Our notes from 2008. Much has changed since then!
This British Track Black Label pressing DEMOLISHED our expectations for this album. I don’t think I’ve ever heard The Who sound this good.
Three out of four sides rate our top grade of A+++, and side three ain’t far behind at A++. What do such high grades give you for this album? Tubey magical guitars, silky vocals with lots of texture, unbelievable weight to the bottom end, “you are there” immediacy, BIG drums sound, OFF THE CHARTS rock and roll energy, and shocking clarity and transparency.
This is only the second $1000 Hot Stamper we’ve ever listed on the site. We know there’s always a rise in trash talk on the vinyl message boards when we throw this kind of record on the site, but we can’t worry about that silly business. Our job is to find you guys the best of the best, and here’s a record that we’re very proud to put at the very top of our top shelf.
Story Of The Shootout
We’ve never been able to pull off a full Tommy shootout until now. We had played enough copies to figure out that the Track originals are really the only way to go, but who can find even one clean copy these days, let alone enough to do a shootout?
[This is before Discogs got up and running. You can buy Tommy all day long up there, and Ebay too. You may end up with lots of noisy copies, but at least you can find them.]
This is where you come in, loyal customer. The prices we charge on records like this allow us to spare little expense when it comes to acquiring important LPs. So when we saw a $200 Original British pressing on the wall at a Amoeba recently, we were able to splurge on it.
How did it turn out? Well, by the time I invested the labor in it to clean it and evaluate it, we definitely won’t be making a dime on that one. (Of course, keep in mind that it inspired us to finally move on this shootout, so in that sense it was well worth it.)
It’s a nice copy, but a hefty price tag and a prime spot on the wall can’t tell you a thing about how a record sounds. Keep that in mind the next time you see an expensive record at your local store or on Ebay that has you hot and bothered. We may charge a lot for our Hot Stampers, but at least when you buy one you are GUARANTEED good sound.
I don’t know of another Who album with such consistently good sound — song to song, not copy to copy, of course. Just about every song on here can sound wonderful on the right pressing. If you’re lucky enough to get a Hot Stamper copy, you’re going to be blown away by the tubey magical guitars, the rock-solid bottom end, the jumpin’-out-of-the-speakers sound, and the silky quality to the vocals and the top end. Usually, the best we can give you for The Who is “crude, but correct”, but on Tommy, the late 60s analog magic is here!
We Finally Broke Through in 2008
Before 2008 we still had a lot to learn. We needed to do more research and development, which of course we are doing regularly with Classic Rock records, our bread and butter and the heart of our business. We do them as often as is practical, considering how difficult it is to find copies with audiophile playing surfaces.
In 2008 we finally made the breakthrough we had worked so hard to achieve.
Want to find your own top quality copy?
Consider taking our moderately helpful advice concerning the pressings that tend to win our shootouts.