Labels We Love – Decca (rock and pop)

The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet

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  • An outstanding vintage London pressing of this surprisingly well-recorded Stones album from 1968, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout and fairly quiet vinyl, all things considered
  • The long lost Tubey Magic of these early pressings has them sounding better than we ever thought possible with the audio equipment of the day
  • This is exactly the way you want Beggars Banquet to sound and it sure doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it
  • One of a select group of Rolling Stones Must Own titles we prize above all others – Sticky Fingers and Let It Bleed round out the trio
  • 5 stars: “Basic rock & roll was not forgotten, however: ‘Street Fighting Man’… was one of their most innovative singles, and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’… was an image-defining epic.”

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The Moody Blues – A Question of Balance

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Reviews and Commentaries for The Moody Blues

  • A very special early UK pressing of A Question Of Balance with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • Huge and spacious with wonderful Tubey Magic – this is the way the band sounded in 1970, alive and kickin’!
  • It’s so correct from top to bottom, so present and alive, while still retaining all the richness and sweetness we expect from British Moody Blues records, that I would find it hard to believe you could do much better, in this life anyway
  • Includes the big hit “Question,” one of the all time greats by the band, which of course sounds fantastic here

Achieving just the right balance of “Moody Blues Sound” and transparency is no mean feat. You have to be using the real master tape for starters. Then you need top end extension, a very rare quality on these imports, and finally, good bass definition to keep the bottom end from blurring and bleeding into the midrange. No domestic copy in our experience has ever had these three qualities, and only the best of the British imports (no Dutch, German or Japanese need apply) manages to get all three on the same LP.

Allow me to steal some commentary from a Moody Blues Hot Stamper shootout we did years ago, for the wonderful In Search of the Lost Chord, in which we say that, on the best Hot Stamper pressings, the clarity and resolution come without sacrificing the Tubey Magical richness, warmth and lushness for which the Moody Blues recordings are justifiably famous.

We guarantee this copy will take the Moodies’ wonderful music to a level you have never experienced in all your music-loving days.

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The Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed

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Reviews and Commentaries for The Moody Blues

  • With INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides, this copy is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other you’ve heard
  • The sound is huge, rich and lively throughout – you need this kind of space for the orchestral parts to work their Moody Magic
  • Fairly quiet for a 55-year-old UK pressing – a couple of light marks put this one in the top ten percent for condition of the top copies we’ve played, not a bad place to be
  • An Album Experience beyond practically anything that had come before (Sgt. Pepper excluded)
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Days of Future Passed became one of the defining documents of the blossoming psychedelic era, and one of the most enduringly popular albums of its era.”
  • If you’re a fan of the Moodies, this vintage UK pressing from 1967 surely belongs in your collection
  • We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life

Pretty quiet if you ask me, all things considered!

This album is 55-years-old, for god’s sake! In those 55 years I’d forgotten how good it is.

“Tuesday Afternoon” is the Perfect Pop Song, with the whole of side two flowing effortlessly from it as each song (each day) is linked by means of the surrounding orchestrations until it reaches its zenith with the climax of “Nights in White Satin.”

The sound is very much a part of the entire experience. The strings of the orchestra sound as sweet as any Decca, the soundstage wide and deep as a symphony. For those of you who still think Mobile Fidelity is the king on this one, here’s a record that demonstrates what a real orchestra sounds like.

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Cat Stevens – The World of Cat Stevens

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  • Cat Stevens 1970 compilation album returns with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish and British Decca vinyl that is about as quiet as we can find it
  • These sides are doing most everything right — the sound is rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical, Cat’s vocals are present, and there is plenty of studio space on the recording
  • Everything you want in a Folky Pop Star recording are here
  • Not an easy record to find in audiophile playing condition with top quality sound – it took us years to get this shootout going

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings). (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Self-Titled

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  • You’ll find solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this outstanding pressing of The Stones’ 1964 release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an unsuspecting record buying public
  • This is the real, honest sound of the early, early Stones
  • “The Stones’ debut knocked The Beatles from the chart summit… They were on their way.” – BBC Review
  • If you’re a fan of the early Stones, their debut from 1964 belongs in your collection.

The best word I could use to sum up both the sound and the music on this record is HONEST. If you want to hear how early Rolling Stones records sound when they sound right, this is the ticket. This is the real sound of the early, early Stones.

Probably what any modern engineer would want to do to the album would only end up making it worse. It is what it is and that’s good enough for us. Since the tapes are now more than 60 years old, no modern reissue will sound remotely as good as this one.

The Stones wanted their stuff to sound like the old Blues albums they grew up on and revered, and with that sound in mind you can’t argue that they didn’t succeed here.

