Labels We Love – Vertigo

Rod Stewart – Gasoline Alley

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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – these vintage Vertigo UK pressings are ridiculously hard to find in this kind of shape with top quality sound
  • These early sides are rich, smooth and Tubey Magical yet still relatively clean, clear and spacious
  • 5 stars: “Of course, being a rocker at heart, Stewart doesn’t let these songs become limp acoustic numbers — these rock harder than any fuzz-guitar workout. The drums crash and bang, the acoustic guitars are pounded with a vengeance — it’s a wild, careening sound that is positively joyous with its abandon.”

*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 8 light ticks at the end of Track 4, My Way Of Giving. On side two, a mark makes 6 light ticks at the beginning of Track 4, Jo’s Lament.

Hard to find them quieter than this!

This early Vertigo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Dire Straits – Dire Straits


  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides of this UK pressing of the band’s brilliant debut
  • One of the best sounding rock records ever made, with rich, sweet, smooth mids; prodigious amounts of bass; superb transparency and clarity; and a freedom from hi-fi-ishness and a lack of distortion like very few rock records we have ever heard
  • Rhett Davies knocked this one out of the park – it’s a Top 100 title, a member of the Tubey Magical Top Ten, and our favorite by the band for both sound and music
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Knopfler also shows an inclination toward Dylanesque imagery, which enhances the smoky, low-key atmosphere of the album… the album is remarkably accomplished for a debut, and Dire Straits had difficulty surpassing it throughout their career.”

*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 3 moderate pops followed by 8 light ticks at the beginning of Track 1, Down to the Waterline. On side two, a mark makes 11 light ticks on Track 1, Sultans of Swing.

Rhett Davies is one of our favorite engineers. He’s the man behind Taking Tiger Mountain, 801 Live and Avalon to name just a few of his most famous recordings, all favorites of ours of course.

The man may be famous for some fairly artificial sounding recordings — Eno’s, Roxy Music’s and The Talking Heads’ albums come to mind — but it’s obvious to us now, if it wasn’t before, that those are entirely artistic choices, not engineering shortcomings.

Rhett Davies, by virtue of the existence of this album alone, has proven that he belongs in the company of the greatest engineers of all time, right up there with the likes of Bill Porter, Ken Scott, Stephen Barncard, Geoff Emerick, Glyn Johns and others we could mention. (more…)

Dire Straits – Making Movies


  • An outstanding UK early pressing, with Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides – – exceptionally quiet vinyl too, the last clean copy we have in stock
  • Guaranteed to be a huge improvement over anything you’ve heard, this Brit is big, punchy, and full-bodied with excellent presence – Mark Knopfler’s leads really soar
  • Romeo and Juliet comes to life the way you want it to here, and the song Solid Rock lives up to its title
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Making Movies is helped by a new wave-tinged pop production, which actually helps Knopfler’s jazzy inclinations take hold … ranks among the band’s finest work.”

The music really comes together, especially if you’ve been playing a sub-generation domestic pressing, which is the only kind Warners made as far as we know. (The first album is the same way of course.) Here you will find richer mids, sweeter highs, more energy and some real punch down low. (more…)

Dire Straits Brothers In Arms – Not Bad When It’s Properly Mastered and Pressed!


  • This killer domestic pressing gives you a Triple Plus (A+++) side one and a side two that’s not far behind (A++)
  • Fully extended from top to bottom with a wide-open soundstage, for this music this is the right sound.
  • So Far Away, Money For Nothing and Walk Of Life all sound great on this Triple Plus side one!
  • “One of their most focused and accomplished albums … Dire Straits had never been so concise or pop-oriented, and it wore well on them.” — Allmusic, 4 stars

Fully extended from top to bottom with a wide-open soundstage, this is exactly the right sound for this music. There’s plenty of richness and fullness here as well — traits that are really crucial to getting the most out of a mid-’80s recording like this!

Surprisingly Analog Master Tape Sound

Both sides of this bad boy are SUPERB. Drop the needle on So Far Away — it’s airy, open, and spacious, yet incredibly rich and full-bodied. The bottom end really delivers the goods — it’s punchy and meaty with healthy amounts of deep, tight bass.

The vocals are Right On The Money — full-bodied, with breathy texture, surrounded by the lovely ambience of the studio.

The 3-D quality to the soundfield here is something that most copies simply cannot reproduce.

