Labels We Love – Geffen

Peter Gabriel / Security

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  • One of the most important records in the Peter Gabriel canon, original and influential on so many levels
  • With the benefit of today’s technology, on a copy this good you hear into the soundfield in a way never possible before, picking out all the drummers and counting all the layers of multi-tracked choruses
  • “Security remains a powerful listen, one of the better records in Gabriel’s catalog, proving that he is becoming a master of tone, style, and substance…”

Man, does this album sound better than I remember it from back in the ’80s when I first played it. Stereos have come a long way since then, along with a host of other things that help records sound better, such as cleaning fluids, room treatments and all the rest. Now you can really hear INTO the soundfield in a way that simply was never possible before, picking out all the drummers and counting all the layers of PG’s multi-tracked choruses. On the best pressings, both sides are huge, and the music jumps out of the speakers. The balance is perfection.

This is not an easy album to find good sound for. Most copies are thick, opaque, turgid, veiled — pick your favorite adjective for mud, most copies fit the profile. When you find one like this, that has some real space and clarity, it’s amazing how much more sense the music makes.

The best copies have the kind of qualities that are not difficult to recognize:

  • presence, putting PG front and center;
  • dynamics, both micro and macro;
  • energy, allowing the rhythmic elements to bring out the life in the music;
  • transparency, so that we can hear all the way to the back of the studio; and
  • ambience, the air that surrounds all the players and their instruments

And of course we played the album VERY LOUD, as loud as we could. It’s the only way to get the massive drumming to sound right. (more…)

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction

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  • A KILLER copy of band’s debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Hard rockin’ energy to spare, the kind you will be hard-pressed to find on any modern Heavy Vinyl reissue these days – Appetite for Destruction is big and bold and simply amazing here
  • Turn this one up – on a pressing this good, the louder you play it, the better it sounds
  • 5 stars: “. . . as good as Rose’s lyrics and screeching vocals are, they wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the twin-guitar interplay of Slash and Izzy Stradlin, who spit out riffs and solos better than any band since the Rolling Stones, and that’s what makes Appetite for Destruction the best metal record of the late ’80s.”

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Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I

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  • This killer double album finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on all FOUR sides
  • The sound is big, lively and clear, with a healthy dose of the all important Tubey Magical richness that only the best vintage pressings can show you
  • So hard to find these days – where did they go?
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic, and Rolling Stone called it “a titanic mix of gritty ragers, passionate rock-opera ballads and decadent screeds…”

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Was (Not Was) – Born To Laugh At Tornadoes

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This is a Very Nice Looking Original Geffen Promo LP of one of my favorite wacked out records! I’ve never heard anything like it. Every song sports a unique arrangement and almost all of them have different vocalists, including a magical performance by Mel Torme.

If you like offbeat records, this is one you might get a kick out of.

“The Was brothers provide a strange bunch of songs with irresistible dance beats, plus an array of guest singers that is, well, unusual to say the least: Mitch Ryder, Doug Fieger (of The Knack), Ozzy Osbourne, and, on the ballad “Zaz Turned Blue,” Mel Tormé.” — AMG (more…)

Neil Young – Old Ways

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More Country and Country Rock

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  • This superb pressing of Old Ways boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Big, full-bodied and energetic, with wonderfully present vocals – shocking for a recording from 1985
  • Neil’s unabashed country album is guaranteed to make your MoFI pressing sound like the bad joke it was in ’96
  • “… this turns out to be his most carefully crafted album since Comes a Time… Pretty amazing.” – Rolling Stone
  • “Old Ways [is]…cut in the style of Harvest and Comes a Time, but with a stronger country leaning. Young depends heavily on friends, especially for vocals – Waylon Jennings sings harmony…

This is Neil heading out to the sticks with his buddies, authentic country greats such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and others (nice friends to have), doing what Neil loves to do — making the music that HE wants to make, not the music that anyone else wants him to, including David Geffen and his lawyers. Old friend Ben Keith (a huge part behind the sound of Harvest) shows up with his pedal steel guitar on a couple of tracks.

This probably wasn’t anyone’s favorite Neil Young album, but when it sounds like it does here it sure makes a lot more sense than it did when we heard it on the more mediocre pressings. The MoFi is a muckfest, as was to be expected from a record mastered during the Anadisq era, the darkest chapter in the dark and disgraceful history of Mobile Fidelity.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the string arrangements from becoming shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. (more…)

Joni Mitchell / Wild Things Run Fast – A Desert Island Disc

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One of our favorite Joni Mitchell albums. A Desert Island disc for me & one of the few good reasons to listen to new music in the ’80s. 

