Labels We Love – Island

U2 – Boy

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  • We here present the best sounding copy of U2’s debit we’ve ever played, our Shootout Winner with Triple Plus (A+++) grades on both sides
  • The sound is bigger and richer, as well as more present and lively, than any other copy that’s ever hit our turntable
  • The vinyl is quiet for an Island pressing from 1980, with each side playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “From the outset, U2 went for the big message — every song on their debut album Boy sounds huge, with oceans of processed guitars cascading around Bono’s impassioned wail. It was an inspired combination of large, stadium-rock beats and post-punk textures.”

Recordings from the ’80s are always a bit tricky in terms of sound quality, and U2 is not a band we have ever associated with the highest audiophile-quality sonics. We’ve been through quite a number of their albums now, including War, The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree.

While Demo Quality Sound may never be in the cards for these guys, over the years we’ve stumbled upon (stumbling being the only way to go about it) pressings that are much better at communicating their music than others, and certainly a great deal better than any Heavy Vinyl reissue or digital source. (more…)

Robert Palmer – Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley – His Best Album By Far

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

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES on this British Sunray Island pressing. SSTTA is very hard to find nowadays, but we managed to put together a big enough stack to make a shootout possible, and this copy acquited very well indeed — it was miles ahead of the typical pressing. As is usually the case with these originals, the vinyl is a bit noisier than ideal at Mint Minus Minus.

No doubt this is the best album Robert Palmer ever made. With Lowell George’s unmistakable slide guitar and members of the Meters providing backup, as well as the amazing Bernard Purdie on drums, it’s the only Robert Palmer release that consistently works all the way through as an album. The entire first side is excellent from top to bottom, with the title track being our favorite RP song of all time.  (more…)

Bryan Ferry – Another Time, Another Place

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  • Triple Plus (A+++) on side two, Double Plus (A++) on side one, this is one of the best copies to ever hit the site
  • The British Island originals are the only way to go, and this one just plain trounced most of the others we played
  • Tubey Magical, rich, smooth, sweet – everything that we listen for in a great record is on display for everyone to hear
  • Allmusic: “Ferry and company, plus various brass and string sections, turn on the showiness enough to make it all fun.”

Both sides of this record are just as rich and relaxed as you would expect. The balance is correct, which means the top is there as well as the bottom, with good vocal presence throughout. (more…)

King Crimson – In The Wake Of Poseidon – Heavy on the Mellotron

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  • King Crimson’s second studio album debuts on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • This pressing is Big and Tubey, with clear, breathy vocals, especially critical to the success of the a capella opening track, “Peace – A Beginning”
  • This lovely original Island Pink Label British Import LP has a beautiful textured cover and plays as quiet as we can find them, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The record…, however, has made an impressive show of transmuting material that worked on stage (“Mars” aka “The Devil’s Triangle”) into viable studio creations, and “Cadence and Cascade” may be the prettiest song the group ever cut.”

If you love the sound of a vintage All Tube recording of the mellotron — whether by Led Zeppelin or The Moody Blues — you will find that Robin Thompson has got hold of a very good sounding one here. Thompson is of course the engineer for the first King Crimson album, so his recording skills as regards the instrument are well established.

Note that the British Island pressings for this album as well as the first are by far the best sounding, assuming you have a good one. What is interesting about early Island LPs is just how bad some of them are. And let me tell you, we’ve paid the price in time and money to find out just how bad some Island Pink Labels can sound. (more…)

King Crimson – Lizard – Heavy on the Mellotron

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  • An excellent sounding copy with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Every bit the sonic equal of the first album, if you colorful Big Production Jazzy Prog Rock (with mellotron!) is your thing you can’t go wrong here
  • This early UK pressing plays as quietly as any we have ever heard – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “Lizard is very consciously jazz-oriented — the influence of Miles Davis (particularly Sketches of Spain) being especially prominent — and very progressive, even compared with the two preceding albums.”

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The Young Persons’ Guide To King Crimson – Surprisingly Good Sound

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

No doubt one can find original British copies of the albums from which these songs are taken that sound better, but they tend to be quite expensive and extremely hard to find in clean condition. This gets you most of the more important King Crimson material in one handy 2 LP album. 

The Polydor reissues we’ve played were passable at best, and the Editions EG recut is a complete disaster. I’m sure the cassette produced back in the day had better fidelity. (more…)

Bryan Ferry – These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)

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  • One of the best copies to ever hit the site, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to it on both sides 
  • This original UK Island pressing is bigger, richer, more Tubey Magical, clearer, and with better bass – it knocked us out
  • Outside of the first three Roxy albums, there is simply no recording by the band that as good as the first three Bryan Ferry solo projects
  • “Ferry for the most part looked to America, touching on everything from Motown to the early jazz standard that gave the collection its name… Wrapping up with a grand take on “These Foolish Things” itself, this album is one of the best of its kind by any artist.” – All Music

We had a nice stack of British copies to play and are happy to report that this one had an unbeatable Triple Plus (A+++) side two backed with a killer Double to Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one, both on very quiet vinyl. Anyone who digs Roxy Music or Bowie’s Pin-Ups is going to find a lot to like here. Check out the cool cover of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall that kicks off side one!

The sound positively JUMPS out of the speakers and fills the room. There’s loads of Tubey Magic, big punchy drums, and depth to the soundfield. (more…)

Tea for the Tillerman Is an Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

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TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN is an album we admit to being obsessed with — just look at the number of commentaries we’ve written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands — maybe a bit too much time on your hands — please feel free to check out our commentaries. 

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Where Do the Children Play? (more…)

Cat Stevens Albums – Lee Hulko Cut Them All – Good, Bad and Otherwise

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Is the Pink Label Island original pressing THE way to go? That’s what Harry Pearson — not to mention most audiophile record dealers — would have you believe.

But it’s just not true. And that’s good news for you, Dear (Record Loving Audiophile) Reader.

HOT STAMPER COMMENTARY FROM JOHN BARLEYCORN

Since that’s a Lee Hulko cutting just like Tea here, the same insights, if you can call them that, apply. Here’s what we wrote: (more…)