Labels We Love – Atlantic/Atco

Flack / Hathaway – Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway

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  • An outstanding copy, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades throughout, making this the best copy to hit the site in many years!
  • There’s Tubey Magic, sweetness and spaciousness all over this recording – when it all comes together on Where Is The Love, you won’t believe how good it sounds
  • One of our favorite duet albums, Flack and the woefully underrated Soul Man Donny Hathaway are in top form here
  • Allmusic raves: “A duet classic, and perhaps the most popular album Roberta Flack made. ‘Where Is the Love’ dominated urban contemporary radio for almost the entire year, while ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ was just as influential…”

These soulful duets sound wonderful. The best sides are big, bold, open and transparent with a huge three-dimensional soundfield, strong presence, good rhythmic energy, and wonderfully dynamic leads and choruses. (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…)

The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue

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  • This amazing copy of the Stones’ 1980 release boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout  
  • Dance (Pt. 1) and She’s So Cold sound out of this world on this copy, and the title track, Emotional Rescue, is every bit as good
  • An underrated Stones album — too good to call a guilty pleasure — and very well-recorded by Chris Kimsey
  • Maybe it’s good because “Mick Jagger sounds like he’s having a great time…”

This amazing pressing delivers the kind of killer sound you surely did not expect from this underrated Stones album.

We had a great time shooting this one out — we had forgotten how good the music was and were pleasantly surprised by how good the best copies can sound. It’s tough to get great Stones sound, I’m sure most of you know that, but there’s lots of it here and a bunch of good songs. She’s So Cold, Summer Romance, Dance, the title track… not a bad line-up, and probably the last great album these guys put out.

As you might expect, we heard lots of dry, grainy, thinned-out sound on the copies that didn’t make the cut. When you get a Hot copy with a punchy bottom end and some richness, it’s an entirely different story. It lest a song like the leadoff track Dance come to life, giving you bigger, livelier, fuller sound than you ever expected to hear on this record. (more…)

Roberta Flack – Quiet Fire

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  • Quiet Fire finally arrives on the site with superb Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Tubey Magical, lively and clear, with the naturally smooth analog sound that only vintage pressings seem to offer
  • “… thanks to top players like guitarist Hugh McCracken, organist Richard Tee, bassist Chuck Rainey, and drummer Bernard Purdie, the varied mix all comes off sounding seamless.”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Quiet Fire proves to be an apt title, as Flack’s MOR-informed jazz and gospel vocals simmer just below the surface on the eight [titles] here. Forgoing the full-throttled delivery of, say, Aretha Franklin, Flack translates the pathos of gospel expression into measured intensity and sighing, elongated phrases… One of Flack’s best.”

(more…)

Roberta Flack – First Take

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  • Roberta Flack’s stunning debut album finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish 
  • The sound here is richer, fuller, more musical and more natural – Flack’s breathy voice is reproduced with a solidity and immediacy that’s not easy to find on vinyl
  • 5 stars: “Roberta Flack’s debut album, titled First Take in true underachiever fashion, introduced a singer who’d assimilated the powerful interpretive talents of Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan, the earthy power of Aretha Franklin, and the crystal purity and emotional resonance of folksingers like Judy Collins… one of the most fascinating soul debuts of the era.”

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Donny Hathaway – The Best of Donny Hathaway

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  • Hathaway’s 1978 compilation album finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Richer, warmer, more natural, more relaxed, these vintage pressings are what analog is all about, that long-lost sound that never calls attention to itself and just lets the music flow
  • The legendary Roberta Flack joins Hathaway on two or our favorite duets of all time: “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Where Is The Love” – the results are nothing short of magical
  • 4 stars: “…taste the musical genius of the late Donny Hathaway… he delivers a strong, understated reading of Leon Russell’s song. He blends deliciously with Roberta Flack… their chemistry is breathtaking.”

(more…)

Willie Nelson – Phases And Stages

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

The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to ever hit the site and it’s one for the ages. It’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble. The presence and immediacy here are outstanding. Turn it up and Willie is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. He’s clearly one of our favorite male vocalists, and this superb copy will show you why.  (more…)

Young-Holt Unlimited – Oh Girl

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This is a very nice looking Atlantic LP with AMAZING SOUND! The sound just JUMPS out of the speakers as soon as the needle hits the groove. If more records sounded like this I’d be out of a job — you wouldn’t need me to find good pressings for you. Records like this in my experience are the exception not the rule. Few of these have survived, so I have no other copies to compare to this one.

I can tell you this: the ‘4 Men With Beards’ 180g pressing is a pretty pale imitation of the sound on this album.

Otis Redding – The Immortal Otis Redding

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

An incredible sounding copy with a Triple Plus (A+++) side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two. This vintage Plum and Tan label LP plays pretty darn quietly for an original Atco pressing – we’ve never heard one quieter. 

What won our shootout was whichever copy had the least amount of grit and spit on Otis’s vocals, the most space, the most natural and immediate presentation of the singer, along with the most correct tonality.

Picking the winner was not rocket science seeing as most copies in the shootout had quite a number of sonic issues. This copy is guaranteed to be head and shoulders better sounding than any other copy you’ve ever heard, or could ever hope to hear for that matter. (more…)

Dr. John – Dr. John’s Gumbo

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  • Dr. John’s Gumbo is back, now with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Full, lively, and solid, this copy has just the right sound for this collection of quintessential New Orleans Rhythm and Blues tracks
  • The superbly talented Keith Olsen engineered – just one year later he would record Buckingham-Nicks, and two years after that Fleetwood Mac
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “Dr. John’s Gumbo bridged the gap between post-hippie rock and early rock & roll, blues, and R&B… that sly fusion of styles makes Dr. John’s Gumbo one of Dr. John’s finest albums.”

You may have read this commentary in our other Dr. John listing, the one for In The Right Place. The two recordings — and therefore the Hot Stamper pressings made from them — share much in common, so we’ve more or less copies the listing for that album into this one. What’s good about one is good about the other, and vice-versa.

Tubey Magic Is Key

This original Yellow Label Atco pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot 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…)