My personal Must Own Joni Mitchell list includes: The First Album (side one only), Blue, Court & Spark and Wild Things Run Fast.

WTRF is a TAS list Super Disc with many good qualities, but you’d never know it from the typical lean, bass-shy pressing. Since this record can be a little cold sounding — it’s a modern recording after all — filling it out and warming it up a little is just what the doctor ordered. Our Hot Stamper pressings are usually rich and full-bodied with lovely warmth and presence. (more…)

Peter Gabriel / Security – Strengths and Weaknesses

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This copy on side one has right on the money tonality from top to bottom, with big drums and smooth, silky voices in the choruses. We took it down from our top grade because it lacked a little of the top end extension we heard on other copies.

Side two is even better at A++ to A+++, with everything going for it. We heard one copy with better transient information, so we docked it half a plus from the best. Still, this is our best overall copy.

The Music

This is one of the most important records in the Peter Gabriel canon, groundbreaking and influential on so many levels. The entire album is a wonderful journey; anyone with a pop-prog bend will enjoy the ride. Just turn the volume up good and loud, turn off your mind, relax and float along with PG and the boys. You’re in good hands.

I take exception to the AMG review referring to the album as mood music. These are fully developed songs, any one of which would stand up well on its own against others in the PG canon. The more you listen to the album the more you will appreciate that every track here is at least good while many of them are nothing short of brilliant.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Rhythm of the Heat 
San Jacinto 
I Have the Touch 
The Family and the Fishing Net

Side Two

Shock the Monkey 
Lay Your Hands on Me
Wallflower 
Kiss of Life

AMG Review

Security — which was titled Peter Gabriel everywhere outside of the U.S. — continues where the third Gabriel album left off, sharing some of the same dense production and sense of cohesion, yet lightening the atmosphere and expanding the sonic palette somewhat. The gloom that permeates the third album has been alleviated and while this is still decidedly somber and serious music, it has a brighter feel, partially derived from Gabriel’s dabbling in African and Latin rhythms. These are generally used as tonal coloring, enhancing the synthesizers that form the basic musical bed of the record, since much of this is mood music (for want of a better word).

Security flows easily and enticingly, with certain songs — the eerie “San Jacinto,” “I Have the Touch,” “Shock the Monkey” — arising from the wash of sound. That’s not to say that the rest of the album is bland easy listening — it’s designed this way, to have certain songs deliver greater impact than the rest. As such, it demands close attention to appreciate tone poems like “The Family and the Fishing Net,” “Lay Your Hands on Me,” and “Wallflower” — and not all of them reward such intensive listening. Even with its faults, Security remains a powerful listen, one of the better records in Gabriel’s catalog, proving that he is becoming a master of tone, style, and substance, and how each part of the record enhances the other.

Joni Mitchell – Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter

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  • With four sides that are either White Hot or close to it this copy murdered the competition
  • Rich, full-bodied, smooth, yet open and clear, this is about the best the album can sound 
  • Mastered by Bernie Grundman back when he was still cutting some of the best records around
  • Joni Mitchell meets Weather Report is the best way to describe much of the vibe here

We had trouble finding copies that played consistently quietly on all four sides. This copy has an issue with side four, but the second best sounding side four was noisier, so we feel that this is still the best way to go for the album. (more…)

Neil Young – Old Ways – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

We just finished our first major shootout for Neil’s country-fried album from the mid-’80s and this was easily one of the better copies to hit our table. Most of the pressings we played were too gritty and grainy to hold our interest, but this one was richer, sweeter and smoother by a country mile! Side one earned an A++ grade and side two was best in show, rating A+++. This one will make the MoFI pressing sound like a bad joke.

I may be stating the obvious here, but After The Gold Rush this ain’t. If you’re looking for a big and bold Neil Young rock record, this is not the one for you. This is Neil heading out to the sticks with friends including Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and other authentic country music figures, doing what Neil loves to do — making the music that HE wants to make, not the music that anyone else wants him to. Old friend Ben Keith (a huge part behind the sound of Harvest) shows up with his pedal steel guitar on a couple tracks. (more…)

Nirvana – Nevermind

Reviews and Commentaries for Records that Sound Their Best on Big Speakers at Loud Levels

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

An incredible sounding record, especially on a White Hot Stamper such as this (which is why this copy sold for $849!). I might even go so far as to say it’s better than practically anything recorded during the entire decade of the ’90s. Man, when you’ve heard this record at its best, there is NOTHING like it. For the true Rock and Roll Audiophile Connoisseur, the man who will settle for nothing but the very best, we humbly offer this Nevermind Verified Hot Stamper, the ultimate head-banging experience. (more…)