Records that Sound Good on Both Import and Domestic Vinyl

The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street

  • This is Exile raw and real the way it should be – full-bodied and punchy with great vocal presence and plenty of grungy rock and roll energy
  • 5 stars: “Few other albums, let alone double albums, have been so rich and masterful as Exile on Main St., and it stands not only as one of the Stones’ best records, but sets a remarkably high standard for all of hard rock.”
  • If you’re a Classic Rock fan, this Must Own Classic from 1972 surely belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1972 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

All four sides here have the kind of bass, energy, and presence that is essential for this music to rock the way it wants to. A copy like this conveys the emotional power of The Stones’ performances in a way that most pressings simply fail to do.

This shootout is always a struggle, an uphill battle all the way. You’d have to find, clean and play a ton of copies to come up with four sides that can do this music justice. We’re sure that Stones fans and Hot Stamper die-hards are going to be very pleased with this copy.

This vintage Artisan mastered pressing (the only ones that have any hope of sounding good) has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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…)

The Police – Ghost in the Machine

Reviews and Commentaries for Ghost in the Machine

More Sting and The Police

  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sonic grades on both sides, this vintage UK pressing sounds rich, smooth and sweet – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Some of the band’s most sophisticated hits: Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Invisible Sun, Spirits In The Material World, and more
  • Hugh Padgham took over engineering duties for Ghost and The Police’s next album, resulting in a dramatic improvement in the quality of their recordings
  • “This album has more variety than the menu in a Bangkok brothel. In particular, Sting’s voice has taken on a new depth and fresh maturity. The opening song, ‘Spirits In The Material World’, may have what sounds like a dumb title, but the song is a dream of close harmonies and nicely understated drums.” Record Mirror

If you’re looking for big hits, this is the album for you. I mean, get three tracks in and you’ve already heard Spirits In The Material World, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic and Invisible Sun — not a bad way to get things started!

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Electric Light Orchestra – Face The Music

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More Art Rock Records

  • This copy has real depth to the soundfield, full-bodied, present vocals, plenty of bottom end weight, and lovely analog warmth
  • You probably know most of these songs, even if you don’t recognize the titles (Waterfall, One Summer Dream)
  • “The soulful ‘Evil Woman’ was one of the most respectable chart hits of its era, and one of the best songs that Lynne ever wrote (reportedly in 30 minutes), while ‘Strange Magic’ showed off his writing in a more ethereal vein.”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this classic from 1975 belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1975 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Nobody seems to have noticed — at least I can find no evidence for anyone noticing, using a google search — that the song Fire on High, which opens side one of this album, is directly lifted from the opening song on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Funeral for a Friend.

He owes a lot of his sound to The Bee Gees as well as The Beatles, another thing about his music that nobody seems to notice.

But that takes nothing away from the fact that he is a consummate craftsman of catchy pop songs, the kind that get stuck in your head and make your day brighter than it would otherwise have been.

There are many fine examples of these kinds of songs on this very album. The first three (out of four) tracks on side one are all very strong: Fire On High, Waterfall and Evil Woman. On side two all the songs after Poker are very strong: Strange Magic, Down Home Town, and One Summer Dream.

That makes this a fairly consistent ELO record. Not quite the equal of A New World Record but not that far behind it either.

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Cat Stevens – Mona Bone Jakon

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Mona Bone Jakon

  • This copy of Cat Stevens’ brilliant third album will be very hard to beat
  • So transparent, open, and spacious, nuances and subtleties that escaped you before are now front and center
  • When you play “I Wish, I Wish” and “I Think I See The Light” on this vintage pressing, we think you will agree with us that this is one of the greatest Folk Rock albums of them all
  • One of the most underrated titles on the site – you owe it to yourself to see just how good the album that came out right before Tillerman can be when it sounds this good
  • 4 stars: “A delight, and because it never achieved the Top 40 radio ubiquity of later albums, it sounds fresh and distinct.”
  • We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. Red Clay is a good example of a record most audiophiles may not know well but should.
  • If you’re a fan of Folky Pop, this Cat Stevens album from 1970 is surely a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

So many copies excel in some areas but fall flat in others. This side one has it ALL going on — all the Tubey Magic, all the energy, all the presence and so on. The sound is high-rez yet so natural, free from the phony hi-fi-ish quality that you hear on many pressings, especially the reissues on the second label.

