Labels We Love – Capitol

The Band – Moondog Matinee

More of The Band

More Roots Rock

  • Moondog Matinee returns to the site on this early Capitol pressing with a STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated to an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Both of these sides are tonally balanced from top to bottom, with more vocal presence and rock and roll energy than practically all the others we played
  • The bass is huge, the brass rich, and the all analog sound smooth and natural
  • Listen to the Tubey Magical sound of the organ on The Great Pretender — modern records simply cannot get the sound of that organ right, and that’s why we stopped taking them seriously years ago
  • Yes, the copies from 1973 with the second cover always win the shootouts – we’ll leave it to you to make of that what you will
  • “The Band essentially went back to being the Hawks of the late ’50s and early ’60s on this album of cover tunes. They demonstrated considerable expertise on their versions of rock & roll and R&B standards like Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s ‘Ain’t Got No Home,’ Chuck Berry’s ‘The Promised Land,’ and Fats Domino’s ‘I’m Ready.'”


The Beach Boys – Spirit of America

More of The Beach Boys

More Sixties Pop

  • The Beach Boys compilation follow-up to Endless Summer finally arrives on the site with two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides mated with two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy get the midrange right, and since that is where The Beach Boys’ voices are, that puts it well ahead of the other pressings we played n the first two sides
  • “Spirit of America was downright refreshing in its succinct, bracing brevity, singles and album tracks alike.”
  • If you’re a fan of the Beach Boys, this 1975 release surely belongs in your collection


The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

More Beach Boys

Hot Stamper Pressings that Sound Their Best on the Right Reissue

  • A Pet Sounds like you’ve never heard, with seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • Fairly quiet for this pressing – noisy vinyl is the rule, not the exception
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the way to go
  • The Beach Boys revolutionized the popular music of the day with their genius for harmony, and a copy like this has their voices sounding the way they should (particularly on side one)
  • 5 stars: “The group here reached a whole new level in terms of both composition and production, layering tracks upon tracks of vocals and instruments to create a richly symphonic sound.”

Important Details About This Pressing

There have been a great many versions of Pet Sounds released on vinyl over the years, and most of them in our opinion are awful. (The DCC is acceptable at best.) We’re not going to give away what pressing this is, mostly because it took us many years, a huge amount of effort, and quite a large supply of expensive, ultimately rejected pressings in order to finally figure out what version of Pet Sounds sounds the best.

In short, we ask that you please not order this copy of Pet Sounds expecting to receive an original pressing. We’ve never heard an original that sounded better than tolerable, and tolerable is simply not going to cut it for a Hot Stamper, not at these prices anyway.

What you will receive is the only version of the material that has ever sounded right to us, and naturally that means it will be made from the original mono mix. We would be very surprised to discover another pressing that can compete with it.

As per our policy, if for any reason you are not happy with the sound of the album we send you (or the condition, or the cover, or absolutely anything else, that’s our policy and always has been), feel free to return it for a full refund.


June Christy – More Fifties Capitol Magic in Mono

More of the Music of June Christy

More Pop and Jazz Vocals

Side two of this White Hot Stamper June Christy record on the original Capitol Turquoise label is AMAZING, both musically and sonically. It has all the TUBEY MAGIC we know these old records are famous for, but this copy gives you something you may never have heard on a vintage pressing before: real frequency EXTENSION, both high and low. Who knew an old record could have extended highs like these and such deep bass?

I can honestly say I have never heard any June Christy record sound as good as this copy does. (more…)

Bonnie Raitt – Nick Of Time

  • Superb sound throughout this original copy, with both sides earning Double Plus (A++) grades
  • There was a time when these Capitol pressings were sitting in the bins all over town, but those days are gone, my friend
  • Some of the sweetest, richest, most ANALOG sound we’ve heard from any record Don Was produced – “Have A Heart” is a Demo Quality track
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Producer Don Was used Raitt’s classic early-’70s records as a blueprint, choosing to update the sound with a smooth, professional production and a batch of excellent contemporary songs. In this context, Raitt flourishes; she never rocks too hard, but there is grit to her singing and playing, even when the surfaces are clean and inviting. A great comeback album that made for a great story.”
  • Yes, the sound is heavily processed, with the kind of gloss that we’ve come to expect from Don Was, but these qualities take nothing away from the consistently high quality of the songwriting and production
  • If you like the vintage smooth sound of this album, there are plenty of Hot Stamper pressings currently available that offer it

The sound here is powerfully big and bold, with meaty, deep bass (such a big part of the rockers here, “Thing Called Love” being a prime example).

When you hear it like this — something probably pretty close to what he heard during the control room playback for the final mix — it actually makes sense. It works. It’s not exactly “natural,” but natural is not what they were going for, now is it?

We play albums like this very loud. I’ve seen Bonnie Raitt live a number of times, and although I can’t begin to get her to play as loud in my listening room as she did on stage, I can try. To do less is to do her music a profound disservice.


