Records that Sound Best on the Right Import Pressing

Elton John – Honky Chateau – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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

This British Import Honky Chateau is THE BEST SOUNDING COPY WE’VE EVER HEARD — BY FAR! We just finished a big shootout for this wonderful album, and this copy took top honors with MASTER TAPE SOUND!

This has to be one of the best sounding rock records of all time — certainly worthy of a spot on our Top Rock LPs List. A Hot Stamper copy like this really tells you why. The highs are silky sweet, the vocals are full-bodied and breathy, and the tonal balance is perfection from top to bottom. (more…)

Genesis – Foxtrot – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

After struggling with this album for YEARS, Foxtrot Hot Stamper are back! It is INSANELY difficult to find good sound for this album. We’ve laid out hundreds of bucks on clear Brit originals over the years hoping to find that magical pressing, but could not manage to get the kind of sound we were hoping for. We the started bringing in every variety of pressing we could find and finally found a few copies that actually delivered. Here’s the best of them all — a White Hot Stamper with an A+++ side one, and A++ to A+++ side two and quiet vinyl. Genesis fans, the long wait is over — it’s time to hear this album sound right.  

This pressing has the best sound we’ve heard for this album, bar none. Having said that, this is probably not going to be the first record you reach for when friends ask you to put something on so they can hear how good your system is sounding. This recording is all over the place — parts of it sound amazing but other parts are always a bit murky. In that respect it has much in common with all the Genesis recordings from the era. Finding one with presence and clarity in the midrange is no mean feat. Here’s one that we think fans of the band should have no trouble recognizing as superior to whatever they may have heard. Demo disc sound? Not exactly. Better than other pressings? Without a doubt. (more…)

King Crimson – Red – Reviewed in 2009

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

This is a Minty British Polydor red label import LP. These British imports are consistently superior to their domestic counterparts. We do not even bother to pick up domestic King Crimson albums anymore; the sub-generation tapes they are made from cause them to be smeary, veiled and compressed. If there are good ones out there we sure haven’t heard them.

As for this copy, both sides are tubey magical and sweet, again, qualities sorely lacking in domestic pressings. Both sides are however a bit recessed compared to the best we’ve played. Side two is especially dynamic though; the sound really jumps in places. (more…)

Sinead O’Connor – I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got – Listening in Depth

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.

This is widely considered one of the best albums of the ’90s, a brilliant and unique piece of work. I positively love this album. The emotion is every bit as naked and compelling as that found on Joni’s Blue, and I do not say that lightly. I know the power of Blue, and this album has that kind of power. This is some heavy heavy stuff. Hearing it sound right is a thrill I won’t soon forget.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Feel So Different
I Am Stretched on Your Grave

This track has some of the wildest instrumentation I’ve ever heard. The rhythm is provided by a looped sample of the beat from James Brown’s “Funky Drummer”, with Sinead’s reverb-laden vocals carrying the droning melody. At the apex of the track, some crazy-ass violins come in, making for a haunting celtic/hip-hop hybrid. I think there’s even some Persian in there. This one just knocks me out every time I hear it.

The average bad sounding pressing of side one just plain ruins this track. The sound will lack extension on the top and reek of blubbery bass. The hot copies have solid low end, lots of air around the vocals, and texture on the violins. The good copies let the song work its magic; the bad ones don’t. (more…)

Richard & Linda Thompson – I Want To See The Bright…

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

The first White Hot Stamper of this 1974 classic to make it to the site, and it’s wonderful on both sides. Rich, full-bodied, with big bass and gobs of studio ambience, this is the way this music was meant to be heard. Kurt Loder writing in Rolling Stone noted that there’s “not a single track that’s less than luminous.” 

This is one of my favorite Thompson albums from the old days. In my opinion, and in the opinion of practically every serious critic around the world, this is some of their very best work. (more…)

Genesis – Nursery Cryme – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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More Nursery Cryme

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

This QUIET Super Hot Stamper is actually on the Charisma Blue label, not the original, but it gave our best Pink label copies a run for their money, with superb bass, real rock energy and lovely midrange transparency. For fans of the Classic Lineup involving Phil Collins and Steve Hackett — this being the first album with them on board — side one of this copy will show you a Nursery Cryme the likes of which you have never heard. (If you own the Classic Heavy Vinyl pressing you are really in for a shock. That pressing is a smeary lifeless mess next to this LP.)  (more…)

The Moody Blues – A Question of Balance – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This British Threshhold pressing is one of the best copies of this album we’ve heard. Both sides have tons of tubey magic (natch), BIG BASS, and better transparency than the copies we played it against. Most Moody Blues records are too murky to make much sense of, but this Hot Stamper copy breaks through that mud and gives fans of this band the sound they’ve been wishing for and likely never found.

It has the tubey magic missing from the reissues and the typical import pressings. (The domestic copies of course are a bad joke.) When you hear the acoustic guitars strumming on a song like Question, the strongest song on the album, you would think you had a pair of 1954 McIntosh MC-30 vintage tube amps hooked up to your speakers. (I know that sound well; I owned those amps and they are hard to beat for midrange magic.)

Of course the problem with these vintage Moody Blues records (and the problem with vintage McIntosh amps too!) is that transparency and clarity are not their strong suits. In other words, there’s a certain “murky” quality to the sound that some may find less than appealing.

However, this is the sound the Moody Blues wanted. (There’s a long story behind that but I won’t go into it now.) Trying to “fix it” can only result in one outcome — a disaster. This is what modern recording engineers don’t understand. Brightening up a record like this adds nothing to its sound. The richness and the sweetness are what’s good about these recordings, and making them brighter causes them to lose a great deal in those two areas. (A judicious bit of boost in the extreme highs, one or two DB at 10 or 12K might have some benefit. The problem is that anyone messing with the sound is going to want to add some below that, in that dangerous 3 to 5K range, and that’s the last thing in the world that should be done.)

You can EQ this all you want. It is what it is and nothing you are likely to do will make it any better. (more…)

Genesis – Live – Reviewed in 2010

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Superb sounding but somewhat noisy British Original (or what appears to be) pressing on the Charisma label. This album sounds RIGHT ON THE MONEY. I don’t think you can find a better sounding version than this one.

“A well-recorded showcase of the early group’s concert sound, much of what is here actually works better than the studio versions of the same songs…” AMG 

Genesis – Seconds Out – Our Shootout Winner from 2016

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More Seconds Out

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

STUNNING SOUND FOR ALL FOUR SIDES! This live album from 1977 has some of the best Genesis sound we’ve heard. Their studio recordings are often a bit flat and dull, so it’s really a treat to hear those songs with this kind of big, open, dynamic sound! Phil Collins handles the lead vocals here, but he does a great job even on the Peter Gabriel material.  (more…)

Genesis – Abacab

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

Another top recording from Hugh Padgham, the man who engineered The Police’s best sounding album, Synchronicity, as well as Phil Collins’ first album. He gets the Big, Rich, Smooth Rock Sound during the ’80s like few others we know of. Tons of bass too. We also quite like the big drums and meaty guitars he was able to bring to XTC’s English Settlement (a record we just never see anymore; wonder where they all went?).

Our Genesis offerings unfortunately tend to be few and far between; this is in fact the first time we’ve done Abacab, mostly because the bulk of the copies we’d played over the years left much to be desired sonically. We’re happy to report that the best pressings of Abacab can really rock, with rich, full-bodied, smooth sound that begs to be turned up good and loud. Not many records from the ’80s have that sound.  (more…)