The overall sound is lively, dynamic, and relatively natural. (more…)

Gentle Giant – Octopus


This minty Vertigo Spaceship label British import original pressing has SUPERB SUPER HOT Stamper sound on side one. It’s BIG, open and Tubey Magical in the best tradition of British Prog Rock. If you’re a fan of ELP, Yes, Tull, Floyd and the like, this music might just be right up your alley. And unless you have some seriously expensive pressings, not many albums by the above-named bands will be competitive sonically with the sound of this side one. The album is VERY well-recorded.

Side one was tonally correct with an extended top end, the kind of top that many British pressings only hint at. We gave side one a grade of A++. It will be very hard to beat because it sounds AMAZING. It’s British analog at its richest and tubiest.

Side two was a step down sonically. Although rich and full-bodied, there is some smear on the transients and the stage is not as big as it is on this superb side one. (more…)

City Boy – Young Men Gone West


  • Super Hot Stamper or better sound on both sides of this Arty Glam Rock album
  • Produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange before he hit it big with Foreigner and Def Leppard
  • As far as I know Mr Lange never produced an album that sounds this good
  • Plenty of Tubey Magical richness, which only the UK Vertigo pressings seem to have

Like many of my personal favorites, this is a band that never caught on in the states. I saw them live back in the late ’70s and thought they were killer — they reminded me of a more accessible version of 10cc. They write amusingly witty, clever lyrics and mate them to catchy melodies with lots of pop hooks, all produced with meticulous care and engineered with top audiophile sound.

They might fit in the general category of Glam Rock, owing, as they do, so much to Supertramp, Badfinger, Queen, 10cc, Ziggy-period Bowie and the like, but even as I write that it seems unfair to the band, which had a unique style all its own, worthy of the respect and admiration due any of these artists (well, maybe not all the respect, but some of it anyway). Fortunately for us record lovers, this is their best album. (more…)

Fairport Convention – The Bonny Bunch of Roses


  • Superb Super Hot or better sound for both sides
  • Quiet vinyl too – a true Mint Minus with one minor issue
  • This British Vertigo Spaceship pressing is going to be very hard to beat
  • Make no mistake: this is a Demo Disc Quality record on this pressing 

AMG commented about the followup album that Fairport was “doing what the band members do best – taking some fine old traditional English jigs, reels, and traditional narratives and putting their own distinctive folk-rock stamp on them.”

We think those comments apply to this album equally well.

The first track is very Proggy with rich solid bass and tons of Tubey Magic. Transparent and tonally correct from top to bottom. It may be As Good As It Gets (AGAIG)

Side two was every bit as good. Here are two sides that are just plain Hard To Fault (HTF).

If only more records sounded this good!

But then again that would put us out of business, so, truth be told I guess we’re glad more records don’t sound this good. (more…)

Dire Straits – Dire Straits – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2011


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

The best side one we’ve ever heard, so freakishly impressive that we awarded it the rare A++++ (Four Plus) grade! On top of that, side two earned an A++ grade and the vinyl plays unusually quietly — solid Mint Minus throughout. This is probably the best Dire Straits album (certainly our favorite) and definitely their best sounding album; on a copy like this one it has the power to BLOW YOUR MIND. Water Of Love, Down To The Waterline and Six Blade Knife are all STUNNING on this pressing.  (more…)

Dire Straits – Communique

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  • This stunning sounding copy of the band’s sophomore release earned shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them on both sides
  • Simply bigger and fuller than the competition, this vintage pressing has massive amounts of energy and rich punchy bass 
  • If you’re a fan of the band’s debut release, you’ll find much to like on this underappreciated follow up
  • It is insanely difficult to find good copies of this album, which is why we’ve only had a handful of Hot Stampers hit the site in all these years
  • “…an album full of the delicate subtleties that make Mark Knopfler shimmer — that deep tobacco-soaked voice, the quick, fluid guitar, and the wit behind many of his lyrics… a rich, abundant source of beauty.”


Rod Stewart – An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down

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  • This UK Vertigo copy of Rod Stewart’s debut solo album boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Rich, smooth and Tubey Magical, this pressing has a lovely musical quality that’s missing from most copies 
  • Titled The Rod Stewart Album for US release, this is Rod the Mod’s acclaimed debut
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The music and the songs are so vivid and rich with detail that they reflect a whole way of life, and while Stewart would later flesh out this blueprint, it remains a stunningly original vision.”

This vintage British pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)