June Christy – Gone For The Day

More June Christy

More Pop and Jazz Vocal Recordings

  • Amazing sound on this original Capitol Turquoise Mono pressing, with solid Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them from first note to last
  • Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead on correct tonality, and wonderfully breathy vocals, not to mention boatloads of Capitol Tubey Magic – everything that we listen for in a great record is here (particularly on side two)
  • Take this one home and play it against whatever audiophile pressings you own – it’s guaranteed to beat any and all versions you have in your collection, or your money back
  • “One of June Christy’s two 1957 Capitol LPs, Gone for the Day boasts Pete Rugolo arrangements and a 12-piece group of mostly West Coast all-stars…includ[ing] trumpeter Don Fagerquist, trombonist Frank Rosolino, altoist Bud Shank, and Bob Cooper on tenor.”
  • If you’re a fan of June’s, this Top Title from 1957 belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1957 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

The shootout winner for this title may have been the best sounding June Christy record we’ve ever played.

Musically this album is right up there with the best female vocal records we know of, the creme de la creme, albums on the level of Julie Is Her Name, Clap Hands and Something Cool. It really doesn’t get much better than this.


Peggy Lee – Sugar ‘N’ Spice

More Peggy Lee

More Pop and Jazz Vocal Albums

  • An excellent copy of Sugar ‘N’ Spice with Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • So hugely spacious and three-dimensional, yet with a tonally correct and natural sounding Peggy, this is the way to hear it
  • This ’60s LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely BEGIN to reproduce
  • Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back
  • “Peggy Lee is in fine voice throughout this jazz-flavored set, backed by ensembles arranged by Benny Carter, Billy Byers, Billy May, and Shorty Rogers. One of [her] better recordings from the early ’60s.”
  • “Peggy is in fine voice and brings her sweet feminine tones to her ballads and her salty, seductive sounds to the more uptempo material.”
  • If you’re a fan of Miss Lee,  or vintage Pop and Jazz Vocals in general, this album from the Golden Age of 1962 is surely one that belongs in your collection. (As one reviewer noted below, ignore the bad wig and lousy cover art.)


Bonnie Raitt – 2012 Was a Long Time Ago

In 2012 we were finally able to do a shootout for Luck of the Draw, at the end of which we found a pressing that was clearly superior to the DCC, our default favorite at the time.

That was ten years ago, and ten years is a long time in audio. I don’t remember what pressing won, but I get the feeling that it may have been a domestic copy.

Having done the shootout many, many times since then, I can tell you two things we have learned:

One: Yes, the domestic copies are better sounding than the DCC. I often mention that DCC’s releases had to fight their way through Kevin Gray’s opaque, airless, low-resolution cutting system (more here) and that bestows an advantage to practically any pressing not mastered by him.

Two: But the domestic pressings are very unlikely to ever win another shootout, if they even won this one in 2012. They tend to earn grades of A++ or A+ to A++, and none of them lately has even managed to earn a grade of A++ on both sides. The imports are just too good. They are noticeably better sounding, and it does not take a pair of golden ears to hear it. Why that is we have no idea, and we are naturally opposed to speculating about the subject.

Our 2012 Shootout

Here’s the first (Super) Hot Stamper copy of Luck Of The Draw to ever hit the site! What took us so long? It’s simple, most copies out there just plain don’t deliver, and for a long time we weren’t sure we’d ever have a copy that would be a clear enough winner over the DCC pressing to merit Hot Stamper status.

Well folks, it may have taken YEARS but we’ve finally found a Hot Copy — this one rates A++ on side one and A+ to A++ on side two. We think you’ll have a very hard time finding a better sounding pressing of this album no matter what you do, and of course we guarantee it will handily beat the pants off the DCC or your money back. (more…)

The Band – Stage Fright

More of The Band

More Roots Rock LPs

  • With killer Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout, this vintage Capitol pressing is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • Both of these sides boast Tubey Magical richness, musical tonality and big bottom end few other copies can touch
  • “Stage Fright” and “The Shape I’m In” are among the most well-known tracks here and they sound out of this world on a copy like this
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… their most nakedly confessional [album]. It was certainly different from their previous work, which had tended toward story-songs set in earlier times, but it was hardly less compelling for that.”


Paul McCartney & Wings – Wings Over America

More Paul McCartney

More of The Beatles

  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all six sides, these vintage Capitol pressings will be very hard to beat
  • SIX sides of live Wings music, phew! As I’m sure you can imagine, this shootout was quite the undertaking
  • This copy was just BIGGER and RICHER than most others we played – it’s clean, clear and full-bodied with a solid bottom end, tons of energy and lots of space around all of the musicians
  • “… the Beatles mystique was still very much attached to record and artist alike… and it seemed like McCartney represented the part of the group’s legacy that came closest to living up to fans’ expectations. Thus the album ended up selling in numbers, rivaling the likes of Frampton Comes Alive and other mega-hits of the period, and rode the charts for months.”
  • If you’re a McCartney fan, this title from 1976 is surely of interest, assuming you already have the first album, Unplugged and Band on the Run, and maybe Ram – all Must Own Titles or something close to them