Labels We Love – Mercury (Non-Classical)

Tears For Fears – The Seeds Of Love

More Tears For Fears

More Art Rock

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  • A superb vintage UK copy of the band’s masterpiece, boasting Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • We guarantee the sound is dramatically bigger, richer, fuller, and livelier than any pressing you have ever heard, and on this record that is saying a LOT
  • A tough record to find in audiophile playing condition – copies without audible marks were not easy to come by
  • The band’s Magnum Opus, a Colossal Production to rival the greatest Prog, Psych and Art Rock recordings of all time (Whew!)
  • 4 stars: “Thanks to the duo’s uncompromising stubbornness, expansive creative vision, and Dave Bascombe’s final production, The Seeds of Love has dated better than either of its predecessors and is inarguably Tears for Fears’ masterpiece.”

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Various Composers – Balalaika Favorites

More Classical and Orchestral Music

More TAS Super Disc Recordings

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  • This delightful collection, a longstanding member of the TAS Super Disc List, finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides here are wonderful — clean, clear and present with tons of energy and lots of space around all of the players
  • “For what it is, it doesn’t get any better than this. What it is, of course, is a collection of Russian folk music played with astonishing artistry by the Ossipov State Russian Folk Orchestra…”

The Classic Records Reissue Was a Real Bust

It’s been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as unpleasantly hard and sour. Many of the later Mercury reissues pressed by Columbia had some of that sound, so I was already familiar with it when their pressing came out in 1998 as part of the just-plain-awful Mercury series they released.

I suspect I would hear it that way today. Bernie Grundman could cut the bass, the dynamics, and the energy onto the record. Everything else was worse 99% of the time.

The fast transients of the plucked strings of the Balalaikas was just way beyond the ability of his colored and crude cutting system. Harmonic extension and midrange delicacy were qualities that practically no Classic Records Heavy Vinyl pressing could claim to have.

Or, to be precise, they claimed to have them, and whether they really believed they did or not, they sure fooled a lot of audiophiles and the reviewers that write for them.

The better your stereo gets the worse those records sound, and they fall further and further behind with each passing year.

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Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells A Story

More Rod Stewart

More Reviews and Commentaries for Every Picture Tells a Story

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last – a sonic powerhouse and Demo Disc par excellence, with vinyl that’s about as quiet as we can find
  • If you’re a fan of BIG DRUMS in a BIG ROOM, with jump-out-of-the-speakers sound, this is the album for you
  • A Top 100 album, and Rod’s best music and best recording by far – nothing can touch it
  • 5 stars: “It’s a beautiful album, one that has the timeless qualities of the best folk, yet one that rocks harder than most pop music — few rock albums are quite this powerful or this rich.”

This is a superb recording, and on a pressing like this, it is a Demo Disc with little competition (if you have the kind of system designed to play these sorts of records).

Not too many of our Hot Stamper titles are going to ROCK the way this one can. We put it in a class with Led Zep II, Sticky Fingers, Nevermind, and Back In Black — elite company to say the least.

The opening track on side one has drums that put to shame 99% of the rock drum kits ever recorded. The same is true of I Know I’m Losing You on side two. It just doesn’t get any better for rock drumming, musically or sonically. Micky Waller is brilliant throughout. Kenney Jones, who only plays on the show-stopping “(I Know) I’m Losing You”, is clearly out of his mind.

Some of the best rock bass ever recorded can be found here too — punchy, note-like and solid as a rock. If you have the system for it you are going to have a great time playing this one for your friends, audiophiles or otherwise. (more…)

Rush – Power Windows

More RUSH

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  • Power Windows makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy rocks like crazy with serious weight down low, huge size and space, and plenty of driving energy
  • “Rush remains faithful to vintage progressive aesthetics but has accepted the challenge of the postpunk upheaval and made notable adjustments… Power Windows may well be the missing link between Yes and the Sex Pistols.”

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Def Leppard – Pyromania

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  • Def Leppard returns to the site with this outstanding vintage pressing, boasting solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Finding a copy of this album that gets big and loud but stays rich and clear doing it is no small feat, but for all you fans of Glam and Metal, here’s one
  • 5 stars: “While Def Leppard had obviously wanted to write big-sounding anthems on their previous records, Pyromania was where the band’s vision coalesced and gelled into something more. Leppard’s quest for huge, transcendent hard rock perfection on Pyromania was surprisingly successful; their reach never exceeded their grasp, which makes the album an enduring (and massively influential) classic.”

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Rod Stewart – Never A Dull Moment

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  • With incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sonic grades on both sides, this copy gets the heart of Rod’s Brit rock right like no other we played – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Extremely well-recorded, full of great songs, Rod Stewart was on top of the world when he followed up the brilliant Every Picture Tells a Story with this album in 1972
  • The music comes alive on this vintage pressing, assuming you have your volume up good and loud
  • 5 stars in AMG, and simply “… a masterful record … He never got quite this good ever again.”

Listen to the percussion on Angel — you can really hear all the transients and the sound of the drum skins. The meaty guitar in the left channel sounds mind-blowingly good. The bass is deep and well-defined, and the sound of the drums is awesome in every way. Who has a better drum sound than Rod Stewart on his two best albums?

Along with Every Picture Tells A Story this is one of the two Must Own Rod Stewart albums. Practically every song here is a classic, with not a dog in the bunch. Rod Stewart did what few artists have ever managed to do: release his two best albums back to back.

And this, not to put too fine a point on it, is clearly the way to hear it. (more…)

Rush – Fly By Night

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  • The first copy of Rush’s sophomore release to hit the site in years, this STUNNING pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Bass and body are key to the best pressings, along with Rock and Roll energy, and here you will find plenty of all three
  • This is the vinyl embodiment of the Classic Analog Rock sound we love – rich, warm, punchy, dynamic and clear
  • “… it showed that the young band was leaving their Zep-isms behind in favor of a more challenging and original direction.”

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The Robert Cray Band – Strong Persuader

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last, this is a superb copy of Strong Persuader – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This is the album that propelled Cray into the mainstream, earning him a spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest albums of the 80’s, 5 stars on AMG, and endless accolades from critics and fans alike
  • Clear and open, but still fairly analog sounding, this copy has the right sound for the kind of electric blues Cray brought back from the dead in the ’80s
  • 5 stars: “The set that made Cray a pop star, despite its enduring blues base… his innovative expansion of the genre itself that makes this album a genuine 1980s classic.”

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Sarah Vaughan – Sassy Swings Again

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  • Superb nearly White Hot Stamper sound on side one – big, rich and spacious
  • Side two earned a Super Hot grade for its full-bodied brass and Sarah’s breathy vocals
  • A great selection of Jazz, Pop and Blues standards for her last Mercury release from 1967
  • Allmusic 4 Stars “…[an] essential session from that most divine of jazz chanteuses.”

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Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra – Viva Cugat

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

This crazy Cugat record (is there any other kind?) is a BALL and has absolutely amazing Demo Disc quality sound on side two, better than Super Hot Stamper quality. 

It sounds like Henry Mancini on speed, and the recording quality puts most of Mancini’s records to shame to boot. This is Bachelor Pad music for those who like their Bachelor Pad to be FUN!

Side Two

With A++ to A+++ sound this side is pretty much doing it all. So spacious! And such tremendous low and high frequency extension, the kind that vintage records usually have trouble with. Not this copy. The strings and horns can get slightly aggressive

Make sure you have your VTA set dead right or this record will be a mess. Careful adjustment is critical to reproduce this kind of complex and lively sound. (more…)