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The Moody Blues – Every Good Boy Deserves Favour

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Records We Only Sell on Import Vinyl

  • With a wonderful combination of Tubey Magical richness and clarity, this Threshold pressing will be very hard to beat
  • Full-bodied and lush, yet not veiled or distant, this is the sound that brings the Moodies magic to life
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The best-realized of their classic albums, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour was also the last of the group’s albums for almost a decade to be done under reasonably happy and satisfying circumstances — for the last time with this lineup, they went into the studio with a reasonably full song bag and a lot of ambition and brought both as far as time would allow…”

This copy had the BIG, RICH, LUSH British sound that can only be heard on the very best Moody Blues pressings.

Great-sounding Moody Blues albums don’t show up on our site too often — they’re just not that easy to come by.

Dull, veiled, boring sound is the rule, and big, rich, CLEAR sound like this the exception.

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The Rolling Stones / Their Satanic Majesties Request – How Good Is the Original Unboxed Decca?

Good.

But not as good as the right later pressings with the Decca in a Box label, the ones that were produced from about 1970 on.

The Unboxed Decca pressing earned a Super Hot Stamper grade (A++). The later pressing, which seems to always have the same stamper, showed us just how good the album can sound.

Since the originals are pricey and hard to find, not to mention noisier than the later pressings as a rule, we don’t pick them up unless they are very cheap. They cannot win a shootout in our experience.


As of 2021, this album sounds better to us this way:

On the Right Import Pressing 

On the Right Reissue Pressing

If you are interested, click on the link below for:

More Moderately Helpful Title Specific Advice

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Reviews and Commentaries for Their Satanic Majesties Request

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The Rolling Stones – Out of Our Heads

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  • This is one of the best copies to ever hit the site — as good as we’ve ever heard with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • These British sides impressed us with their Tubey Magical, fairly natural sound
  • With top engineers like Dave Hassinger and Glyn Johns one would hope for better sonics, but this is as good as it gets as far as we know
  • 4 1/2 stars: “In 1965, the Stones finally proved themselves capable of writing classic rock singles that mined their R&B/blues roots, but updated them into a more guitar-based, thoroughly contemporary context. The first enduring Jagger-Richards classics are here…”

Like the really good Decca version of Aftermath, this record has amazing transparency, rich bass and relatively little distortion compared to other versions we have played. Also, like Aftermath, some songs sound much better than others. That’s just the way old Stones record are. Part of this album was recorded in Hollywood and part of it was recorded in Chicago — that may explain some of the variation in the quality of the sound.

By the way, stick with true stereo on this album; the mono pressings — at least the ones we played — aren’t worth anybody’s time (scratch that: any audiophile’s time). (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request

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Reviews and Commentaries for Their Satanic Majesties Request

  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two, this British pressing will be very hard to beat – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Released right before the raging bluesy rock of Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed
  • This is some crazy Stones music, with loads of psychedelic madness and a number of catchy tunes
  • It’s a lot of fun on a pressing that sounds as good as this one, with the space, clarity and richness that only vintage vinyl can offer in such abundance
  • Every one of the original Decca stereo pressings we’ve played has come up short against these recuts from the Seventies
  • 4 stars: “Never before or since did the Stones take so many chances in the studio… a fascinating anomaly in the group’s discography”.

This is the Stones at their most experimental, so there are plenty of strange effects and trippy arrangements. Only the best copies manage to make sense of it, but when you find one this music is a lot of fun.

If you’re looking for the raging bluesy rock of Sticky Fingers and Let It Bleed, you’ll find some of that here but also a lot of psychedelia too. You do get some great rockers though — Citadel, 2000 Man, and 2000 Light Years From Home to name a few. She’s A Rainbow is the poppiest song here, and on this copy it sounds WONDERFUL. (more…)

Listening in Depth to Aftermath – The First in a String of Must Own Stones Albums

Lady Jane, Under My Thumb and Mother’s Little Helper are three of the best sounding tracks on side one — all three are lively and solid here. On side two Out of Time and I Am Waiting are especially well recorded.

DAVE HASSINGER rightly deserves the credit for the best sounding early Stones album — this one.

Although some songs sound amazing, not every track is well recorded. We just have to accept that the Stones are not The Beatles when it comes to the consistent quality of the earliest recordings. That said, a strong copy like this one paired with the great music on this album will certainly deliver a lot of pleasure to audiophile Stones fans.

Although some songs sound amazing, not every track is well recorded. We just have to accept that the Stones are not The Beatles when it comes to the consistent quality of the earliest recordings. That said, a strong copy like this one paired with the great music on this album will certainly deliver a lot of pleasure to audiophile Stones fans.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Mothers Little Helper

Superb! On the best copies this track is so transparent you can feel the cool air of the studio.

Stupid Girl

Somewhat dark and compressed as a rule. (more…)