Labels We Love – Reprise

Jimi Hendrix – Nine to the Universe

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  • This Hendrix instrumental compilation has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • The five jams contained herein may be for fans, but if you count yourself among those who bow before the amazing improvisational guitar playing of Jimi Hendrix, this is going to be the best sounding copy you will likely ever hear
  • In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau gave Nine to the Universe a “B+” and called it “bracing progressive” rhythm and blues showcasing Hendrix’s most jazz-oriented improvisations
  • According to music scholar Craig Hansen Werner, “Nine to the Universe was one of the few works that suggested the direction Hendrix and [Miles] Davis would have explored had they worked together.”

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Neil Young – Neil Young – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

WOW! This copy has a KILLER A+++ side one backed with a strong A+ side two, both on unusually quiet vinyl! We just finished our first shootout in years for this great album and we came out with very little to show for it. It is INSANELY difficult to find great copies of this album, which is why we never have them available. 

The Loser and The Old Laughing Lady sound EXCELLENT on this copy.

Why is it so tough for us to find these? There’s a lot at play here, but one of the biggest issues is bad vinyl. Of the more than two dozen copies we identified as having the most potential (read: cleanest with good stampers), well over half of them had defective vinyl on side two that made at least the first song completely unlistenable. Again, those were our CLEANEST copies. And they were too noisy to play. What a mess!

Beyond that, the sound of most copies leaves a LOT to be desired. You get copies where Neil’s voice is so forward that it quickly becomes fatiguing and unpleasant. Many later pressings are just the opposite — Neil’s voice is so muffled, he is practically underwater. It’s the rare copy that puts him in the right place, and even then there’s still plenty of ways in which a copy can fail. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Moonlight Sinatra

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

Out of this world Triple Triple (A+++) sound – this is sure to be one of the best Sinatra records you’ll ever hear. Both of these Shootout Winning stereo sides are unbelievably rich and Tubey Magical – this is some killer Frank Sinatra sound. We’ve been working on this shootout for years – this is the first – and best – copy we have to show for our efforts.

This Blue Green Label LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues. As good as some of them can be, this one is dramatically more REAL SOUNDING. It gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in front of you.

He’s no longer a recording — he’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. His voice is so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.

Reprise pressings — like every label’s pressings — are all over the map. When you find a good one, you can be pretty sure it’s the exception, not the rule. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Look To Your Heart

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

Triple Plus (A+++) on side one, with a side two that is right up there with it – outstanding sound quality from first note to last. This copy was the fullest, richest and smoothest, with the best bass and most natural vocals of any we played. Recorded from 1953-1955, this mono collection of singles and such gives us Old Blue Eyes in his Capitol-period prime.

The sound is big, open, rich and full. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than most.

This Hot Stamper pressing has the kind of ’50’s Tubey Magical Analog Sound that’s been lost to the world of recorded music for decades — decades I tell you! Nobody can manage to get a recording to sound like this anymore and it seems as if no one can even remaster a recording like this anymore, if our direct experience with scores of such albums counts as any sort of evidence.

Steve Hoffman is the guy that can get the closest in this regard, but the difference between The Real Thing and even the best of his Remasters is not the slightest bit hard to hear. (more…)

Neil Young- Tonight’s The Night – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

A KILLER COPY of one of the very toughest Neil Young albums to find with Hot Stamper sound is right here for the taking, folks. Side one earned an A++ grade while side two beat all comers to earn its A+++ rating. It is beyond difficult to find good sounding copies of this album. We see maybe one or two clean originals with Hot Stamper potential every year, so don’t expect to see a ton of these hitting the site. The music is OFF THE CHARTS, of course, and the sound here is AMAZING.   (more…)

Frank Zappa – Fillmore East – June 1971 – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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Stick with the label above if you want good sound.


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Avoid the orangey-brown label, they never offer more than a pale shadow of the real recording.

 

KILLER SOUND ON QUIET VINYL — what are the odds? We’re big fans of this album, and Zappa in general, but it’s incredibly difficult to find copies that do justice to the music. The vinyl is typically thrashed, and even the copies in relatively clean condition usually don’t sound good. This one has about the quietest vinyl you could hope for, playing Mint Minus on both sides, and the sound is just about as good as it gets! 