Right off the bat, I want to say this is a work of GENIUS. Cat Stevens made three records that belong in the Pantheon of greatest popular recordings of all time. In the world of Folk Pop, Mona Bone Jakon, Teaser and the Firecat and Tea for the Tillerman have few peers. There may be other Folk Pop recordings that are as good but we know of none that are better.

Mike Bobak was the engineer for these sessions from 1970. He is the man responsible for some of the best sounding records from the early ’70s: The Faces’ Long Player, Rod Stewart’s Never a Dull Moment, The Kinks’ Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One, (and lots of other Kinks albums), Carly Simon’s Anticipation and more than his share of obscure English bands (of which there seems to be a practically endless supply).

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this album. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with the richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and remasterings). (more…)

Bad Company – Straight Shooter

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More Rock Classics

  • If you’re playing this one good and loud, you’ll feel like you’re in the room with the boys as they kick out these classic riff-driven jams
  • Take it from us, it is not easy to find a copy that’s as right as this one, with the weight, balance and energy this music needs to rock
  • 4 stars: “Vocalist and songwriter Paul Rodgers wrote two acoustic-based rock ballads that would live on forever in the annals of great rock history: ‘Shooting Star’ and the Grammy-winning ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love.'”

The sophomore jinx is nowhere to be found on this album. In fact, you could make a pretty good case that this is actually a better album than their debut. The best pressings of this Bad Company classic have ROCK ENERGY that cannot be beat. (more…)

Cat Stevens – Teaser & The Firecat

  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • If you want to know what the best stampers for this album are, you are more than welcome to buy this copy and read them for yourself
  • This British Island Pink Rim pressing has sides that will rock your world with their size, richness, clarity and ENERGY, the likes of which you may have never experienced on vinyl
  • A Brilliant Classic Folk Rock recording – the right pressings offer Demo Disc Quality sound and then some
  • AMG 5 Stars and a Top 10 (yes, 10, not 100) album – in some ways it’s surely the Best Sounding record Cat Stevens ever made
  • Tuesday’s Dead, Morning Has Broken, Bitterblue, Moonshadow, Peace Train – and that’s just side two! What side of any album has five songs of such quality?

Before I get further into the sound of this record, let me preface my remarks by saying this is a work of GENIUS. Cat Stevens made two records which belong in the Pantheon of greatest popular recordings of all time. In the world of folky pop, Teaser and the Firecat and Tea for the Tillerman have few peers. There may be other recordings that are as good but there are no other recordings that are better.

When you hear The Wind, Changes IV, or If I Laugh on this copy, you will be convinced, as I am, that this is one of the greatest popular recordings in the history of the world. I don’t know of ANY other album that has more LIFE and MUSICAL ENERGY than this one. (more…)

Cat Stevens – Tea For The Tillerman on the Island Pink Label

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Tea for the Tillerman

 

  • A STUNNING Pink Label Island Label UK pressing of TFTT – an album we consider the Pinnacle of British Folk Rock – with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • The emotional power of the songs is communicated completely – we can assure you the experience will be like playing the album for the first time
  • Here’s your chance to relive the experience of hearing this groundbreaking album for the first time, but with much better sound than you ever thought possible
  • 5 stars on Allmusic, a stunning Demo Disc, and a permanent member of the Better Records Top 100

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The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed

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  • With Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, here are the Stones at the peak of their Rock and Roll Powers in Fabulous Analog – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too
  • Love In Vain is potentially one of the best sounding Rolling Stones songs ever recorded, and it has Demo Disc Quality sound here
  • The acoustic guitar harmonics and the rich whomp of the snare prove indisputably that Glyn Johns is one of the Greatest Rock Engineers who ever lived
  • Top 100, 5 stars – Jason McNeil of PopMatters wrote that Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed are, “the two greatest albums the band’s (or anyone’s) ever made.”

This is the only White Hot copy we have from our last shootout that does not have serious condition issues. If you are looking for “quiet” vinyl, quiet for an original Rolling Stones album, this may be your best bet in 2020.

This album, in our humble opinion, is the second or third best record the Stones ever made. (Sticky Fingers is Number One, and either this or Beggar’s Banquet comes in a strong second.) With this wonderful early domestic pressing we can now hear the power and the beauty of the recording itself, a fact that we consider the very definition of a Hot Stamper.

Love In Vain on a copy like this is one of the best sounding Rolling Stones songs of all time. In previous listings I’ve mentioned how good this song sounds — thanks to Glyn Johns, of course — but on these amazing Hot Stamper copies it is out of this world. (more…)