Labels We Love – Fantasy

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Pendulum

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Pendulum

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

This copy will THRASH any copy you put it up against. This will be especially true if you put it up against the Analogue Productions Heavy Vinyl from years back, which will undoubtedly sound thick, opaque, airless and congealed next to a properly mastered Fantasy original such as this.

Now if you are looking for quiet vinyl, we might not be able to help you there. We didn’t hear any truly quiet copies. Mint Minus Minus is about it, folks. Fortunately, CCR’s music is usually loud enough to obscure the shortcomings of Fantasy’s vinyl. Once the songs get going the vinyl is not really a problem, for us anyway.

Overall the most common problem we run into with Creedence’s records are edgy vocals, a problem that we noticed varied quite a bit from track to track on any given side. Lack of frequency extension on the top and bottom is another big one; few copies have any real highs (and if we weren’t so good at cleaning these old records with the Walker fluid none would have. If you want your records to sound transparent and open the right cleaning fluids and the right cleaning machine are essential). (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Willy and the Poor Boys

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

The typical copy of this album is grainy, murky, and veiled — and that’s just for starters. It took us a HUGE stack of copies to find ANY that had bottom end weight, midrange presence, freedom from grain (mostly) and real energy.

Those of you who have been watching the site for a while have probably noticed that we hardly ever list Hot Stamper copies of Creedence records. That’s because it is DARN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE to find copies that sound any good, a fact that many of you have probably stumbled upon on your own. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Debut

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  • This an unusually good sounding copy of CCR’s debut boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • The sound is big and rich with a punchy bottom, perfect for swamp rockers like I Put a Spell on You and Susie Q
  • A tough album to find with sound and surfaces as good as these – not as many copies qualify to make it to the site as we would like
  • 4 stars: “…the band’s sound is vibrant, with gutsy arrangements that borrow equally from Sun, Stax, and the swamp.

It’s unlikely you will be demonstrating your system with this record, but you may find yourself enjoying the hell out of it for what it is — a prime example of a Roots Rock ‘n’ Roll album that sounds RIGHT, with music that still holds up today.

Good luck finding a copy of this album with even one side that sounds this good. Most copies are grainy, murky, and veiled. It took a good-sized stack of copies to find any that had bottom end weight, midrange presence, freedom from grain (mostly) and real energy. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country

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  • Two outstanding sides, earning very strong Double Plus (A++) sonic grades and pressed on fairly quiet vinyl  
  • Proud Mary and Good Golly Miss Molly are two of the best sounding tracks found on the album – they sound great here
  • Our pick for the best sounding CCR recording — when you have a copy that sounds as good as this one does
  • 4 1/2 stars: “All the songs add up to a superb statement of purpose, a record that captures Creedence Clearwater Revival’s muscular, spare, deceptively simple sound as an evocative portrait of America.”

Both sides here are Tubey Magical with surprising resolution and freedom from smear, easily heard on the clean, clear guitar transients. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River

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  • This insanely good pressing boasts superb Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Both sides are rich and full-bodied yet clean, clear and spacious, with note-like bass and relatively smooth vocals
  • An essential, Must Own album for every CCR collection, this LP includes some of the band’s biggest hits: Green River and Bad Moon Rising, Lodi and plenty more
  • 5 stars ” CCR’s third album Green River represents the full flower of their classic sound initially essayed on its predecessor, Bayou Country.”

This copy is bigger, livelier, harder rockin’, more spacious and more relaxed than most all of the other pressings we have played over the years.

Clean copies with great sound are incredibly hard to find from CCR (but worth the search), and it took us a good-sized stack to find a few with bottom end weight, midrange presence, real energy, and freedom from grain. This pressing will show you just how good this album can sound.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Here are some of the things we specifically listen for in a vintage Creedence Swamp Rock record.

Our hottest Hot Stamper copies are simply doing more of these things better than the other copies we played in our shootout.  (more…)

The Tony Bennett / Bill Evans Album – The Best Male Vocal Recording of the Era

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This album, when heard on the best Hot Stamper pressings, ranks right up at the top of the All Time Great Male Vocal Recordings from any era. Bennett’s voice sounds wonderfully rich, BREATHY, and above all REAL.

For a Popular/Jazz Vocal album produced in 1975, or, to be honest, the entire decade of the Seventies, we can think of no other that is its sonic equal.

The soundstage is open and spacious, the piano full-bodied and clear, and the vocals have the clarity and fullness missing from most pressings. It’s incredible to hear these two top-notch musicians interacting and responding to each other in this kind of huge, open and natural space.

The Acoustic

This is a studio recording in a fairly dead acoustic, worlds away from the echo-drenched sound of his Columbia releases, so for practically the first time on record you can really hear the man’s voice, not the echo chamber they used to process it. (more…)

Vince Guaraldi – Jazz Impressions Of Charlie Brown from 1964

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  • This superb pressing boasts Shootout-winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Guaraldi introduced the world to his unique, melodic, elegantly simple style with this very album – only a pressing this good does the timeless score justice
  • Not the quietest copy we’ve ever played, although finding one much quieter than this is simply not in the cards unless you’re willing to settle for much poorer sound quality
  • 5 stars: “The most remarkable thing, besides the high quality of Guaraldi’s whimsically swinging tunes, is that he did not compromise his art one iota for the cartoon world; indeed, he sounds even more engaged, inventive, and lighthearted in his piano work here than ever.”

On both sides, but especially on this Shootout Winning side one, the sound was jumpin’ out of the speakers. There was not a trace of smear on the piano, which is unusual in our experience, although no one ever seems to talk about smeary pianos in the audiophile world (except for us of course).

If you have full-range speakers, some qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano on this recording are WEIGHT and WARMTH. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead the best copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, warm, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we’ve all heard countless times in piano bars and restaurants. (more…)