So many pressings don’t let you hear INTO the music. This is a live recording with musicians sprinkled all over the stage — three-dimensional transparency is absolutely KEY to the best pressings, the ones that let you immerse yourself in the spectacle, never losing sight of the individual performances of Zappa and his merry band of obscene nut jobs. This band works BLUE. It will have you in hysterics if you get into the down and dirty spirit of the show. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, steer clear of this one. It’s raunchy as hell, and the raunchiest bits are the most hilarious.

The Greatest Rock Opera Ever

As for the music, it’s a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. This to me is the ultimate rock opera. In point of fact it’s actually a parody of a rock opera, which makes it doubly enjoyable.

The two former leaders of The Turtles (aka Flo and Eddie) variously play groupies (What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are) and members of the band. As the saying goes, hilarity ensues.

What makes this album so special is that the rock songs that are generated out of this story are actually great rock songs. They’re not filler. They’re not connecting tissue. They’re good songs with strong melodies that stand up on their own. Moreover, connected to each other through this crazy story sung by men pretending to be women, they become something even greater: a True Rock Opera. Better than that: A True Rock Opera Parody that’s as hilarious as it is musically satisfying. Zappa missed his calling — he should have dedicated himself to musical theatre. He has a real gift for it. This album is proof.

The entertainment value of this record is as good as it gets. Off the scale. If you’re a fan of The Firesign Theater, Zappa, improv comedy and such like, you will love this album. (more…)

Neil Young – Harvest – Our Shootout Winner in 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame since 2008.

Harvest is undeniably one of the most beloved albums in all of classic rock. We get letters all the time from customers hoping to get their hands on Hot Stamper copies, but we’ll never have the supply to keep up with the demand. It’s a tough nut to crack, because a Hot Stamper Harvest has to get so many things right — the lovely pedal steel guitar on Out On The Weekend, the LSO on A Man Needs A Maid and There’s A World (engineered by Glyn Johns), Neil’s grungy electric guitar on Alabama, and so much more. 

Many copies we played would work for the heavy songs and then fall behind on the softer numbers. Others had gorgeous sound on the country-tinged numbers but couldn’t deliver any whomp for the rockers. (more…)

Neil Young – Hawks and Doves

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  • An exceptional pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and a solid Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The trick on this album is to find rich, smooth, edge-free sound, and this copy delivers those qualities like nothing else we played all day
  • “Hawks and Doves has a homey feel. “Little Wing,” bare and haltingly lyrical with its miked harp and unaccompanied acoustic, is simpler than anything on the folky Comes a Time, and the rest of the music is defined by Ben Keith’s laconic dobro and steel and Rufus Thobodeaux’s sawing fiddle.” Robert Christgau (A-)

On side one the second track has an especially intimate vocal, worth checking out. Flip the record over and listen to how full-bodied the piano is on the first track on side two. This is the sound of ANALOG. So many copies are dry and edgy, as is the CD I would guess, but here the sound is smooth, natural and enjoyable. (more…)

Gordon Lightfoot – Summertime Dream

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  • A stunning sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • Both of these sides are wonderfully rich, warm and full-bodied with a lovely bottom end and tons of space around all of the instruments
  • “With Summertime Dream, Gordon Lightfoot produced one of his finest albums, and wrapped up a six-year period of popularity that he would not recapture… Lightfoot and his band deliver a tasty smorgasbord of intelligent, grown-up music. As for “Edmund Fitzgerald,” its continued popularity more than 20 years after its release attests to the power of a well-told tale and a tasty guitar lick.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

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John Sebastian – John B. Sebastian – Reviewed in 2012

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

This Super Hot side one was clearly better than every other side one we played, with the exception of our shootout winner of course. It’s big, full-bodied and rich; in other words, it has that classic 1970 analog rock sound that we love. Bruce Botnick and his brother are two of the many engineers on the project, along with John Haeny, the man who recorded his share of legendary albums, some of our favorites by Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt and others.

Side One

A++, clear and harmonically rich. Tonally correct and ROCKIN’ too. It’s got a bit of smear and is not resolving at 100% but is awfully good in every other way.

Side Two

A+, it’s big and open but a bit thin, so the rockers don’t rock the way they should. The quieter songs work fine though. (more…)