Labels We Love – Capitol

The Beach Boys – Surf’s Up

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this original Reprise pressing 
  • They revolutionized the popular music of their day with their genius for harmony, and this copy gets their voices right
  • Includes classics Don’t Go Near the Water, Long Promised Road, Till I Die, and of course the title smash hit, Surf’s up
  • 4 stars: “A masterpiece [which] defined the Beach Boys’ tumultuous career better than any other album … The album closer, ‘Surf’s Up,’ is a masterpiece of baroque psychedelia, probably the most compelling track from the Smile period.”

When it works, boy can this album sound AMAZING. Full of tubey magic, not to mention analog warmth and sweetness, this is clearly one of the band’s best albums of the 70s. (more…)

Peggy Lee – In Love Again!

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  • KILLER sound for this original Capitol Rainbow Label stereo pressing with both sides earning Triple Plus (A+++) grades 
  • This vintage Capitol stereo pressing is rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical – we’re talking All Tube Analog from 1963 after all – with relatively sweet, breathy vocals
  • Stick with stereo on this album. The Mono pressings — at least the ones we’ve played — aren’t worth anybody’s time (scratch that: any audiophile’s time)
  • “… 12 quality performances from a highly identifiable singer who is not shy about taking other people’s material and re-imagining it or about coming up with her own vehicles.”

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Peggy Lee – If You Go (1961)

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  • Stunning sound throughout with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grade on the second side and a solid Double Plus (A++) grade on the first
  • This vintage Capitol stereo pressing is rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical – we’re talking All Tube Analog from 1961 after all – with wonderfully sweet and breathy vocals 
  • “… the man writing the charts here is Quincy Jones, and he is only occasionally interested in underscoring the heartbreak with suitably sad music… Lee responds to the music with a world-weary tone, but an occasional swing in her step, as if this is not her first romance, nor her first one to go wrong.”

This vintage Capitol pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)

Bobby Darin – From Hello Dolly To Goodbye Charlie

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  • This original Capitol rainbow label LP has excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Having played a good dozen or more vintage Bobby Darin albums, we can tell you that finding sound as good as this is a lot harder than we thought it would be
  • Like the recordings of Nat King Cole, many Darin records are ruined by the heavy-handed use of reverb, but every once in a while you find one like this with the glorious sound of ’60s All Tube Analog in its grooves
  • “Darin focused on standards done with jazzy arrangements on this 1964 album… “The Days of Wine and Roses,” “Call Me Irresponsible,” “Once in a Lifetime,” “Sunday in New York,” and of course “Hello, Dolly!” and “Goodbye, Charlie” are all on board.”

This vintage Capitol stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)

Dean Martin – This Time I’m Swingin’

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This Time I’m Swingin’

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  • A wonderful copy that lets this music swing the way it’s supposed to! Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • Classic Capitol big, full-bodied, Tubey Magical sound — Deano’s vocals are present and natural in the best tradition of rat-mate Frank Sinatra in the early ’60s
  • With Nelson Riddle arranging, you can be sure the album has plenty of swing all right — and the brass sounds amazing here
  • 4 1/2 Stars in the All Music Guide: “…an easy swinging collection…”

If you’re a fan of the Capitol Sinatra sound you’ll love this record. It’s an exceptionally difficult title to find in anything but trashed condition. I’ve been a fan of this record for many years but this is the first copy we’ve been able to find that’s clean enough to go up on the site with White Hot Stamper grades.  (more…)

Letter of the Week – Beach Boys Christmas Album

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

I just had to write in appreciation of a killer Beach Boys pressing I bought from you last year. It’s so funny to me because it’s the Beach Boys Christmas Album, which is the kind of thing I’m sure audiophiles tend to dismiss. But wow, the sound of the vocals on this thing are just incredible! So much presence and texture in them; and this from a mid 70s pressing in stereo! I only wish I could find more sound like this for the Beach Boys, especially from Pet Sounds, but that presents a completely different set of problems I’m sure. Anyway, I was completely impressed by the A+ sound on these sides. I can only imagine what the White Hot Stamper holds in its grooves.

Ben

 

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The Beach Boys – Endless Summer

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

Endless Summer in Hot Stamper form at last! We’ve been picking these up over the years and until now we hadn’t found copies with the kind of consistently good sound we’d want to give Hot Stamper grades too. This time around, that finally changed! We finally tracked down a handful of copies that really delivered. Like any compilation, there are some tracks that sound better than others, but the best sounding tracks on here easily rank with any Beach Boys vinyl we’ve ever played.

