mr. Nelson’s guitar playing. Mr. Nelson’s music and his guitar playing lift Be-Bop Deluxe out of the ordinary. The music sounds something like the febrile eclecticism of Roxy Music and Queen and Mr. Nelson admits the kinship.” — The New York Times

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Yes, We’re Getting Awfully Close To The Edge…

Are Your Planets Aligned?

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 ideally you should be using a demagnetizer such as the Talisman on the record itself, your cables (power, interconnect and speaker) as well as the individual drivers of your speakers.

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.

We’d started and abandoned this shootout multiple times in the previous decade; the typical sounding copy was just too painful to listen to, and the better pressings weren’t doing what we had hoped they would. Where was the Tubey Magical analog sound with the HUGE whomp factor that we’d been hearing on the best copies of Fragile and The Yes Album? We just could not find that sound on Close to the Edge.

As futile as our previous attempts were, we decided in 2008 that we would take another stab at it. After all, there had been quite a few changes around here that had the stereo working really well —  the addition of the Odyssey Record Cleaning Machine and Walker Enzyme solution to our cleaning process, the Talisman Magnetic Optimizer, the third pair of Hallographs we added years back, tons of smaller tweaks, and a few other tricks that we’re going to have to leave hidden up our sleeves for now.

The Planets Align

Think about it: This is a highly COMPLEX recording, with HUGE organs, light-speed changes, lots of multi-tracking, and what amounts to an OVERLOAD of musical information. Can you imagine how irritating that would sound on a third-rate copy? We didn’t have to imagine it — we lived through it! (more…)

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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This is an album that almost never sounds good. We’ve spent a ton of money over the years chasing British originals and various other pressings looking for that Pink Floyd magic, but most copies were terribly disappointing sonically. This was the best copy we’ve heard in many years — richer, bigger sounding and more solid than everything else we were able to put against it. It’s far from a Demo Disc but if you like this music I don’t think you can find better sound for it. 

Atom Heart Mother is from Pink Floyd’s early psych years, and it’s not a pop album by any means. In truth it’s fairly bizarre, kicking off with a side long orchestral piece before settling into songs on the second side. There’s a lot to enjoy here, but if you aren’t familiar with the album you may want to check it out on youtube before laying out the big bucks we charge for a copy that sounds as good as this one does. (more…)

The Yes Album – What a Recording!

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  • Plenty of Prog Rock Power is on display here – Eddie Offord’s engineering is Hard To Fault throughout 
  • A Top 100 Album and the band’s best sounding record – quiet too, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “It was the addition of Steve Howe’s guitar pyrotechnics that finally allowed Yes to find their true identity. The Yes Album is a giant leap forward.” 

At its best, this album is a Big Speaker Prog-Rock opus with tremendous power and dynamic range, but it takes a special pressing like this one to really bring it to life. 

These guys — and by that I mean this particular iteration of the band, the actual players that were involved in the making of this album — came together for the first time and created the sound of Yes on this very album, rather aptly titled when you think about it.

With the amazing EDDIE OFFORD at the board, as well as the best batch of songs ever to appear on a single Yes album, they produced both their sonic and musical masterpiece — good news for audiophiles with Big Speakers!

Drop the needle on this bad boy and you will find yourself on a Yes journey the likes of which you have never known. And that’s what I’m in this audiophile game for. The Heavy Vinyl crowd can have their dead-as-a-doornail, wake-me-when-it’s-over pressings that play quietly. I couldn’t sit through one with a gun to my head. (more…)

Kansas – Masque

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  • The band’s 3rd studio album finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too  
  • 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
  • Features some of the band’s best rock epics, including “Icarus-Borne on Wings of Steel” and “Mysteries and Mayhem”
  • “Musically, Masque foreshadows the tight melodies and instrumental interplay on the next two albums, Leftoverture and Point of Know Return, which together serve as the peak of Kansas’ vision.”

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Gentle Giant – Octopus

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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…)