Labels We Love – Fantasy

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 – WHITE HOT STAMPER

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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. 

The best copies have:

  • Greater immediacy in the vocals (most copies are veiled and distant to some degree);
  • Natural tonal balance (many copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; those with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);
  • Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);
  • Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);
  • Tubey Magic, without which you might as well be playing a CD;
  • And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sometimes simple, sometimes complex and sophisticated recording.

Heavy Vinyl

If you own any of the new heavy vinyl pressings of CCR’s albums mastered by SH and KG, hearing this Hot Stamper pressing will surely be a revelation. (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…)