And the material on here is so good and so comprehensive (check the track listing tab above) that for most of you this and Pet Sounds should be all the Beach Boys you’ll ever need.

A lot of these have been pressed over the years, including a newer version on Heavy Vinyl. Let me tell you — most of the copies we’ve played are just awful. It’s beyond difficult to find a quiet one with four strong sides, so good luck if you want to take this one on yourself… you’ll need it!

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Surfin’ Safari 
Surfer Girl 
Catch a Wave 
The Warmth of the Sun 
Surfin’ U.S.A.

Side Two

Be True to Your School 
Little Deuce Coupe 
In My Room 
Shut Down 
Fun, Fun, Fun

Side Three

I Get Around 
The Girls on the Beach 
Wendy 
Let Him Run Wild 
Don”t Worry Baby

Side Four

California Girls 
Girl Don”t Tell Me 
Help Me, Rhonda 
You”re So Good to Me 
All Summer Long

AMG 5 Star Review

This was the album by which millions of sons of late baby boomers (and sons and daughters of the early ones) first really discovered the Beach Boys, beyond hearing the occasional oldie on the radio. It was the summer of 1974, and the Beach Boys were still trying to get themselves back on track commercially after a seven-year commercial dry spell, when this double LP of their 1963-1966 material (all but one cut predating Pet Sounds) came along and did the job. Endless Summer, which was assembled in consultation with Mike Love, soared to number one and charted high over two subsequent summers (spending three years on the charts, the longest of any of the group’s albums), and attracted the enthusiastic attention of millions of listeners too young to have bought their singles back when. The programming was a little thin, not even running an hour total, spread among two LPs, but most of the group’s best loved singles were represented — no notes, not a word of historical context, just a great collection of songs that proved irresistible to many shoppers. The packaging was nigh perfect, a simple, celebratory sun-lit graphic that spoke volumes about the music.

Nat King Cole – Unforgettable

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

Our shootout winner here had the clearest, most natural vocals, with a living, breathing Nat King Cole front and center. Hard to believe some of these songs date back to 1946, with the most recent being from 1954. No matter; whatever the limitations of the recording technology, they knew enough of what they were doing to get Nat’s voice consistently right for practically every track. 

One of the key elements we noticed on the best of the best was the relaxation in Nat’s performance. He sings so effortlessly on the best copies; on other pressings you often don’t notice that casual quality.

Warmth and sweetness were nearly as important, the distinctive and unmistakeable hallmarks of vintage All Tube Analog. Each of these qualities combined to make the music on these sides as thoroughly involving and enchanting as any album of its kind we have ever offered.

The Hunt

Naturally we’re always on the lookout for Nat King Cole records with good sound. In our experience finding them is not nearly as easy as one might think it would be. Far too many of his recordings are drenched in bad reverb, with sound that simply can’t be taken seriously — fine for old consoles but not so good on modern audiophile equipment.

At least one we know of has his voice out of phase with the orchestra on most copies, which put a quick end to any hope of finishing the shootout we had started.

If anything the sound on his albums gets even worse in the ’60s. Many of Nat’s albums from that decade are over-produced, bright, thin and shrill. (more…)

The Band – Music From Big Pink

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  • Two strong Double Plus (A++) sides AND quiet vinyl make this a consistently impressive copy of this all-time classic album
  • Forget all those lifeless, ambience-free, vague sounding Heavy Vinyl pressings – THIS is the sound of the album
  • It’s big, punchy and dynamic, and resolves all the intricacies of the recording that make it so interesting to us audiophiles
  • 5 stars on Allmusic: “Over time, Music from Big Pink came to be regarded as a watershed work in the history of rock, one that introduced new tones and approaches to the constantly evolving genre.”

We guarantee you have never heard Music from Big Pink sound remotely as good as it does on this very copy. (more…)

The Band’s Second Album – Listening in Depth

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of The Band’s second album.

The best copies have no trace of phony sound from top to bottom. They’re raw and real in a way that makes most pop records sound processed and wrong. Our best Hot Stampers have plenty of the qualities we look for in The Band. Energy, presence, transparency, Tubey Magic… you name it — you will find it there. The biggest strength of this recording is its wonderful, natural midrange. And tons of bass.

Despite what anyone might tell you, it’s no mean feat to find good sounding copies of this record. There are good originals and bad originals, as well as good reissues and bad reissues. Folks, we’ve said it many times — the label can’t tell you how a record sounds, but there’s a sure way to find out that information. You’ve got to clean ’em and play ’em to find out which ones have Hot Stampers, and we seem to be the only record dealers who are doing that, in the process making unusually good pressings available to you, the music-loving audiophile. (more…)