Genre – Rock – Pure Pop

Starship – Knee Deep in the Hoopla

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  • The debut for the band Starship finally arrives on the site with two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides and quiet vinyl 
  • We guarantee you’ve never heard this Top Ten hit album from 1985 sound remotely as good as it does here
  • If you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of the album, a vintage pressing like this one is the only way to do it in our experience
  • Not a hit with the critics, but it does contain two of this band’s biggest singles, both of which rocketed all the way to Number One: “We Built This City” and “Sara”

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Lovin’ Spoonful – The Very Best of… – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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As Good As It Gets (AGAIG) White Hot Stamper sound for some of the biggest hits of The Lovin’ Spoonful, a band I wouldn’t expect to hear sound good on vinyl if I lived to be a hundred, and yet, here it is! This pressing changes EVERYTHING. 

This copy lets you hear versions of Younger Girl, Didn’t Want to Have to Do It, Daydream, You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice, Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?, and Do You Believe in Magic? with the kind of sonics never thought possible, not by us anyway. This copy is truly a revelation. And side two ain’t too shabby either.

Why does this stereo compilation sound so much better than others we’ve played in the past? Who the hell knows? We don’t pretend to have all the answers. What we have — that nobody else has, if that’s not too obvious — are the records that back up what we say about them. How they came to be is anyone’s guess. All we know for sure is that, judging by the best copies of this album somebody got hold of some awfully good tapes and somebody mastered them with uncanny skill to what sounds to these ears like near perfection.

That is, if you have this copy (which just happens to be on the original Pink Kama Sutra Label). This copy just could not be beat on side two. We tried, we had some very very good ones, but none that sounded like this.

Side Two

A+++, by far the best we played. So CLEAR and UNDISTORTED — Wow! There are always problem areas in ’60s pop recordings, but this side sounds so good you’re liable to forget there are any such things. This is a four track recording? Yes, in the way that Rubber Soul is a four track recording. It can be done.

This copy had the most extension high and low, the best clarity in the vocals and the most richness overall. I’m telling you, it is Hard To Fault! (more…)

Hall and Oates – Daryl Hall & John Oates

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  • An incredible sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • Both of these sides are out of this world — big, full-bodied, clean and clear with tons of energy and a huge bottom end
  • Man, this is one tough nut to crack– gritty vocals, thin vocals, recessed vocals, smeary vocals — this music is all about the vocals and the vocals are pretty bad most of the time
  • This copy gets the duo’s voices to be clear and present, breathy and natural like you have never heard before
  • “… much of the album is lush and catchy, featuring ballads and midtempo numbers that are nearly as engaging as the duo’s breakthrough single, “Sara Smile.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

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Sergio Mendes – Look Around – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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Finally, Hot Stampers are here for this notoriously difficult to reproduce recording. This side one was KILLER, earning a grade of A++ to A+++! It’s big and bold, with dramatically less grit and grain than the average copy. The sound is punchy and lively with wonderful transparency. You can really hear the sound of the room around the musicians with this one. Some of the tracks on this side one are DEMO DISC quality.  

Side One

Side one has virtually no strain, EXTENDED highs, and is overall so clear and open that you will have a hard time believing that it’s the same recording as whatever copies you may have heard in the past. It KILLED most of the copies we played against it.

It’s just much more FUN and LIVELY this way! (We had one copy that earned the full three pluses but the difference between them was minimal.) (more…)

Tom Jones – What’s New Pussycat?

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  • A killer early pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last
  • These sides are doing everything right — big, full-bodied, clean and clear with wonderfully present vocals and a solid bottom end
  • We guarantee you’ve never heard the Burt Bacharach/Hal David penned title track sound better than it does here!  

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Jefferson Starship – Red Octopus

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  • A superb sounding copy with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them
  • Big and full-bodied with wonderfully breathy vocals, tons of energy and virtually none of the smear that plagues so many copies
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… there can be little doubt that it was Balin’s irresistible ballad “Miracles,” the biggest hit single in the Jefferson Whatever catalog, that propelled Red Octopus to the top of the charts, the only Jefferson album to chart that high and the best-selling album in their collective lives.”

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Petula Clark – Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – Surprisingly Good Sound on the Early WB Label

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SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND! I didn’t expect this music to sound so smooth and sweet. The only versions I’ve ever heard were the 45 mixes over the radio.

Of course, the sound of those is quite suspect, but seeing as how these are mid-’60s pop recordings, one might assume that they’re the kind of midrangy artificial productions that were common in those days.

But one would be wrong — this material is actually quite well recorded.

Ricky Nelson – Ricky Nelson on Sunset Vinyl

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  • This killer copy of Ricky Nelson’s 1966 release for Liberty has stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it
  • We’ve had a devil of a time finding Ricky Nelson records with audiophile quality sound, but here’s one, and it won our shootout
  • Relaxed, rich and tubey, yet clear, this is the right sound for this music, and the vinyl is about as quiet as we can find
  • The sound has real resolution, clarity and transparency – this album may be a compilation, but it sure doesn’t sound like one

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Carpenters – A Song For You

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  • An outstanding original A&M pressing, with both sides earning excellent Double Plus (A++) sonic grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This LP is full of the Midrange Magic that has the Carpenters sounding rich, smooth, sweet and breathy – in other words, in ANALOG, so they sound every bit as good as you remember them
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The duo’s best album, and the place to start beyond the hits compilations… a seemingly unified concept album written and recorded during a frantic period of concert activity, and brimming with lovely musical ideas even more lovingly executed, laced with good humor, and enough hits of its own to have established any artist’s career on its own. And even in between the hits, the album was built on material that could have made a whole career for anyone.”

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Sergio Mendes – Stillness – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

TWO AMAZING SIDES, including a BETTER THAN WHITE HOT A++++ SIDE TWO! That’s right folks, four pluses! This is an incredibly well-recorded album and a member of our Top 100, in fact. The soundfield itself has a three-dimensional quality that will absolutely blow you away. If you are looking for DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND with music every bit as good, look no further – this record is for you. 

We figure we’re about due for a thank you note from Mr. Mendes, because we’ve turned a huge number of audiophiles into die-hard fans of this album. It’s easy to see why when you play a copy that sounds like this. All of the qualities we look for on this album are right here.

Side One

The vocals on this side are Right On The Money — present and breathy. It could use a bit more extension up top but at A+ – A++, this side is a nice step up over the average copy.

Side Two

A++++, absolutely As Good As It Gets! The side is doing everything right. It’s big, bold, rich and lively with none of the vocal edginess that plagues the average copy. The vocals are wonderfully breathy and it’s tonally correct from top to bottom.

Even if you don’t know much about this music we encourage you to take a chance on this one. We’re fairly confident that anyone who values amazing sound enough to be in the Hot Stamper market will get a LOT out of this record — it’s pure, unadulterated, audiophile gold. We have turned a lot of people on to this album, and we’ve received quite a few letters from folks who had totally missed out on this wonderful music back in the day, only to fall in love with a Hot Stamper copy forty years after its release. (The album bombed when it was released, which accounts for the fact that it’s not nearly as common in the used record bins as others by Sergio and his bandmates.) (more…)